Archive for ‘podcasting’

April 2, 2014

double helping of Sound Women podcast

Here’s the April episode of the Sound Women podcast, in which I speak to Kate Murphy of Bournemouth University about teaching radio degrees, as well as the women working at the BBC during a surprisingly gender-liberal spell between the World Wars. Cheeka Eyers reported on the work of Podium.me – Olly and I spoke at one of their events last year, and it left me wishing there’d been something like that around when I was interested in, but fundamentally clueless about, journalism and radio.

I also sought lessons learnt by radio pals during their careers, so it’s a very educational episode:

There was also a bonus edition of the podcast last month to coincide with Radio 1’s all-female line-up for International Women’s Day. Since a whole month has passed, it seems timely to tell you about it. Features Annie Mac, Monki, B.Traits and Hayley Clarke:

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March 12, 2014

podclash

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A union of podcasts this week, as Olly and I were guests on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. There’s been beef between us from a few years ago, and finally it gets a thorough chewing:

Here’s the March episode of the Sound Women podcast, featuring a very enjoyable guide to surviving a breakfast show from Natalie B of Heart Four Counties. I still don’t know how she does it. I would be permanently delirious from working those hours. I also met Eleanor McDowall who produces Radio 4’s Short Cuts, and Ruth Barnes interviews Xfm presenter Danielle Perry. It’s on iTunes, or right here:

UPDATE: there’s also a bonus episode of Sound Women this month, as I went down to Radio 1 just as they were kicking off their all-female schedule for International Women’s Day. I met Annie Mac, and Hayley Clarke spoke to B.Traits and Monki:

And here’s Answer Me This! Episode 285, featuring correspondence from an actual OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST.

February 10, 2014

Spark London, or, Troubles with my Aunt

Although the main podcast I make is a comedy show, my favourite genre of podcasts to listen to involves people telling true stories. The Moth, Love + Radio, Unfictional, This American Life, Strangers, Third Coast International Audio Festival… So imagine my excitement when I was invited to speak at Spark London, London’s premium stand-on-a-stage-and-tell-a-story-from-your-life show!

Then imagine my panic, because much as I enjoy my mostly solitary and undramatic life, it doesn’t generate much True Story material.

Luckily, there are two cracking True Stories in the family. One, I don’t think I can tell in public until all the main protagonists are dead.* So I told the other one:

The Spark London podcast is available on Mixcloud or iTunes.

*Maybe in 30 years I can return to Spark to tell it.

PS In case you don’t believe me about the typo on my grandmother’s gravestone, here’s photographic proof.

PPS Spotted backstage at Spark: a baby on a stick. Wonder if they have one of those at the Moth.

Spark baby

February 3, 2014

a clutch of podcasts

The other day, the Telegraph ran a piece I wrote about getting a career in the radio industry – you can read it here, if you like. It made me reflect a bit about my work, and podcasting; things evolve so quickly online that my potted guide to podcasting from two years ago needs updating, but the essentials do remain the same:

Person talking —> podcast.

But enough reflecting upon podcasts, it is time for some actual podcasts!

Here’s this month’s Sound Women podcast, in which Isy Suttie and Caroline Raphael shed light upon the inner workings of radio comedy:

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about one of Britain’s most underwhelming military campaigns at Stand Up Tragedy. Thanks very much to Jay Foreman for providing impromptu backing music:

And there are new episodes of Answer Me This! of course, although half as many because the show is now fortnightly. But each episode is longer, so it’ll work out as roughly the same amount of AMT over the year. Now that I have to think about the show half as often, I feel more than twice as positive about it.

December 23, 2013

end of the year noisedump

The year always ends with a flurry of editing to cobble together the Best of Answer Me Thises, and here they are. Here they bloody are.

If you don’t already listen to Getting Better Acquainted podcast, it’s time you got on with that. Last year’s Christmas episode was one of the most honest and moving podcasts I have ever heard. Host Dave Pickering is a very candid, soul-searching person; I’m none of those things, but nonetheless he let me come on the show a few weeks ago:

If you like to eavesdrop upon fun and engaging chat about films, do not deprive yourself of the Picturehouse Podcast. Sam Clements and Simon Renfrew are very engaging company, although unhealthily obsessed with The Holiday as I discovered when I went on the show to talk about Christmas films. Much as I admire them, I am definitely right about The Holiday. It is a bucket of liquid shit. Unlike the podcast:

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November 14, 2013

Little Atoms, and GBA live

wiggly sculpture

Congratulations to fellow podcaster and all-round good egg Neil Denny on reaching the 300th episode of the excellent Little Atoms. He commemorated this milestone by interviewing John Lloyd, but also by letting me talk about growing up with a sculptor, my dad Zack Zaltzman. Here’s the show. The picture above is of one of the huge plaster casts from dad’s gelatine-carving phase.

I’m very excited to be appearing on another of my favourite podcasts, Getting Better Acquainted. We’re recording live as part of the Writeidea Festival Fringe at the Ideas Factory this Sunday, 17th November. We’ll be on around 4.30pm, but come along for the afternoon because Wil Hodgson will be performing, and there’s a panel discussion about comics featuring Tom Humberstone, who makes Solipsistic Pop. One night a couple of years ago, my husband and I were sitting on the East London Line indulging in a little light bickering, when a gentlemen walked past, handed us a copy of a beautiful comic, then hopped off the train. This was an exciting mystery, and after some Twitter detective work, we discovered it was Tom himself. So I’m well disposed towards him. Altogether it’ll be a worthwhile use of your afternoon, I’m sure.

Also! This week I went along to the Houses of Parliament to attend the Rewind and Reframe panel discussion, about music videos being sexist and racist, and reported back to the Guardian’s Media Talk about it. Click here to hear.

November 1, 2013

Sound Women podcast 7

Perhaps because even my body thinks I should shut the hell up occasionally, I lost my voice this week. This is a bit problematic when your job involves talking, and I had to cancel a couple of things; but the Sound Women podcast soldiers on, albeit with links that sound a like a creaking gate. Happily, alongside my rusty voice is the Voice of An Angel: I spoke to none other than Charlotte Church after she delivered the BBC 6 Music John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival. It’s well worth listening to her lecture about the music industry’s sexualisation of young female artists – you can download it here.

I also caught up with Louisa Compton who is, er, my boss at Saturday Edition, as well as the formidable editor of 5 Live’s daytime content including Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Richard Bacon. And self-confessed radio anorak Andrea Day told me all about what goes into radio traffic reports: A LOT OF WORK.

Also, this week’s Answer Me This! was a bit of a novelty, as we recorded in Olly‘s new house in the country, which just happens to be close to a dinosaur-themed adventure golf course. Now I understand why he moved out of London.


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October 1, 2013

Sound Women podcast 6: Annabel Port and Geoff Lloyd

In this month’s Sound Women podcast, I interviewed Annabel Port and Geoff Lloyd, who host Absolute Radio’s Hometime Show which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Being half of a presenting duo myself, I was interested to hear how they keep their partnership fresh after 12+ years. Olly and I have been making Answer Me This! for nearly seven years and sometimes we’re sick of the sight (and sound) of each other. But Annabel and Geoff have to come up with hours of on-air chat every day! They’re probably just nicer people than we are…

During the chats, I learnt how Annabel’s radio career revelation came to her up a Mexican mountain; how she was subsequently Discovered by Geoff; and how working with him has caused her to lose all her social inhibitions. They also lay into those who propagate the notion that women aren’t funny. The fact that people still trot out this statement almost makes me object to the notion of free speech. Perhaps we should all have to sit an exam before we’re permitted to express any opinions.

September 2, 2013

Sound Women podcast 5: Jane Garvey

One of the boons of making the Sound Women podcast is that I get to interview people I think are very interesting. Before even starting the series, I had Woman’s Hour‘s Jane Garvey in the crosshairs, so I was utterly delighted to stick a microphone in her face for SWP5. Naturally she did not disappoint.

Also on the episode: Amazing Radio‘s Ruth Barnes and Rachael Devine, and head of Sound Women regions Lucy Duffield. Dose yourself with the show via iTunes and SoundCloud.

This week is the third birthday of BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition, on which I’m continually delighted to have a weekly gig. In its podcast form it is known as Let’s Talk About Tech, and on the 31st August episode I contemplate the Huffington Post’s decision to abolish anonymous commenter accounts, and the mother-daughter team who make over $1m scamming online daters.

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a bit of ‘seven-year itch’ about Answer Me This! lately – but nonetheless I think the show has been on rather good form recently. It is available for your attention at answermethispodcast.com.

August 2, 2013

manifold noises

I’ve already done three podcasts this month, and it’s only 2nd August.

Episode 4 of the Sound Women podcast is out now at iTunes and SoundCloud and is bursting at the seams with interesting radio stuff.

To hash over the findings of the Women on Air report, which I posted about before, I gathered together a crack team: founder of Sound Women Maria Williams; Emma Barnett, Sunday Drive presenter on LBC and Women’s Editor at the Telegraph; and Tony Moorey, director of content at Absolute Radio. As the token man in the room, I hope Tony didn’t feel too picked on.

Ruth Barnes interviewed Caroline Barker about her career as a sports reporter on BBC 5 Live and the World Service, amongst other stations, and why Father Christmas compelled her to start her own production company.

I also spoke to Camilla Pia, playlister at BBC 6 Music. I’m always really interested to learn about what goes on behind the scenes in radio (and TV, and film, and myriad other industries), and as Camilla says, if she’s doing her job properly, the listener shouldn’t even be aware that her job exists.

Next: Matt Hill, producer of the Guardian’s Media Talk podcast, let me host a special edition of the show all about podcasting, wherein I interviewed my brother Andy! Which was weird. We don’t really talk about our podcasts much in Real Life. The show also featured producer of Hackney Podcast Francesca Panetta, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown and Richard Herring producer Ben Walker, Maximum Fun founder Jesse Thorn, 99% Invisible‘s Roman Mars, and some guy called Olly Mann.

Also, I should have mentioned earlier our spot on BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition last weekend, as we discussed Caroline Criado-Perez’s resilience in the face of vicious Twitter abuse. I went off on one about why I think it’s unwise to dismiss terrible online behaviour just as trolling; to me, ‘troll’ is a term through which one can dehumanise behaviour which is very human, unfortunate as that is.

I don’t mean that to say, “Guys, trolls are human too! Protect the trolls and their rights!” I mean: abusive, insensitive, dangerous, calculatedly offensive behaviour online is performed by actual sentient human beings, who possess the same faculties as the rest of us, and I don’t think the problem will be rectified if one loses sight of that and hides their actions under a blanket term, especially this one which sounds so childish and daft. Anyway, if you’re interested, you can download the podcast of the 27th July episode here.

On a more cheerful note, there is Answer Me This! Episode 265, where we learn about the origins of Amazon, hamburgers and straitjackets, and also why you should keep your genitals clean. I really don’t know why there’s any question about that.

PS A post I wrote last week about why I don’t like sport.

PPS My husband did a TEDx talk, which I’d better remember to watch.

July 12, 2013

Women on Air report

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As a woman who works in radio and a woman who likes listening to radio and a person who wonders why women are a comparative rarity on the radio, Sound Women is a cause dear to my heart. (Obviously, since I make their podcast.)

Today Sound Women released their Women on Air report, which found that only one in five presenters on British radio is female. The proportion is even lower when you break it down by such factors as appearing on air regularly, during weekdays, during primetime, solo, playing an equal rather than subordinate part in a presenting partnership, etc etc. NB The report was specifically researching the gender split of presenters; there is also a known insufficiency of female guests, pundits and so forth. Hence the advent of Sound Women a couple of years ago, as recounted by founder Maria Williams in the first episode of the Sound Women podcast.

To me, the one in five number in the report is disappointing, but not at all surprising. Last year I was interviewed by Persephone Magazine and mentioned that I hadn’t ever really been aware of my gender working against me professionally until I entered the radio sphere. It was impossible to ignore the imbalance within the industry. For instance, a few years ago, Olly and I arrived to make a demo at a well-known radio station and, off-hand, I asked the producer how many female presenters they had.

“Errr… Laura does the weather?”

Weather, traffic, news – that’s the female representation on too many radio stations. And yet, so many people I’ve spoken to hadn’t even noticed how few women there are on air until I pointed it out to them. This is the case also with people in radio power: the majority of high-ranking radio execs are male, which means those who could fix the gender problem are not necessarily aware of the problem, and if they are, they are not personally affected by the problem, and therefore not particularly incentivised to address the problem. Happily, in response to the report, I have heard that various radio stations are already planning various schemes to increase the female voice quotient, and I hope these do end up making a palpable difference over the next few years.

But how did it reach the point where the industry has to be harangued to better represent fifty per cent of the populace?

Amongst many radio honchos, the justification for not employing female presenters is the received wisdom that people do not like listening to women – and specifically that even women do not like listening to women.

This ‘fact’ is apparently based on a piece of research, which nobody working in radio today seems to have seen, and if it ever indeed existed it was done decades ago – back when the majority of women on radio were played by Kenny Everett.

Aside from the difficulty of access to the industry and the alleged antipathy of listeners, there’s another possible reason for the paucity of female voices: many of the people I’ve spoken to for the Sound Women podcast have suggested that, in general, women tend to be less apt than their male equivalents to promote themselves, to effect similar confidence, or to be sure that their voices ought to be heard. IE the female talent pool is self-limiting. I wonder whether this is why apparently women are also scarcer in the field of podcasting. Unlike getting into radio, there are almost no barriers to becoming a podcaster: if you want to do it, you can just go ahead and do it.

So: women, speak up. And everybody else, regardless of your gender, be prepared to listen.

July 8, 2013

Sound Women podcast: episode 3

Owing to the aforementioned holiday, I’m behind schedule posting about the latest Sound Women podcast. But it’s here! You should listen because everybody could do with more Miranda Sawyer in their lives.

To respond to listeners’ questions about the radio industry, I deployed producer Laura Parfitt, maker of many excellent radio programmes. What I admired about the advice she gave was the stringency, the perfectionism and intellectual rigour. ‘Do it, and do it properly’ is a simple message that bears repeating.

Incidentally, while I was interviewing Laura in her living room, it sounded like she was emitting low growls every couple of minutes. This really threw me, until I realised her little dog was hiding behind her in the armchair.

Also on the show: Ruth Barnes of Amazing Radio and The Other Woman podcast interviews Adele Roberts about going from Big Brother 3 to BBC 1Xtra; and Emma Jane Bradshaw reports from the final act of this year’s Sound Women mentorship scheme. I’ve been thinking that I need a mentor, but really what I need is somebody to kick me up the arse metaphorically. Any takers? Never mind.

The Sound Women podcast is available at iTunes and SoundCloud; find out more about Sound Women’s excellent work at soundwomen.co.uk.

June 1, 2013

Sound Women podcast: episode 2

Behold, here is the Sound Women podcast episode 2: Attack of the Clones featuring numerous exciting people who spoke at the recent Sound Women Festival, such as Fi Glover, Anita Anand, Angie Greaves and Jo Good. By all accounts the festival was an excellent day, but, alas, I didn’t get to go; it was my husband’s birthday, which he commemorated by walking from Rotherhithe to Crystal Palace via many of South London’s unloveliest industrial wastelands.

If you want a lovely walk through South London, though, I wholeheartedly recommend the Green Chain route. And naturally I wholeheartedly recommend subscribing to the podcast via iTunes or following it on SoundCloud.

May 1, 2013

Sound Women podcast: episode 1

I’m very excited to say that I’m making a new podcast!* It’s called the Sound Women podcast, because I’m making it with the Sound Women network of women (and men) in British radio. Ergo, the podcast is about women and radio, and if you’re interested in either of those things, I hope you like it.

In Episode 1, I interviewed the inimitable Lauren Laverne, who told me how to get rid of earworms and what Jamie Oliver keeps in his toilet; I also spoke to Nicky Birch of Somethin’ Else, who suggests not being a pain-the-arse slacker if you want to get ahead in radio, and Maria Williams to find out why she set up Sound Women in the first place (clue: because the radio industry is sexist, innit). Plus dispatches from SRAcon by Emma Bradshaw, and Ruth Barnes found out from Sinead Garvan how to get to be a reporter at Radio 1’s Newsbeat.

Oh, and Martin wrote the theme music, what a gent.

Have a listen at iTunes or SoundCloud.

*Don’t worry, I haven’t dumped Answer Me This!. I’m just cheating on it with another podcast.

April 26, 2013

Internet daters of the world…

…I need YOU.

If you’re currently doing internet dating, would you be willing to be interviewed by me about it, before and after you go on the date, for a new podcast I want to make? By all means you can use a false name if your bashfulness threatens to conquer your exhibitionism.

If you’re interested in allowing me to nose gently into your private life, then please email me: helen.zaltzman@gmail.com. Think of it as free therapy, over Skype.

Pass it on!

PS Over-18s only, please; sorry kids.

April 8, 2013

noisy weekend

Lots of noise-work over the past weekend. Firstly on Friday evening, I joined the roundtable on the Ian Collins show on LBC with Ian Dunt of politics.co.uk; podcast should appear here shortishly. Saturday Edition as usual on Saturday on BBC 5 Live. Then on Sunday morning, my first appearance on the Jeni Barnett Show on BBC London which you can hear here. Whilst songs are playing, most radio presenters spend the time reading listeners’ messages/news feeds/in discussion with the producers/going to the loo. Not Jeni. She dances exuberantly around the studio, because she is fantastic.

There’s also AMT251, and I’m on the new episode of International Waters, along with Jesse Thorn, Janet Varney, Ricky Carmona and my former flatmate Matthew Crosby! And thus the photo on the post about the episode is a photo of me and the Crosb sitting on my sofa in 2008, holding up our iPods for a shot to go with an ‘episode’ of his now defunct Readable Podcast. If you want, you can roll back the years and read the episode here. There are even jingles. I had forgotten all about this, which was probably for the best.

March 18, 2013

SXSW

Austin greetings mural

I just returned from SXSWi in Austin, Texas, where I spoke on a panel about podcasting with Colin Anderson, Jesse Thorn and Roman Mars. We were scheduled against talks by Selena Gomez and also Shaq, which made for a very difficult choice for people who were interested in both the monetization of podcasts AND the cast of Spring Breakers.

Hopefully the audio of our session will become available soon; in the meantime here’s a picture of my fellow panellists gearing up in the greygreen room…

Austin green room

…and unwinding afterwards in a sausage restaurant.

Austin post-panel sausages

I reported back to the Guardian’s Media Talk podcast, which you can hear HERE. Aside from a lot of interesting talks about new media and tech, there was plenty other excitement, including several outstanding film screenings (keep an eye out for An Unreal Dream, The Spectacular Now and Partly Fiction), some classic Texan barbecue, and free corporate swag including a branded harmonica, a branded shaky egg and some giant Post-It notes. Got to recoup the cost of my flight where I can.

Then I rode on a train for 37 hours to Los Angeles, for another podcast adventure in Jordan, Jesse, Go! which you can hear HERE. Or even right here:

Jesse, Jordan and me:

LA JJGo

NB if you want to arrive somewhere fresh in body and mind, don’t spend 37 hours on a train immediately prior. But you already knew that.

December 15, 2012

end of year noises

As the end of the year approaches, tradition dictates we look back upon the past twelvemonth, reflect and ruminate, then pick out some of the highlights of that year and edit them into an audio package.

This we have done with Answer Me This! – the Best of 2012 part I is out now, and part II will follow on Thursday 20th. Embedded above is one of my favourite passages; drunk-dialling can be strangely moving.

Olly and I also run through the year’s biggest online events on Saturday Edition, BBC 5 Live 8pm 29th December or available shortly after as the Let’s Talk About Tech podcast; and you can hear us discussing Christmas gadgets and songs on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2 on 20th December.

Not finished yet! I crop up on BBC 5 Live’s Radio Review of 2012, which will be on at 11pm on Christmas Eve, repeated 4pm on Christmas Day, or, if you want to listen at a more sensible time, available on the 5 Live website straight after. There’s some very interesting stuff on it, and it’s co-hosted by Jane Garvey – any show with Jane Garvey on it is a show worth hearing.

Lastly, Olly and I also wrote some bits for the Celebrity Juice Christmas Specials; part one is already on ITV Player and part two will follow on Thursday 20th.

And now, having provided a thorough summation of 2012, I’m taking the rest of it off. See you in 2013, assuming that apocalypse is another let-down.

November 26, 2012

The Joy of Tech

Olly’s and my regular Saturday night gig, talking about the week’s most involving internet events on BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition, is now available as a podcast! It is called The Joy of Tech and you can get it HERE.

October 27, 2012

Next Radio

In September Olly and I spoke at Next Radio, a great one-day event with lots of rapid-fire talks about the radio industry and where it is headed (there are broadly two schools of thought: 1. somewhere more magnificent than ever 2. straight to Fucktown).

As we began making a podcast in my living room with no knowledge whatsoever, we could hardly go onstage in front of a roomful of radio experts and teach them much they don’t already know. So instead we plumped for a romp through some of the weirdest and silliest things to have happened to us since we started Answer Me This!, and here’s the video of our talk:

Thanks very much to James Cridland and Matt Deegan for letting us take part; click here to view videos of other talks from the day, they are well worth your while.

What you can’t tell from the videos is that we were at the Magic Circle headquarters! While the auditorium was very normal-looking, the corridors and rooms were full of display cases with magicians’ props, puppets, magic coffins etc.

What I hope you can’t tell from the video is that this was my first ever Powerpoint presentation! I rarely get the opportunity to make one in my ‘line’ of ‘work’.