Students are crowding around a table of local podcasters. There's a television screen that shows the information about "The City" podcast behind the panel. There is also an audio studio behind the glass doors in the room.
Students and panel of Reno podcasters at the Reynolds School of Journalism audio room on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Rylee Jackson/Nevada Sagebrush.

As podcasts have increasingly become one of the main news and entertainment mediums of choice for many across the country, Reno is taking notice of its impact.

Hosted by The Reynolds School of Journalism, eight of the area’s most popular podcast hosts gathered in the school’s news studio to discuss their experiences with the field and offer constructive advice to students of professor Nico Colombant’s “Audio: Radio, Podcasting and Beyond” class on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

The local podcasts featured in the panel spanned across many themes of interest. There were hosts that had both professional and hobby focused experiences—making the event an intriguing and multi-faceted conversation about their experiences with the format and the hard work behind it all. 

The majority of the podcasts were news centered. “This Is Reno,” hosted by Bob Conrad, and KUNR’s “Morning Edition,” hosted by Bree Zendler, features everything from Reno’s upcoming events to investigative pieces about the city’s culture. The Nevada Independent’s “IndyMatters” show, hosted by Joey Lovato, covers politics—featuring interviews with Nevada politicians. Anjeanette Damon, from the second season of USA Today’s investigative podcast “The City,” looks into the power dynamics of the area.

The remainder of the hosts balanced the panel out with their more specific themes. Since 2011,  “Reverend Rory Dowd” and “Kadallic Kim” have been the voices of local entertainment with the “Worst Little Podcast”—filled with interviews and performances from the area’s musicians. As an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, Mignon Fogarty’s “Grammar Girl” podcast surrounds the premise of helpful writing tips. Lastly, Brian Melandez’s “Coffee With An Indian” showcases itself as a platform to tell narratives of tribal communities in the city.

After introducing themselves, the hosts went on to discuss how podcast monetization works. Many that are affiliated with news sites don’t necessarily make a ton of money through the podcast alone—resulting in the motion to take in sponsors and donations. Others utilize the online platform Patreon, which focuses on creating a more direct relationship between the host and their listeners through a paid membership.

When it comes to expanding a show, Fogarty proves herself to be a great example. Because of the success of “Grammar Girl,” Fogarty now has the opportunity to take part in paid speaking engagements along with teaching online writing courses. She encouraged students to think outside of the box and mentioned the concept of “building a pie” from your podcast in order to spread across different avenues of income.

Students of Colombant’s class had the opportunity to ask questions ranging from self-promotion to deciding a theme. 

When finalizing their topic of choice, most of the hosts expressed the decision as a long and slow evolution—encouraging students to start something right away and if it’s not working, they have to freedom to try something else. 

When Melandez spoke about the concept for “Coffee With An Indian,” he expressed the importance of connecting with audiences and maintaining authenticity in storytelling. 

In terms of self-promotion, many of the hosts spoke about social media as a tool to grasp the attention of their audience. From hashtags to fan shoutouts on Patreon, hosts are able to keep the fans listening by forming a sense of community.

In true “Shark Tank” fashion, the event transitioned into students pitching ideas for their own podcast. With the open atmosphere in the room, the panel gave great feedback and provided ways they can heighten their plan even further.

The concluding topics of discussion had to do with the inner workings of putting together a show. To be successful in podcasting, having patience and consistency seemed to be the collective statement along with the importance of team communication and asking yourself, “What stories aren’t being told?”

In just a short amount of time, the team of Reno podcasters covered a lot of ground and students seemed to value their words—making it an insightful experience for the future of this growing industry.

Rylee Jackson can be reached at ryleejackson@sagebrush.unr.edu, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.