Internet on campus: U Podcasts provide anytime-access to speakers, events

By By Parker Williams

By Parker Williams

Regardless of a person’s schedule or location, the U’s podcasting program provides lectures when you want them, where you want them.

With the popularity of personal audio devices such as iPods or MP3 players, podcasting is steadily growing in popularity.

“One of the key benefits is it’s a way for the University to showcase the minds and the talents we have,” said publication manager Jason Smith.

Between January and October, the U’s podcast site averaged 468 hits per day. Throughout the year, there have been 20,000 different visitors to the site. Podcasts from the humanities department are the most downloaded, followed closely by politics and society podcasts.

Although individual colleges and departments at the U have produced downloadable audio files for several years, it was not until recently that the U decided to create a campus-wide podcasting program.

“We’d seen places like Stanford, UCLA and a host of top-tier universities pull these things together and we thought it’d be important for us to do it too,” Smith said.

Slightly more than a year ago, the publications department of U marketing and communications received a request to create a campus podcasting program. In addition to their existing work, employees in the publications department agreed to tackle podcasting because it seemed interesting, Smith said.

He said starting the podcasting program hasn’t been easy. A small staff and no additional budget add to the difficulty of the task.

“If you look at other universities, such as UCLA, they put a considerable amount of money, time and energy into it because it’s another public face of the University. And for us, because we don’t have the kind of funds…that some of these other universities do, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we’ve pulled it off so well,” Smith said.

Smith said one of the most proactive podcasting groups on campus is the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

“We have so many students and other people say, ‘Oh, wish I could come to the forums, but I have a class,'” said Jayne Nelson, assistant director of the Hinckley Institute. “(Podcasting) is a way that they can access things that they’re interested in that they might not be able to come (to) in person.”

U podcasts are regularly updated and can be downloaded or listened to via streaming audio at http://www.utah.edu/podcast.

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