Podcasting the Sociological (Sociological review)

Good Afternoon and Welcome to podcasting the sociological this is the launch event for the uncommon sense podcast that we’ve just launched at the sociological review um i am professor mikla benson and i will be chairing today’s event i’m also the chief executive of the sociological review foundation a professor in public sociology at lancaster for those of you who don’t know me in my work i work on migration and citizenship um and in my spare time i do also podcast um i run a podcast called who do we think we are which is all about questions of migration race and belonging in britain today but i’m here today in my capacity as the project lead for the uncommon sense podcast and this is the podcast that we’ve launched that sees the world afresh through the eyes of sociologists and takes a sideways look at the everyday now just a couple of things before we get going please do bear with us if there are any glitches or technical difficulties um we have uh people on the panel today from across the world the time zones that are represented within the production team are quite something and we’ll probably come back to that later when we talk about some of the challenges around recording um but we also know that not everybody’s internet is as stable as it might be so just just bear with us if there are any issues there so joining me today on the panel are members of the young common sense podcast production team so first up we’ve got alice block alice is our fantastic executive producer and she’s got some sociology in her academic background but really she’s been with us because of her training in broadcast journalism and her experience at the bbc working on ideas-based programs among these the one that most of you will be familiar with is thinking aloud i’m also joined by our hosts dr rosie hancock who’s at notre dame university in australia and her research focuses on religion and politics and our other host dr alexis hugh truong from the university of ottawa in canada so you’re already getting a sense of that time zone difference so here we’re talking about he works on youth and mental health and last but by no means least um george kolevis who is our project officer for the podcast but he’s also a sociologist he’s currently a phd candidate in visual sociology at goldsmiths where he’s researching homemaking among the queer the greek diaspora in terms of the format we’re going to be chatting among ourselves for about 40 minutes and then we’ll hand over to you for some q a and we’re going to be covering a little bit about the impetus behind the podcast our experiences along the way and give you a sense of some of the hacks and tips that we might have if you’re thinking about setting up your own podcast or thinking about next directions with one that you’ve already got so i’m going to start by coming to alice to ask her what excited her about taking on this podcast project hi nicola um hi everyone so so yes we met to talk about this back in 2019 i think with bev skeggs as it’s a good while ago and back then i was still kind of just about working on programs that get sociologists thinkers academics writers etc on air mainly at the bbc as an assistant producer a producer so things like thinking aloud things like the forum at the world service um and that was all great and that’s all good work but i was excited by by this really is a chance to do something new i think and to kind of develop a format actually collaboratively as well which is unusual from scratch um also it was important to me to contribute something meaningful to the world well the wild west kind of world of podcasts really a lot of which if i’m honest and i think people often aren’t it’s kind of about you know ego pr brands clicks etc and i think it’s fair to say this project wasn’t really about that it wasn’t about creating a kind of big mega hit for the sake of it although that would be wonderful um it’s about you know making something that’s of value to listeners who kind of want to draw on it engage and engage with it properly and it’s also something that right from the start we wanted to make really thoughtfully so just for me personally it’s been really great and it is really great to work with a team that is intelligent of course that kind of takes ethical decisions particularly about kind of language and framing actually really seriously and that was the case right from the start so in a previous role you know once and i won’t say where um i had to explain to a team kind of why say the word tribal violence wasn’t really a great word um you know like ethnic conflict say to use to describe a situation that we were covering in that particular show i think the team for uncommon sense would just totally get that i wouldn’t have to explain that um you know likewise in recording some programmes so far some of which haven’t yet been broadcast you know we’ve made it really clear why you shouldn’t throw around the word criminals or migrant crisis um or even migrant or crisis you know uncritically and without thoughts uh why you should speak of racial racialization without race um well i’m not just race and i i think those i think that’s been really important to me and actually i think that ethos that kind of ethic um would you know serve some mainstream programs and podcasts and even bbc programs well actually i think it’s any thoughts that everyone should start to develop to start talking critically and properly um and in a way that yeah is more ethical i think that’s really great alice as a kind of an intro and definitely the idea behind the project was always that it would be collaborative so although there’s there’s five people here today actually there’s a whole working group that have been involved with this project right from the start um that includes roger burrows lisa de comitas christine payton nicola ingram charis campion and possibly some others that i’ve forgotten about and but we’ve certainly kind of come together to think about what this format might look like so i mean that’s all the good stuff about why sociologists should podcast really or why the world needs sociologists to think about what podcasting is and isn’t but i i think it’s fair to say that that there are some challenges that go along with that and i wondered if you might like to reflect a little bit on the challenges that you’d anticipated in making sociology accessible through podcasting i mean it’s an obvious one and it’s not just to challenge with sociology it would be the same with safe philosophy or political theory but i’d say language really um so making things accessible by not using terms like you know obviously ontology epistemology et cetera um but also actually even terms like say practices um or you know my particular nightmare would be embodiment um or even enchantment you know it’s about making things like that clear or ideally avoiding them if you can um without sort of dumbing down if you like um i think there are kind of two solutions to this challenge and hopefully they’re solutions that we’ve applied so far and that we continue to kind of apply as we learn as we go through this so one is like ideally don’t do it don’t use language that people don’t understand if you can at all you know achieve that but i think if you do it’s just really important to be reflexive and honest and just to say that you don’t really know that hey you’re going to have a go anyway we’ve just recorded a really great episode on security and in that we mentioned ontological security um and that’s rosie’s line and rosie’s really great at just saying hey this isn’t really something i work with but i’m gonna have a go and i think that’s really great you know to not be disingenuous obviously um but i think it actually matters ethically and it’s something that isn’t talked about enough at least from my perspective you know i think it’s really important we shatter the kind of myth of the the super presenter if you like the super presenter who knows everything who’s got this kind of off-the-cuff kind of genius about them um because actually at least in my experience you know the presenter is pretty much always you know they work hard sure but they’re briefed by a producer who might even have a researcher if you’re in these big institutions they might even have an intern you know hanging around there you know making the coffee or whatever or helping but it’s really important to acknowledge all of that because if you don’t do that you’re kind of reproducing not only kind of unethical workplace dynamics but also kind of damaging notions of intelligence and and competence um so maybe that’s straight a little bit from your your question i guess but um i think you know yeah this challenge of of language taking it seriously and kind of being honest about things we we don’t um fully understand or that aren’t our kind of comfort zones in order to bring listeners on board um that’s maybe been a challenge but hopefully when we’ve we’ve met and can meet i think it’s really important alice those reflections on the kind of the propensity of of a production actually reproducing precisely some of the um inequalities that we might want to critique in the kind of the finished format of of a podcast in the content of it so i think those those reflections are really important um alongside those kind of reflections on how we actually break down some of the things we take for granted that people understand in how we explain them in a podcast so just a final question before i hand over turn over to rosie and alexis where did you turn to for inspiration in those early days because you’ve already identified that there are quite a lot of problems with some other podcasts or some other radio productions yeah i guess i should talk about the good stuff as well and there’s a lot out there and i think the others will also have their own examples um i mean gosh it was a couple of years ago now that we sort of started workshopping this and i sent some examples around to everyone everyone else shared their examples um we did look at what there is in terms of sociology so obviously there’s the totally excellent surviving society which i think is just so successful at communicating kind of with excitement um how kind of important sociology and sociological thinking is but actually i think we were also interested in kind of getting the tone of things right and that really mattered to everyone so we wanted something that was kind of approachable conversational considered welcoming free of ego as we’ve just been talking about very much banter free definitely um one thing i remember circulating and i know it’s a big is possibly rosie’s favorite podcast we’ll see um is on being with krista tippett in the u.s and that’s kind of like a sort of spiritual secular spiritual kind of conversation show where she talks really warmly and openly and kind of without judgment i think to public figures poets activists etc um we wanted that kind of tone i guess in terms of um creating a kind of comfortable and accessible atmosphere for people a kind of culture a space where people are saying yes and and not yes but so we didn’t need to be needlessly kind of adversarial or catching people out that wasn’t what we’re interested in here you know it’s not a viva you know it’s not um you know pm or whatever and actually just just finally on on a more recent thing i’ve been listening to though it’s been running for a long while i think it’s also in that vein it’s supposed to be my favorite podcast at the moment which is called this jungian life and it’s just three union psychoanalysts based in the us again having a conversation together and it’s very you know hey i think what you said is really interesting and can i add to that by elaborating a bit etc etc and i think just that’s i think that’s the tone in which conversation needs to go not just on podcast but i guess more kind of in public culture as well so i think it’s important that we achieve that too there’s a kind of sense of bringing people into the conversation uh in this kind of intimate way i think we’ve talked about that before how you create intimacy in a podcast um so that people feel that they’re part of the conversation rather than listening in on it in some respects yeah yeah not not to alienate people or to needlessly try to win points against people i suppose yeah that’s really really helpful alice i’m gonna i’m gonna kind of um move on to talk with alexis and rosie now about about hosting the podcast now alexis and rosie have been signed up to this project um since right at the beginning when i sent out an email to all members of the sociological review editorial board and all of our trustees to find out who’d like to be involved in just thinking about what a podcast might look like so i’m going to start by asking you alexis what was it about the prospect of being involved with the podcast that got you excited well if i go back like actually i became part of like i joined csr in uh in 2016 as a postdoc at goldsmiths and at that time i’m not sure if you remember but we had explored the idea of producing like small videos to capture some of the research we were publishing to make it more accessible to various audiences and i really had enjoyed that experience gave me actually a lot of desire to explore that in my own research subsequently but when i heard that there was a podcast series potentially in the horizon i was like i am in and then when i saw like all of the other colleagues that were becoming part of that that smaller committee like rosie that i was interested and also when i i met alice and got to learn more about her work and like i was also i am in so a bit like after right a few meetings after when the question of like who would co-host hope and i was like hmm i’ve never animated any like podcast before i don’t have any experience uh in that um and i live all the way like in quebec so there was like also like time questions um but i thought it was really an opportunity to inevitably like selfishly like open up curiosity and just ask a bunch of questions to uh really really like interesting uh what i thought would be interesting guests so at that time i also wrote that email i was like help me in like you feel happy right um so yeah but uh i think like of course there’s there’s like a various like challenges and stuff like that but it’s been really an amazing experience up until now i mean the thing that really um stands out to me about both you and rosie alexis is how enthusiastic you were about this project from day one it was almost like exclamation mark emails basically yes count me in if actually if i can add something i like i feel that when i i listen to the the podcast and i feel like my family members are like when you’re talking are you like always laughing and it’s it’s actually like i have a huge smile and i’m i’m always like so fascinated by by what the guests are saying so i’m actually like way up there in level of enthusiasm maybe like i am right now but anyways it’s a yes it’s quite it’s quick great experience it’s really nice that people can hear those expressions on your face when you’re speaking and i think that’s a really important tip in some respects rosie i mean what really stood out to me apart from your enthusiasm was what an avid podcast listener you are this is something that came across really clearly in those early um those early conversations that we were having i think right at the beginning of the pandemic um so i was just wondering um what are you listening to at the moment and how has that informed your presenting style or your hosting style yeah um i mean like alice has foretold on being in sort of my um one true love in the podcasting world which i’m still listening to krista tippett is an amazing presenter and if i can become krista tippett when i grow up i’ll be very happy i just really love i think as ella said you know it’s a very warm she’s got very kind energy um the podcast feels very positive it invites people in it’s it’s got quite a reflective tone which is really lovely actually it’s a very relaxing thing to listen to on the train on the way way home from work after a stressful day you feel you know emotionally or spiritually revived when you walk in your front door after listening to it which i think is something to aspire to perhaps as a but the other podcast that i really um enjoy at the moment is ologies which is a science podcast and that um has a really different tone and they have guests in from all different branches of science and from very kind of interesting little niches i think the last episode was on acoustic ecology and what’s great about that show is that um the presenter is so enthusiastic and makes everything really fun and there are great stories they have kind of good chat and it’s really not what you expect you know sometimes they the guests are experts in slugs and sea snails and yet somehow it’s a really amusing and interesting show and the science behind it they actually really effectively and excessively communicate some of the scientific expertise that the guests are bringing and i think it’s they really kind of nail making you know quite complex specializations and theories and things fun and accessible yeah that’s one of my favorites at the moment as well it’s really fantastic um and i completely agree with you about these kind of like niche topics that are made listenable that are made audible and understandable to people um but i suppose kind of moving on from that there are so many podcasts out there at the moment it really does seem to be having its media its moment as a medium but why do you think rosie that the world needs a sociological podcast um yeah i mean so for me sociology and reading about sociology finding out about sociology for the first time was a bit of a revelation to be honest um and it really and i promise i’m not actually kind of just copying the show notes that we have for for uncommon sense but it really made me look at the world afresh through different eyes you know made me question taken for granted assumptions about the world it really does do that and that’s such a wonderful thing to happen that i think it you know we should be making trying to make sociology uh accessible to people outside of studying at university or outside of professional associations it’s it’s just so great and what’s i mean what’s really exciting i think about this podcast is that it’s still making me look at the world in in new and interesting ways i’m thinking about the very first episode that’s been released on care with bev skegs and thinking about care is not just an interpersonal or an immediately interpersonal dynamic but actually um something perhaps less direct where care is is also part of the social policies that we enact in the social structures that we have and and just thinking about care through that different lens was something i hadn’t really done to be honest and and that was um really thought-provoking and interesting for me personally i’m going to turn this around and to you alexis and ask you the other side of that question which is what do you think that podcasting offers in terms of making sociology public lifestyles just bounce back on like what rosie and alice were saying earlier but definitely it’s kind of propagating i’m not sure it’s a real word propagating a sociological lens kind of in the everyday lives of the people that are listening right so i’ve been thinking about that question a lot recently and since the podcast came out like i had really interesting discussions with like family members my partner uh close friends and so on that that and i can say with the utmost confidence that that these discussions are quite lively they’re interested in in the the questions that were being discussed in the podcast they’re kind of applying it to some of the things that they see around them and like my mom reads reads my articles my thesis and so on but i’ve i’ve been told that sometimes it’s quite a dry and such right so it’s uh it’s i think that this this format of the podcast is really kind of opening up opening up a space for reflection from inquiry for curiosity in a way that other uh formats don’t necessarily do like let’s say articles or or news and so on and um and and both alice and umi pointed to this question of like we have the the the episode on intimacy right and it’s there’s really like when i listened to podcasts something that really kind of made me want to listen more is this atmosphere of of warmth and kindness there’s a there’s a sense of like being right there with the other people discussing like in in the same room so there’s a closeness even in the distance that space and time like there’s a closeness to to to what’s um being uh discussed and i feel that that really gives us the the kind of desire to become part of the discussion more right to think more about it and of course like these different formats all have like they’re different uh attributes um but yeah definitely warmth kindness uh openness like the words that that have already been said by alison rosie today and but on the flip side i think that also it it kind of generates important questions on how because of this atmosphere maybe it’s it’s easier also to spread maybe like this information propaganda and so on so that’s definitely a reflection to be had um yeah and i mean and we know of some quite famous cases that are being discussed at the moment that do precisely talk about podcasting and there’s propensity for kind of disinformation and um and propaganda as well as fake news of course um but i really love that image alexis of your mum like engaging with your podcast and whilst while your thesis is probably just sitting on a shelf somewhere if it’s there like collecting dust so um for her anyway um so so yeah i think it does really offer um the that possibility of of bringing you know people who we might be talking to in our everyday who might not be so involved in our sociological lives um into those conversations that we’re having and showing them a little bit of what we do or quite a lot of what we do in a way a way that’s tailored to to them i’m gonna bring george in here because um george george does a huge amount of work behind the scenes but his role really is to make sure that the podcast makes its way into the world so i wanted to start george by asking you about why you wanted to get involved with the project um yeah i mean it’s a great job to do overall i have to say and i also do have to say that i have to say that yeah no but the reason why i think is um because you know i feel this this behind-the-scenes uh role kind of allows for the closest listening of the podcast possible and it’s not so i’m saying this having in mind for instance when i’m doing the transcripts and i’m really going word by word and i focus so much on certain concepts and then this also i mean i find myself very often uh taking notes on the side for my own research uh while doing the transcripts for example but not only the the audio itself it’s also the other uh you know material and assets let’s say that are there like the nodes the further readings i think it’s a very it’s a very interesting set of material to have and to have a close interaction with and i think overall it’s it’s what we’ve been talking about like um the idea of podcasting as a sociological device for disseminating research but maybe we should but i think we can also think it as a device for either doing or you know finding out about research and i’m saying this being in a very basic thinking aloud phase right now where i’m just you know consuming all the thinking allowed episodes in a row so but but that’s exactly it i think and it’s it’s yeah and it’s i like it i like that idea of engaging podcasts in your own research practice so kind of informing you know that kind of knowledge production and it’s something that i’ve been thinking about too on the basis of the podcast that i ran about brexit as well as part of a big research project how that informed um the development of the analysis in lots of ways it was a space for that but um i suppose um you know you’ve also highlighted there george the kind of the the fact that you are probably the person apart from alice of course who has to listen to this podcast more than anyone else um and that’s to do with making sure that we put together a set of resources around the podcast to make it as accessible as possible so we have those transcripts that you work on um that anyone can consult at any stage so it’s not just about producing this very nice high quality audio production it’s all the bits around the edge that we put together and and put out there for people to access after the podcast um but i wonder george i mean you’ve talked a bit about the process and you’ve talked a bit about the learning that you’re doing along that along the way but i wondered if there were any stand out moments to you um when you’ve been listening like eureka moments or anything like that i mean many honestly but maybe i should mention one now that’s actually from your from the episode that you are in uh michaela on home and uh at the end of the episode you suggest um catherine mannin’s book fragile monsters and then you breathe and then you briefly discuss this myth of return um like so this i this dream uh like immigration dream of com going back to a place of origin and how this is not really the case when you do that and then that the house is not at home necessarily and i think this is very interesting for me also in context of my uh my own research which is about the diaspora so it really made me think a lot about you know how how we bring along the place of origin in the form of a home rather and then we make like the difference between home and house as well and then these family lineages as part of what makes a home rather than the space necessarily or only the space um yeah so i would pick that moment i think yeah thank you very much i mean i remember we recorded that on the hottest day in london last year i think it was nearly 40 degrees and i was in the top of wilmington tower at goldsmiths packing up my office i remember it very well but um um but before we hand over to q a um i’m gonna turn to to the panel to ask for tips um that they’d like to share with those joining us for this conversation who might be thinking about starting a podcast and have just got no idea about where to start so alice i’m gonna gonna come to you first as our executive producer um like george a lot of your work on uncommon senses behind the scenes we hear you occasionally on the episodes um but but really you you are you are the person really making making this happen behind the scenes so i’m wondering what tips you’ve got to pass on to those thinking about starting out on this themselves um i have been thinking about this and i have kind of two overarching ones um possibly kind of seemingly contradictory um but the first would be that it really doesn’t have to be expensive so actually you know marketing etc is super important and actually a lot of podcasts apparently spend almost the majority of their budget on that people spend a lot of money on kit etc but i think what really matters are your ideas kind of also the integrity of your intention i suppose as well and that you have actually got something to say i was thinking this morning it kind of reminds me sometimes of kids at school um at least my school who kind of bought really expensive electric guitars but they didn’t really actually even seem to like music or know how to play them yeah like you kind of need to know what what you want to say what your mission is and you have to be sort of passionate um about that overall and i think that has to come before the kit etc um that said i think ideally you do want things to be well produced and of course i would say that because that’s kind of my job um but you know it really shouldn’t be that different from a radio program actually so just because it’s a podcast it doesn’t mean it can’t be kind of or shouldn’t be journalistically rigorous you know you still can’t defame people you can’t breach copyright you know just because you’re a podcast um and i think you know actually if you can it’s really good to have a producer you know i spoke earlier about kind of language and the the risk of that kind of getting too impenetrable to kind of out of control to kind of academic although i don’t like to use academic as a derogatory term but you know a producer will stop that from happening so i think people don’t realize the the producer often at least in my case you know you book the guests you have a conversation with them beforehand to find out what they’re likely to say what their kind of strengths are you brief them on what you sort of want them to say what you don’t want them to say any terms that you might want them to explain you do all of that off air um and i kind of say that the producers sort of i’ve come to realize this over the years sort of makes the fall out of themselves really so that the guests don’t have to and so the presenters don’t have to you do those awkward conversations off air before you record um and then when you do record things can go a lot more smoothly and you could be the presenter and also producing your own show yeah so you could even if you’re presenting you can still have these like preparation kind of phases and phone calls with your guests um and then the final thing to say is just you know when you have recorded it do edit it um a podcast unless you’re really lucky you know and there are some that sound great and off the cuff and that’s fine but you don’t really just want to upload an unedited wav or mp3 i i think that’s that’s not optimal let’s say maybe my tips i think those are really great tips and i think they kind of highlight you know some roles that people might not be familiar with so people won’t be familiar with what a producer actually does because it’s not we don’t have an equivalent really well maybe we do actually if we think about this as a you know if we were thinking about a journal article you’d have an editor uh journal editor um but i suppose the other end of it the editing side of things which actually is really really technical and quite difficult work like you know cutting things out it’s a bit like you know you would you shouldn’t really i say this as a former editor of the sociological review submit a journal article that needs significant work on restructuring and grammar and kind of content um from that point of view so putting putting a podcast out that hasn’t been edited is a little bit like that it’s a little bit like the first draft let’s put it that way so so perhaps that’s um that’s that’s that’s something worth thinking about so george um what part of your role is as i said before about making sure that the podcast makes its way out into the world now i think that this is another side of podcasting that people might not be familiar with it’s like what do you do with your podcast once you’ve got your finished beautiful audio content uh do you just plonk it up on your website i’m pretty certain that’s not really what happens well i know that’s not really what happens so what are your top tips george for um about this kind of podcasting ecosystem to kind of ease people in um so first of all to also answer what you do to upload your podcast uh it relates to tips so for instance we use a platform called bassproud that helps you link uh your podcast to all the other uh podcasting platforms out there and so one of my tips is take your time in the beginning to learn how to use these platforms right to learn how to use these softwares and also be aware that i mean have a time plan but also be flexible enough as we all know because especially in the start uh you’ll need more time to begin your podcast than what you’ll need afterwards and that will include um you know preparing all the assets that you wanna have with the podcast uh so for instance for uncommon sense we have as we said like we have two sets of nodes um we have a downloadable pdf we have social media assets we have uh different kinds of things that you can consider whether you want to have or not so another tip here i guess would be prepared know what you want to have and also be organized keep clear and good records of things so that you can easily access um you know your files and then maybe also be prepared for the unexpected technical error that might be minor but might occur and then you’ll have to deal with it so also keep that in mind because things happen uh yeah yeah definitely i’ve had all of those experiences and haven’t had george holding my hand to to work through them on my own podcast um so yeah i think that the important thing to kind of highlight there is that the bare minimum if you want people to listen to your podcast you need to make sure that it makes its way onto those major podcasting platforms and the only way of doing that is to put it onto one of these hosting platforms which will then populate that so so yeah and then there’s obviously the slightly odd and difficult to navigate landscape of podcast marketing but but anyway that’s that’s all for another day um rosie and alexis you’re both new to hosting and that must have been a really really steep learning curve so rosie i wondered first of all if i can come to you and for any tips and thoughts i was going to say on what not to do but but maybe it’s a what to do i’m not sure if we’re uh experienced enough yet to do what to do or perhaps but i mean also possibly we haven’t made enough bad mistakes yet as well to see what not to do but um i mean i would say you know there’s no such thing as being too prepared so it the first couple of episodes that we recorded um i was really nervous you know i think hosting a podcast is something completely different to what um i do in my day-to-day life that’s for sure um and i it was i was also i think the first one we recorded i was heavily pregnant and then the second one we recorded i it was a very very early days of having a newborn baby and being tired and yes you kind of read through all the show notes but there were definitely times when i was sitting in the recording thinking i really wish i had like read over this one more time before we recorded or having the brain freeze where you’re going what what am i going to say next what am i going to say next what am i going to say next and you know poor alice sometimes has to jump in and be like it’s okay do you want to take that one again but remembering oh no we’re not actually live i can start again um yeah so i would say prepare prepare prepare and alexis how about you um what tips tips from your from your experience not sure how well it’ll translate for other people but my first advice would be uh to listen well to alice’s advice basically i’m kidding you said it’s a steep it was a steep learning curve and it was but i feel that really like with alice and rosie it felt like a breeze in a sense like we’re just climbing this huge mountain and alice is kind of giving us like yoda level uh advice all the time but yeah and i mean um there’s there’s technical concrete things like i think that there’s like technical learning for example just on on having a getting the best sound that you can and at first i i think that i didn’t really have the ears or and i don’t think that i necessarily had them yeah but it’s it’s um alice was really like pointing to certain things that i was like oh okay now i can hear that better so there’s really incremental like small even in the very small details like that was uh there’s critical elements to that and also logistically there’s something about having a good team in the sense that sometimes we were recording at 5 00 am here before our kids were waking up or at 11 i feel uh where rosie is uh after um the kids are asleep and so there’s there’s this this is balancing right and um these these these things right have having families different time zones and so on in other contexts it would have completely limited our ability to participate and take part in there in in this even if we were enthusiastic about this but i think and maybe it’s because of like the values that dsr and so on and the team and so on there’s um there’s something there’s something about how people were working together and really made that possible and there are other questions about i was like super stressed in the beginning like rosie was saying like nervousness confidence and so on and that kind of points to the episode with the amazing bibs about care right there’s there’s something about the team and surrounding yourself and i’m not sure it’s a really like a tip or anything but incredibly lucky of having people around that are so kind so flexible so respectful of one another that that is really at least for me was kind of sort of a condition of possibility for this to happen and and to really be comfortable and every time even if it’s at 5am or 6am to still feel enthusiastic coming in and doing that so um yeah in the end if you’re working a lot with with individuals it’s surrounding yourself with with people that that do care about one another i think that’s a really really good reflection sir alexis um and i particularly uh like that kind of idea of care given the the discomfort that we put you in by making you record at five o’clock in the morning and eleven o’clock at night and of course that’s possible because now we can record using these remote platforms although as you’ve said that that also you know that’s that shouldn’t be just completely celebrated there there are some other issues around that too now alice a final question before we hand over to the audience um not everyone has the financial support that we’ve had thanks to sociological review i mean we’ve been really really fortunate in being properly supported to do this financially as well as as having the staff um who are also working behind the scenes to support us um and i’ll give a shout out to them at the end of the of of this session but are there any h hacks that you’d recommend for anyone diying it or just wanting to give it a go yeah i’ve got a few from the different angles so kind of producer presenter guest as well but on the kind of producer front just a very boring but important one is you can just use a smartphone um if you have one and i’m aware not everyone does but you can just use a smartphone to record yourself locally so you can connect via zoom or whatever skype if anyone uses that anymore um and then you know you have your headphones on talk to each other that way but when you’re recording your answers locally or say you’re recording a little voice piece or whatever just use a smartphone microphone kind of hold it pretty much to your ear as if you’re having a phone call because the mic is designed to be noise cancelling when you’re having a phone call use a voice memo record yourself and that works really well for starters you don’t have to start with really expensive microphones likewise um software there’s a lot of free software or initially free software that you can use out there things like reaper although it’s good to buy a license if you can um presenters there’s tons of stuff i would say but i think just pointing to what we’ve talked about so far i think it’s important to try to create a sense of community so rather than kind of you out there and us over here um don’t call people listeners um it sounds a bit old-fashioned use words like kind of we us our to bring people in and also that’s especially important with the mission of this podcast yeah because we’re talking about kind of our shared crises our predicaments and the whole point is that it’s an us so that’s really important in our case and a couple of things read guests um from the presenter producer side just be nice to your guests it sounds really obvious but it doesn’t always happen i think i think you know it’s it’s entirely well it’s just really important to manage expectations to brief people properly to tell them what they’re in for that it will be edited when and where and how it will be published um and i don’t really see any reason for not being helpful and responsive to your guests you know they’re they’re not there to serve you they’re often sure they might be you know getting a little benefit out of it like the book gets some air time or promotion but they’re also often doing you a favor i’m not speaking of this podcast but just generally so be nice to your guests and you’ll get better audio um if you are a guest because i guess a lot of people who are listening to this might be um future guests on this podcast or similar ones um just a couple of final things don’t read your answers it doesn’t sound it doesn’t sound great um and also get the most important thing you have to say in at the top of your answer because everything after that might get cut and um kind of ironic given that i’ve given quite a long answer here but just remember that the the kind of less you say the greater portion of that is likely to be included in the final edit so i think people sometimes think if i say loads and loads and loads then i can kind of control this and it’s actually the opposite i think it’s you know if you say not much then when i come to edit it i’m thinking go well i’ve got to keep that because that’s all they said and that’s sometimes not great but actually if you’re the guest that’s the way of controlling how things work and i’m pretty sure that’s how politicians do their sound bites too so i’m gonna i actually that’s that’s a tip that i hadn’t i think that you’ve told me before and i’ve forgotten but that’s what i’m going to start telling the people who come onto my podcast now as well so it’s hard i mean i can’t always achieve it so yeah it’s hard but that’s the aim so thanks very much for that alice i’m gonna i’ve got a couple of questions in the q a and the first ones from from lakshmi and asking what our top tips are for audience building deadly stunned silence um how do we get people to listen i suppose really is is the the question here and i should say again um we are in a we’re in a very fortunate position and that we you know we’re supported by the sociological review this is the sociological review podcast or one of them um and so we we in some ways we already have um people that we can communicate with who who follow us for our other things but but really we were hoping to reach out a little beyond our regular audiences too and and to try and and and get out in the world a bit so any any takers i’m liking the chin scratching that’s going on here alice yeah i can try um i mean again these things might sound obvious but i think you know you can do lots of promotion on social media um etc you can write to kind of likely friends of your podcast people who might be um it sounds cynical but people with a big twitter following say you might share it or promote it or people who have a lot of contact with students in our case who might want to listen to it um but i think it’s also a case of just talking to like absolutely everyone you know about whatever it is you’re making and not being shy about it like i’ve done that in the past with work and you know pieces i’ve written or whatever and regretted it i think you just have to tell people whatever you can about about the podcast and get people get people to rate it give it the little five stars and whatever app they use get people to subscribe um yeah that that would be it really from me it sounds obvious but that’s what i’d have to say it’s a lot of additional work isn’t it that goes into doing that but i think that there are other things as well um you know communicating this is another self-evident one communicating with your guests before the uh before the episode goes live so that they can promote it to their following as well um uh yeah it’s just building those things into your workflow a little bit i think too um and yeah really really thinking about that and and and finding ways to encourage people to continue listening as well through the through the podcast i think that’s that works any other thoughts george may also just bring up the the the part of making a a nice visual also and by nice visual i mean like finding a visual identity maybe that’s that’s uh something to point out here and i know we’ve hired an amazing artist for our visual and uh and and then this gives us an identity that we then reproduce on social media on what we share for each episode so i guess maybe that’s another idea like another way but i don’t know another tip yeah i think that that’s right we focused a lot on the audio side of things and the kind of textual side of it but there’s also the visual the kind of brand identity of it um that’s really important there so we’ve got another question from charlie and the question from charlie is about the frequency um there’s also there’s a related question i’m gonna throw in which is the one which is which day of the week do you should you should you release your podcast which seems to create all sorts of trouble in the podcasting community at large more generally um so alice what are your thoughts on frequency because because of course you’ve probably got more experience around this i mean i kind of i guess previously i was working on kind of live and pre-recorded radio where i had no say over the frequency of what was happening i think with this podcast i think monthly makes sense so we’re not well firstly the workload means it kind of needs to be monthly but actually we don’t we’re not we’re not kind of we’re sort of loosely topical but we’re not looking to be kind of hyper responsive reactive to the news agenda that’s not what we’re about um and if we were doing that we’d have to have a kind of much looser kind of production process um so actually something that’s monthly and that’s kind of steady and reliable and it’s there and we’re building a resource that people can draw on you know in a few years time and it will still be relevant um that works for us um obviously you have to be careful then not to do things like say oh just last week this or next week this you have to those temporal references you have to be careful with um we’re in the edit so rosie often says in hours you know oh i should say we’re recording on this day by the time it goes out who knows where we’ll be that’s kind of i think we’ve used that line more than twice more than once um but yeah you have to watch for that but yeah monthly works for us that that’s all i can say it’s what works for you yeah i think it’s also to do with the length of the episodes as well producing one 40-minute episode a month is quite it’s quite some doing really isn’t it yeah if it’s if it’s kind of scripted and considered yeah if you if you’re recording something new with a couple of journalists who run into a studio and give their kind of little little take on things it’s a totally different um different practice but what we’re trying to do is a bit more considered and thoughtful and it’s kind of you know iterative as i guess you’d say yeah we’ve got back and forth with our guests too so we need to take that into account yeah and on the kind of those questions of frequency as well um if you if you have had the um at one stage i got really into like reading lots and lots of stuff around the kind of the science of frequency relating to podcast releases and things like that and you know you’ll find somebody that will tell you that it’s best to release a podcast on a tuesday it’s best to release it on a friday um i think that the best advice is especially if you want to keep people listening to your podcast is to just make sure that you’re managing people’s expectations just to use that phrase about how frequently it’s going to come out is it going to come out every single day of the week you know or on the same day of the week repeatedly um so yeah so consistency i think is the story really more than necessarily there’s a right and a wrong way of doing it um ellen has asked a really interesting question here about the format now um i think that this is really um one that we’ve we’ve got some strong feelings about because we did try some different things before we reach this format so rosie and alexis will remember um the previous versions of this as well as alice will and but what she wants to know is um you know it seems that a lot of podcasts are built around this format of one guest speaker per episode but is there a reason why it doesn’t work well to have a theme per episode with lots of different guests coming in well okay i can just say a few words and it’s just like the um when we started with the working group uh we gave a lot of reflection on like what kind of uh formats were out there and what kind of format we felt might be the best fit for this particular podcast and in the first iterations i guess with the more of a magazine type of format there were um we had sound bites for from more guests and i i feel of course it wasn’t me that was doing like the editing work and so on and just a contacting in the research but i felt it exponentially kind of generated uh more work so like really on the question of frequency like once a month i’m like i’m not even sure how how it’s like if you’re a single person or a few people like doing that that’s like so much work so to add that level of challenge i think is is quite um is quite intense so maybe there’s something there about just uh not being practicable but i i guess like any format works it’s just to to do to just quantifying like the amount of work and planning that’s um linked to that i guess did you have something i scribbled a couple of notes um i mean as alexis kind of said it’s a bit what works for you but i think if if you’re looking to do kind of a theme and then lots of different guests um that kind of i guess is what you sort of i mean it depends whether you’re featuring them in turn or whether you’re having like a round table atmosphere a roundtable thing works really well in a studio just in my experience um but if you want to have lots of people involved if you’re using a platform like we do like zoom and then recording locally or squad cast or clean feed or whatever they’re called that that gets more complicated and you just have that awkwardness of zoom but in your recording and that gets a bit messy um i think you know those things again they’re easier to produce in a studio as well because you can jump in the presenter’s ear and say hey we’re not going to use this or don’t say this we’ll take that again at the end on when we’re using methods like this like zoom you have to you know type things in chat and it gets messy if there are lots of people so that’s just something to consider and i guess just finally going back to what alexis says um if you’ve got say a half-hour show 14-minute show and you’re featuring different voices in turn and you’re making what we call packages or features or little voice pieces um it all gets quite tight and i think just for me when i’m editing things like that and maybe i over worry about this but there’s just a risk that those people you’re featuring them become kind of characters or caricatures in your piece because you’re having to really crunch down their words and it goes back to that thing of the less that’s said the more you can include and i think for us and the kind of spirit of how we’re trying to do things that’s been quite important to not overly boil things down yeah it allows for more depth actually um to have that kind of sense of um to have that format i think uh and i think that that’s that’s what’s worked for us and we did we tried a few times um we had lots of different people within the sociological review team listening to previous experiments in format shall we say um so this this is the result of quite a lot of trial and error on our part which is one of the reasons that it took so long to come to see the light of day um um rosie do you have any any final thoughts on this on this issue of format um i mean it was just very i think uh it’s so lovely with the one guest getting the time to really i think like alice said talk to them and explore their ideas particularly in the in the what we’re trying to achieve with this podcast the magazine style um or like multiple guest formats can be quite fun in other types of podcasts perhaps when you’re not wanting to go quite so deep into the kind of subject matter or explore complicated themes um and then another and another just quick thing that i’ve noticed quite a few of the podcasts that i listen to that will have kind of multiple little features in one and i have a lot of them have been established for a really long time um but they will and they will reuse segments so they’ll be releasing podcasters you know to say once a week once a fortnight but they’ll say you know we first add this segment back in you know 2006 or something like that and and they just have this huge kind of back catalog that they can draw on so actually probably they’re not producing two you know two episodes a month or whatever it is that they’re doing they can you know and so i think for us and it’s i think our frequency and our guests uh we’ve got a good balance going on yeah i’m just thinking about what the organizational uh hell it might be it must be to keep control of what different segments you’ve got as well and remember what you’ve done which is always my problem we’ve got two final questions and then i think we’re going to have to wrap up so kathleen’s asked about whether it’s worth considering video as part of a podcast does it create additional challenges or advantages i think i’m going to say it creates additional challenges and and one of the reasons that we haven’t done it there are many reasons why we haven’t done it is partly because we are recording at five o’clock in the morning for alexis and eleven o’clock at night for rosie um and as you can see today we’ve been we’ve also been housebound for a very long time a lot of us so so these are kind of it is kind of insights into our homes but there is a big trend towards people video casting at the same time as podcasting so we’re aware of that but it’s not something we’re planning to do anytime in the future imagine if you had to video edit as well as audio edit um that’s just not something that we we’ve come to but perhaps there’s probably a bigger conversation out there and there are lots of tips and advice on the internet that you could also consult around issues relating to that and the final question that we’re going to take is a question from charlie again about measuring success um it seems the obvious answer uh might be how many people listen but do we have a target to know when we’re hitting our goals and have become successful um oh metrics again maybe i’m maybe i don’t have a long vision for for for the pakistan for me it’s successful just every time you finish the recording like after two hours of us i feel it’s successful just the learning the experience of talking with others so that might be a bit naive on my part because yeah there’s no but yeah the the the feeling of success i feel like i already uh feel it every time i went with with my colleagues and it’s um but uh yeah it’s not a great answer for uh for in terms of quantifying your thoughts well i think that there is a question about whether it should be quantified and podcast statistics are notoriously problematic anyway because you don’t necessarily get listens you get download figures or you did anyway i mean you know i might be out of date on this but i had a conversation very recently with chantal lewis at surviving society about metrics and kind of thinking about success and things like that and i think what she said to me is really important which is you know we’re not we’re not producing the news okay so this is like a first thing to say so it’s not about how um immediately people listen to it a lot of these things will be quite a long game so we’re producing content that we want people to listen to in um you know in a year from now you know in months from now and a year from now a little bit like journal articles as soon as it comes out you know it’s not just it’s not really how many people have read this thing at this point in time it’s how it gets used and how it gets adopted so it’s a bit of a long game really i think about the success of something like a podcast we know people are listening that’s nice and it’s good to know um but we’re here for a long game like the sociological review has always been seeing as we’ve been here since 1908 i’m sorry i just had to throw that in any final thoughts on success no no final thoughts on success well i realized that it’s now two minutes past two which is um an hour exactly to the minute from which i opened this up i just want to say some final thank yous because there are people behind the scenes that we haven’t mentioned today um our sound engineer dave crackles joe gardner who produced a fantastic music for the podcast um the artist erin annika who producer artwork but i should also say thank you to karen shook who’s our communications manager at the sociological review senior communications officer um and tua tilazanto who is the operations director at the sociological review because and actually and simon yule as well who’s a website designer because without all of these people we wouldn’t be able to do what we do and so i wanted to say a big shout out and thank you to all of them as well as the production team and also a big thank you to all of you for coming along today and i hope you’ve enjoyed it and please do get in touch if you’ve got any more questions





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