Northwood Idea Center Launches Podcast Studio


At the corner of Main and Ashman streets in downtown Midland, young minds can develop their creativity and community members can make their voices heard.

The 4,000 square foot space was formerly the site of the Northwood Gallery, which operated for many years before closing in 2020. The suite has been redesigned as the Northwood University Idea Center, a “form-making space free,” according to John Gustincic, director of the Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise.

The Idea Center is open to Northwood students and the wider community. Middle and high school classes visited to learn how to bring their ideas to a wider audience. University students brainstorm solutions and business ideas to solve the problems they have identified. Volunteers have used the space as their headquarters at events downtown. And businesses in the region have used it to do vision work for their businesses.

“Once the street is blocked off in the summer, it becomes one of the busiest corners. We have a lot of people coming in and exploring,” Gustincic said.

One of the highlights of the Idea Center is Timberwolf Studio, which was established in late 2020. As schools resumed in-person classes following the pandemic shutdown period, Gustincic realized the need for Northwood to have a larger digital footprint. He has conducted research on the university’s transition to a multimedia world, learning about video and audio podcasts and their potential. As a result, Timberwolf Studio is not just a podcast studio, but a social media hub.

The studio is equipped with speakers as well as additional light sources and a 360 degree camera for video purposes. Visitors can record and live stream their lectures and performances. Gustincic explained that while older generations used the written word to express their ideas, eventually moving to radio and television, the current generation grew up with streaming services.

“Podcasting gives (young people) a way to essentially create their own radio program. They have full creative control, it’s very easy for them to share on different platforms, you can even combine the podcast with a video to share on YouTube,” Gustincic said.

The studio’s target users are students and nonprofits, but it’s also open to the wider community. For-profit businesses can hire Timberwolf Studio for $25 per hour. Gustincic has seen a wide range of people use the podcast studio. Students often use it for class projects. City of Midland Community Affairs Director Selina Tisdale ran the Downtown Midland podcast from the studio. During the last Holly Jolly Days, musicians were able to perform in the warmth of space while sound was routed to outdoor speakers. The Midland County Historical Society used the studio to record residents’ stories for its “Midland In Our Own Words” collection.

“It was a nice community partnership,” Gustincic said.

Northwood students are an integral part of the idea center. The logos around the interior were designed and created by students. Gustincic considers himself a volunteer at the Idea Center; once the Northwood students arrive in the afternoon, he hands them the keys and they are free to use the space as they wish. Even ideas created in space are discussed among students and rewarded with creativity medals.

“I know it might sound simple, but I think it’s pretty good to have a place where you’re recognized for just coming up with new ideas,” Gustincic said.

Gustincic hopes the Ideas Center will connect Northwood to the Midland community and inspire creativity and innovation, especially in the next generation of modern explorers.

“It’s about helping to inspire people to look at the issues that are out there and what we can do to address them,” Gustincic said.

The Idea Center had a soft opening in August 2020 and is set to have a grand opening in fall 2022. It is open 3-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at other times by reservation.

To learn more about the Idea Center, call 989-837-4479 or email [email protected]


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