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Faculty Spotlight: An Interview with Dr. Jason Loviglio

Dr. Loviglio shares about MCS history, his new book, & more

By: Ava Sekowski

Photo Credit: Marlayna Demond and Routledge

Have you ever wondered who was the first Media and Communications Studies professor? Or who started the major at UMBC? Well you are in luck.

I recently sat down with Dr. Jason Loviglio, Associate Professor and founding chair of the UMBC Media and Communication Studies department. Dr. Loviglio started at UMBC in 1999 as a professor in the American Studies department, but in 2007 moved to MCS. As of today he has taught almost all of the MCS core curriculum cores, courses in radio and sound studies, media theory, media and politics, and more! He also recently published a new book titled The Routledge Companion to Radio and Podcast Studies. Today, we get to hear more about the courses Dr. Loviglio teaches, the history of the department, his new book, and a special surprise announcement!

Q: What is your favorite class that you teach? 

My favorite class that I've ever taught at UMBC is probably the course on radio and soundwork, which I got to teach one time, and I'm hoping to teach again, which explores  the history of radio and other audio technologies, and also investigates the growing universe of podcasting. And I also have students do some very basic audio recording work themselves so that they get some  sensitivity to the soundscapes around them and also start thinking in terms of composing with sound and making arguments with sound and communicating sonically and not just visually or through writing.

Q. Can you talk about where you were at UMBC before MCS and how the department came about? 

I was an Assistant Professor in American Studies and the campus leadership at the time wanted a communications department. But they didn't have any money to build a big production-heavy program, and they didn't want it to be duplicative of what is already happening at Towson, Morgan, and Maryland. So it had to sort of thread a pretty small needle. They said, “Can you do this? You don't have any resources, we have no money and you can't duplicate what else is happening.”

I was going up for tenure that year, so I was still very junior. And so what I did is I just borrowed the smart people in English and MLLI and Art and Music and American Studies and many other programs and said, “let's figure out what classes you have in your departments that we could pull together.” And we made a very bare bones,  skeletal curriculum where we were teaching MCS 222 and MCS 499 and MCS 333, and that was it. First I brought Dr. Donald Snyder on board. And the two of us were teaching those three courses and everything else was farmed out. And then over the years, we were lucky to get a first tenure track hire Dr. Rebecca Adelman in 2009. And she said, “well, you know, this is great, but it's not global l enough.” So we created MCS 334, which is the global media class. And then we were lucky enough to get Dr. Fan Yang on two years later. And she really helped us continue to think internationally and every couple of years we were able to hire another amazing person and each time they helped us reimagine a more ambitious department, and then we could offer the classes. So in the last and maybe five or six years, we didn’t need to borrow from all of these other departments. We have a curriculum. And so that's the major that you're in now.


Q. In terms of the future of MCS, where would you like to see it go? What other classes or things would you like to offer to the students?

That's a really good question. I mean, there's two things. One is we've always balanced between the theory, like the classes you and I are in now (MCS 222) and the practice, like the class you're in with Professor Anchor (MCS 370). You're making and doing and Professor Anchor and Professor Shewbridge have been really the leaders in not only teaching those classes, but inventing them, creating them.

And so they've been our visionaries. And it's always about how to find the right balance between the theory and the production. And as Professor Shewbridge, and Professor Anchor, will tell you, their classes are informed by theories as well and our classes are informed by practice as well. So how do we continue to make that mix right? Maybe we need more faculty on the production side. Maybe we need to make more production based assignments in MCS 222. You're making a Quipu. I consider that production. Do we need more of that? So for me it's about how we meet the moment, what the workforce and the planet that you're graduating into, the world, what do you need to be successful? What do you need more? You know, how do we make that mix always relevant? What are the things that we need to do to make that work?

Q. Tell me about your new book, The Routledge Companion to Radio and Podcast Studies. What was the process like in creating this book? And where did the idea come from?

That's a great question. I've edited two other collections of scholarship about radio in the past, both of them with Routledge, which is an international academic publisher that has really good distribution all over the world. So it's easy for people to buy it in other non-U.S. countries. Typically America has sort of been the least interested or one of the less interested in radio compared to a lot of developing countries as well as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—they've all been more interested in radio. So the idea for doing this one was to really make a truly international collection and my co-editor Mia Lindgren, who lives in Australia, approached me and said, “let's do this together,” and you can bring in lots of North American scholars.. So we did a call for papers and we invited people from all over the world and we got hundreds of submissions and we narrowed it down to 46. And  that's the 46 chapters that we wound up with.

Q. How long have you been working on it? 

It started in 2018. So it took four years from conception to blind peer review to asking folks to submit abstracts to choosing, and editing multiple drafts to production and publication. I mean, it was during a pandemic, so that slowed it down.. 

Q. Special announcement: I heard rumors that WMBC might be making a comeback this year? Is this true? 

Yes, I hopeful that it will be. I'm the advisor, long time advisor with WMBC, which has been sort of in absentia, sort of been in abeyance for the last couple of years, partly due to the pandemic. And a new group of very dedicated and dynamic students across the campus are starting it up again, which is wonderful.

Dr. Loviglio Podcast Recommendation: 


by: Gimlet Media

“Heavyweight is a really good podcast and it's this guy who finds people who are estranged from each other and he tries to create a rapprochement. And it's funny and it's touching.” 

- Dr. Loviglio 

Dr. Loviglio Music Recommendation:

Black Thought

“Black Thought is just a very inspired rapper and a very heady, very dense, it's not like trap, it's not like club music. It's very literary and heavy with references. It's very deep. It's like conscious rap.” - Dr. Loviglio

Posted: October 13, 2022, 10:47 AM