Charlie Deitz’s love of audio journalism is contagious

portrait of Charlie Deitz
Photo by Jeremy Parker

Charlie Deitz

Instructor of Journalism

Hometown: Tinton Falls, New Jersey

Primary research interests: late 19th century media, audio storytelling, media studies, institution history, government structures, disability studies

Favorite Podcasts: “This American Life” and “Tides of History”

Favorite Quote: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” – Aeschylus

Say “hello”: Connect with Charlie on X/Twitter @charliedeitz

Audio journalism and storytelling has been on the rise for years, and a lot of people are catching the bug that is changing their world, just like it changed Journalism Instructor Charlie Deitz’s life in the early 2000s.

Deitz did not think that he was going to get into reporting when he first got his bachelor’s degree at Montclair State University, majoring in pre-law and political science. But NPR and its storytelling programming changed that. Deitz went back to school at Mt. Hood Community College, where he took broadcasting classes and earned his associate degree in applied science in broadcasting in 2008.

After graduating, he worked the overnight shift at KEX in Portland, Oregon, which was ClearChannel’s Portland news station. There he learned the importance of reporting through immersing himself at the station. This led him to a job as an NPR-affiliated reporter for three years in Massachusetts.

Deitz enrolled in the Communication and Media Studies Master’s program in 2011 at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) with a plan to go back into reporting. But once he started those classes, he got the bug to teach, which led him to complete the SOJC’s Communication and Media Studies Doctoral program.

Deitz joined the SOJC in 2018 as an adjunct instructor and also taught classes at Oregon State University. He started as a full-time journalism instructor for the SOJC in winter 2023.

We got the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about how he’s using his skills at the SOJC.

SOJC: How did you come to study audio journalism and storytelling?

Charlie Deitz: I would go on long car trips listening to “This American Life” with Ira Glass on NPR. It changed my whole worldview. I did not know that people could tell stories and create the power to laugh and cry and empathize all through audio journalism and storytelling. I learned how to use software to mix podcasts together and would go on long drives listening to them. I was so immersed with them that I got into the ecosystem of NPR broadcasts.

SOJC: Why do you think audio journalism and storytelling is important?

CD: I am a huge fan of sound. Sound is our sense that never turns off. It’s very intimate. Think of someone hearing their mom's voice for the first time or a baby’s heartbeat. Sound can create an image in your mind more so than seeing. You hear something, your mind makes you see it. You can hear the way someone talks, which is such an important communication aspect. It’s a universal thing. Every culture has music and storytelling, which is an oral way of keeping tradition.

SOJC: What is your favorite aspect of audio journalism and storytelling?

CD: My favorite aspect of audio journalism is empathy. You can immerse yourself in someone else’s experience, and I think that’s a beautiful thing to do. Sometimes if I have a problem going on, I put on a good story and I feel like it gets me out of my head, or I get answers or clarity on problems. You can transport yourself, which is a pretty cool miracle that we have access to — going out of our head into someone else’s experiences and then coming back and being better for it.

SOJC: What excites you about your work at the SOJC?

CD: The people in the school have been opening doors to exciting opportunities for me. I get to take over FLUX magazine soon. While it’s nerve-wracking, I have the experience for it and I’m ready for that challenge. I’m excited I was able to help students start the Audio Club, which just took off this year. I’m also excited about the developing new curriculum and how to teach different classes. My goal is to spend less time on the podium teaching and more time getting my students out doing things. It’s a lucky position to be in.

SOJC: What do you hope your students walk away with?

CD: I hope my students walk away with the ability and confidence to ask good questions. You need a lot of answers to get to the good questions. A confident curiosity about the world is important, or else you’re just a doorknob. I hope every student is curious and confident enough to ask those questions to get good answers.

SOJC: What do you like to do in your free time?

CD: I like to play guitar, play basketball, work on digital music production or read books. I’m very involved with my daughter, and I like to watch shows with her or go on walks. I feel lucky that I have a quality group of friends here that I consider my tribe.

—By Sophie Fowler, class of ’26

Sophie Fowler ’26 is an advertising major minoring in multimedia. Outside of Allen Hall Fowler enjoys reading and eating pizza. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.