Zombies, baseball players, pulsar discoveries and strong women.
The idea to create underwriting spots to promote the College of Arts and Sciences belongs to W. Brent Lindquist, dean of the college, and runs parallel with answers the college received from its students about branding the college using innovation.
“We need to really educate the public about not only what we do and the variety of what we do, but to get Arts & Sciences' name out there,” Lindquist said. “We need to be known as something so it gives us a tagline around which to develop audience recognition. I want people to think about Arts & Sciences and building innovation in the same connected thought process.”
Lindquist had the idea for the underwriting spots while listening to KTXT, where he heard spots from students telling people they were listening to the station. He also knew the Department of History has broadcast weekly spots at KTTZ for a number of years. So he and Toni Salama, senior editor for the college, reached out to Derrick Ginter, KTXT general manager, about underwriting.
Underwriting spots for noncommercial stations is the equivalent of commercial advertising on commercial radio stations, Ginter said. Underwriting is when a station acknowledges the entity underwriting the costs of programming on the station. KTXT produces and airs the spots from the scripts Salama sends.
“From what I can tell, the finished spots have had great success in highlighting the various areas within the College of Arts and Sciences,” Ginter said. “They are self-contained informative spots that showcase individual programs within Arts & Sciences, and they've been among the best things I have produced for radio.”
The first spots aired on KTXT in January and KTTZ on March 30, and so far the college has recorded or almost completed recording 20 spots. The college has more than 400 faculty members and 15 departments and centers Lindquist and Salama wish to highlight using the spots.
The spots air on both KTXT and KTTZ in order to reach students and the Lubbock community. Lindquist uses the KTXT spots for the student audience and the KTTZ spots to let the Lubbock community know about Arts & Sciences.
Most spots focus on research being produced in the college with the exception of the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, where the spots are recorded in foreign languages, announcing the types of languages students have the opportunity to learn while at Texas Tech.
Lindquist said he wanted the spots to be research-oriented because research and scholarship are what the college is about, and that is what will bring Texas Tech to the next level of academic recognition.
“Research is what is going to take Texas Tech and Arts & Sciences to the next level of university status,” Lindquist said. “We want to be tier one and that's how you get there – you have to be known by your research output. The thing that distinguishes faculty members from any other profession in the world is research and scholarship. To go higher in our reputation, you need to raise the profile of our research and scholarship.”
Students as well as faculty members are welcome to participate as long as they are discussing their research. Once they agree, they work with Salama to create the script.
Matt Stock, an assistant professor of human performance in the Department of Health, Exercise & Sport Sciences, recorded a spot, listed on the website as “Strong Women,” which focuses on research he is conducting about strength training in women. Stock, who focuses on several areas of research, said he was asked by his department chair about producing a spot. He chose “Strong Women” because he hoped the topic would generate interest among different audiences.
Stock said he enjoyed creating the podcast and would do another if he was asked. He likes the interactions occurring between the different departments within Arts & Sciences.
“I've listened to some of the other spots and I find it so exciting to hear about what's going on in different departments,” he said. “Hearing College of Arts and Sciences professors on the radio talk about, with enthusiasm, the different research they're doing is a really neat thing. It helped me have a much greater appreciation for their work.”
Vanessa Leos, a second-year graduate student in sociology who is from Levelland, created “Capital Internship,” a spot showcasing student accomplishments and encouraging students to create innovation. She said the spots are a great way to share important achievements with the Texas Tech campus.
“Being invited to record a segment is an exciting and flattering experience,” Leos said. “As a former teaching assistant I know how important it is to keep students engaged and involved with campus life. The radio station can do a great deal to assist faculty in grabbing students' attention.”
Jorge Iber, associate dean of Arts & Sciences, created a spot focusing on his research. Iber's spot is about a biography he is writing on Mike Torrez, a former Major League Baseball pitcher.
“I consider myself lucky,” Iber said. “When you tell people you study baseball and sports for history, they're kind of surprised. When I give students a sense of how I address important questions through sport, they're even more surprised. That's the argument we try to articulate in my spot.”
John Calhoun, a doctoral student in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, created “Math Zombies,” which focuses on the Lab for the Analysis of Zombie Activity and Research into Undead Simulations (LAZARUS). The lab deals with several areas of research, including simulating Zombie outbreaks as a way to show area school children that math is fun, and hopes to support creation of new technology in the future.
Other spots include “Pulsar Discovery,” by Tom Maccarone, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, and “Tattoos and Self-Image,” by Jerry Koch, a professor of sociology and associate chairman in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work.
The spots can be heard on KTXT twice a day and KTTZ on Monday mornings at 7:21 a.m. They also are available on the College of Arts and Sciences home page and are shared through the college's Facebook, though Salama said the spots will be moved to their own directory soon.
“The spots are a wonderful idea on the part of Dean Lindquist,” Iber said. “I think the spots are a great way to introduce students to research topics they might have never considered. That's how you get students interested in pursuing undergraduate degrees in your major, and who knows, maybe even graduate degrees.”