Newhouse Insider: Taking TRF 510 — Art of the Podcast

Adriana Rozas Rivera

If most days you wake up in search of a new Pod Save America episode (or any other podcast for that matter), imagine doing it for a grade. Finding this course to take as an elective seemed too good to be true. One credit, only runs through part of the semester, and I get to listen to podcasts for homework? It sounds like any communications student’s dream, so I was skeptical. Halfway through the semester, I’m happy to report it’s been a fantastic experience and I recommend you try it out yourself. If you’re curious what really goes on in TRF 510 Art of the Podcast, keep reading for an inside look. 

The schedule for the class is odd. We meet every other week, and while at first, I struggled with that adjustment, it’s actually fantastic. It gives you time to listen to homework, do the light assigned readings, and work on the final class project (more on this ahead). Professor Genevieve Sponsler is also your insider in the biz. She works with PRX, a major podcast distribution company based in the Greater Boston Area, which means she’ll give it to you straight: the good, the bad, and the ugly about the industry. She’s also worked on some of the biggest podcasts out there and can take you behind the scenes in the creative process. PRX is behind The West Wing Weekly and Ear Hustle, so you are learning from someone who knows what it takes to create magic. 

My favorite part of the podcast course is that it covers all aspects of creating a show. As a rookie podcaster myself, I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the process and this course has proven to do just that. You learn about creating a podcast idea, scripting, audio editing, marketing, and distribution. You’ll even be taught the tiny details, like when to upload and what platforms to advertise on. The final project is creating a podcast trailer for a show (real or fake) of your own making. Even if you’ve never edited audio or hosted a show, you can really learn it all in this course. I actually wish it was more credits with an audio editing lab, because I felt like we brushed over that subject pretty quickly. You will definitely learn basic editing skills, but don’t expect to become a sound engineer in this course. 

I think the most unique aspect of the class is how multifaceted it is. There’s a mix of people from programs including, advertising, TRF, MND, and Bandier. This means the professor goes out of her way to teach broadly about podcasting and she tries to cater to everyone’s interests. It’s also been a great way for me to meet and work with new people, even during a pandemic. 

Alright, so not sold? Here’s who should definitely take this course: 

If any of the above sounds like you, I think Art of the Podcast is worth a shot. It’ll be something to add to your resumé in a world where everyone and their mother has a podcast.