Posts tagged ‘podcasting’

August 7, 2016

showtime

Hello! I’ve been moving house, and WOW has it been tedious. It did speed up when I just started throwing all our stuff away. Forget KonMari’s “Does it spark joy?” edict; my future bestselling tidying handbook will make you ask, “Can I be arsed to make a decision about this object ever again?” The upshot is, if you peruse the charity shops of Crystal Palace, you can recreate 50% of my old home.

But apparently, among all the packing tape and dirt and existential malaise, I did some work! There are a bunch of Allusionist episodes, including one with some Olympics-related etymologies, and a discussion of brand names and how we came up with ‘Allusionist’ for the show, and another about generational terms such as Millennial and Generation X. And a contemplation of small talk, which came out the day after the EU Referendum which, amongst its many other effects, obliterated small talk.

On 24th September at 4.30pm, the first live Allusionist will take place as part of the London Podcast Festival. A handful of tickets remain, get one HERE.

There’s a bit of a backlog of my appearances on other podcasts, too. Eg:

  • Talking about a night bus journey gone bad on Nocturne: ‘A Luminous Bubble‘.
  • Talking about jingles on Between the Liner Notes: ‘Jingle Brains‘.
  • Talking about a couple of my favourite books on Charles Adrian’s Page One, episode 109.
  • Talking Drinking about it on Let’s Drink About It: ‘The Promise of a Premise‘.
  • Making a brief cameo on The Beef and Dairy Network: ‘Rio Special‘.
  • Discussing burnout on Millennial: ‘Systems Check‘.
April 7, 2016

Podquest

Sound the fanfare, here are two pieces of Big Radiotopia News:

radiotopia-live-tickets_05-05-16_3_56f1dcfa1abaa1. Radiotopia is putting on its first ever live show! And if it goes well, there’ll be more – so if you’ll be in or near Los Angeles (specifically the theatre at Ace Hotel) on 4th May, get yourself tickets at radiotopia.fm/ace.

2. It’s Podquest time! Do you have a terrific idea for a podcast, and are you’re willing to work your arse off to make it (I’m reluctant to admit it, but this job is a serious blow to my natural laziness)? Radiotopia may be able to give you the financial and technical – and emotional, good grief – support to make it happen. We’re looking for new voices, new ideas, new talent, and hopefully a new show that’ll become a permanent addition to the Radiotopifamily. Podcasts that already exist are eligible too; either way, your show/idea will 100% belong to you, whether it wins or not.

Opportunities are scarce to receive money to make podcasts; this is a great and rare opportunity! Submit pitches to Radiotopia’s Podquest by 17th April – but read the FAQ thoroughly before you do, and also perhaps these tips from the committee. I’ll save you some time: two-hour episodes of unedited discussions with your friends will not make it to the semi-final stage.

PS This person knows too much:

December 19, 2015

Podclub

If you’re a podcaster or a podcast enthusiast, may I recommend an exercise which has brought me (someone who is both those things) a ton of joy and interest this year?

Gather a few similarly podcast-focused friends and form a

PODCAST CLUB!

It’s like a fight club book club but for podcasts instead. When I’m listening to other people’s podcasts, if it’s a show I already like, I’m usually not all that critical – if anything I’m listening to shut up that part of my brain. So Podcast Club has has made me listen far more attentively, as well as to podcasts I would not have chosen myself.

Plus it means that one evening a month, I have to move away from the edit screen and go to the pub to shoot the shit with the PodClub: Eleanor McDowall who produces shows including the Radio 4 series Short Cuts; Sam Clements and Simon Renshaw from the Picturehouse Podcast; and my husband Martin, who makes a fistful of different podcasts including Song By Song.

Here’s how it goes: each month, we each choose an episode of a show that has not been discussed in Podcast Club previously. If you’re concerned about practicalities, we put the links into a shared spreadsheet on Google Drive. We listen to all of them in our own time, then gather to talk about each of them. Some months there’s a theme, eg shows that started this year, or for our Christmas fixture we each had to choose an episode of Desert Island Discs – it was very interesting to hear how the nature of interviewing and celebrity has changed over the 70+ years of the show. If Diana Mosley was interviewed now, I imagine she would be probed to admit more about her friendship with Adolf Hitler than just “He had lovely eyes.”

PS I got lucky in the PodClub Secret Santa: podcaster baubles!

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October 26, 2015

Radiotopia Forever!

Here are the minutes from the past couple of weeks in my realm*:

1. I was recently on the lovely BBC Radio 3 show The Verb. The theme of the episode was ‘backwards’, so I was talking about false etymology and reverse linguistic engineering. There was also wrestling, and those backwards satanic messages in songs. AND they gave me four kinds of cake and free books. It was a great day. Here’s the show on the BBC’s site, but you can also search for it as a podcast.

2. I’m currently in the midst of a spate of weekly Allusionists, each in collaboration with another Radiotopian. Hrishikesh Hirway from the wonderful Song Exploder and charming veteran songwriter Tony Hazzard joined me to talk about vocables – the non-word words in songs like ‘la’ and ‘doo’ and ‘zig-a-zig ah’. You can hear the special Song Explusionist here. The week before that, Roman Mars popped up to talk about his beloved eponyms, so James Ward (founder of the Boring Conference and author of Adventures in Stationery) appeared to talk about the eponymous pens Bic and Biro. Hear here. Three more Radiotopial episodes are in the pipeline. The Podcast Broadcast interviewed me about all this Radiotopianism, which is happening because…

3. It’s Radiotopia fundraising time! A year after the record-breaking Kickstarter that made it possible for me to start The Allusionist, we now need listeners to step in and support the collective long term, with small monthly donations. (One-off donations are also extremely welcome. Even £1 is very useful.)

I don’t want to repeat what I’ve written about the fundraiser here and also last year, during the Kickstarter – those points still stand, but I will update to add that my excitement then at the prospect of becoming a full-time podcaster has only increased now that I am one. This has been the best year of my professional life, and The Allusionist is the most demanding and creatively fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’d love to be able to carry on making it for as long as possible, so if you are able to chip in anything at radiotopia.fm or Paypal, I and the twelve other shows will be Very Grateful Indeed. And we’ll use your money very wisely. Promise. (Conceals order for platinum exoskeleton.)

Just one more thing: I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA this Thursday at 7pm UK time, 3pm ET, 12pm PT, middle of the night most other places. Please come along and ask me about Allusionist stuff, Answer Me This, or any old thing that’s on your mind. You know I live for it.

Here’s my AMA proof, as IF anyone would aim so low as to masquerade as me**:

HZ reddit proof

* which is slumped in front of a screenful of edit software for 12-15 hours per day, LIVING THE DREAM yes yes
** Seriously. Have some self-respect. At least go for someone who’s on telly.

March 2, 2015

despatches from the podcasting frontline

A bunch of things about podcasting:

1. I’ve just booked in the next podcasters’ meetup – Monday 9th March from 6pm at the Carpenter’s Arms. Come along if you’re a podcaster or fancy becoming one. All are welcome. And don’t forget to join the Podcasters’ Support Group on Facebook for virtual support and encouragement for your audio endeavours.

2. I’ve done several interviews about podcasting this year, and they all came out in the past few days:
2.i. The women of Radiotopia and Invisibilia talked to Ravishly about equality in podcasting and radio – there are some great mic drops in the piece, which is HERE.
2.ii. I talked at very great length to The Timbre, which is a great site if you’re interested in podcasts at all. If you’re interested in my own thoughts about them, the piece is HERE.
2.iii. I had lunch with the brilliant Caroline Crampton of the New Statesman. She is a lot more interesting than me; sign up for her newsletter. The interview with me is HERE.

3. I’m really happy and excited to see the emergence of several interesting sites devoted to podcasting in the same way that people have been critiquing music and film etc for years. As well as the aforementioned Timbre, Nick Quah’s Hot Pod newsletter, and the charming Podcast Pillowfort podcast. If you’re podcast-interested, get stuck in.

February 9, 2015

Sound Women swansong

Sad times: I’m retiring from the Sound Women podcast. Here is my swansong episode, aptly about podcasting, in which I talk to Theresa Thorn of the very entertaining One Bad Mother, and my new Radiotopian overlord Roman Mars.

I admit, mixed messages ensue. We’re not lying when we say that podcasting is easy; it is not difficult to start podcasting, as the tech and financial outlay are both pretty manageable. (My beginners’ guide to podcasting is here, as proof.) The difficult thing is keeping a podcast going, and for me to be able to make The Allusionist and keep making Answer Me This, something had to give.

I met some fantastic people over the nearly two years of making Sound Women, whom you can hear on the episodes at soundcloud.com/soundwomen or on iTunes.

Recently I’ve really been enjoying meeting other podcasters, especially through the Support Group gatherings. I’m naturally quite a solitary, antisocial person, but podcasting can be such a lonely pursuit and it was so many years before I knew any other podcasters, that now I’m pathetically excited when I meet other podcasters: “Hey colleague! Let’s talk BUSINESS!!”

A few days ago I was tweeted by Australian podcaster and comedian Alice Fraser, who said she was in London for a few days. We sat in a cafe and chatted for her podcast Tea With Alice, and I’m very glad I hauled myself out of my editing-hole and went; she is a really fascinating person. I wish I’d been recording what she was talking about before she switched the mics on so you could hear it. Anyway, look/listen out for her.

Finally, here’s the latest Answer Me This, in which we learn about coconuts, Grumpy Cat’s finances and Femidoms:

January 9, 2015

events listings

Some events coming up:

Learn how to podcast in one evening, that being the evening of 26th January. At this three-hour Guardian Masterclass, producer Matt Hill of the Media Podcast, Spark London and loads more, and I will share our accumulated podcasting knowledge – hardware, software, enamelware finessing your format, getting started, and most importantly, not stopping. Get your tickets HERE.

I’m off on tour around the country with Sound Women. We’ll be visiting Brighton (24th January), Birmingham (31st January) and Newcastle (7th February) to talk about audio and have a jolly old time. Get your tickets HERE.

Also on 24th January, at the Hackney Attic I’ll be participating in a charity game show to raise funds for Arts Emergency. Fellow podcaster Neil Denny of Little Atoms will be hosting, and my fellow panellists are Viv Groskop, AL Kennedy and Chris Coltrane. Get your tickets HERE.

PS Answer Me This! is back, with listeners’ unusual tattoos, stealing back presents, and olive theft:

December 10, 2014

Sound Women Podcast: be smiley for Jo Whiley

iTunes best of 2014
Well, this is nice – firstly, Answer Me This! being a ‘classic’ in iTunes’s best of 2014, which both flatters our little home-made show, and makes me feel very old and Roger Moore-ish. Secondly, I’m absolutely delighted to see the brilliant No Such Thing As a Fish being dubbed iTunes’s best new show of 2014 (and this has been a GREAT year for new shows, including Pitch, Criminal, Death, Sex & Money, and of course the juggernaut that is Serial).

I appear on episode 27 of No Such Thing As a Fish, by the way, but don’t let that put you off.

And now for a parade of shows I’ve been doing lately:

On the fun history podcast Z List Dead List, I talk about Dr Wilhelm Fliess, Sigmund Freud’s best frenemy; and on She Podcasts, I bang on about podcasting and radio and stuff like that. Which [UPDATED TO ADD] is also what I do on the 200th episode of the Wired podcast.

This month’s Sound Women podcast features Jo Whiley:

I guest hosted the Media Podcast special from the Women in Film and TV awards. I got to meet Sue Perkins and Jon Snow!

And I’m on the new International Waters, along with Simon Kane, Jackie Kashian, Brian Fernandes and host Dave Holmes, AND a very festive hit from New Kids on the Block. Prepare yourself for a funky funky Christmas:

Finally, if you would prefer a funny Christmas to a funky Christmas, may I suggest the Answer Me This! Christmas? Further information about the contents is here, as well as links to buy it for a very trifling price; and now is the time of year for it. I anticipate April will NOT be the time.

November 11, 2014

just do it!

AMT Guardian Nov14

Look, I wrote a piece about how to start a podcast, this time for the Guardian’s Do Something magazine. Here it is! Yes, there is overlap with my podcast tips posts here, but frankly, while the tech changes a bit, the tedious grind/joyous experimentation of making a show remains the same.

On the subject of starting podcasts:
1. THANK YOU for supporting the Radiotopia Kickstarter, because they raised enough money for me to make my new podcast! The Allusionist should start mid-January. Now I need to get on with making it…
2. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, or you already make one and need to spill about it, or you want to hang out with podcasters, do come along to the Podcast Clinic on 24th November. It’s free! We’ll have a lovely time! Details are here.

The last time I was featured in Do Something, I was writing about patchwork. Today I’ve also got a piece in the Telegraph about starting/restarting crafting, which you can read here.

Apparently the message of both the podcasting article and the crafting article is the same: JUST GET ON WITH IT. This makes me sound a lot more proactive than I am. Most of the time, I’m so incredibly lazy, it’s embarrassing. But, you know, if I’m interrupting my slothing time, I try to make it count.

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:

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

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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.

September 22, 2014

No Such Thing As A Fish noises

I have seen into the minds of the QI Elves, and they are, as you might imagine, Chock Full Of Knowledge.

This is quite soul-destroying for me, as I too make a fact-flinging show, and my brain is but a rotten walnut. Seriously! I think I cover it quite well, but almost all the time, my head feels whistlingly empty, a very similar sensation to when you’ve moved all your stuff out of your house and you’re taking one final tour around before locking the front door for the last time.

Nonetheless, I had a great time with the QI Elves on their terrific podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, even though they have Google plumbed straight into their intellects and I do not (hello, inferiority complex). Listen below, or via qi.com/podcast.

By the way – if you’re ever seeking podcast recommendations, on every alternate Thursday (ie the ones when we don’t post a new episode of Answer Me This!) I do a ‘Thursday Listening Party’ post on the AMT site mentioning shows that I’ve particularly enjoyed hearing over that fortnight.

Here they all are, if you want to see, and/or suggest shows that I and the AMT readers should hear. I love finding out about more podcasts, and word of mouth seems to be the best way. So please do enlighten me!

August 12, 2014

Podcast Clinic: the Roman Invasion

From Skitch

The next Podcast Clinic is coming up – it’ll be 6-7.30pm on 3rd September at the Candid Cafe near Angel. Visiting dignitary Roman Mars will be there to share his podcasting wisdom, the quantity and quality of which is immense.

All details are on the Podcast Clinic page, which is where I’ll post information about future quarterly Podcast Clinics. So if you’re keen to come along sometime, check back there every so often.

At the first Podcast Clinic, I was very excited about the ideas that were kicked around; people came along with really interesting plans for podcasts, and I can’t wait to hear the results.

PS Here I am interviewing Roman earlier this year, for Podcasting: The First Ten Years on Radio 4:

PPS More interviews with marvellous podcasters.

PPPS If you’re really set on this podcasting malarkey, on 20th September the Guardian are running a podcasting masterclass. I’ll be talking, as will people with far more chops than me: Bugle producer Chris Skinner, Guardian podcast producer Jason Phipps, software developer Drew White and Radio 4’s Film Programme producer Craig Templeton Smith. Book tickets HERE.

June 5, 2014

podcast clinic

For the first time since 2007, I just listened back to Answer Me This! Episode 1. And it was ROUGH. There were so many lessons that experience has since taught us (hopefully), but at the time, the only guidance we had was from a copy of Podcasting For Dummies, which frankly was worse than no help at all.

Though podcasting is now much more mainstream and accessible than it was then, and with a wealth of advice online – including mine! – it can be difficult to know how to start a podcast, or where to go with it. I, and even friends who’ve been podcasting longer than I have, and have made a far greater success of it than I have, continue just to try to work it out as we go.

So, if you’ve been thinking of starting a podcast, or you’re already doing one but are wondering what to do next:

I will be your Podcasting for Dummies. Dummy.

I can’t promise a magic bullet of success, or solutions to all your problems; but, as we podcasters all know, it’s good to talk. So every couple of months, I’ll be pitching up to a central London location and you can come along to chat about podcasting stuff. Better still: I’ll be joined by one of my podcasting pals, so you can benefit from our combined bitter experience.

Details of our first Podcast Clinic:

Time: Thursday 19th June 2014, 6.30-8pm
Place: the cafe at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road
Podcasting pal: my learned friend Colin Anderson, producer of Radio 4 comedies as well as International Waters and Pappy’s Bangers and Mash. Soon he’ll be skipping the country to go and work for Maximum Fun, so come and receive his wisdom while you can.
Price: £0.00, although you will have to pay for your own cup of tea. But if you find this useful, please pay it forward; help someone else out with their podcast or other creative pursuit. And if (when!) your podcast becomes a rip-roaring success, you’d better have me on as a guest.
NB:
1. This is not a social meet-up; we’ll be talking Business.
2. There may be a group, in which case, play nicely with the other boys and girls. Take it in turns to speak; pay attention to their questions; hopefully we can all help each other out.

Sounds good? See you on 19th, then. Keep an eye on my Twitter @helenzaltzman for updates on the day. And if you can’t make it, there’ll be another one in August.

PS I pinched this idea from Roman Mars‘s Office Hours. Most good ideas can be traced back to Roman.

May 9, 2014

podcasters on podcasting

It was an absolute joy interviewing so many great podcasters for Olly’s and my BBC Radio 4 documentary Podcasting: The First Ten Years. It was not such a joy having to cut down the many sage and inspiring things they said to tiny soundbites, because 56 minutes of airtime are very quickly filled. So here are full-length versions of several of the interviews I did, in case you are particularly interested in podcasters talking shop.

I’d get squirrelly if I didn’t sit down and talk to people once or twice a week. I would be accosting people in the street if I wasn’t doing the podcast.


I don’t mind telling you I was really quite intimidated to speak to Marc Maron. How do you interview someone who’s done nearly 500 highly-feted interviews on his own podcast? But he was very pleasant to me, and talked candidly and reflectively about podcasting turning around his career, how it can interfere with his relationships, recreating his own garage in a film studio, and stocking up on tea and biscuits for Iggy Pop.

I don’t want to hear about rimming in the airport at 8am.


We’d all agree with Dan Savage there. The eminent sex columnist and campaigner was writing Savage Love before Google existed, so he was effectively the search engine for all sexual problems and proclivities. The column branched out into a podcast, and Dan says: “I used to think of column as most important thing and the podcast was a side-gig, but now it’s the other way round: the podcast is much more important than the column.” Dan describes the intimacy of talking right into people’s ears while they go about their business, having to be a perfect child, and never being shocked by listeners “because I figure, if it exists, someone somewhere is effing it.”

A podcast is just a stretch of time with audio in it, and you can do whatever you want within that stretch of time; so I’d like to hear people doing whatever they want within that stretch of time.


Since it began less than two years ago, Welcome To Night Vale has been a phenomenal success, and when I spoke with its creators and writers, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, I understood why. They wanted to make a podcast that wasn’t like any other podcasts that they’d ever heard, because those already existed. Mission resoundly accomplished.

Fun fact: one of the Night Vale guys had never used Skype before we did this interview, so by forcing him to get it, I felt like one of the bad kids in the playground giving him his first cigarette. I hope I didn’t start him on a slippery slope to…I dunno, Snapchat?

Now, there are about five steps too many to get a podcast.


This was the third time I’ve interviewed Roman Mars and since we met at SXSW last year, we’ve also become real-life pals. I’d love for him to teach me everything he knows, but I suspect that’s what everyone wants from Roman. At least I can benefit from his wisdom dispensed here. He talks about the necessity of podcasters putting in the effort, his record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns having to justify spending time away from his family, the socialist principles behind the Radiotopia collective, and how 99% Invisible fans are willing to fund the show but NOT to hear Roman swear at the dead.

The whole plan was for me to support the family by being a lawyer and Jesse would make his adorable little public radio show and podcast and pay some of the bills that way. Instead now I work for the company and we’re trying to pay off my law school debt!


But thank goodness things did turn out that way for Theresa Thorn and her husband Jesse, otherwise the rest of us wouldn’t get to enjoy the fruits of the Thorns’ podcasting empire Maximum Fun. Theresa’s podcast One Bad Mother is absolutely charming, even if like me you’re not particularly interested in parenting; she tells me about oversharing, having babies to beget podcast material, and MaxFunFans bonding with each other in real life.

Did I expect to be in for an interesting ride? Yes. Am I amazed to be still on that ride? Yes.


I have a lot for which to be grateful/ungrateful to Ewan Spence, because without him I might never have become a podcaster at all. And then where would I be? (A: still working on my own in my living room most of the time.) Being interviewed by Ewan for a podcast way back in 2006 was what gave Olly the idea to start a podcast with me.
Ewan talks about how he came to be Scotland’s first podcaster, and subsequently the Edinburgh Fringe podcaster and THE Eurovision Song Contest podcaster – he’s out there backstage in Copenhagen right now!

Keith loves the fans so much, he married one!


Keith and the Girl have such hardcore fans, there are more than 130 KATG tattoos and counting – and even a few horrific-sounding (and looking) FLESH BRANDINGS. Frankly I’m relieved that Answer Me This! fans are comparatively restrained in their affections… I don’t know how Keith and Chemda manage to do a podcast DAILY – they even released an episode on the day their romantic relationship came to an end – but I’m glad they do: they’re very frank, funny and smart.

Podcasting became this opportunity to try something different, something new, see what worked.


I dragged Chris Skinner out of a post-knee-operation cloud of anaesthesia to talk about making some of Britain’s earliest podcasts, as well as The Game, the Dave Gorman podcast, and my brother’s podcast The Bugle. Speaking of which…

The internet is the 21st-century equivalent of shouting at traffic.


It was a bit weird interviewing my brother Andy, so naturally I asked him about the sibling rivalry that everybody assumes plagues us. He and his Bugle co-host John Oliver speak about relishing the complete creative freedom of podcasts, making each other laugh, and how Listeners paying for podcasts is “like higher rate taxation: voluntary, but if you’re feeling philanthropic you might want to do it.” Afterwards Andy said he and John had never actually talked to each other about most of the things I asked them about in the interview, so it was nice for him to find out why John wants to carry on doing the podcast even though he’s now Big Johnny Showbiz. (Apparently the contract for his new gig specifies that he is allowed to continue Bugling, you’ll be relieved to know.)

The whole playlist:

April 12, 2014

Podcasting: the First Ten Years

Planning the documentary the high-tech way

Planning the documentary the high-tech way

I have no recollection of how I marked my own tenth birthday, but I’ll certainly remember how I celebrated a decade since the word ‘podcast’ was born, because Olly and I made a Radio 4 documentary about it! Here is Part 1 and here is Part 2. If those links aren’t working for you, go here, but don’t say I sent you.

We spoke to lots of interesting and inspiring people to make the show, including (but not limited to):

Ben Hammersley, who invented the word although doesn’t seem too happy about it; one of my favourite podcasters, Flight Attendant Betty; the mighty Marc Maron; our former adversary Richard Herring; Theresa Thorn of the excellent One Bad Mother, and one half of the podcasting power couple behind the Maximum Fun empire; Nate Lanxon, editor of Wired.co.uk; Adam Curry, who was podcasting way before ‘podcasting’ even was named; Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, who begat the stratospherically successful Welcome To Night Vale, though it does not seemed to have turned their heads at all; Keith and the Girl, whose fans are so devoted, they cause themselves permanent flesh wounds; Roman Mars, who Kickstarted a shitload of money to fund 99% Invisible because the show is fantastic and so are podcast fans; Pete Donaldson of the refreshingly non-blokey (for a sports show) Football Ramble; and Producer Chris*, John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman (yes my brother) of The Bugle.

There were numerous more excellent contributors, so rather than take my word for it, you’d better listen instead.

*Fun fact: initially Chris missed our interview, because he was recovering from surgery and fell asleep doing a 1,500-piece jigsaw of a map of the world. I can’t be mad at that.

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.

September 18, 2013

impending live events

Next week I shall be leaving the house TWICE to participate in live events. Yes! Assuming I can remember where the front door is.

On Wednesday 25th September, I’ll be taking part in a Radio Academy event all about making audio comedy. It’s at the Phoenix on Cavendish Square in central London and will also feature comedy writer-presenters Gareth Gwynn and Jon Holmes, and radio and podcast producers Colin Anderson and Ben Walker. For more information and tickets, CLICK HERE.

Then on Thursday 26th September, I’ll pop up in Brighton at Jo Neary and Friends at the Caroline of Brunswick on Ditchling St, a hop and a step from Brighton railway station. I’ll be presenting a slideshow about my collection of sexist, racist mid-20th century cookbooks. Of course you need to see this, especially as tickets are only £3. CLICK HERE for details of the gig.
[UPDATE: alas I can no longer do the gig. But there’s a terrific line-up so you won’t miss me at all.]

Another event I did in late August, the live recording of Jordan Jesse Go!, is now available as a podcast HERE.

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.