Senior Spotlight: student exceeds classroom expectations with podcast show

Brian Henninger, a 24 year-old, Speech Communications major with an option in Broadcasting, chose an independent study that has turned into an inspiring project.

Henninger, a senior graduating in December signed up for an advanced broadcasting class, which was then canceled three weeks before the beginning of the semester because not enough students registered to take the class.

Wanting to graduate as planned, and also wanting to pursue his love for audio, Henninger with the advice of several professors in the communications department decided to take on an independent study that related to broadcasting.

An independent study is a class the student develops with instructions and guidance of an adviser. Henninger’s adviser, Dr. Stacey Irwin, talked to Henninger about his ideas for an independent study and immediately liked what he had in mind.

“An independent study is designed to push the limits of the kinds of classes our current curriculum in the Department of Communication and Theatre offers. Brian and I established a syllabus that was designed to ‘advance’ the work he did in Radio 1 last fall,” said Dr. Irwin.

Henninger’s idea was to do a series of pod casts. “I emailed her [Dr. Irwin] my plan. A friend of mine gave me the idea based on an old project from the 80s called the ‘Mr. Jaws Project,’” Henninger said.

“She liked it and I sent her my proposal for approval.”

Henninger is Dr. Irwin’s first independent study student in audio production she has had here at Millersville University. “His ideas are very entrepreneurial and he has done quite a bit of research on pod casting and audio technology to arrive at this place in his work,” she said.

Upon receiving the go ahead from the chair of the communications department, Dr. Tom Boyle, Henninger started his independent study, which matured over the semester.

“I wanted to conduct interviews, play music – iTunes for listeners to download, but I was afraid of getting in trouble with copyright laws. So, I read all the terms,” Henninger said.

Beside the podcasts, he also wanted to design a website where he can then blog about his independent study and his experience with the podcasts.

To build the website he first created an email account solely for this and a Twitter account for listeners to follow his project. Henninger came up with the name, “Whereabouts,” for the whole project and anyone interested can find his Twitter page under “Whereaboutsbh.” His website is:

Among one of the things he enjoys most about his independent study is that Henninger does not have any time restraints or due dates as in a regular class. “I didn’t have to fill a time block. I have control over it and I have no limitations,” he said.

Before he started his independent study, Henninger said he walked around campus with a journal in his hand. “It was part of my life,” he said, “I wrote about music, possible interviews, and anything that came to my mind really.” Once he had established his ideas he presented them to Dr. Irwinwho approved of them.

Henninger so far has six podcasts and they will be posted on his website. He has been able to interview popular bands such as Anberlin, Sherwood, Motion City Soundtrack, and others for his pod casts.

Henninger said that many of the band members who took part in the interviews supported his dream and were glad to be a part of it.

Aside from interviewing musicians, he also records his thoughts on certain issues and got his friends involved in what they think about topics as well. For instance, he interviewed one of his friends about the Swift-Kanye incident.

Throughout the very hands-on experience of this independent study, Henninger has learned a lot. “I have learned more about networking with people,” he said, “I like it a lot better than a class.”

Henninger went about achieving success in his independent study by incorporating technology and innovative ideas that appeal to others. For instance, instead of making flyers and putting out posters, he made T-shirts and sold them to MUTV and others.

“Brian figured out how to pull together a studio in his home, network with music industry professionals, purchase a web domain, and deliver pod-casting content on the web” said Dr. Irwin.

His love for audio and dedication to succeed in this project has brought him this far. Henninger is planning on continuing his website and pod cast after graduation and someday hopes to work in radio.