Penn State University: Insights from 250 Episodes

[00:00:00] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Welcome to Continuing Studies, a podcast for higher education podcasters. In each episode, we talk to a university podcaster to ask some questions, get answers, and share tips and ideas about higher education podcasting. Hi, I'm Jennifer Lee, I'm a radio broadcaster and a podcaster.
[00:00:20] Neil McPhedran: And I'm Neil McPhedran. I've come to podcasting after 25 years in the digital agency world. Together, we've hosted, executive produced, and launched seven, and counting, higher education podcasts. Please remember to follow Continuing Studies in your listening app of choice and drop us a rating and or a review. We love to hear your feedback. While you're at it, also join the University Podcaster Network on LinkedIn.
[00:00:50] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Welcome back to another episode of Continuing Studies and we have another guest making their return. Jenna Spinelle is a communications specialist for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. She also produces the Institute's Democracy Works podcast, and We the People. She holds a BA in journalism from Penn State, teaches podcasting, and does so many things. Woman after my own heart because she wears many hats. So, I'm really excited to have her back.
[00:01:18] Neil McPhedran: Me too. Uh, and uh, we had a great conversation with Jenna, and we really dug into her podcasting journey. So, last time we really focused in on the network and building out that network, this time we really dug into Jenna's incredible background. She's been podcasting since 2018, so has really learned a lot along the way, and we really kind of got into the weeds a bit on some of the applicable tactical things for higher education podcasters and we learned a lot. So, let's jump into that conversation.
[00:01:54] Okay, so welcome back to Jenna Spinelle. Great to have you back. Maybe just sort of, just for the audience, just start by reintroducing yourself and then we'd love to just sort of jump in and talk about each of your podcasts.
[00:02:08] Jenna Spinelle: Sure. Well, thank you, uh, Neil and Jen for having me back and for this opportunity to talk about the work that I do. So, I am the communication specialist for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University. So, I handle all of the external communications on behalf of the Institute. I work on two podcasts, which I'll get to in a minute, but I also help promote faculty research and speakers that we bring to campus, some of the things that our undergraduate students work on, all kinds of things, I'm sure pretty typical for what, you know, communicators in higher ed do.
[00:02:44] But, one of the first conversations that we had when I started was, hey, we should start a podcast. We were all pretty big podcast listeners, but Michael Berkman and Chris Beem, who are two of my three co-hosts on Democracy Works, they had no idea how to [00:03:00] start a podcast and I really didn't either. I am a journalist by training, but my background is more in writing, I don't come from public radio or anything like that. So, this was the end of 2017 when I started podcasting in higher ed was still kind of new at that time, but I reached out to our local NPR station, which is based on campus and they helped us get the show up and running and 250 some episodes later, we're still going strong. Um, no shortage of things to talk about in democracies. Because we got in so early, we were able to build up an audience that has largely stuck with us over the course of those five years or so.
[00:03:38] And then as we were doing democracy works, I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could do a narrative or documentary style show, but didn't really have the time. And then the pandemic happened, and my pandemic project was the series, When the People Decide, which is a narrative style show all about grassroots politics or the way that everyday people shape democracy. So, on Democracy Works, we [00:04:00] mostly talk to scholars and experts and those kinds of folks. But I knew sort of piecemeal from my time in the McCourtney Institute that there were a lot of other stories out there. A lot of David and Goliath type of stories, right? Of people coming together to really push for change on issues that they cared about. So, those are the stories that I tell on When the People Decide. It also gives me a chance to talk about some of the things I'm interested in and some of the formative experiences that led to my interest in politics and democracy and journalism.
[00:04:30] Jennifer Lee Gunson: I'm like marveling at the fact that you do two podcasts plus all the other work that you do because as you know, podcasts are not that easy, and they are time consuming. So, I don't know how you do everything you do and do it so well.
[00:04:44] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, well, I have a lot of help. Uh, as I said, we work with our local NPR station, WPSU. They do the editing for us on Democracy Works, so that is a huge time saver for me. And When the People Decide, I worked with LWC Studios. Um, they're a production company out of D. C. Uh, Juleyka Lantigua is pretty well known in the podcast space, so Juleyka and her incredible team helped bring that show to life.
[00:05:10] Neil McPhedran: That's great. Okay, so just for those following along, uh, on our podcast, so last time we spoke to Jenna, it was regarding the Democracy Group Podcast Network. And then the podcasts are Democracy Works podcast and When the People Decide. I know both Jen and I have stumbled over mixing up the Democracy Group and Democracy Works, so I just thought I'd share that, we're all on the same page.
[00:05:34] Jenna Spinelle: Yes, thank you, thank you. Lots of things to keep track of.
[00:05:37] Neil McPhedran: Yeah, yeah. So, you know what? The NPR angle is fascinating. Just curious about that, the editing and that side of it can be a lot of work if you don't have, if you don't have any help there. So, curious how that relationship works with that local NPR station?
[00:05:54] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, so there's kind of two prongs of it, and some of this may be just unique to the way that our station is set up. So, there is the news division which produces all the news content for radio and online and whatnot. The creative services team does the editing, but we also work with the news division because the show is posted on the WPSU website. I record a promo every week that airs on the radio, they will sometimes take excerpts from the podcast and put it on All Things Considered or Morning [00:06:30] Edition. For several years, there was a standalone interview show that ran on air once a week that they sometimes lifted episodes for. So, the news director from the station listens to every Democracy Works episode before it's published to ensure that it meets NPR standards, which also helps keep us honest too, right? We're trying to be nonpartisan as much as we can, and so having that extra layer of review is always helpful. I often joke that, that Emily, the news director, is our most loyal listener, she [00:07:00] literally has listened to every single episode that we've done. But you know, having that team and having both of those things in place is great. It gives us greater visibility in the local area, you know, I've had people come up to me in coffee shops or at the grocery store because they recognize the sound of my voice from hearing it on the radio so much.
[00:07:18] Jennifer Lee Gunson: And because you deal though with politics, Jenna, do you ever have angry people come up to you in the coffee shop or is it pretty friendly?
[00:07:25] Jenna Spinelle: It's pretty friendly. I mean, there are definitely people that disagree, but I would always say that it's a healthy disagreement, and I'm happy to listen to any feedback that people have. And, you know, we try to take it to heart as much as we can.
[00:07:40] Jennifer Lee Gunson: And to find all these amazing political guests, is it the news team that's finding it for you? Or is it kind of just a hands on, like, everybody on deck finding the guests, or is it just you?
[00:07:49] Jenna Spinelle: It is mostly just me. You know, it's a mix of, if I see a paper that's interesting, or maybe I'm reading an article, and I'll see a professor or someone who's quoted, I'm like, oh, that's interesting, then go down the rabbit hole and, you know, look them up. Sometimes it's Michael and Chris and Candis, my three faculty co-hosts, um, they'll have an idea for a topic that they want to talk about, and so I'll try to find a guest. But, you know, I also get a lot of pitches, some of which I take. And so, that's always helpful, you know, people that are putting out new books and things like that.
[00:08:21] I think we talked about on the last episode with Brandon, the media training that we do. And so that kind of came about in part because of the relationships that I developed with authors and publishers and publicists through the course of doing Democracy Works.
[00:08:35] Neil McPhedran: Yeah, I guess after 250 episodes you get a steady train of proactive pitches coming in, inbound for sure.
[00:08:42] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah.
[00:08:43] Neil McPhedran: Still a lot of work.
[00:08:43] Jenna Spinelle: Which is not the, not the worst thing in the world because it is a beast that has to be fed, right? If there's something that's interesting that, you know, I might not have heard, but otherwise, I'm always happy to have them.
[00:08:53] Neil McPhedran: Great. Maybe you could just sort of dig into the target audience of each of the podcasts. Is it the same target audience for each podcast or does that differ a bit?
[00:09:02] Jenna Spinelle: So, for Democracy Works, um, I think it is maybe more of an academic audience, a lot of faculty, graduate students, retired faculty, that kind of thing. And then also people who find us through NPR, right, we're on the NPR One app and on the radio.
[00:09:19] For When the People Decide it's a little bit more the democracy nerds, I would say. Um, so people who are maybe in the League of Women Voters or who are working in the U.S. on groups that are working to get money out of politics or end gerrymandering, or some of the issues that we talk about in the show. When the People Decide has also had a lot of use in classrooms. The episodes are shorter, they're 25 minutes at most, and they're very story driven, so it's kind of easy to follow along, um, if you're, you know, assigning it to students to listen to. So, I've been able to visit, do a [00:10:00] little Zoom tour of college classes that are using the episodes and so it's always curious to hear what students think about being exposed to new ideas or new ways of thinking about politics. Um, season one covered ballot initiative campaigns, uh, which are, you know, when people vote directly on issues. And then season two was about, um, political reform at the local level. So just a lot of things that don't get a lot of attention in the media otherwise, so it's cool to see those light bulbs go off.
[00:10:29] Jennifer Lee Gunson: I love that. I love the fact that it's getting used in different classrooms because again, I think a lot of us are auditory learners as well. And something too, like it seems so simple to understand politics and the voting system, but a lot of us actually don't. So, it's just great to like really start it at the beginning.
[00:10:47] That being said, how do you prep for your podcast? And you always have to make sure that your information is correct too, especially when you're dealing with something in the political realm.
[00:10:56] Jenna: Yeah, so I, I read a lot of books. I think doing Democracy Works in particular has changed the way that I read books now, even in my life outside of the show. Just, I'm not reading as much for comprehension as reading to like, note the things I want to follow up on, or the things that I want to come back to in the interview. And you know, sometimes I'll listen to other interviews the guest has done, or read other things that they've done, but I'm um, I think I am maybe outside of the norm in that I don't want to hear every single thing the person's ever said [00:11:30] before I interview them, because a lot of people tend to say the same things over and over again, and I want to hear it for the first time so I can react authentically to it and maybe ask a follow up question that they've never gotten before. So, I know people have different approaches there. That's just what's works for me.
[00:11:48] And then I also do prep for my co-hosts. So, I should also just explain what the format of Democracy Works is. So, every episode starts with two of my three faculty co-hosts that set the stage, talk about what the topic is, set up the interview, then we go to the interview, which I do, and then the faculty come back at the end to wrap up, like how they might wrap up a seminar class or something like that. So, I'm also getting my co-hosts, the interview and the transcript and some prep material for them to read. And then, you know, we record with them, but I think across the board, editing is also our friend. I let the guests know that the interview's not [00:12:30] live, uh, and things will be edited, so it's just as likely that I'm going to stumble as it is that they're going to stumble, and sometimes more likely that I'll stumble. So, it's great to just have that bit of flexibility too.
[00:12:41] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Oh my god, editing is so.... after working in a live medium, it is so much better to do things not live, just because you can have some, especially guests say things that maybe you don't want them to say. So, doing it from being a live personality to doing podcasts recorded, I can appreciate editing.
[00:13:00] Neil McPhedran: Just digging a little bit more into, um, what you were talking about of just sort of that working some of the podcast content into. I'll say the classroom. I noticed on the Democracy Works podcast website that you actually have a whole navigation item called American Politics Syllabus. I think it's really cool what you guys have done. Um, basically, you've taken a bunch of episodes, you've categorized them, [00:13:30] and they're essentially sitting there for other poli-sci courses, American politics courses, to utilize in their classroom. I'd just love to hear a little bit more about that and any learnings you can share with our audience on that front.
[00:13:44] Jenna Spinelle: So, yeah, trying to get podcasts on faculties radar to put in their syllabi is a perpetual struggle for podcasters. It seems intuitive, but it's there's so many universities and professors and everybody does things differently.
[00:13:58] So, we all of us who work on Democracy Works, got together over the summer for a planning meeting. And one of the things that came up was that Introduction to American Politics is pretty much taught the same way at every university in the U.S. There are 12 or so different topics that are covered, and those are the categories that you referenced on the website, Neil. So, we just went through our catalog of episodes, matched up, um, things that went with those [00:14:30] topics, and put that page together, and then promoted it through our various channels, and also at the American Political Science Association Conference, which happened at the end of August. And from what I can tell, faculty are using it. You know, you'll see that, one episode got 30 downloads from Ames, Iowa, which is a college town, like nobody else is going to be listening there all at the same time. So, that's cool to see that, uh, you know, that it is making its way to classrooms because of this project.
[00:14:58] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Because you are dealing with sensitive information and you're essentially teaching people, does it have to go through quite a vetting process or is it pretty much whatever you guys want to say?
[00:15:10] Jenna Spinelle: It is pretty much whatever we want to say. I mean, we do a good bit of policing of ourselves and making sure that, you know, we are upholding the institutional values and there are certain policies that the university has about endorsing specific candidates and parties and all of those things, um, but no, aside from the NPR review that I [00:15:30] mentioned earlier, there's no kind of university review that has to happen. I think that the leadership trusts us and, which I'm very grateful for. I think we would never have been able to put out as many episodes as we did and maybe wouldn't even be doing the show at all anymore. I think we would have gotten sick of having to go through an onerous review process and would have thrown in the towel years ago. But like I said, we are very deliberate and very thoughtful about what we say, how we frame issues, what guests we invite on, all of those things.
[00:16:03] Jennifer Lee Gunson: That's great. I was just curious because I know a lot of times when you're working with like bigger brands or institutions, there is a process where a whole bunch of people have to listen to it before it heads out the door.
[00:16:13] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, and I think, you know, our show is by comparison fairly small. Um, and we are kind of a niche show, so we haven't like made national news or anything. I think if something like that did happen, that process may look different, the conversation may change. But for now, we're happy to continue flying mostly under the radar.
[00:16:34] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Hey, if you made national news, I think they'd be happy. Even if it was for a bad thing, you guys would get way more attention.
[00:16:40] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, maybe.
[00:16:41] Jennifer Lee Gunson: There's not such thing as bad news.
[00:16:42] Jenna Spinelle: Oh, I don't know about that. I think my colleagues in university strat-com would disagree with you on that one, Jen.
[00:16:48] Neil McPhedran: It's tenuous right now on some campuses, so. Speaking of the Institute, um, how do these two podcasts connect into the overall work of the Institute and sort of what, what role in the overall mandate or communication do the podcasts play?
[00:17:06] Jenna Spinelle: So, a key pillar of our mission at the Institute is outreach, right? So, bringing information about democracy and what it means to be a citizen in a democracy, like bringing that out to the public. I mean, of course, our students and faculty, but also the public writ large. And the podcasts are maybe the [00:17:30] best vehicle that we've developed so far to be able to do that. You know, we have listeners around the country, around the world, um, and it's just, it's a way for us to make new connections off campus, to connect with alumni as well. I've had the opportunity to visit both in person and virtually, with different Penn State alumni chapters across the country and talk about the show. We did like a little listening party where they had listened to some episodes in advance, and then we all met up and talked about it. So, I think it's a great way to continue to build those connections as well.
[00:18:08] Some university podcasts will only have faculty from that university on, but we don't do that. I always say that Democracy Works is about democracy first and Penn State, maybe second or third or somewhere down the list. Although we do certainly showcase Penn State faculty when there's relevant research, but we're not limited to promoting the work of Penn State faculty.
[00:18:30] Jennifer Lee Gunson: I know for me, I don't like doing, uh, pre interview questions, but do you guys perform a pre interview or like send out questions in advance?
[00:18:39] Jenna Spinelle: I don't typically for Democracy Works, um, just because it is, you know, we will edit the interviews, and I'm honestly interviewing a lot of people who are out promoting a book or a paper or something that they've published, so they're kind of, they know more or less what they want to say about it.
[00:18:57] We did have the former provost, uh, of Penn State on several years ago, and his office did ask for questions in advance, I felt like I had to comply with that one. But for When the People Decide, I did do pre interviews there because it's more of a storytelling show. Like, I wanted to go a little deeper, ask some more personal questions, and so I wanted to, you know, build that trust with the people I was interviewing and also learn a little bit more about the story so I knew which areas of it to focus on in the episode.
[00:19:31] Neil McPhedran: As our audience for our podcast is other higher education podcasters, I kind of want to just sort of get into some of the tactics. You've been doing this for 250 episodes, uh, so I think we've, there's, you know, there's a, there's a lot we can learn from you here.
[00:19:45] One of the things also in going to the website, um, and I encourage people to check out the Democracy Works, uh, podcast website, it's a really great website for a podcast. Right in your navigation as well, you have a listener survey, which I think is a super interesting tactic. I'm guessing it works because it's a main nav item, but can you tell us a little bit about that, like what kind of responses do you get and how do you utilize that audience input?
[00:20:11] Jenna Spinelle: We run the listener survey periodically. But it's a way for us to learn like demographically who's listening, to get ideas for guests, topics people want to hear us cover. One of the things that we heard the last time we did the survey was that people actually wanted the episodes to [00:20:30] be longer. They felt like there was more to the conversation and they wanted to hear the full thing, so we made the episodes a little bit longer, which is counterintuitive to what a lot of the conventional wisdom in podcasting is. That's where, you know, the feedback we get in the survey also helps to check us if we're going over the line about being too political or too partisan, people will point that out.
[00:20:53] The thing I hear the most, though, and this matches up with when people, you know, come up to me in person, they say that the show makes them feel hopeful. Not that we sugarcoat things necessarily, but that sometimes just having more information is a source of hope, right? Or just seeing things in a different way is a source of hope, or just having a narrative that's counter to the one that, you know, mainstream media here in the U. S. tends to focus on, which is that politics is broken and divided, and there's nothing we can do about it, and it's all this person or that person's fault. Just hearing a different perspective, I think people find refreshing.
[00:21:31] Neil McPhedran: That's good to hear feedback like that. And you're right about the political times that we're in. So, it's good to have folks out there that feel hope. So, the survey itself, I know with various podcasts we work with, you know, that's one of the things we talk about is like, what tools should we use? So, it looks like you're employing a Google form and you've got a few questions on there and some are open ended is that the case?
[00:21:52] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, I wanted to just keep it as simple as possible, not make it too onerous. We do also incentivize people, we have mugs with the Democracy Works logo, coffee mugs. And so, if you do the survey, we don't send a mug to everybody who fills it out, we don't have that many of them, but I say that you'll be randomly selected to win a mug. That helps incentivize people to do it. I would say to anybody out there, any podcaster who wants to do a listener survey, you should do it, you can get some valuable feedback. And if you have a way to incentivize people, that will help get your response rate up.
[00:22:27] Neil McPhedran: I know some of the shows we work with, we use mugs as incentives and it's super popular. We get people sending the pictures of them with their mug listening to the show, which is awesome, we love that. And then to feature it, because not everyone goes to your website, it sounds like you have a bit of a pre roll that you add. How does that work to drive attention?
[00:22:48] Jenna Spinelle: It's dynamically inserted, we also put it in our email newsletter and on social media and our other promotional channels as well.
[00:22:57] Jennifer Lee Gunson: I'm just like, I love mugs. Hey, any incentive you can get, especially in this day and age of inflation, makes you excited. That being said, since you've been doing podcasting since 2018, how do you feel that the landscape has changed? And do you feel that has changed for the better besides the fact that we know to give mugs out to listeners because we love free stuff?
[00:23:17] Jenna Spinelle: I mean, I think it's definitely gotten way more crowded. There's a lot of, a lot more higher ed shows, a lot more democracy shows, as evidenced by the fact that we now have a whole network of them that we run, right? Um, but I don't, I don't know that's necessarily a bad thing. I do wonder sometimes what the ceiling is for audiences that are interested in academically oriented content, especially because that's also arguably what NPR and Vox and a lot of major media outlets also do that to some degree. So, um, I don't know that I have a clear answer on that one way or the other, but I do think about that a lot, what is the [00:24:00] ceiling? And as each new show enters the market, we're all, are we all competing for smaller and smaller slices of the proverbial listener pie?
[00:24:09] But I also know that universities have contact with a lot of people that maybe don't listen to podcasts. That was more, maybe more true when we started than it is now. But we also have a retirement community on campus that I went and visited and literally, like, had people handing me their phones, or their iPads, or their [00:24:30] computers to subscribe them to the show. People just didn't know how to get podcasts in 2018. I think that is easier now, but there's also more podcasts for them to find on those platforms. Um, so I think it's also incumbent upon universities to think about all the different audiences that they serve, and how they can help those folks become podcast listeners if they're not already. Not just to their show, but to the medium in general and continue to expand the listener pool that everybody has to work from.
[00:25:02] Neil McPhedran: I wonder about that ceiling too. I mean, I think that the pie is growing bigger, but I do think that you're right. There's just seems to be more and more and more shows, it's this long tail of, uh, you know, a lot of them are quite niche. Um, like our, our podcast, uh, is, you know, it's quite a niche podcast. So, I mean, you know, there seems to be a lot of room there, um, but I do wonder about that as well.
[00:25:26] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Yeah, I think it will take a while to get there. Like, I read a stat a year ago that they said there's only one podcast per 10, 000 people, so there's still a lot of room. I do think there's certain areas that are more saturated than others like True Crime. But there's other podcasts that I deal with in the building industry, and I was shocked to see that there's really not that many podcasts on interior design at all, and so, I think it's really depending on where you want to go. But we also have to remember to when you look up and probably if you, you look up a lot of political podcasts, [00:26:00] they might be current during a time of election, and a lot of them are dead and a lot of them have only tried three episodes. So, until these players kind of get rid of all the dead weight, I don't think we're going to have a full idea of what's out there, what's live.
[00:26:13] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah, you know, the other thing I think about too, is that a lot of media organizations and podcast networks are laying people off, right? And so, a lot of the places that produce that educational content outside of [00:26:30] academia, um, maybe don't have the resources to do it, or don't have the resources to do as much of it. And so, how can universities step in and fill that gap or be the ones to put the resources behind telling these stories or, you know, putting this work out there at a time when maybe the economics aren't working for other media outlets to do so.
[00:26:54] Neil McPhedran: Yeah, I think that's a really good point, especially with the higher education side of things, I think that it gives a wider audience an opportunity to be exposed to some of this great stuff that's being taught on campuses that a finite number of people have access to. It definitely does open up that opportunity to a wider audience to be exposed to some of the learnings and some really interesting positions and data and research. Case in point, both of the podcasts, Jenna, that you manage and host.
[00:27:23] Well, you know, we've learned a ton here from you. Just sort of curious if there's anything that you would, that you would add here. Uh, anyone starting, uh, like earlier on in their journey, they're at episode 25, not episode 250, any words of wisdom that you can impart, uh, with our audience?
[00:27:41] Jenna Spinelle: I mean, I think it's important to set expectations. I'm sure you do this with the shows that you work with, but, you know, telling your leadership, that, you know, you're not going to be the next, like, breakout true crime show that gets millions of downloads, right? And I often use the [00:28:00] metaphor of, you know, if we had 300 people come to an event, we would consider that a resounding success. Think about that, you're getting 300 people to listen to you week after week after week. And that's something that the survey is also good for, you know, people write that they listen to us when they work out, or when they're walking in the grocery store, or out with their dog on a walk. And that just helps visualize, I think, that we are a part of people's lives. And that's not something that I take lightly. I [00:28:30] would hope that no other podcasters do as well, given the myriad things that we could all be doing with our time. I'm just always so honored and humbled that people choose to listen to me and my colleagues doing what we do.
[00:28:43] You know, just also keep in mind all the different audiences that your university interacts with. Can you use your show as a way to start a conversation with alumni relations or even with your prospective student office. I used to work in the admissions office at Penn State [00:29:00] and I've had conversations with my former colleagues about, you know, people often drive like four hours to get to Penn State's campus. So, wouldn't it be great if we had a podcast, they could listen to on the drive up or the drive home to, you know, supplement what they hear on their tour, right? I don't think it's the one that I work on, but you know, maybe there's something else out there. Maybe a show that a different university makes would be a good fit for that sort of thing. So, just, yeah, how can you connect with all the different constituencies that your university interacts with?
[00:29:33] Jennifer Lee Gunson: I'm just thinking it's really four hours to get up to Penn State. I'm a traffic nerd because I also do traffic from a helicopter from time to time. So, I was just like, that's a lot, like people complain about the commutes here, like, I could just imagine the traffic on the way up, but that's why you need a great podcast to listen to while driving.
[00:29:53] Neil McPhedran: Well, thank you very much, Jenna. I really appreciate everything that you've shared twice now, so it's been a...
[00:29:59] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Welcome back.
[00:30:00] Neil McPhedran: Yeah, yeah. Thank you so much.
[00:30:04] Jenna Spinelle: Yeah. Thank you both again for the opportunity.
[00:30:08] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Okay, so that was another great episode. Learned so much, love having Jenna on, she is so smart and uh, does so many things and I just really loved how she preps so much for the podcast. Because again, people are going to get tired of me saying this but in radio we research, research, research and I totally believe that needs to be taken over to [00:30:30] podcasting because there's not enough podcasts that do their research but Jenna talks about so much about why her research works. And she's not only doing that for herself. She's also prepping her colleagues that are part of the podcast too. So really making sure that that message that they want to send out to whoever's listening is really fine tuned. And that is why a lot of their podcasts are then listened in classrooms now. They're using them as learning tools, but not only that, they're being incorporated into the lesson plan. So again, I just think she's a very smart lady. Love it. She's doing a lot of things, right? What were your takeaways, Neil?
[00:31:03] Neil McPhedran: I totally agree about her insights on research and whatnot, but yeah, just kind of just springboarding from how they're thinking about episodes and the content they're creating about how they can be utilized in the classroom. I think it's great and we touched on those modules that they've built out on their website around themes. They've built it out in a way that they're encouraging other profs, uh, other schools that [00:31:30] they can use this content they're creating in their classrooms and they made it really straightforward and I just think that was a tremendous idea and it's like what a smart way to lean in your to your evergreen content and drive people back into that catalog.
[00:31:43] I also really like how they use yearly surveys I think that's something we talk about with all the podcasts we work with. And like, there's all different sort of ways to do it, but I love how they drop that like right into the navigation so you can't miss it on their website, uh, super smart. And then they use those data points and insights and ideas to make the show better, which is great. I think we can all learn from that too.
[00:32:06] So, you know, overall, I just think how important their website is as part of the show. I think we get so fixated on producing our episode audio. If you're doing video, that's like the whole next thing, and so when I got audio and video and, you know, like we're all in on that. But the website is so important, and it can't be an afterthought and you can just sort of see how a lot of their success is also built into the fact that they think about how the website is part of the show. They're driving traffic to that website, and they've got great content there that works well with everything else. So anyway, time to learn there. I think that's it. Uh, Jen, anything else we want to add here?
[00:32:42] Jennifer Lee Gunson: No, I just know that you love a good newsletter. So, I know that really spoke to you when, uh, she was talking about that and numbers, numbers from the newsletter of how many people are reading it.
[00:32:53] Neil McPhedran: Another co channel to the website.
[00:32:55] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Another co channel to the website. Yeah. So, this is all Neil's realm. And I, yeah. So, I knew you'd love it. Uh, anyways, that's another episode. And of course, we're going to talk to more wonderful people, uh, in the university podcasting space or colleges, any type of post secondary university. So that's it for now.
[00:33:18] Neil McPhedran: See you later. Hit us up if you want to be on the show. Bye bye.
[00:33:20] Jennifer Lee Gunson: Bye.
[00:33:24] Neil McPhedran: Thank you for tuning into the Continuing Studies Podcast, a podcast for higher education podcasters. We hope you found this episode informative and inspiring. If you enjoyed the show, we encourage you to follow and subscribe to our podcast on your preferred platform, so you'll never miss an episode.
[00:33:40] And if you've found this episode particularly valuable. Please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues who also might be interested in higher education podcasts. We also invite you to join the University Podcasters Network group on LinkedIn. Just search for University Podcasters Network, where you can connect with other podcasters in higher education and learn from others in the field.
[00:34:03] Thank you for being part of our community. We look forward to continuing to bring you valuable insights and conversations around higher education podcasts. See you in the next episode.

Creators and Guests

Co-host and editor of HAVAN's podcast Measure Twice Cut Once/ Traffic Helicopter Reporter/Social Media & Marketing Manager for Euro Canadian
Jenna Spinelle
Jenna Spinelle
Founder @thedemocracygroup. Comms @McCourtneyInst; instructor @psubellisario. Bylines: @time, @currentpubmedia, @insidehighered
Penn State University: Insights from 250 Episodes
Broadcast by