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UM biz professor launches podcast on “cool people doing awesome things”

Justin Angle has run 100-mile races, completed $100 million bond trades and, he claims, never lost a game of Monopoly – achievements he attributes to creativity and hustle. Now, the UM professor is using a podcast to explore those themes in the city’s business world. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Justin Angle has run 100-mile races, completed $100 million bond trades and, he claims, never lost a game of Monopoly – achievements he attributes to creativity and hustle.

It’s those key words, aided by a dose of natural curiosity, that prompted the University of Montana business professor to launch a new podcast aimed at “cool people doing awesome things” in and around Missoula.

“Creativity and hustle are the two things that have been emerging,” Angle said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of people who live here with great ideas that don’t go anywhere with those ideas, but there’s a lot of people who aren’t super creative and know they’ve got to execute to succeed. And then there’s those rare people who have both of those attributes, and it’s all really interesting to me.”

Angle, who arrived at UM five years ago, was working to place the core curriculum of his principles of marketing class online last summer when he considered an idea.

He was looking for something mobile – something to engage his students beyond yesterday’s eye-crossing textbooks and mundane video lessons.

“I’ve been using podcasts for assignments more and more in place of readings, and I’ve been having good results with it,” he said. “Students are more engaged and more likely to consume the content, and it has led to a richer classroom experience.”

For those born before the digital age, a podcast serves as a series of audio files that carry a common theme from episode to episode. The idea was popularized by Adam Curry, a former MTV video jockey who launched his own show in 2004 to chronicle his everyday life.

The format proved popular and the following year, Apple released iTunes, which helped support and advance the podcast platform. And while that may be a simplification of an evolving technology, such digital advances have forced classroom instruction to evolve with the times.

“It’s changed a lot and as a result, we have to adapt as educators,” said Angle. “I like the podcast more because it’s mobile. You can listen to it while you’re washing the dishes, working out, driving, scrambling to get to class on time.”

Angle’s idea to produce a series of podcasts on cool people doing awesome things in the business community won the support of the College of Business. But the scope of his project soon evolved, as the interviews proved more engaging than he’d anticipated.

“As I was recording these interviews in the fall, I started to think they could serve a broader audience,” he said. “It could be something of value for the college, for the university and the community, and so I started to seek out interesting people.”

To date, Angle has interviewed 19 leaders who fit the theme of his show, ranging from Jeremy Sauter, who markets for Paramount Pictures, to Matt McQuilkin, co-owner of Black Coffee Roasting Company.

But it was Angle’s latest interview that has stayed with him, partially due to his own pursuits as an endurance athlete. Last week, Angle sat with Tyler Hamilton, a former Tour de France cyclist who won an Olympic gold medal and scored several other victories before his career came crashing down, partially due to his teammate Lance Armstrong.

“I’m a cyclist and an endurance athlete, and I’ve always been a huge fan of (Hamilton) when he was at the highest level of that sport,” said Angle. “But also, I was kind of devastated from his fall from that. But as he told the truth, I found his way of doing that to be most believable, transparent and honest, and I really respect that.”

The technology behind Angle’s podcasts, rightly dubbed “A New Angle,” isn’t top of the line. He scored a microphone and some basic editing software, and endured the learning curve in putting it all together.

Along the way, he also received the support of Stephen Borsum, a former UM student whose passion for digital media came in handy. He now serves as the show’s producer and helped secure a score created by local musicians.

Angle plans to produce hour-long episodes starting this month, starting with Bryce Ward with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UM.

Other interviews have already been completed.

“My interview with Karen Knudsen comes to mind,” said Angle, who recently interviewed the executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition. “Nonprofits aren’t businesses, but they need to embrace some business-oriented thinking, some strategic thinking, and she’s really skilled in that area. It was fun to get to know someone better who has a passion they’ve been able to develop a smart strategy around.”