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CUI Podcasts Extend the Campus Community

March 22, 2021 - 10 minute read

Professor Mallinson recording CUI Bono

Everybody’s talking at CUI — and many are doing it through podcasts.

Within the last year or two, half a dozen new podcasts have popped up, created by faculty, students and administrators. Each one is adding to the conversation about topics ranging from dinosaurs to athletics to worship theology, and a lot in between.


Between Two Presidents

Between 2 Presidents” is one of the newer shows, hosted by (you guessed it) two presidents: CUI president, Dr. Michael Thomas; and ASCUI president Tyler Haase ’21. This newly-minted podcasting pair sits down monthly to banter with each other and interview guests from various quarters of campus. 

“I was very apprehensive going into the first episode,” admits Haase, who is a marketing and finance major graduating in May. “I don’t like to talk about myself or be the focus. I wondered, ’How is this going to go? Who’s going to listen to it? Am I going to be any good?’” 

In the maiden episode, he and Dr. Thomas started off by asking each other questions posed by the show’s producer, one of which was, “What’s your favorite dinosaur?” As it turns out, neither man boasts much dinosaur knowledge. “I said, ’The flying one,’” Haase recalls. 

“I couldn’t think of a name of a dinosaur!” Dr. Thomas says. “Then we got to laughing about it.”

To resolve their dinosaur fail, they invited Biology professor Rod Soper onto the next episode “to explain dinosaurs to us,” Haase says. That turned into a discussion about science and faith.

“I’ve enjoyed picking up the skill of interviewing,” says Haase, who now enjoys what he had initially feared. “A lot of it is on the fly. The best podcasts aren’t super-scripted. They flow where they flow. There’s been a good progression as we’ve continued to do this.” 

Dr. Thomas says he approaches podcasts the way he relates to students: “authentic and not buttoned-down.” “Hopefully the audience is entertained and informed,” he says. 

Both men especially liked the Christmas episode in which they listened to and commented on audio snippets of faculty and students talking about their favorite Christmas traditions. 

“It was really great,” Haase says. “There are many opportunities to glean interesting things from people we interview.” 

The younger president also likes learning from his co-host. “Dr. Thomas and I have built a really good relationship based on wanting to help students at Concordia,” Haase says. “I’ve learned from him to be as upfront as you can and strive to make things better.”


Theology in Motion

Over at the Center for Worship Leadership (CWL) housed in Christ College, three different podcasts are now being produced — and each relates to the other. 

Rev. Steve Zank ’06, director of worship theology at the CWL, hosts one podcast and produces the other two along with CUI’s Jon Jordening, founder and executive director of CWL. Zank says the three podcasts each pertain to a different core aspect of worship arts ministry: theology, leadership, and practical skills. 

“At the Center, we want to encourage and empower people to think more clearly about the theology of worship, to be better equipped for ministry leadership, and to sharpen practical skills,” Zank says. “The question was, how do we do that well? The more we thought about it, the question became, why not do a podcast?” 

In 2019, they launched “Theology in Motion” in which Zank interviews PhD-level thinkers about worship theology. 

“We started with our own faculty, then reached out to a wider audience to draw new people into the conversation,” he says. 

Guests have included Simeon Zahl, member of the theology faculty at Cambridge; Constance Cherry, author of The Worship Architect; Mark Mattes, an expert on theological aesthetics; Glenn Packiam, author of Worship and the World to Come; Dr. Robert Kolb, Reformation historian and author; and Lester Ruth at Duke Divinity School, an authority on the history of contemporary worship. 

“There are many worship scholars with great ideas, and all it took was an email asking if they were willing to sit down with me for an hour on a podcast,” Zank says. “I aim really high and have never had anyone turn me down for an interview.” 

One of the many benefits beyond building up podcast listeners’ knowledge, Zank says, is the growing sense of camaraderie among guests who become friends of the CWL. 

“We’re creating a bit of a community in that way,” Zank says. “It’s been a really fun journey.” 

Another CWL podcast and vlogcast, "On the Ground Floor,” flows from “Theology in Motion.” It features a panel of worship ministry leaders sharing stories from ministry, which relate to — or at least jump off from — the bigger ideas presented in “Theology in Motion.” 

“They discuss what those big ideas look like in actual ministry,” says Zank. 

The show is hosted by CUI alumnus Matt Preston ’09, who is on the worship staff at Concordia Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas. 

The third podcast, "How the Soup is Made,” digs into the details of worship ministry and musicianship in a local church context. 

"How the Soup is Made” deals with practical skills and tricks of the trade for musicians of all ages,” Zank says. “As a guitar or keyboard player, how do you approach this or that? What do you do in your practice routine? How do you get good tone? How do you keep a ’rock culture’ from developing in a green room setting?” 

CUI alumnus and professional musician Corey Witt ’98 hosts the podcast, interviewing guests who are professionals leading music in worship, from small neighborhood churches to large churches and festivals in Orange County. Corey interviews world-class artists, such as Shane and Shane, Matthew West, Tommy Walker, Phil Wickham, Matt Redman, Mercy Me, Tim Hughes, and Jeremy Riddle. Also among the guests have been the musical director of Harvest, cast vocal director for NBC’s Perfect Harmony, and the music director at Mariners Church here in Orange County. 

“The three shows provide a chance for people to think deeply about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Zank says. “We want to stimulate the theologian’s mind, stir the leader’s heart, and prepare the worker’s hands. This is the kind of holistic approach to worship ministry we are all about here at CWL.” 

Zank and crew hope to build a catalog of shows which will provide “a pretty robust education in worship” over time, he says.


CUI Bono Cast

History professor Jeff Mallinson is certainly one of the most seasoned podcasters on campus, having previously hosted the successful (though not officially CUI-affiliated) “Virtue in the Wasteland” podcast of years past. These days, Mallinson, who also helped found CUI’s Living Learning Communities, is creating a podcast to express the voice and conversations of the student-driven CUI Bono movement on campus. 

“The CUI Bono Cast taps into stuff we’re already doing on campus and shares that with alumni and students who can’t be here,” says Mallinson. The young podcast, which already has built an impressive backlog of shows and series, started in the fall of 2020 and was prompted in part by the fact that many members of the CUI community were not on campus that semester. 

“We said, ‘Let’s use this to keep connected’,” Mallinson says. 

The podcast offers regular features, including audio of the CUI Bono conversations held nearly every Tuesday. These take place among students and professors in an informal gathering where all kinds of questions are welcomed and discussion is encouraged. 

“Students like it because they get to ask real-life, personal application questions in a conversation where we have established trust and a track record with each other,” Mallinson says. “Students aren’t getting grades and faculty aren’t getting paid, so it had better be somewhat interesting. Everyone brings their best.” 

The podcast offers in-studio interviews as well, plus audio of interesting panels or other extracurricular discussions taking place on campus, largely in the Living and Learning Communities. 

“Students have often said that CUI Bono is one of the most transformative aspects of their experience,” Mallinson says of the decade-old, student-led movement. “That spirit is what allows the conversation to be more applicable to life.” 

Part of the podcast’s purpose as well is to teach students how to create podcasts. Some volunteer to help Mallinson with the mics and running the cart-mounted sound board he trucks around to events. 

“I’m trying to apprentice students in the process of these things,” he says. “We are developing a culture where people understand the technology, how to get mic checks and so on. We’re comfortable with rough edges because of the grassroots nature of it. Our job is to go capture it and get it out there.” 

Philosophy professor Dan Deen ’01 leads CUI Bono, and Sociology professor Kristin Koenig agreed to take on the role of “academic tour guide” this year after being named the 2020 CUI Bono Faculty of the Year. Her voice can be heard on the shows’ intros and outros. “It’s gaining momentum as people come along and want to be part of it,” Mallinson says. “I encourage listeners to subscribe and listen to what they want, and not to what they don’t. We think most people will see something that strikes their fancy.”


Masters in Coaching

CUI’s nationally-recognized Master's in Coaching and Athletics Administration program has added a podcast which in some ways builds on its existing AM 570 radio advertising. 

“Our program partnership with iHeartMedia gives us an on-air presence in a large media market, and we also saw opportunity to develop more substantive and conversational content that would demonstrate the quality and character of our program,” says George Allen, director of marketing at CUI. “The goal with the podcast is to create a platform for the vast network of our MCAA alumni, students and faculty, and to tell their stories.” 

The podcast, titled Masters in Coaching, is hosted by Tim Cates, best known for covering the Los Angeles Dodgers on radio. Guests range from football coaches at powerhouse high schools in Orange County, all the way up to Super Bowl champion players and CIF executives. The first season, which debuted last year, produced 16 episodes, all featuring alumni, students and faculty from CUI’s MCAA program. 

“Our target audience is coaches of all levels, athletic directors and others involved in or interested in the world of educational athletics,” Allen says. “The podcast shows how there’s just as much that goes into mastering the craft of being a transformational coach and leader as there is in being an athlete.” 

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