For New Arts and Sciences Podcast, Familiar Host Digs into Some Unfamiliar Territory

Friday, November 2, 2018
Tim McDonald, Ph.D., talks to guests

Timothy McDonald, Ph.D., Rockhurst professor of music, is no stranger to the airwaves.

For approximately eight years, McDonald hosted a classical music show on now-defunct Kansas City radio station KXTR, interviewing guests ranging from superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Michael Stern, music director of the Kansas City Symphony, and previewing the classical music events across the region.

When he was named the dean of Rockhurst University’s College of Arts and Sciences, McDonald said he stepped back from the show to focus on his new responsibilities.

Now, at the request of the college’s current dean, Jennifer Friend, Ph.D., McDonald is back in the interviewer’s chair for a new show — this time, an on-demand podcast available on iTunesSoundcloud, or wherever you might get your podcasts — that showcases everything happening in the academic unit’s cultural and academic landscape.

“It kind of reaches out into something I’m very interested in. Faculty have a general interest in research, student research and activities,” he said.

With Nathaniel Bozarth, academic marketing manager, in the producer’s role, the Arts & Sciences podcast has six published episodes so far. Topics have ranged from the importance of studying foreign languages, undergraduate research into fruit fly genetics, the Companions in Chillicothe prison educational program, and, of course, the classical music of the classical orchestra and vocal ensemble that McDonald directs, Musica Sacra. Most episodes feature a faculty or other expert and at least one student talking about a given project or event.

That means McDonald is often speaking with guests about subjects that fall outside his particular expertise. But McDonald said he sees himself more as a facilitator for each conversation, not an expert himself.

“A big part of it is settling into the role and letting the guest tell the story,” he said.

Years in the dean’s office were helpful, though, in giving him an understanding of a number of different subject areas, from biology to English. And he has a natural curiosity and appreciation for the scope of events and projects going on at any given time on the Rockhurst campus.

“We have so much research and great student work happening across the board, and I really look forward to finding out more about that,” he said. “I’m proud of all the things we are doing institutionally. It’s interesting to me, but at the same time really reflects our mission and values.”

It’s not the only podcast in the works for the University, either. Bozarth will be the host of the Helzberg School of Management’s new podcast, Analyze This, designed to highlight the people who use data to solve real-world problems. That podcast is also available for free on iTunesSoundcloud, and other podcast distribution services.