SUU’s Big Thunder Podcast Studio
Construction of Southern Utah University’s Thunder Podcast studio wrapped in Spring 2020. The new Podcast Studio allows SUUNews and students create podcasts that cater towards the interests and hobbies of students.
KSUU radio (Thunder 91.1) allocated $4,500 toward the podcast studio, gearing it with top quality sound proofing panels, microphones, a stellar soundboard along with other useful equipment.
Ryan Steineckert, SUU professor and KSUU station manager, attributed the creation of the studio to SUU alumni Jadon Lamphear or “Big Thunder”—once notorious for going shirtless to sporting events with a lightning bolt painted on his chest.
“I give credit for the studio to Jadon,” Steineckert said. “He donated his office so we could build this for the university.”
Steineckert manages the station for SUU. Since Steineckert took over station management from Professor Cal Rollins, the program has expanded immensely.
“There are a number of groups on campus that use the podcast studio,” Steineckert said. “Whether it’s for class or for a hobby, students can use it free of charge.”
The price to use a highly equipped podcast studio typically starts at $79 per hour. Steineckert thinks students should take advantage of the university’s podcast studio because it is free and leads to educational opportunities.
“The biggest benefit of podcasting is that students learn one-to-one communication skills and how to connect to an audience,” Steineckert stated.
Spring semester 2022, SUUNews regularly produced the podcasts “Thundercast,” “A Date with Sugar and Spice,” “CE Sports” and introduced a new podcast “Common Ground.”
Hosts Christian Esparza and Parker Haynie publish ‘Thundercast’ every Tuesday morning. The show focuses on SUU athletics and brings on coaches and players as special guests.
“Our most memorable interview was with the new football coach Dwayne Fitgerald,” Esparza said. “SUU was very unsuccessful just before he was hired so having him on was exciting.”
Esparza also highlighted his coverage of the first day of free agency for the National Basketball Association in 2021. He received updates of the event through his phone while he was recording the podcast.
“It felt like I was reporting breaking news even though it wasn’t a live podcast,” Esparza said.
Esparza and Haynie said that podcasting is preparing them for their futures in sports media. They prepared for interviews, reached out to guest podcasters and learned how to be creative with challenging stories.
“When football lost nine games in a row, it was hard to report on the team,” Haynie said. “We had to report on something that was boring, which happens a lot in the actual career.”
A Date with Sugar and Spice
Aspen English hosts “A Date with Sugar and Spice” which airs every Thursday afternoon. The podcast focuses on SUU students’ experiences with dating and relationships.
Each episode is different to the one prior. English hosts the show with a different guest each week and tries to create a welcoming atmosphere for all listeners.
“My goal is to make them feel like they’re not alone,” English said. “Sometimes all students need is to listen to dating failures and Tinder horror stories.”
Sugar and Spice is in its 8th running season. Last semester, the podcast aired eleven episodes after English inherited the podcast.
One of English’s biggest moves was to open the podcast to a variety of different people. In her previous season, she hosted the show with members of the LGBTQ community.
English said podcasting has helped her skills as a student and professional tremendously.
“Podcasting is just an interview on steroids,” English said. “The experience is such a good way to increase your interview skills, learn how to be more personable and find out what makes people talk.”
Sugar and Spice allowed English to be more bold with her interview questions. During her episodes, she asked students intimate questions that they may not be inclined to answer to a stranger.
“I want my audience to be on the edge of their seats and say ‘wow she really just said that,’” English stated.
Danielle Meuret and Lexi Hamel co-host Common Ground which airs every two weeks on Fridays. The podcast’s goal is to discuss controversial issues from a liberal and conservative perspective and find common ground at the end of the conversation.
So far, the podcast has covered SUU’s masks expected policy and voting rights. Ally Isom made a guest appearance on the podcast’s third episode to discuss her run for U.S. Senate, the hosts’ favorite moment so far.
“My goal with this podcast is to understand the conservative perspective of most political culture issues.” Meuret said. “In today’s political climate, conversations about tough issues can be awkward so my goal is to help people get these conversations started.”
Meuret and Hamel are both seniors majoring in political science and communications. Both students plan on pursuing a career in journalism.
“[Meuret] and I decided the podcast would be a great opportunity for our career goals,” Hamel said. “The political climate we live in is so divided so being able to have educated, civil conversations has been beneficial.”
Getting Involved in Podcasts
Nathan Riser is the podcast manager for SUUNews. He does everything from helping new students record a podcast to editing the content which includes adding music and cutting out awkward silence or touchy answers.
“Anyone can do a podcast if they have a good idea,” Riser said. “They just have to stay consistent and be okay with producing it under the SUU umbrella.”
Riser explained that the station has hosted podcasts on Dungeons & Dragons, the Southern Utah Museum of Art and other unique topics.
“Podcasts appeal to all kinds of niches and there is a niche for everything,” Riser stated. “I try to keep personal bias out of my edits because what may not interest me would interest a whole audience.”
Steineckert advised that students should choose a topic that they are interested in and passionate about. He also thinks student podcasters should find someone who will give them honest feedback so that they can improve.
“We welcome any topics that students want to do,” Steineckert stated. “If you need assistance, we are here to help.”
To get started with your podcast idea, visit the podcast studio located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center next to the radio station. SUUNews podcasts are available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you find your podcasts.