Last week, AACRAO received a notification from the podcast hosting platform Buzzsprout that our For the Record podcast has achieved the 10,000 download milestone.
After celebrating (virtually) with For the Record host Doug McKenna (George Mason University) and Admit It host James Miller (Seattle University), AACRAO Deputy Director Melanie Gottlieb asked them to reflect on their experiences so far.
Your AACRAO podcast has been running now for a couple of years--what has been the most challenging part of managing the podcast?
Doug: The hardest part for me was getting it going. I had to overcome a lot of fear jumping it—not knowing if it would turn out well, not knowing if anyone would listen, not knowing if anyone would agree to be a guest, all of the voices
in my brain that say “they’re all going to laugh at you!” That first cluster of episodes is a lot of just me talking, as I started to get my footing, and started to get people to agree to be guests. That part has been much easier
since there are other episodes I can send people to as examples and confirm for them that yes, people are going to listen.
It is time consuming to produce: the initial ideation for an episode, outreach and scheduling with potential guests, the actual interview, then post production where I go in and edit out all of my “umms” and many of the dumb things that
I say (obviously not all, though, because I’d be left with nothing!). It’s definitely an investment.
James: No doubt the biggest complexity is the production and creation process working with the many other things that have to be managed as a working admissions pro. But, it’s such a great creative outlet. And it’s always great
What has been the most rewarding part of hosting your show?
Doug: This entire project has been super rewarding in so many ways. I’ve met a lot of people and had some really meaningful conversations and I wouldn’t’ve had that opportunity without the podcast. I’ve learned something
with every episode, and I feel really good about that ongoing growth. And the feedback that I’ve gotten (which isn’t much, to be honest) is that people have found it interesting and helpful, professionally. That’s the most rewarding
thing for me.
I think 10,000 downloads is pretty cool, but it’s also totally inconceivable (I do not think that means what you think it means) to look at that number and think back to that first meeting we had to discuss starting a registrar-focused podcast.
I left that meeting thinking, “Well, at least my parents will listen…probably.”
James: Every guest on Admit It has changed the way I thought about some issue that came up in conversation. Honestly, I wish I could say I have some master plan for the audience when I book a guest. But almost everyone I get on the pod
is there because I’m wanting to learn or hear more about a topic or idea. It’s like throwing a conference session for yourself. I hope people enjoy our guests as much as I do.
Have you had any fun experiences being recognized as an AACRAO "podcast celebrity"?
James: My favorite listener interaction was actually with a registrar who wrote to me to tell me that he had picked up the podcast because he has a super-long commute. He said he thought it wouldn’t be his thing because it’s not
his work area, but that he ended up loving the pod and has become a regular listener.
Doug: I don’t actually receive very much feedback about the podcast. Every now and then someone will send an e-mail and say they liked an episode or something, but at the beginning I really had no idea whether it was landing or not. That
mostly changed at the Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. I think we’d published five full episodes by that point and I’d heard nothing about it, just total radio silence from a feedback perspective. But then I was standing in the vendor
hall with a group of friends and people would walk by and say, “Hey! I love the podcast!” and give me a thumbs up. And I was just floored because I totally didn’t expect it or see it coming.
So far, what's your favorite episode and why?
James: Without a doubt, the interview with Michael Benitez, now at Metro State in Denver. He’s a brilliant scholar, chief diversity officer, and tells it like it is. But what’s most impressive about him is what a great listener
he is. He had such thoughtful responses to every question I asked.
Doug: I don’t have one favorite episode. I interviewed my wife about the principles of privacy and we were sitting around a table talking shop and our daughter was there just listening and that’s a fun memory. I’ve really
enjoyed the episodes where the guest is not from the AACRAO community because it feels dangerous or something. Talking to Dr. Hutt about the history of the student record, or Dr. Christy about working with faculty, or Dr. Silva about the Carnegie
Unit…I’m really excited to be able to bring that kind of expertise and perspective to the AACRAO membership and it’s just a reminder that the role of the registrar can be informed and enriched from many varied and different
The AACRAO umbrella covers a pretty broad array of topics, and there remains a lot of ground to explore in the podcast medium. We would love to have more hosts come forward to help us to broaden our perspective and range of topics — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues, Transfer, International Education, SEM, Retention...I could go on and on. Do you have any words of wisdom for members who may want to come up with their own AACRAO podcast program?
James: Have a perspective. A podcast is not a whitepaper. I think the more you can tunnel into a specific aspect of an issue in the work, the more responsive people are. I know I worried a bit at first about getting too into the weeds on stuff,
but people really respond to specificity.
Doug: Be brave. A lot of the time you’re just sitting by yourself talking into a microphone. It’s totally different than giving a presentation in front of people and that takes some getting used to. Give your guests time and space
to talk, but don’t be afraid to delete things in post-production. Think through who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to share with them, both broadly and specifically with each episode. The clearer you can be about
that with yourself I think the better that comes through in the podcast.
Interested in joining the AACRAO podcast team? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.