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Brian Amsden - Faculty Profile

For Dr. Brian Amsden, a communications and media studies professor, his side hobby has become a successful academic course that teaches students to use the power of their voice to share their thoughts through online communities.

Three years ago, Amsden developed his own podcast, "Rhetorical Questions," that focuses on the question of "Why?"

"Why is this a thing?" Why are we even talking about this?" and "Why does this matter?" are the central questions that Amsden says he likes to base his topics on for each episode.

Guests range from subject experts to everyday citizens who come together to discuss everything from contemporary culture to current events.

"I always want the question to be something basic," Amsden says. "Something that you don't have to think too much about so if it's an interesting and relatable question, people will listen."

Amsden started his podcast career after taking a class on the medium and decided to create something fun he could share. Inspired by National Public Radio broadcast programming, he modeled his podcast after the media outlet's current-events style show format.

Some of Amsden's recent topics for "Rhetorical Questions" have explored the Atlanta Woman's March to Beyoncé's controversy over her song choice at the 2016 Super Bowl promoting a sense of black power.

"I like it because it's a way of combining the conceptual and artistic side of thinking…laying out a story and turning a lecture into a work of art," Amsden explains.

“I really do hope that students take this opportunity outside of the classroom and maybe continue it on their own. It’s a great way to showcase your work,” Amsden says.

Amsden adds that the podcast form is a unique division from other media formats because you are grabbing the listener's attention by what they hear and not what they see.

"They have to be able to follow you," he says.

Amsden recently took his passion into a full-fledged Audio Podcasting class at Clayton State. He launched the first semester of the class in the spring of 2017.

The course provides a comprehensive overview of how to properly construct podcasts. Students conceptualize a theme, conduct interviews and edit the audio in Adobe Audition to complete their personalized podcast episodes.

While the final podcast is an assignment, many students have already begun to prepare to publish their podcast for listeners.

"I really do hope that students take this opportunity outside of the classroom and maybe continue it on their own. It's a great way to showcase your work," Amsden says.

With the success of "Rhetorical Questions" and the Audio Podcasting class, Amsden has been able to turn a hobby into an opportunity to provide the skills students need to engage in new media forms.

But he makes it clear, that to have a successful podcast requires dedication. In fact, he finds that his own podcast has gotten better since the first episode.

"I definitely learned a lot by perfecting my own [podcast]. It takes time," Amsden says.


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