At the University of North Texas (UNT), the rising trend of podcast listening is being harnessed by students to develop career skills and share their academic pursuits with a global audience. The university provides resources, spaces, and courses that encourage students to delve into podcasting, blending traditional learning with this modern, engaging medium.
Jerry Johnson, a junior majoring in theatre with a minor in Japanese, likens podcasting to storytelling around a campfire. As the primary host of the “UNT MindSpark” podcast, he highlights the maker movement, integrating arts and tech-focused activities like 3D printing and robotics. The podcast, affiliated with The Spark makerspace in Willis Library, invites guests from various makerspaces to share their experiences.
The university supports this initiative with facilities like The Spark and the Soundbox Music Technology Lab, where students and staff can borrow podcasting equipment and receive training in audio recording and editing. Additionally, the Mayborn School of Journalism and the Department of Media Arts offer podcasting courses focusing on scripting, recording, editing, and distribution.
Brittany McElroy, a senior lecturer at the Mayborn School, emphasizes the importance of quality content for podcast success and the low cost of entry into the medium. A new podcasting studio in Chilton Hall, managed by Deane Marshall, media technical manager, is equipped with advanced recording and filming technology, enhancing the students’ hands-on experience.
Podcasting has also been integrated into coursework in various departments. For instance, Wesley Phelps, an associate professor in UNT’s Department of History, involved his Texas LGBTQ History class in creating a podcast series titled “Out in Oak Lawn: A Queer History of Dallas.” This project required students to conduct research, interviews, and interpret primary documents, culminating in a six-part series exploring the history of a Dallas neighborhood known for its LGBTQ-owned businesses and culture.
Similarly, Durga Srikari, a master’s student in information systems and technologies, hosts the “Cyber Trooper” podcast, focusing on cybersecurity topics and providing career advice for those interested in the field.
Judy Hunter, director of The Spark, highlights the potential of podcasts to extend the reach of research and interests, making them more accessible to a broader audience. Through podcasting, UNT students are not only acquiring valuable skills but also using this platform as a creative outlet to share their studies and personal passions, pushing the boundaries of conventional academic learning.