As NPR hosts love to joke, the only people who actually listen to public radio shows are staunch liberals over the age of 60 who have nothing better to do during the day than tune in. This may or may not be a realistic image of the typical public radio consumer; regardless, with the creation and popularization of podcasts, radio has expanded vastly as a form and begun to reach new (and perhaps, younger) audiences.
That said, it is no surprise that University students have created a club for people who are interested in learning about podcasts, and even creating their own. Podcast Club seemed as though it might be coming to an end last year when its leaders graduated, but this year Cameron Costanzo ’20, Jeremy Mopsick ’20, and Alli Fam ’19 stepped in to reinvent it.
Interestingly, none of this year’s Podcast Club leaders were actually members of the original Podcast Club. It was Mopsick who knew last year’s club leaders, and came to Costanzo and Fam with the idea of revamping the club.
The purpose of the new and improved Podcast Club? To bring podcasts to everyone.
“We’re trying to give students the tools and understanding needed to produce their own work,” Fam said.
After brainstorming and coming up with several different models for how the club would run, Mopsick, Costanzo, and Fam settled on a structure in which each one-hour meeting is divided into two parts.
For the first half hour, a professional podcaster or journalist Skypes in to give a brief talk to the group. This week’s speaker is Nicholas Quah, who writes and produces Hot Pod Media, a newsletter about the podcast industry. For the remaining time, students discuss a podcast that they listened to the week before, analyzing style and form.
Leaders said that this model is working well for their club.
“I really like how it’s going so far because I feel like we’re learning a lot,” Costanzo said. “The more that you learn about making [podcasts], the more you want to get in there and do something with what you’re learning.”
Fam added that students have also found Podcast Club a great resource.
“A lot of students came in with a concept that they wanted to work on,” Fam said. “These meetings are showing them how to turn that into an episode or a podcast.”
In reality, all it really takes to create a podcast is a hand recorder and a laptop. The Podcast Club encourages members to take their ideas and what they have learned and start working on their own episodes or shows. In this spring, leaders said, the goal is that the discussion portion of club meetings will consist of listening to shows that club members have produced, and critiquing them. Podcast Club also hopes to create a website where members can post their work.
Fam is not new to the creation of podcasts. She said she is working on her own podcast, with Aviv Rau ’19 and Justin Campos ’19, which is slated to be released in late November or early December. Their podcast centers around college students and young people.
“Each episode is a different topic, but more broadly we’re looking at discussing contemporary social and political issues that are gaining relevance for the millennial generation and Generation X,” Fam said. “Our episodes range in topic from helicopter parenting, to how corporate culture is affecting environmental relations, to college hookup culture. We bring on a variety of guests in each episode.”
Upon completion, Fam, Campos, and Rau’s podcast will be available on major platforms including iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Costanzo claims that he has the least podcasting experience of the three club leaders, but he has quickly become passionate about listening to podcasts.
“I’ve only gotten into them for a year or two,” he said. “What I’ve been into recently is called Committed, and it’s a podcast just about people’s relationships. It follows a variety of couples and engagements that people come into. It’s good stuff.”
Fam said she gravitates to a different kind of show.
“I think my favorite podcast is probably Nancy,” said Fam. “It’s an all things queer podcast. It has a great range of emotional stories to humorous stories. They do an awesome job of working in personal narratives and connecting those to broader sociological concepts.”
So, have you been inspired to join in on the creation and analysis of podcasts? Are you already searching for the highest quality hand recorders on Amazon? Luckily for you, whether or not you have the time to commit to becoming a member of Podcast Club, you can have the opportunity to participate. Leaders said that the speaker portion of club meetings is always open to the student body, and students are encouraged to sit in, listen, and ask questions.
And, if you find yourself completely hooked on podcasts, you could always check out the Wesleyan Argus Podcast (WAP) on SoundCloud.
Emma Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.