Podcasting for Schools: A Conversation with Parish Episcopal Head of School Dave Monaco

My name is Penny Rogers and I’m a podcast junkie.

There, I said it. It feels good to get that off my chest.

I subscribe to more than 50 podcasts and listen to them for hours a day … walking my dog, taking the kids to and from school, and killing time in airports or on flights.

One of my favorite new listens is from Parish Episcopal School (Dallas, TX) and their Head of School Dave Monaco. The podcast, From My Anglelaunched last school year and is gearing up for its second season.

I had the honor of working with Dave when we were both at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, N.C., and it’s been inspiring to watch the impact he’s made on the Parish Episcopal community and its students.

Because schools are always looking for innovative ways to cut through the clutter and share their message and story, I asked Dave if he would tell us about how he started recording From My Angle and what he’s learned in the process. Our conversation is below.

What was the genesis of your podcast, From My Angle?

Podcasts for Private Schools - From My Angle with Dave Monaco of Parish Episcopal SchoolI love podcasts and so does our webmaster, Courtney Joyner. We had a parent who had launched a digital media company and podcasting studio; we toured it about a year ago. She was a strong proponent for us pushing out our brand and message via a podcast. In discerning whether to use her facility or do it on our own, we decided to just go for it.  Our communications team outfitted me with an app to use for recording and they have handled all “production,” to the degree it exists, in home. The takeaway, I think, is that those in your community who embrace this seek the content, not the flash. Really anyone can do it.

How do you choose your guests or topics?

We have tried to balance “brand dissemination” with topics we believe listeners will enjoy.  So, we as a school and, I believe, me as a leader are associated with innovation. So, I like talking with educators and entrepreneurs – like Michael Sorrell, the President of Paul Quinn College in Dallas recently on a top 50 leaders list – who are disrupting models. Our parents, of course, are interested in college admission. So, when I go to visit admissions deans, I talk with them about both the admissions landscape and changes afoot in higher ed.  We also brand around leadership – thought leadership as an organization and developing young people of impact – so I like to talk with leaders (like Ravenscroft School alum, Drexel King) about the topic. Finally, we are using the medium to profile our graduates and the work of present students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about a favorite guest you interviewed or a favorite episode you recorded.

Each is unique and, like any good conversation, it is really about the energy that the interviewee brings to the discussion – essentially the sense of rapport you feel in the exchange. Though it was likely the shortest of my podcasts last year, I would have to say my discussion with author and former Stanford Dean, Julie Lythcott Haims, stood out.  She and I align philosophically and she is effervescent.

Parish Episcopal School - Private School in Dallas, Texas
Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, TX
What type of feedback or response have you received about the podcast?

The communications team tells me I had 1,000 downloads on Soundcloud in our first year – I don’t know if that is good or bad, but it is a number! Anecdotally, I will tell you that on several occasions on carpool I will have parents tell me they enjoyed an episode.  I even had a new parent this year tell me she tuned in last year as she was evaluating school options for her child – Dallas, as you know, is a very competitive market.

Your second season is kicking off. What should listeners look forward to this year?

We have built a two pod per month schedule that will: communicate our brand and vision; celebrate the success of our alums; and educate our community on the changing world of work and higher education.  I have some guests already confirmed or recorded – like clinical psychiatrist David Gleason, author of At What Cost? – and Stanford lecturer and author, Denise Pope.  Jeff Seligno, the Washington Post’s higher education reporter who has his own fantastic podcast call “Future U” has agreed to be on with me – I am so excited about that! In September I am interviewing Davidson College Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Chris Gruber.  He has terrific energy and will make for an informative podcast.  Finally, I have a handful of alumni, present students, and faculty and staff members with whom I record sessions.

We also have aspirations not yet confirmed. I hope to interview Hawken Head of School Scott Looney on the Mastery Transcript Consortium and to visit with Randy Bass, who is leading some of Georgetown University’s dynamic visioning at what they call the “Red House.” Part of the fun with this has become dreaming about who we might get and then just asking to see what happens!

Any advice for School Heads or other administrators thinking about starting a podcast?

I think the world of school communication is immensely challenging.  We just never feel certain about the best way to reach our constituents.  In my opinion, schools relying only on periodic written pieces should think deeply about the way they are leveraging video, digital, and social media platforms. Podcasts offer the type of “on demand” communication resource many in today’s world have come to crave and prefer.

If you’re interested in discussing your school’s digital marketing strategy, let’s set up a time to talk. I’d love to learn more about your marketing goals.

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