A Pittsburg State University faculty member's podcast success and his experience as an educator drove him to develop what may be Kansas’ first collegiate course in podcasting. But in addition to inspiring students to the point of earning recognition beyond Pittsburg, he's done so himself.
Trent Kling, who co-hosts and produces a weekly retail podcast with his brother Layton, has been invited to California to cover Shop.Org, the National Retail Federation’s largest e-commerce conference in the nation. The conference takes place Sept. 25-27 in Los Angeles, Calif.
“It’s exciting,” said Kling. “The fact that someone in Pittsburg, Kansas, is even a voice in a retail marketplace dominated by L.A., Chicago and New York is remarkable. It really speaks to the reach of podcasting.”
If you’re unfamiliar with podcasting, think of it as radio-on-demand. Episodic in nature, these audio recordings are generally focused on a particular topic, allowing listeners to download and learn about areas of specific interest to them.
Kling, who worked in radio prior to becoming an associate professor in PSU’s Department of Communication, said it was his broadcasting background that led him to the world of podcasting.
My brother, Layton, was a student at Wichita State when he approached me about starting a retail podcast,” said Kling. “He knew I had a radio background and loved retail so he thought it’d be a great fit. We discovered there really weren’t any retail podcasts out there so we moved forward.”
Their “The Retail Focus Podcast” quickly gained a following and has been listed on the U.S. iTunes podcasting chart for nearly 70 straight weeks.
“We reach up to 15,000 listeners every week,” said Kling. “Layton and I pride ourselves on putting out a professional product, which is why we’ll spend up to six hours producing one 60-minute podcast. It takes a lot of technical know-how to cut through noise and reach your audience.”
Kling recognized podcasting as having tremendous teaching potential.
“One of the current drivers, in terms of teaching broadcasting, is pushing people into different forms of new media,” said Kling. “I happened to have an open course in the spring and my colleagues asked if I could fold our traditional mass media management course into a podcasting class."
He presented it as a proposal to Dr. Cynthia Allan, departmental chair, who liked the idea and gave him the go-ahead. The course was a success with nearly every open seat filled by students. Kling focused his class on the strategy necessary to target, attract and retain an audience in today’s crowded media marketplace.
“I wanted to drive home the point that anyone can record themselves and place it online,” said Kling. “You differentiate yourself through content and consistency. You must do something that nobody else is doing. If you are interested in what appears to be a very niche market there’s probably somebody else interested in it too.”
Kling’s students took his lessons to heart by producing podcasts that touched on topics rarely found on radio.
“One student did a podcast over the business side of Greek life on a campus community,” said Kling. “He was looking at finances, at public relations, and at strategic communications. He interviewed members of fraternities and sororities from outside of the area in order to give his listeners a better understanding of the topic.”
The students’ podcasts were well received by listeners and critics alike. In fact, “The Millcast,” a podcast created by undergraduate Taylor Humphries which looks at millennial culture, is a finalist for a regional award from the South Central Broadcasting Society.
Kling is hoping to teach the podcasting course again in the spring. If he does, he may have more than his trip to the Shop.Org convention to discuss in class.
“My brother and I are in talks to be part of the National Retail Federation’s 2018 Convention in January in New York,” said Kling. “It’s the largest show of its kind in the world. I’d love to be able to bring this type of experience back to my broadcasting students.”
"The Retail Focus Podcast" is available on iTunes, Spotify and most podcasting services.
For more information about Pittsburg State's emphasis in Broadcast Communication, visit http://www.pittstate.edu/department/communication/emphasis-areas/broadcasting-emphasis.dot
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