In February, Becca Drake and Emmie Price-Goodfellow attended the WRoCAH-sponsored training day on preparing and delivering effective podcasts. Here they offer their thoughts on this interactive and practical workshop, as well as sharing the screentest of their own exciting podcast project, Welcome to the Attic.
Becca Drake and Emmie Price-Goodfellow
Department of English and Centre for Medieval Studies
University of York
On the 13th February, 2019, we went to a sparkling Novotel in Sheffield to learn how to prepare and deliver effective podcasts. The workshop was run by Media Players International, and kindly organized by WRoCAH. Throughout the day, ex-BBC journalists Tim Grout-Smith and Lily Poberezhka guided us with expertise through the intensive process of researching, planning, and delivering podcasts.
The training itself was a mixture of theory and practice. For the first few hours, Tim and Lily poured their knowledge out and we attempted to take as much in as possible, learning how to structure a podcast, how to conduct interviews, how to give monologues, and how to keep our audiences entertained. After that, we were set loose to come up with short snippets of our own podcasts, armed with the wisdom that had been shared with us.
Our intentions were the noblest: learn how to make an excellent podcast, then send humorous retellings of the best bits of medieval studies out into the webisphere. At the beginning of the day, we had but an inkling of how our podcast would turn out. It would be fifty minutes long, would include full scale literature reviews and extensive references for each five-minute fragment of true medieval story. By twelve o’clock, Lily had refined our aspirations of greatness to a 4-5 minute chunk of Middling Age silliness. However, it paid to listen to the experts. When forced to listen to us talk about holy spiders in the congealed blood of Christ for only three minutes, people actually laughed.
It would be false not to admit to feeling a little nervous about the recording bit. As we “planned” our first ever recording of Welcome to the Attic, sitting about in giant orange armchairs and fuelled by a never-ending supply of tea, coffee, and biscuits, we felt a little guilty. Our noble workshop-comrades had prepared hard-hitting interviews about the state of British politics and gritty monologues about the human face of the refugee crisis. Whereas we had set out to tell stories for laughs. But it turns out that a bit of humour doesn’t go un-appreciated, and leper-licking bishops can get an entire room rolling.
The day ended on a high, as we got the chance to review each other’s podcast screentests, seeing just how much can be achieved in one day. To anyone interested in outreach, creating impact, or how to extract the fun from your research, this workshop is invaluable. As well as sampling what a career as the next Horrible Histories stars might be like, we practised how to communicate our research concisely to engage a non-academic audience in topics they might not even know they find interesting.
You can catch the first screentest of Welcome to the Attic, our podcast about ridiculous bits of the Medieval period, in the video below.