MSU plans for a new audio storytelling course

Minnesota State is hopping on the multimedia train by offering an audio storytelling course. 

Starting fall 2023, three classes totaling eight credits will cover “the history, craft and promotion of audio storytelling.”

Dave Engen, associate professor in communication and media, is teaching Audio Storytelling. The class is semester-long and covers many aspects of audio stories such as interviewing and editing. At the end of the semester, specific podcasts will air on KMSU.

Engen, who teaches Communication and Community, wanted to start the course for communication skills before podcasting became popular.

“You learn how to interview, you learn technology and you learn to be a better listener and you piece them together into something meaningful,” Engen said. “It became a really powerful way to teach just some of the general communication things I teach.” 

Jen Tiernan, assistant professor in communication and media, is teaching the Art of Podcasting. For the first eight weeks, students will listen to a variety of podcasts and understand what makes a great podcast. The remainder of the semester will be taught by an unknown adjunct who will assist students in marketing their podcasts and building their brands. 

While taking all courses simultaneously is not required, it’s recommended students do so in order to get the best understanding.

“If students take all three of these classes together, I think they’re going to have a much better idea by the end of the semester, what differentiates podcasts and audio documentaries, where they intersect and what they maybe prefer,” Tiernan said. 

Tiernan said students, regardless of their major, should take the course for improving communication skills. 

“No matter what you’re going to go into after you graduate college, you need to be a good communicator, whether that’s trying to explain data to a board room, writing a newsletter or doing something media oriented. Really, anybody who’s interested in the idea of telling stories,” Tiernan said. 

Tiernan said she hopes the course will help build a storytelling center and allow students to be creative through telling stories. 

“After the last three years, I think we all have a lot of stories to tell right now. It’s good to tell those stories and it’s fascinating to hear them,” Tiernan said. “You learn so much from listening to other people talk about what’s important to them. I think this class will help students do that.”

Engen said the course allows students to step outside their communication comfort zones. 

“It’s a really fun way to practice communicating with different people. (Most students) don’t exactly know how to do it and this forces you to do it in a fun, guided way,” Engen said.

Tiernan said students shouldn’t worry if they have no technical skills before taking this course.

“Students shouldn’t feel intimidated if they’ve never recorded anything or used software. We’re going to give students all the skills that they need to do this,” Tiernan said. “This is going to be an opportunity to hone those skills and put together something really fantastic.”

Students can sign up for the courses under COMM 340 and COMM 440. 

Header photo: Starting fall 2023, the audio storytelling course will be covered over three classes, giving students experience with podcast techniques. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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