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Stony Brook Southampton Launches First Podcasting Program in U.S.

Stony Brook Southampton is launching a new one-year Audio Podcast Fellows program in association with producing partner WSHU Public Radio starting in August of this year. The first of its kind in the U.S., the program will offer students advanced training in all aspects of podcasting while they develop their own podcasts, from proposal to pilot to pitch.

“Audio podcast is not only tied to the future of broadcast radio, but also increasingly aligned with the future of storytelling and intellectual discourse,” said Robert Reeves, Associate Provost for the Southampton Graduate Arts program. “That makes it a perfect fit for our programs’ existing interests,” Reeves continued. “And building exciting new partnerships, such as with WSHU, means we can offer students experiential learning opportunities that can’t be matched anywhere.”

The number of podcasts produced has more than tripled to more than 300,000 in the past five years, according to the school’s announcement. This, of course, also means that the number of passionate listeners is also continuing to rise for popular shows such as WTF with Marc Maron, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Tim Ferriss Show, Risk!, Pod Save America, Hardcore History, How Did This Get Made and many, many others.

Because of so many new shows coming to the space, Stony Brook points out, “There is now a significant demand for producers, editors, writers and other professionals with the requisite skills for competing successfully in the marketplace.”

A maximum of 12 serious students will be selected through a competitive admissions process for the Audio Podcast Fellows program. Students will spend the first semester in the classroom at both Southampton and Manhattan locations, where they will receive the most current instruction from leading industry professionals. The students will develop mastery in all phases of podcast production, including in-studio and off-site sound recording, and mixing stories with the latest digital editing technology.

Topics will include storytelling and narrative construction, writing for the ear, adapting writing for broadcast, and editing the spoken word, as well as strategies for marketing and distribution.

In the second semester, Audio Podcast Fellows will head into the field, developing ideas for innovative programming, shepherding those ideas through the proposal/pitch process, and finally creating a soup-to-nuts pilot ready for market. During this time, students will have a range of internship options, enabling them to collaborate on actual programming with some of the country’s leading artists and cultural institutions. Students may choose to work on existing podcasts from the program’s own “in-house” roster of shows, or with the program’s production partner, WSHU, or with other affiliated podcast producers and distributors, such as WNYC and Midroll.

“We’re excited to partner with Stony Brook Southampton on this innovative new program,” WSHU Program Director Tom Kuser said. “This collaboration allows us to do two things that WSHU is really committed to: deliver compelling new content to our community; and provide unique, hands-on learning experiences to a new generation of creative content producers and storytellers.”

Production partner WSHU Public Radio will broadcast podcast excerpts and interview hosts on the air, creating widespread awareness among public radio listeners. The podcasts will also be featured on WSHU’s website and promoted via on-air announcements, social media, and e-newsletters, offering an opportunity to reach and build an audience in New York and Connecticut.

Kathie Russo will direct the new Audio Podcast Fellows program
Kathie Russo will direct the Audio Podcast Fellows program, Photo: Christian McLean

Stony Brook Southampton’s Kathleen Russo, a producer of Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing podcast, will direct the new Audio Podcast Fellows program. Distinguished visiting faculty and guests will include, among others: Ophira Eisenberg (Ask Me Another), WNYC; Gimlet: PRX; Victoria Lang (Found); Julie Subrin (Producer); Wendy Dorr (Producer); Catherine Burns (The Moth); Earwolf/Stitcher and Panoply.

Throughout the program, students will take advantage of two Stony Brook classroom and recording locations: The newly renovated David Rakoff Studio on the Southampton campus and, in Manhattan, the Center for Creative Writing and Film, at 535 Eighth Avenue.

The Fellows program is also uniquely positioned to leverage the existing strengths in storytelling within the highly-regarded Southampton MFA programs in Creative Writing and Film.

For more information about the Audio Podcast Fellows program, visit stonybrook.edu/podcastfellows.

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