Archive for October, 2014

October 26, 2014

branching out

Radiotopia backer

A new project of mine has been bubbling away in secret for quite a while, but I’m excited to be able to divulge it at last:

If Radiotopia succeed in raising $400,000 in their current Kickstarter campaign, in January 2015 I’ll be joining their network to make a new fortnightly podcast. It’ll be all about phrases and etymology and commonplace things we say without realising how weird those things actually are.

I’m cock-a-hoop about this: anyone who has listened to Answer Me This! will have sussed that I have endless enthusiasm for this subject, so I’m looking forward to being able to spend a lot more time indulging my interest. Finally, my degree in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English will come in handy! Which, when you do a degree in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English, is not something you ever expect will happen.

I also have great admiration for what PRX and my friend Roman Mars of 99% Invisible are doing with Radiotopia: they are trying to change the way broadcasting is done. The stretch goal that my show is part of aims to correct the gender imbalance in podcasting, and you know from my Sound Women work and posts like this that I am very much in favour of that. In an ideal world, nobody would even have to make the point that they’re encouraging more shows made by women; but while podcasting, like almost all forms of media and entertainment, remains so dominated by straight white men, this is a positive start – and it’s only the beginning of their plans to diversify the field.

More broadly, Radiotopia is making it possible for independent audio creators to have complete control over what they make, whilst being able to afford to make it at all. Because while podcasting is cheap to start – recording equipment and hosting become less and less expensive as time goes on – the biggest cost is one’s time.

WHY? Making a podcast that is even halfway decent requires a hell of a lot of time and effort. If you’re listening to a podcast that you like, know that a huge amount of both went into making a podcast good enough for you to like.

For instance: each episode of Answer Me This! takes half a week to put together. When we were on a weekly schedule, that left me with slightly insufficient time to work on other things in order to earn enough to live – especially as I’m freelance, and a large chunk of a freelancer’s time gets pissed away on jockeying for paid jobs, leaving even less time in which to do actual work.

Even when my bank statements made me cry, Answer Me This! always felt worth doing, because the audience was and is growing, and continues to be so enthusiastic and encouraging. It took years for the show to make much money, and in the past couple of years the albums and Squarespace.com sponsorship have made a remarkable difference to AMT’s fortunes, but it’s still not enough to live off. Over the years I’ve had many ideas for new shows that will probably never be realised, because having been through it once before with AMT, I just couldn’t afford to spend the amount of time it takes to build up a new podcast from scratch again.

Until now!

If Radiotopia reach their Kickstarter goal, after nearly eight years of being a podcaster, they can fund my new show and I will be able to become a FULL TIME PODCASTER.

I absolutely love podcasting as a medium, both as a maker and a consumer: it’s so direct and intimate. It only involves the podcaster and the listener, with no layers in between of institutions or compliance. I can listen to material I’m interested in without a commissioner and scheduler having decided that I’m going to listen to it; and as a maker, I’m not at the mercy of those people either. I didn’t need somebody else’s permission to start making Answer Me This!; Olly and I did it because we could, then the listeners themselves confirmed that this was an OK thing to do. So few things would make me happier than for podcasting to be my main pursuit.

If you can afford to chip in to the Kickstarter, even $1 makes a difference; you’d not only be enabling me to make this new podcast which I think you’ll enjoy, but also you’d be bringing in The Heart and Criminal (one of my favourite new podcasts), AND you’d be supporting Radiotopia’s current roster of brilliant shows: Love+Radio, Theory of Everything, Radio Diaries, Strangers, Fugitive Waves, The Truth and, of course, 99% Invisible.

Also, you’d be preventing Roman Mars exploding from stress.

Click here to make all these wonderful things happen!

PS: I’ll still carry on making Answer Me This!. I plan to keep doing that show until all the questions in the world have been answered.

PPS: Earlier this year, I interviewed Roman for our Radio 4 documentary about podcasting, in which he outlined the principles that compelled him to start Radiotopia – as well as saying a lot of very interesting stuff about 99% Invisible and podcasts in general. You can stream or download the interview here (alongside interviews with several other great podcasters I spoke to) or here or right here:

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October 16, 2014

AMT300

I really can’t believe our little home-made podcast has made it this far, but today we published the 300th episode of Answer Me This!.

I don’t want to give away too much of what is in it (suffice to say a lot of people are asking whether it’ll be our last episode), so please just listen to it via the various different means at answermethispodcast.com/episode300, or you can play it right here:

AND there’s a bumper bonus track:

It was a LOT of work. Now please excuse me, I need a lie down.

October 15, 2014

Podcast Clinic: November

-2
Date for your diary: the next Podcast Clinic will be 7.30pm, 24th November 2014, and we will gather upstairs in the Upstairs Bar in the Brixton Ritzy. (And anyone who was at the last podcast clinic will be happy to know that the venue is definitely OK with this!)

Joining me will be Sam Clements and Simon Renshaw from the Picturehouse Podcast; we’ll chat through your issues with your podcasts for the first hour or so, then kick back with drinks and snacks – do come along if you just fancy meeting other podcasters. Podcasting can be a lonely pursuit, and at August’s clinic, it was particularly pleasing to see podcasters meeting, making friends and sparking ideas off each other. So whether you are one or want to become one, please join in. It’s free! We’ll have a lovely time! We can all go to see a film afterwards!

PS Join the Podcasters’ Support Group on Facebook so that you can air your podcast problems and fraternise with other podcasters in the virtual realm.

October 6, 2014

feel the fear and freelance anyway

This month’s Sound Women podcast is all about a subject close to my heart: freelancing! Come next January, I’ll have been a freelancer for ten years. I either think being a freelancer is the best thing in the world, or a terrifyingly irresponsible decision, disastrous for one’s finances and future security. I swing from one to the other several times daily. Joining me to share tales of joy, fear and being an official Mrs Potato Head were the excellent freelancers Matt Hill, Ellie Davis and Nicky Patrick. Listen here or right here:

After having said it a few thousand times, it occurred to me that ‘freelance’ is quite an odd term, so I looked it up and learnt that it was probably coined by Walter Scott in Ivanhoe. There’s your fact of the day.

In other work news, this Saturday was the final episode of BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition, a show I’ve been on nearly every week since the very beginning, four years ago. I’m sad to see it go, especially when I heard the montage at the end – you can hear it on the podcast here.

So now I’m patrolling central London wearing an A-board, advertising my services. That’s the best way to get new radio gigs, right?

I’m not sure the best way to stay in the radio industry’s good books was to do this talk at the Next Radio conference last month, but whatevs, it’s too late now:

If you want to hear me banging on about podcasting, then direct yourself to the 25th September edition of the Media Focus podcast; and/or if you would like to read me banging on about podcasting then check out this interview I did with Podcaster News.

And finally: there’s an excellent new online magazine in town, Standard Issue, and I’m delighted to contribute to it. Here I am debunking some stats about women in comedy, that subject that will hopefully one day be known as ‘people in comedy’.

October 5, 2014

Boring IV

Earlier this year, I spoke at the Boring Conference. Amongst the many great talks, which you can watch here and here, I particularly enjoyed Ali Coote on ice cream vans, deputy editor of Mojo mag Andrew Male talking about Eric Clapton’s bookshelves, Rhodri Marsden exposing the monotony of national anthems, and of course my husband Martin Austwick banging on about eggs.

Here’s mine. It’s about my collection of mid-20th century cookery books, and the grimness therein: