Editor's note: Reprinted from the April issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here.
Here's a video of the Recording Lab.
Story by Lana Sweeten-Shults
Photos by Ralph Freso
Joseph Lowery opposes eggs on pizza. Runny, scrambled or otherwise, the Grand Canyon University sports management senior expressed his anti-egg-on-pie sentiment vehemently on a recent “The Total Soccer Show” podcast.
“I just can’t get on board with a scrambled egg on pizza, guys,” he proclaims on the Richmond, Virginia-based show, the largest independent soccer podcast in the United States. Lowery is one of its contributing voices, joining originator Taylor Rockwell and fellow contributors from New York.
“The scheduling is a little challenging at times, so some earlier mornings. But it really is a blast,” said Lowery, who ruminates about soccer from one of a quartet of “WhisperRooms” beckoning to students from GCU’s new Recording Lab.
Lowery discovered in high school that he loves analyzing sports more than playing them. So he started the blog Rising Tactics and began contributing articles to such websites as The Athletic and MLSSoccer.com.
That chutzpah caught the attention of “The Total Soccer Show,” on which he has been a guest contributor since 2019.
Back then, Lowery would broadcast from his do-it-yourself studio in his room, a space underneath his loft bed that he soundproofed with blankets and foam. But since the Recording Lab debuted in the fall, with its high-end equipment, Lowery has been drawn out of his cubbyhole.
“My set-up gets the job done, for sure,” he said. “But it is much jankier than something like this, which has been awesome to have a chance to use.”
The idea of creating a recording lab came about after University leaders saw what students were doing outside of the Recording Studio, which is dedicated mainly to Worship Arts students.
“They were saying, ‘We love what’s coming out of the Studio.’ But then we thought, look at how many students create and do stuff who aren’t in the Worship Arts program,” said Recording Lab coordinator Joseph Vaught.
GCU Executive Vice President of Operations Sarah Boeder said prospective students who tour GCU always are interested in the Recording Studio, “but recently we noticed that students are hosting their own podcasts and listening to podcasts. Our demographic, we tend to attract Christian teenagers, and they listen to a lot of podcasts. That is a mode they use to communicate and understand the Gospel and what it means to be a Christian.
“That’s really why I was interested. I knew this age group had a desire to develop content and to consume content this way.”
According to Recording Studio/Recording Lab Manager Eric Johnson, “That’s actually one of the bigger reasons why the facility was built. I mean, it’s got a bunch of other reasons why it was built, but podcasts were one of the biggest.”
Podcast listeners, according to Buzzsprout, increased by 29.5% from 2018 to 2021, and it is projected that U.S. listeners could increase from 75.9 million to 100 million by 2024.
Boeder added, “We’ve already got some kids on campus that have great followings on podcasts, so this is giving them access to the resources they need to make that a more professional production. It’s also going to help us to track influencers in a different way.”
More than a dozen solo podcasters or podcast groups have used the Recording Lab, which is open six days a week and has rooms for as low as $5 an hour. A few podcasters already were broadcasting; others started because GCU’s Recording Lab gave them that opportunity.
The lab will be even busier as the University embraces new media, such as the College of Arts and Media’s Social Media program. There’s also the recently added communications degree emphasis in Broadcasting and New Media offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which includes a broadcasting/ podcasting course.
“It’s the most popular emphasis we have created by far,” Chair of Communications Joshua Danaher said.
Freshmen Timothy Smith and Jake Page, both Christian studies majors, often would jam in the Recording Studio rehearsal rooms with Worship Arts major Justin Yeater when they started talking about doing a podcast. Fortuitously, the Recording Lab opened around the same time.
The trio started its “LessonsNBlessins” podcast in October to talk about topics from a Christian perspective, everything from dating to the guys’ personal relationships with their parents.
“We’re having conversations already, so why not just sit down at a table and record it, allow some other people to see what we think and get their perspective on it?” said Smith.
All three have a ministry calling, and “LessonsNBlessins” has reinforced their vision for their lives, Smith said.
GCU students Braedon Nuttall, Matt Saunders and Aaron Guillot started their Christian podcast, “The White Flag Project,” four months ago. The name of the podcast refers to the idea of Christians surrendering to Jesus.
“We just kind of felt called to do it. We thought it would be a lot of fun, and we felt like it would be something that would bring a lot of value to a lot of people,” Nuttall said.
The trio is aiming for an audience of college students and other young people, and the podcast has provided a platform to show that everyone has a voice and that what you say matters, despite your age.
“It shows people that you don’t need to be old or have a bunch of experience,” Nuttall said. “It’s like in 1 Timothy 4:12: ‘Don’t let anybody look down on you because of your age.’ If God put that on your heart, then that’s something you should chase.”
For Lowery, who said professional podcasting was never in his college plan, doing a podcast gives him an outlet like nothing else does.
“When you finish and publish an episode, there’s that satisfaction that comes from fulfilling the creative process. You can still do a lot of journalism or have a real insightful back-and-forth with someone. You can cover so much ground.
“That’s one of the most appealing parts of podcasting for me.”
And GCU is the good egg that’s on that journey right alongside him.
GCU Today: Students have pushed 'play' on recording lab
GCU Magazine: GCU helps stem teaching, nursing shortages