‘Pandemic Professors’ podcast uplifts and informs the Radford family

Pandemic Professors
Professors Stirling Barfield (left) and West Bowers have launched a new podcast to connect the Radford family.

A psychologist and a communicator – two of the most sought after sources of expertise during this global pandemic – have joined forces to keep the Radford University community connected in a creative, comforting and comedic format.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Stirling Barfield, Psy.D. '16, along with Associate Professor of Communication West Bowers, Ph.D., recently launched an influential podcast, fittingly called, “The Pandemic Professors.”

The ongoing weekly audio series, recorded via Zoom as both professors and their interviewees are responsibly practicing social distancing, has been a hit amongst students and faculty, alike. Topics include how to cope with anxiety, the importance of supporting local businesses, tips on effectively working from home and how to manage and protect pets during this historic and life-altering event.

“I thought a podcast would be a really good way to get information out to a lot of people at the same time,” said Barfield, who started brainstorming the series during the University’s spring break. “It’s quick, it’s free, and we can offer it to a large group of people and give them fun things to do, and also offer ideas and information about staying connected.”

Professors in Radford University’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Bowers and Barfield have successfully collaborated before on several projects. So, choosing a partner to bring the podcast to life was no challenge for the psychology professor.

“I’m a very experiential professor, and I know West is, too,” Barfield said. “He immediately loved the idea and said, ‘Whatever we can do, let’s do it.’” 

“I thought, ‘This is something we need to do,’” Bowers continued. “I was excited to get involved right away, and we’ve been able to turn it out pretty quickly.”

The first episode of the podcast launched on March 29, 2020. The guest, a student of Barfield’s, was struggling to adjust to the online class structure. Also going a bit ‘stir-crazy,’ she shares how she transformed her studio apartment into a functional work space.

The second episode features a manager of the local Radford Coffee Company restaurant. During the interview, the guest explains why supporting local businesses during these challenging economic times is especially important. 

The response to the series, so far, has been positive and helpful, the professors agreed. From the feedback, they’ve created a list of more than 20 additional “pandemic” podcasts that will be recorded in the weeks and months to come. 

They have also been inspired by the multitude of connections the podcast has presented amongst the Radford family.

“Many of my students are coming up with the themes for these podcasts, and faculty are tuning in,” Barfield said. “My colleagues are writing and saying, ‘Hey, I listened to that podcast, and I’ve been doing what your students are doing.’ I think it’s really neat that students are having an impact on professors right now. It’s not just the professors who are reaching out to students.”

Both professors embrace the belief that the #HighlandersRise mentality will strengthen and shine, “especially if we all stay connected,” Barfield said.

“As Highlanders, we are resilient,” she said. “I truly believe in Radford University, and I believe in my students. My students, after they finish Zooming and connecting, or they listen to our podcast and hear the voices of their professors, they say it’s a reason to get up and get out of bed. It’s a reason to feel better. This podcast is fun, but it’s also survival. It’s a way to bounce back and be adaptable right now in this adversity.”

Tune in to the “The Pandemic Professors” podcast at pandemicprofessors.wordpress.com or on Apple Podcasts.

#HighlandersRise is an initiative to spotlight how Radford University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members push through fear and frustration to pursue their hopes and dreams, even in trying times. Our resiliency sustains us, and our responsiveness empowers us. The entire Radford family, both near and far, is demonstrating a tremendous amount of strength during the unprecedented times we are facing locally, regionally and globally.

Apr 16, 2020
Mary Hardbarger
(540) 831-5150