Belmont Storytelling Shines Through Recent Grad's Award-Winning Podcast

Johnson building
Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business

Belmont Storytelling Shines Through Recent Grad's Award-Winning Podcast

May 24, 2024 | by Haley Charlton

NPR Gives Honorable Mention to Alumnus Isaac Wetzel’s ‘Brown Sheep’

Brown Sheep coverIsaac Wetzel, a recent 2024 graduate of Belmont’s emerging media program, has gained national recognition for his podcast "Brown Sheep" - a space dedicated to amplifying the voices of adoptees, immigrants, people of color and others within marginalized communities. 

Wetzel, who was adopted from Vietnam as an infant, created the podcast in Belmont's pioneering podcasting class, launched in 2021. His authentic approach to exploring identity and giving a platform to underrepresented perspectives resonated with judges, earning him an honorable mention from NPR in their competitive College Podcast Challenge. 

In its third year, the competition received nearly 500 entries and handed out only 22 honorable mentions. 

"It felt really speaks volumes (pun intended) as to the hard work and the community I feel like I've built here that would support me and really encourage me to put that out there," Wetzel said of the recognition. "I just finished college, and I'm starting to see the fruits of my labor and really feel the acknowledgement and the appreciation. And it just makes me feel like I'm doing something right.” 

Wetzel in recording studioThe class, created and taught by Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Jen Duck, gives students full training from ideation to post-production while providing access to Belmont's two new state-of-the-art podcast studios.  

“In our busy online world, podcasting is unique because it brings authentic face-to-face conversations back to the forefront,” Duck explained. “We challenge students to interview people from all walks of life and craft meaningful content that helps foster a greater understanding of diverse communities and circumstances.” 

For Wetzel, the curriculum allowed a passion project to take form. The exploratory nature of interviewing guests creates an intimate space for deep conversations around identity that he hopes can inspire others. 

"This is one of the big things that I've been able to take away from Belmont, and then really do for myself," he explained. "I've been able to become to be more vulnerable and be more open about exploring who I am and what my purpose is through recording this.”  

Wetzel credits the peer feedback and real-world experience from the class as vital in shaping "Brown Sheep." 

"Classes like this, or the documentary class I was part of, gives you not only the soft skills and training but also that bridge, the connections and relationships, so that you can tell these stories," Wetzel added. “Belmont fostering this storyteller atmosphere allows the Nashville community to be heard and amplified through the young students and creatives who are looking to do that in a way that brings purpose and relationship.” 

With the formative skills gained at Belmont, Wetzel plans to pursue a career incorporating his strengths in editing, video and audio production. Until he lands his next gig, he's continuing to reflect on purpose and identity and further develop the "Brown Sheep" podcast that has already made its mark. 

“If there's something you want to do, if you have any opportunity or interest in something, Belmont says ‘We'll make it happen.'"

Isaac Wetzel

Learn More

Learn more about Belmont's emerging media program.