New podcast studio generates buzz

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 at 9:32 PM
New podcast studio generates buzz by Nathan Brennan

In an era of constant change and innovation, one of the most popular tools in all of media is the podcast. According to Forbes, there are approximately 62 million Americans who listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, with over 800,000 active shows. With that audience, it seems a lot of big names have invested in the podcast business.

To keep up with this trend, the Edinboro University branch of the NWPA Innovation Beehive Network has constructed a new podcasting studio. 

The studio is located inside the Beehive’s office in the Baron-Forness Library and is under the supervision of its Executive Director Dr. Anthony Peyronel, the Beehive’s Social Media and Podcast Specialist Chris Lantinen and various other faculty and student workers. 

According to Peyronel, “In a way, the project came out of thin air.”

He explained that the university’s director of grants and sponsored programs, Rosmari Graham, played a role in the conception of the studio. 

“She was an early proponent of the Beehive, and she was the person involved in the original funding that the network received” he said. “She reviews the budgets to make sure we’re spending the money correctly and on time, and she actually discovered that we had underspent somewhat significantly on one of the grants.”

He continued, “When we found out we had an unanticipated pool of money to work with, we thought, ‘What can we do to get the most impact out of this?’” 

From there, in conversation with others such as Lantinen and Dr. James Wertz, the associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the idea for a quality podcast studio came about. 

“With grant funding, money that you don’t spend is typically taken back, and so we had that pleasant surprise of having a larger pool of funding than we thought,” Peyronel said, adding that this caused the actual building of the studio to be expedited in order to be finished before the deadline of Dec. 31, 2019. 

The studio, according to Lantinen, has a new Yamaha digital mixing board, six top-of-the-line Shure microphones, and a customized table made locally by Willow Creek Reclaimed Barn Wood Furniture. The space is still undergoing some finishing touches in order to complete it.

Others who assisted with the studio include the Edinboro Director of Learning Technology Services Dr. James Boulder, Instructional Technologist Bradley Peters and project manager Lyle Sansoucie.

“I can’t tell you how important Dr. Boulder, Bradley Peters and Lyle were. Each has a specific set of expertise that we continue to tap into as we finish up the project. It simply wouldn’t have happened correctly without them,” said Lantinen.

Construction last semester didn’t stop the Beehive from officially beginning their podcasting ventures. Their first show, “Buzz Generated,” has already recorded five of 10 episodes in their first season. The episodes were recorded in a “mobile” capacity, which consisted of some microphones, a Zoom H6 mobile mixer, and various locations, said Lantinen. 

Lantinen was assisted in launching the podcast by Keith Hepler, a student also working with the Beehive. Over the summer they developed the concept, initially pitched by Peyronel. 

“This involved brainstorming show names, developing design guidelines with the design faculty that work there, and formatting, to name a few of the steps. Additionally, I’ve been learning how to produce stuff to a professional level since it all began,” Hepler said.

One of Hepler’s big hopes for the space is for it to be used this fall by other journalists in election coverage.

“This area of the state is going to be critical to both parties, and I hope we can make the space available to journalists or media types that follow the candidates around.”

Overall, he sees great potential in the studio. “I think it would be great for the university as a whole to be recognized as an entity that sees the importance of podcasting.”

Discussing “Buzz Generated,” Peyronel described it as another way to get “positive attention for our clients and for the work we’re doing here.”

The first four episodes of the show aimed to accomplish this, as well as discuss economics and business in the region. The first episode was with one of the Beehive’s first clients, John Meighan, who owns Lake Erie Rubber and Manufacturing, as well as the One Leg Up pet toy line. 

The second featured guests were Jim Becker and Angela Annibale from the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, who, with the Beehive, put together recent marketing enhancements for Conneaut Lake Park. 

The third episode featured a talk with Kristen Santiago, a small business management consultant running Ivy + Atlas, a company based in Erie. 

The fourth episode highlights Dr. Perry Wood, the executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA), a non-profit organization aimed at “empowering nonprofits and small businesses toward economic and community development,” according to their website.

The fifth episode, recently recorded, is an interview with James Grunke, the president and CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. This organization also sponsored the first season of the show.

In addition, the Beehive’s early podcasting days included assisting the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania with the first season of their show, “Film Grain.” 

Potential of the studio

The studio isn’t intended to solely be used by the Beehive. “We really think it’s probably the premier podcast facility in the region, so we want to make it available to other people on campus,” said Peyronel.

In fact, the first students to use the studio were recording their new podcast last week. Students Richard Gibson and Sam Bohen recorded their sports show, “Liminal Space,” which is now available (Search “EdinboroNow” on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and more). 

Bohen has enjoyed his experience thus far. 

“The space is wonderful, it’s state-of-the-art and just a really cool area,” he said. “The podcast quality is excellent; the sound is clean and crisp and that obviously makes for a better show.”

He concluded, “The Beehive gives us the best chance for the show to become something.”

In addition, the Beehive has been in talks with other students, faculty and university staff to see who might be interested in utilizing the studio.

According to Peyronel, they have discussed the studio with EU Manager of Communications Christopher LaFuria, who runs the university podcast “Tartan Talks.” (The Spectator wrote about the launch of this podcast in Volume 119, Issue 2) 

Beyond that, both Lantinen and Peyronel see a great deal of possibilities with the space. Lantinen has “dream scenarios” of different departments using the studio for related works (he gave an example of the English department, and the related student publication Chimera, perhaps doing readings of their work). Meanwhile, Peyronel sees the formation of a regional podcasting group beyond the Beehive somewhere on the horizon.

“There are some other things down the line — a lot of potential — and we’ll have to see how that goes,” said Peyronel.

The ‘magic’ of podcasts

The potential of podcasts, both at the Beehive and nationally, is still evolving. 

“We’re still at the point of the podcasting evolution where there’s really only a few major players,” said Lantinen. 

However, more and more seem to be cashing in.

According to Forbes: “Recognizing the popularity of podcasting, a number of large media companies have recently entered the marketplace. In January 2019, audio streamer Spotify acquired podcast publisher Gimlet Media, behind such popular shows as ‘Startup,’ ‘Homecoming’ and ‘Reply All.’ Soon afterwards, Spotify acquired Anchor, which provides the technological platform to help people create podcasts. Reportedly, Spotify paid $340 million to acquire both companies.”

Others jumping into the podcasting game include Sony Music and Entercom, as well as major content providers such as WarnerMedia and many more. 

You don’t have to be in these elite groups to start a podcast, though.

“The magic of podcasting has always been the low barrier of entry,” said Lantinen. “All of these creative people who clearly didn’t have the outlet to express themselves prior now have an outlet.”

He continued, “Market saturation comes with that, but it also makes podcasting the most exciting because anybody could do it.”

Anyone, even at Edinboro University.

Disclaimer: Chris Lantinen and Sam Bohen, who are both quoted in this story, are involved with The Spectator. Lantinen is the production manager, and Bohen is a sports writer.

Tags: podcasting

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