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With the “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour,” the college’s new weekly podcast, the Mar­keting Department and WRFH 101.7 FM are looking to promote the college’s mission. Courtesy | Scot Bertram

The Hillsdale College Mar­keting Department and WRFH 101.7 FM, Hillsdale College’s student-run radio station, have part­nered to produce a weekly podcast called “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour.” The show cur­rently airs on about ten radio sta­tions in Michigan, and the podcast can be found on Sound­Cloud, iTunes, and Google Play.

The show airs weekly, and the college’s goal, according to the original pitch, is to gen­erate over 25,000 sub­scribers to the podcast and reach a radio lis­tening audience of over 100,000 people within the first cal­endar year.

Vice Pres­ident for Mar­keting Matt Schlientz said the purpose of the show is “to advance and radiate the mission of the college to radio and podcast lis­teners.”

Given Hillsdale’s success from talk radio, Schlientz said he believes Hillsdale’s sup­porters will be “pre­dis­posed to listen” to the podcast.

Matthew Spalding, asso­ciate vice pres­ident and dean of edu­ca­tional pro­grams for Hillsdale College in Wash­ington, D.C., said the program is “the coming together of several things: the great radio program on campus, and the growing world of podcast, radio, and all forms of audio news.”

Spalding said many people col­lab­o­rated in devel­oping the concept, but Bertram is “the mind behind the orga­ni­zation of the show.”

General Manager of WRFH 101.7 FM and host of “Radio Free Hillsdale Hour” Scot Bertram explained that the mar­keting team men­tioned the idea to him when he first came to campus three years ago. It was not until last summer, however, that he was able to “sharpen those ideas.”

“Nine months ago, I finally had some time to think about it deeply and figure out a format that would be enter­taining, repeatable, and sus­tainable,” Bertram said.

With the help of the mar­keting team, Bertram developed a program that he said is “largely about high­lighting what we do at Hillsdale for the outside world.” He explained that the show has four seg­ments, each of which fea­tures a guest.

“None of this is me mono­loguing,” he said. “I’m there to introduce the guests, ask insightful ques­tions, facil­itate the con­ver­sation, and find the people that will make for inter­esting con­ver­sa­tions.”

One segment fea­tures guests that Bertram called “friends of Hillsdale.” These guests are typ­i­cally people who have spoken at the Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives lec­tures or are involved with the The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Con­sti­tu­tional Studies and Cit­i­zenship.

“They are people whose thinking and opinions we want to high­light,” Bertram said.

One such guest is Brian Christian, author of “The Most Human Human” and recent guest lec­turer on Hillsdale’s campus, who spoke on the future of arti­ficial intel­li­gence in the Feb. 22 edition of the show.

Bertram ded­i­cates the rest of the show to “shining a spot­light on things at campus,” such as the faculty, the Kirby Center, and the Churchill Project. One segment usually fea­tures a Hillsdale College pro­fessor who speaks on current events.

In the March 1 edition, Spalding visited the show and dis­cussed Pres­ident Trump’s emer­gency dec­la­ration for the southern border.

“The program is about teaching Hillsdale ideas but also applying Hillsdale ideas in con­tem­porary pol­itics,” Spalding said. “Because my visit was recently after Trump’s speech, we dis­cussed the powers of the exec­utive under the Con­sti­tution, espe­cially in regards to Con­gress.”

A third segment fea­tures a guest from various depart­ments of the college who edu­cates the audience on the impor­tance of the liberal arts. In the March 15 edition, Hillsdale’s Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of English Dwight Lindley began a series that will be occa­sionally fea­tured on the show on basic lit­erary con­cepts .

Schlientz referred to the final segment as a “wild card segment.” The topic of this segment varies from alumni spot­lights to recordings of speeches, recent or his­torical, that coincide with Hillsdale’s mission. For example, in the Feb. 22 edition, the last segment fea­tured a 1994 Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives lecture given by former U.K. Prime Min­ister Mar­garet Thatcher.

The program makes con­nec­tions between the dif­ferent parts of Hillsdale’s national com­munity. Bertram said the show “bridges the loca­tions of campus and the Kirby Center.”

Addi­tionally, it ties in the network of Hillsdale alumni. Bertram has hosted mul­tiple alumni on the show, including Thomas Mor­rison ’97, who is cur­rently a Repub­lican member of the Illinois General Assembly.

According to the mar­keting pitch, the plan for the show is to “share the teaching and learning that happens at the college with the rest of America. Success will result in a sig­nif­icant, long-term outlet for the college to reach cit­izens across the country.”

 

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    this is already a show that runs daily during the mid-day time slot — Rush Lim­baugh.