Learning to Listen: WTJU Brings Podcasting to J-Term

January 13, 2020 By Payton Moledor, pm4ym@virginia.edu Payton Moledor, pm4ym@virginia.edu

It’s simple, according to Nathan Moore:

“The class starts with listening.”

Moore, radio station general manager-turned-guest lecturer, has long believed in the power of storytelling as a community-building tool.

In his new, hands-on, January term workshop at the University of Virginia, Moore – who runs WTJU 91.1 FM and WXTJ 100.1 FM, UVA’s community and student radio stations – shared that belief with a group of students.

The course, “Sound Production and Storytelling,” taught students to create their own podcasts and other creative audio projects, some of which will air on WTJU.

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Nathan Moore sitting in a chair in front of a class talking
WTJU’s Nathan Moore shared his love for storytelling with a class of January term students.

“I think it’s important for WTJU to really explicitly serve the University’s educational mission wherever we can,” Moore said.

Through a series of guest lecturers and audio production workshops, students in the course were given the opportunity to create their own podcast stories. These stories explore the Charlottesville music community, complete with interviews with prominent musicians, producers and music store owners in the area.

Lewis Reining, and Philip Song work on a computer together
Lewis Reining, WTJU producer and content director, helps student Philip Song with his final project.

Fourth-year engineering major Nathanial Saxe decided to create his podcast about the Prism Coffeehouse, a Charlottesville music venue that he felt a personal connection to through his mother.

“This is a story I’ve been curious about since I was a little kid,” Saxe said. “It seemed like it was a big part of my mom’s life, doing volunteer work at this place.”

Addie Patrick sits at a table working on a laptop
Fourth-year anthropology and French double-major Addie Patrick edits her podcast about Melody Supreme record store.

Other students decided to explore the history of music in the Charlottesville area, interviewing musicians and producers who have worked as far back as the 1980s.

Fourth-year English major Mary Royall Wilgis believes the strength of the course lies in the technical skills she has learned, as well as the content.

“I do a lot of visual storytelling in design and writing, but the one thing I don’t know how to do is audio production,” she said.

Mary Royall Wilgis  sits at a table working on a laptop with headphones on
Mary Royall Wilgis is creating her podcast about the history of Muldowney’s Pub, Charlottesville’s first gay bar and home of local punk music.

In addition to learning how to tell stories, students like Wilgis will walk away with a practical set of tools to produce their own audio projects in the future.

“The class feels like actual training for the real world,” fourth-year linguistics major Sabrina Moore said. “It feels like preparation for the next step of my life.”

She made connections between the course and her work as an aspiring linguist, citing once again the importance of learning how to tell a story.

Audio recorder with microphone hooked up
Students learn practical audio production skills in addition to creativity and storytelling.

“When it comes to how we make meaning and connect with each other and create communities, stories are really what bind us,” Nathan Moore said. “My hope is that they all come out of this class with ideas about how you communicate and tell the stories that connect us.”