Week 9 – Learning from Podcasts

Check out one or more of the podcasts listed below or one of your choice. Write a blog post about how podcasting can be used to extend a public history audience.

I listened to “The History of the Republican Party” from Backstory via SoundCloud.

This was my first exposure to podcasts. I’ve shied away from them because I really didn’t understand the concept and was, and am, somewhat overwhelmed by the number of podcasts available and the number of channels through which they may be found.

I found this particular podcast similar to a radio version of Front Line or Ted Talks, a rebroadcast of This American Life, or an oral form of YouTube. I listened while driving in my car, which was very convenient. I didn’t expect to obtain the same level of detail I would find in an academic paper. As a result, I wasn’t disappointed not to “hear” footnotes. At the same time, I enjoyed this more than I believe I would from reading a blog on this topic. There was a lot of information provided and the format was entertaining. There was a “host” who guided the overall presentation, but throughout the podcast, he was joined by several experts who contributed info from their perspectives. Plus, the format was more of a dialog than a lecture, and interspersing brief music transitions was a nice touch.

I learned quite a bit of information from this podcast and it prompted an interest in following up at some point. For example, I found the discussion of the role Mark Hanna played in the election of McKinley in 1896 really interesting. He was described as the first Karl Rove and was credited with expanding the base of support for the party, beyond the traditional party base – reaching out to the general public, and to corporations for financial support.

I see podcasts as an additional teaching tool, one that takes advantage of the current significance of social media, the prevalence of obtaining news and other information from mobile devices, and the need to reinvent ways for sharing information about the humanities.

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