University Communications podcast studio home of “Dave by the Bell”


Rachel Greenland, Reporter

Anne Belk Hall is home to more than class lectures and professors’ offices. Just beyond the bell and down the stairs is University Communications’ podcast studio.

Dave Blanks, sound engineer, and Troy Tuttle, creative director, are App State alumni who create podcasts, which they view as “a way to get our voices out and invite people in.”

“Dave by the Bell,” originally “Dave on the Mall” but changed with the location of the podcast studio, started in 2014. Blanks, the host, said his goal was to get voices of App State students heard.

Blanks did not originally speak during the podcast, but over time he inserted some of his “lighthearted humor,” leading to conversations ranging from purple potatoes to fatherly advice.

“Dave’s personality lends itself more to talking to students. He can talk to anyone, which is perfect because he just makes people feel real comfortable,” Tuttle said. “He’s jovial, so when it started getting more lighthearted, it started to appeal more to the students.”

“Dave by the Bell” is one of nine podcasts the university has produced since the studio’s creation in 2013. University Communications’ podcast studio began from an idea sparked when Tuttle and others visited App State alumnus and “Freakonomics” author, Stephen Dubner, at the WNYC studios.

“We filmed him for an alumni award, and so that is what encouraged us to start a podcast studio,” Tuttle said.

The studio was named for a friend of Dubner’s from college who passed away, Greg Cuddy.

“Appalachian provided a great environment for me to learn and experiment — in journalism, music and more. So the idea of having a dedicated podcast studio there for current students is hugely appealing,” Dubner said in an email.

The studio’s flagship podcast is “Sound Affect,” hosted by Megan Hayes, chief communications officer for App State. This podcast is a series of conversations with a variety of people with a unique approach.

“We really want to ask questions that apply to Appalachian and situations that are going on at the time,” Tuttle said. “We tailor those questions, so that when students, faculty and staff listen to it, it has a meaning to them.”

By asking tailored questions, they have learned that Julian Bond felt like he could have done more with his civil rights activism and how the Rev. Jesse Jackson jokingly attributes Cracker Barrel for keeping him going after all these years.

“We get some really cool people coming to Appalachian State,” Blanks said. “App just brings the world to this corner of North Carolina: Maya Angelou, Chelsea Clinton, Jesse Jackson.”

Blanks and Tuttle said these podcasts are not intended to appeal to everyone, but are rather for the Appalachian community.

“As long as we know that we are doing our job, we’re servicing the university and people are listening from our family, then we’re fine,” Tuttle said.

University Communications also produces “AppX,” “What’s Your Truth,” “Masters Matter,” “Podcast with the Provost,” “Find Your Sustain Ability,” “FYI” and “Small Talks,” which can be found on Appalachian Today’s website.

Story by Rachel Greenland 

Photo courtesy Dave Blanks

Featured photo caption: Dave Blanks, creator of “Dave by the Bell,” on Sanford Mall.