WFUV Podcasts Fordham Conversations
Mar 21, 2007 12:00 PM,
By Linda Seid Frembes
WFUV, a non-commercial public radio station in New York, has recently begun podcasting “Fordham Conversations,” a weekly half-hour program that highlights Fordham University‘s activities inside and outside of the academic world. The listener-supported station is licensed to the university, a partnership that has lasted for more than 50 years. In addition to public radio programming, local news, and traffic reports, the station also broadcasts an eclectic mix of rock, singer-songwriters, blues, world, and other styles of music.
Headquartered on Fordham’s campus in the heart of New York, WFUV is a professionally run station that also employs and trains approximately 70 Fordham University students. The two entities share a close relationship, with a portion of the station’s programming addressing Fordham community-related issues with programs such as Fordham Conversations. Hosted by University Producer Nora Flaherty, the program airs on the radio station Saturdays at 7 a.m. and is now available for podcast anytime through the wfuv.org or www.fordham.edu websites.
“The program suits the podcast medium,” says WFUV web director Laura Fedele, who was instrumental in getting the podcast off the ground. “Our listeners have had a good response to podcasts in general. The program has its origins in traditional radio and, over the last five years, we have offered the program in our web archives so anyone using Windows Media Player can listen at their desk. In terms of Fordham Conversations, it is a half-hour program focusing on one cohesive topic so it makes sense for it to be portable.”
The program—which features the work and research of Fordham professors, students, and alumni—addresses a multitude of topical subjects ranging from healthcare for women prisoners to the enduring popularity of the hit television show The Simpsons. Recent programs feature topics such as the phenomenon of telenovelas and gentrification in New York. Flaherty, who also produces the program, creates a digital audio file for the traditional radio show.
“The station uses a web service to upload the file and convert it to a podcast compatible format,” Fedele says. “Although our show is professionally produced, someone who is interested in creating a podcast from their home can easily do so and distribute it using a web service.”
The station serves more than 330,000 listeners per week in the New York area and thousands more worldwide on the web via its podcasts. “From a listener’s perspective, they will shape the future of the medium. I’m sure there are listeners who come across a podcast and then end up listening to the station,” Fedele says. “Since podcasts allow for subscriptions, listeners can automatically download the program instead of looking for it on our website. There are many online directories of available shows, and the station also contributes to a national NPR pool of podcasts.”
For its part, Fordham University is very supportive of the Fordham Conversations podcast, and its website provides visitors with a link to download it. WFUV’s podcasts have been gaining popularity in recent months. Time Magazine called the station’s weekday Take Five one of the 10 best podcasts of 2006. “We developed the five-minute musician performance and question-and-answer format called Take Five first as a podcast; then it became a radio program,” Fedele says.
Other WFUV podcasts include Music Reviews with writer Alan Light; Movie Reviews with critic Harlan Jacobson; and Cityscape, an inside look at the people, places, and spirit of New York City with host George Bodarky. Fedele notes that Cityscape is a popular program that also lends itself to the portable podcast format.
Moving forward, the university and WFUV will continue their decades-long partnership. The station moved into new studios on the Fordham campus in the fall of 2005 with the University providing in-kind support, such as rent-free studio and office space and monetary support equal to approximately five percent of the station’s operations budget. WFUV will soon launch a capital fundraising campaign to help defray the University’s costs to support the station.
The popularity of podcasting has also given rise to companies who are offering services to help anyone interested in creating a podcast. Services range from production and promotion assistance to file hosting and subscriber management. Plans can cost as little as $5 per month and service providers include well-known brands such as GoDaddy and Yahoo.