In fall 2017, Michael Brady MBA ’19 and Harrison Jobe MBA ’19 had the idea to start a podcast called Present Value. Now nine episodes in, the entirely student-run podcast goes in-depth into the careers of highly esteemed professors here at Cornell and has listeners across six continents and nearly 30 countries.
Upon entering Cornell’s Two-Year MBA program, Brady and Jobe realized that there was no good way to engage with professors before arriving on campus. Wanting to learn more about the work of these professors with many years of experience in their field, they saw an opportunity to create something of value. With the help of two of their fellow classmates, Caroline Wright MBA ’19 and Chris Alberico MBA ’19, they created the podcast Present Value.
Each episode highlights the career of a different professor from a broad range of disciplines. The most recent episode features General George Casey, a distinguished senior lecturer in the S.C. Johnson School of Business, who has had a 41-year career in the army. Other guests include professors such as Prof. Robert Hockett, law, and Prof. Thomas Gilovich, psychology.
By allowing listeners to get to know their stories, the podcast “tap[s] into your intellectual curiosity in an accessible way,” according to Brady.
“It’s the opportunity to have an hour-long mini-lecture from preeminent academics on campus,” Jobe said.
A podcast seemed like the perfect format for their mission. There was nothing that existed on campus as long-form interviews with professors talking about their research, and an audio-only program was achievable, “whereas an entire video show is a little more out of reach,” Brady said.
Ultimately, the podcast works to make professors more accessible, as a lot of people are afraid to interact directly with professors.
“At the end of the day, they want to interact with you,” Jobe said.
Making the podcast was very much like a startup business. The team faced similar challenges, such as coming up with a name, logo and marketing, as well as creating a website. They also struggled with sticking to their vision and initially gaining credibility.
“We’re just two students asking people that are unbelievingly preeminent for a couple hours of their time,” Jobe said. After producing a few episodes, they were able to establish their brand and spread the word to the faculty community.
A lot more work goes into making a podcast than one may think — according to Brady, “hosting is only five to 10 percent of the work.” For each episode, they do an incredible amount of research so they understand enough to ask educated questions. The team also must craft the interview, which, according to Jobe, is “a very deliberative process,” because they are trying to “form a narrative arc.”
James Feld MBA ’20, one of the current producers, discovered the podcast while he was applying to Cornell. Feld got involved right away and currently writes and edits the scripts for interviews and reaches out to potential guests of the podcast. He had to learn new skills, such as how to use the software and how to edit and develop scripts.
“It’s highlighting high-level work the professors are doing, and it’s really showcasing the research initiatives that are happening at Cornell,” Feld said.
Present Value’s team has grown since last year. It is now comprised of five first-year and four second-year MBA students. With Jobe and Brady both graduating next year, they are preparing to pass the baton to the other members of the team.
Future plans for the podcast include varying the episode format, such as interviewing younger faculty members and potentially having 20-minute episodes. They are also looking to get undergraduate students involved to make it a Cornell-wide initiative and are thinking of ways they can reach a broader audience. One way the team is doing this is by launching an Instagram account.
Through making the podcast, the team has had the opportunity to have real connections with the professors. “Everyone we’ve interviewed we now have relationships with,” said Jobe.
For listeners, the podcast makes them think about something they probably haven’t thought of as deeply before.
“It’s creating something of lasting value that will exist in perpetuity to raise the profile of Cornell,” Jobe said.