What is an MSC Podcast?

MSC podcasts are radio segments produced by case authors in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s student-run radio station WCBN-FM. They provide diverse and in-depth insights to accompany a case text by adding context, opening dialogue and debate, and including critical perspectives.

MSC podcasts should be roughly 30-50 minutes long. The goal is to have time to get into details while staying interesting.

Podcast segments may include:

(but don’t have to)

  • Conversation
  • Debate
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Narrated clips
  • Field recordings
  • Music or poetry (when appropriate and with permission of the author)

I have ______ experience with podcasts and radio.

A. no; B. lots of

If your answer is A

It’s okay, we’ve got your back!
Your Podcast Coordinator is here to help you through the process, and we can do all the technical editing and recording work. An experienced co-host will work with you, based on your level of interest in being on-mic.

If your answer is B

MSC podcasts are flexible enough for you to make the podcast your own. Think about how involved you would like to be in the production process. Our editorial staff will work with you to ensure that the finished product matches our style and standards.

Get Started

As you start work on your MSC, think about how a podcast will supplement your case text. What would a reader want to know more about? A good podcast will contribute something beyond what is possible with text.

Write down a few notes about what the podcast will do.

Think about who can contribute to the podcast. Whose perspective will help you round out the story of your MSC? Make a list of people you want to interview.

Some ways podcasts add to MSC cases:

  • Putting the case study into a wider context
    • example: “How are other cities dealing with this issue?”
  • Untangling complex problems and challenging assumptions
    • example: “Actually, it’s not that simple...”
  • Debating objectives and tradeoffs
    • example: “There’s a tension between A and B.”
  • Including voices that weren’t in the case text
    • example: “…she has lived there all her life.”

6 Steps to a podcast

  1. Brainstorming

    Meet with MSC editorial staff to create a brief abstract: “What will the podcast do for the MSC?”
  2. Outlining

    Create a rough outline of podcast with Podcast Coordinator.
  3. Preparing

    Schedule guests and work with Podcast Coordinator to book studio time/equipment.
  4. Editing

    Update outline and work with Podcast Coordinator and editor as needed.
  5. Reviewing

    Editorial staff and case team review draft podcast, work with Podcast Coordinator to make necessary changes.
  6. Finalizing

    MSC Coordinator approves podcast.

Outlining your podcast

Having an outline keeps your podcast organized and makes the whole process a lot easier for everyone. Update your outline as you move through the six production steps.

Abstract Rough Outline Annotated Outline
A few sentences about what the podcast will do for the case as a whole. Who will you talk to, what are you trying to get out of each interview or audio clip, and in which order will the segments run? Now that you have actual tape, update your outline. Will the whole interview be used or just clips? Will you include narration? Including timestamps will make editing easier.

Two elements should be included in every MSC Podcast.

Intro Outro
In the opening ~30 seconds introduce yourself and the topic of the show. Who will we hear from? End with a final thought. Credit the guests, and end with the closing statement.

Hi, my name is ___. Today we'll be looking at what has been dubbed the "holy grail" in the renewable energy world…

On today's show we'll learn about the current distributed storage landscape from an analyst at Greentech Media Research...

So, that's it for this segment on energy storage. As we heard, the energy storage market is growing fast but isn't quite there yet in terms of reaching scale… Thank you to our guests __, __, __.

You can find the full multimedia case online at learnmsc.org. My name is ___ and my co-authors in the case were __ and __. Our producer is ___. Our editor is ___. Michigan Sustainability Cases is a production of the University of Michigan and WCBN-FM in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Thinking about narrative

MSC podcasts are not “narrative podcasts” per se, but they do tell a story. It’s important to think about how your interviews and other segments fit together and flow, and think about what kind of progression makes sense and is interesting to the listener. There are many narrative structures that can work with MSC podcasts. Here are a couple of examples:

  • The Deep Dive

    Introduce broad issue → Deep dive (detailed example) → Second example (or opposing idea) → Wider implications

  • The Aha!

    Example 1 → Example 2 → Example 3 → Concluding Aha! moment linking all examples

  • The Back to the Future

    Current situation → How did we get here? → Seriously, how? → What does this mean for the future?

Think of these examples as a possible roadmap for your podcast. You don’t need to strictly follow any of these structures. Rather, you can adapt them to suit your story!

Reaching out to interviewees

Once you have a rough outline of your podcast, it’s time to start contacting interviewees! Your Podcast Coordinator will help you book studio time and/or give you advice and equipment for interviewing in the field.

The podcast may be recorded in one go, or edited together from multiple pre-recorded sessions. Depending on your comfort level, an MSC co-host may accompany you in the WCBN studio.

Phone Interview Tips

  • Land-lines are ideal but we can work with cellphones and VOIP
  • Multiple people can call into the studio at the same time
  • Take time to go over what you want to talk about before recording

Reassuring Guests

You may want to reassure guests that (during or right after the interview) they can ask that something said not be included in the podcast. Unfortunately we cannot send completed or draft podcasts to guests for review due to time constraints.

When you contact a potential guest, let them know the following:

Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC) is an initiative to build a case-based curriculum for sustainability education. MSC podcasts provide diverse and in-depth insights to accompany these cases by adding context, opening dialogue and debate, and including critical perspectives.

Podcasts are produced in partnership with WCBN-FM Ann Arbor to be used in courses on the University of Michigan campus and beyond.  Podcasts may also be made available to the public via the MSC website or on the radio.

More information about the MSC initiative is available at teachmsc.org.

Other Elements


May be included in the podcast, either as a transition between segments or as a narrative element.
We cannot use copyrighted music without the permission of its owner. Music with a Creative Commons or Public Domain license, or songs for which you can get permission, may be used if they are relevant.

Environmental Sounds

Can be a great addition to your podcast (the sounds of opening a hive in a bee-related podcast, for example). If you think that your podcast topic has potential for good environmental sound, ask your Podcast Coordinator to borrow a recorder.

Clips from Other Media

May be used depending on their source and how they are used. Fair use is complicated and we have a relationship with the University of Michigan Askwith Media Library to help us figure these things out. If you think you may use clips, talk to your Podcast Coordinator.

Field Recording

Can also be done. If there’s an important public meeting, protest, etc. taking place that will make your podcast better, ask your Podcast Coordinator about recording techniques and equipment for your situation.

Submission Requirements

A podcast cover page is needed along with the audio podcast itself. The podcast page is what users will see when they click on the Podcast link for your case.

podcast page demo

Please note: Once you are ready to submit your work, use this podcast information submission template to input your content.

  1. Title of the podcast

  2. Name(s) and title(s) of guests

  3. Name(s) of host(s)

  4. The audio file (usually comes from MSC podcast team)

  5. A blurb for the podcast (no length limit)

  6. Cover image

    A high-resolution picture that we have permission to use. The following websites are good resources for license-free imagery.

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