By Nicholas Hellinghausen

Two University of Connecticut students will be hosting a Podcast Symposium on Sunday, Feb. 21 and Monday, Feb. 22. The symposium has a hybrid structure, as some components will be taking place in person while others will be held virtually. The event will begin with a keynote presentation on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Center.

Eighth semester students Vinayak Mishra and Mukund Desibhatla came up with the idea of holding a podcast symposium while they were lab partners in a biochemistry class. Mishra and Desibhatla started out with a podcast during their junior year called “Agents of Change,” where they interviewed leaders throughout the campus and brought attention to resources the campus has available for students to utilize when starting their own creative project. Once Mishra and Desibhatla got their podcast up and running, they wanted to strive for something bigger.

“As we were podcasting, we kind of learned there were so many hindrances that we went through and so we wanted to do a podcast symposium where we made it more accessible to students to podcast or join on creative ventures, take advantage of the resources on campus,” Mishra said. 

Mishra and Desibhatla applied for and received a UConn IDEA grant to proceed with their venture. They have been planning the event for a little over a year now and have had to change parts of their initial vision as well as event dates due to the pandemic. 

“Over the summer, we had to shelf everything and kind of come up with two plans, we had our main plan and then our contingency plan,” Desibhatla explained. 

The first event of the symposium, the Keynote Kickoff, will feature three keynote speakers who will give presentations on podcast networking opportunities. The speakers will help students get a clearer picture of the steps and components involved in podcasting. At the conclusion of the keynote presentations, members of WHUS Radio will describe the podcasting resources that they have available for students on campus. The in-person portion of the Keynote Kickoff will have a maximum capacity of 25 people, but anybody can watch it through a live stream on Kaltura. 

Day two of the symposium will consist of two different panels. The first will be an interdisciplinary panel, while the second will be a college story panel. Both panels will be held through Zoom, where all students are encouraged to join the call. The panels will also be recorded and uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and other streaming platforms for people to view at a later time. 

“We intend for this symposium not to just be a two-day event, but to follow more as a permanent guide,” Desibhatla stated. 

The Podcast Symposium was created to provide students with a starting point on their podcast journeys. Mishra and Desibhatla said they believe that the hardest part of creating a podcast is taking the first step, and they hope the symposium will provide students with a wide network of mentors to reach out to when starting their creative ventures. They are currently working on a website where people can refer back to the recordings from the symposium and view the contact information for all the speakers at the event. 

Mishra and Desibhatla will be coming out with a special episode of their “Agents of Change” podcast before the start of the Podcast Symposium. They will be interviewing UConn President Thomas Katsouleas about his take on the creative opportunities available at UConn.

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