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SoCJ Students Made You a “Mix Tape”

An illustration of a cassette tape labeled Mix Tape
An illustration of a cassette tape labeled Mix Tape
Graphic designed by Abigail Bender, science communication student

Undergraduates and graduate students studying journalism and science communication, scattered across the country and in Canada, came together this summer to tell the story of something that has brought humanity together for millennia — music.

Sludge punk in a Medford basement.

Insights into the work and lives of DJs around Long Island.

Classical music from Europe and India.

The enthusiasm and joy of musical theater in Babylon.

An LGBTQ+ collaborative art and music space in Washington State.

Each of these scenes and more are the subject of one of the 13 episodes of “Mix Tape,” a student-produced podcast from a School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) summer course. 

“We’re quite a diverse bunch that have come together, and we have seriously diverse music tastes. This class gave us the opportunity to explore our own music interests, however obscure, and then we were able to share that with each other and the world,” said David Despain, a science communication graduate student. “In a nutshell, I think what you get from our podcast is diversity and a lot of stories that you probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else.”

The course, designed by SoCJ Lecturer JD Allen and Production Supervisor Phil Altiere, gave students the freedom to explore their own musical interests by reaching out to and conducting interviews with performers, artists and producers. Each student created an 8- or 18-minute audio episode, as well as a teaser track and TikTok-style video to promote their episodes.

“These episodes have a real impact on local musicians and artists who normally don’t have the space to talk about their craft until they make it big — if that is even what they want to do,” said Allen, journalism instructor and managing editor of WSHU, a Long Island National Public Radio affiliate. “Just like their guests enjoying their arts, our students might find careers, fun or a sense of community with their newfound skills in podcasting.”

Since every student was taking the class from a different location and had access to different equipment, Allen and Altiere were careful to use relatively simple, free and web-based applications for audio and video editing. The full podcast is available on Spotify.  

“Music and food are two of the best ways to bring people together, to find and build community and to share and learn about each other,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “Seeing these students come together to do just that, and to be able to explore storytelling through such a popular medium, is such a powerful way to share art through story and sound.”

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