MBJH Principal Donald Clayton and MBS Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow prepare to record a podcast in the MBS podcast studio.
  • Above: MBJH Principal Donald Clayton and MBS Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow prepare to record a podcast in the MBS podcast studio. 

    MBS launches podcast

    Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow came up with the idea to start a podcast a few years ago. Last month, his idea became a reality. 

    The first two episodes of the Mountain Brook Schools Podcast published March 20, and four more have followed in recent weeks. 

    Co-hosted by Barlow and Mountain Brook Junior High Principal Donald Clayton, the podcast has created a new channel for the school system to communicate with members of the MBS community at a time when communication is more critical than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    “What the podcast has allowed us to do is to just let people know that we really are concerned for their children, that we’re trying to do everything that we can, and that everybody in the community — teachers, parents, students — needs to just show a lot of grace toward one another,” Barlow said. “We’re all trying to do the best we can in this crisis.”

    When Barlow originally considered starting a podcast, he envisioned it becoming a channel through which he would communicate positive news about the school system and Mountain Brook community. He also imagined it becoming a forum in which he would interview nationally respected education experts whose insight would benefit MBS teachers. 

    While Barlow’s vision endures, the podcast’s overarching purpose thus far has been to explain the school system’s response to COVID-19 and communicate important information with a personal touch. 

    “I feel like it humanized our communication,” Clayton said. “A lot of times when you write, it has to be very formal. But having a voice...there’s just something different about it that’s comforting.” 

    Although both hosts are new to podcasting, Clayton draws from his experience as a student-broadcaster. While enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Montevallo, he broadcast football games at the local high school and served as the public address announcer at UM basketball games. 

    No longer in press row, Clayton records each podcast with Barlow in a soundproof studio at the MBS central office. The Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation funded the studio’s construction last fall.

    “We couldn’t be more grateful for the Foundation’s contribution,” Barlow said. “Without it, this podcast wouldn’t be possible."

    The Mountain Brook Schools Podcast has been downloaded more than 7,800 times since launching and will continue to publish on a semi-weekly basis. All episodes are posted to the district website and are available via Apple Podcasts.

    “Our hope is just that we’ll continue to communicate through this crisis, and then we can begin to showcase the special people that are involved in our school system and our community,” Barlow said.