Student-Created South Texas Stories Podcast Chronicles Corpus Christi Music Culture

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From the Galvan Ballroom to Selena Quintanilla, and from the House of Rock to the Corpus Christi Chorale, a new podcast series by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students has chronicled a selection of South Texas musical history. During a class taught by Dr. Jen Corrinne Brown, Joe B. Frantz Associate Professor of History, six Islander master’s students created “South Texas Stories,” a podcast series focused on preserving and sharing Corpus Christi’s unique community history ­– one that is entrenched in musical influence and tradition.

“I’m really proud of these students and their efforts to promote local history,” Brown said. “They know that studying history strengthens community identity and civic engagement, and they worked hard to share these histories with a wide audience.”

HIST 5380: Topics in History: Oral History and Podcasting, which took place during Summer I, taught interviewing, archiving, and podcast creation skills. The process of completing a podcast was a long one, beginning first with an audio-recorded interview. Next, students would form the script and storyline for their first episode draft. Finally, after many edits and changes, the final 10-15 minute episode was ready to be published online.

The cataloging of local history is already a part of the job for Amanda Kowalski, Bell Library Information Specialist in the Special Collections & Archives, Master of Arts in History student, and creator of “South Texas Stories” episode six. In her episode titled “The House of Rock Community,” Kowalski interviews Casey Lain, owner of the House of Rock. Kowalski and Lain discussed the founding and growth of what is now a staple in the Corpus Christi community, along with the influence it has had on local culture.

“Music is vital to a community, but these parts of the culture are often left out of official histories and should be documented,” Kowalski said. “Corpus Christi is a culturally diverse city, but the musical beats that flow through it create a connection across cultures. This is still happening at venues like the House of Rock.”

Nicholas Vela, Master of Arts in History student, took a more intimate approach when creating “South Texas Stories” episode 4, “All in the Musical Family.” Through his interview with Jesse Valdez, his brother-in-law, Vela examined the intersection between music and family. Music, Vela believes, is a key cultural element.

“Music is a foundation of human culture and expression, but unlike art or architecture, music doesn't get the same recognition,” Vela said. “To look at local music is to shift focus away from famous names to local, lesser-known musicians who, while they haven’t made it big, have a passion to music and to community that still makes change, even if you don’t see it.”

“South Texas Stories,” which is composed of six episodes, is available for listening on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. It can also be found on the Mary and Jeff Bell Library website. Moving forward, Brown plans to continue offering classes on podcasting, with an undergraduate version of the course being held in fall 2020 and a graduate version available on demand.

Students enrolled in the class included:

  • Dr. Jeff Dillard, Master of Arts in History student and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  • Amanda Kowalski, Master of Arts in History student and Library Information Specialist in Special Collections & Archives at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library
  • Lisa Louis, Department Head of Research & Learning at the Bell Library
  • Charles Prothro, Master of Arts in History student
  • Nicholas Vela, Master of Arts in History student
  • Ed Warga, Digital Collections Librarian in Special Collections & Archives at the Bell Library