New academic voices in podcasting

Academics can harness the power of podcasting to tell engaging stories and find their audience.

Reporting from #sotonpod16

Podcasts offer an intimate, personal way to connect to audiences, inviting them into stories, conversations and discussions in a way that is distinctive and refreshing. Podcasting offers the opportunity to combine learning, research, journalism and storytelling.

We want to nurture and grow our own small Southampton podcasting community and invite new voices to tell their stories and find their audiences.

Martin Austwick talks to the audience at #sotonpod16

When we designed the day, we wanted to exploit the recent growth in podcasting production and opportunities for researchers, educators and staff keen to capitalise on the increasing success of the medium to reach out, tell stories and engage the public.

The aims for the event were to:

  • Create podcasts to support teaching & learning
  • Highlight your research project and create public engagement
  • Become more confident in speaking for radio and television
  • Tell stories and entertain audiences

The day kicked off with an opening talk from Dr. Martin Austwick who’s brilliant podcasting resume includes Answer me this, sociable physics and a recent series discussing every Tom Waits song in chronological order. He gave us some great tips to get started and simplified the process for us all, if playing a guitar only required three chords, then perhaps all you need for podcasting is a microphone, a computer and something to say.

Throughout the day there were workshops and talks from a range of excellent speakers on a range of topics from understanding audiences and building a brand, to using recording apps, asking great interview questions and how to get yourself launched. Seven seems to be the magic number, if you can get to seven episodes then the probability will be that you’ll continue and you’ll crack the sequence and give your podcast opportunity to establish itself. All the workshops were well attended and our thanks to Joe Dale, Kevin Field, Kelly Long, Karen Woods, Mike and Izabella Russell for providing such engaging and useful sessions.

There was a chance to network and talk to fellow podcasters at lunch and then towards the end of the day we heard from Dave Pickering, storyteller and creator of Getting Better Acquainted and new arrival, The Family Tree. We were treated to a world premiere clip of the opening from this show, blending fiction and real-world together to create a compelling, mysterious and captivating experience for the listener. Whereas much of the day had been about capturing as close to professional sound and setup as possible, Dave reminded us about the focus on great content and how we can exploit the character and complexity of imperfect sound. “We speak on mobile phones al the time and the sound is awful” he commented, quoting podcaster Helen Zaltsman who’s recent episode of The Allusionist featured a muffled call from an Antarctic research station.

To close the day we heard from Sophie Bailey who reflected on the rapid rise of The Edtech Podcast and the journey she’d taken from leaving her job to setting out to produce her show. Now on episode 26, Sophie has interviewed a great many educators, technologists and startups in the quest to find out just what makes great learning and how education innovation can find its way to the classroom. She took the opportunity to record a few of us, so look out for myself, Fiona Harvey and some of our student iChamps featuring in a future episode.

Sophie Bailey speaking about the Edtech podcast

We closed the day by promising another podcast conference next year and talking about some of the ways we can support podcasting at the university. Remember we really want our community to flourish and we want as many people to hear the stories we tell each other about the research, the people, the learning and much more at Southampton.

We’re going to do the following:

  • support the use of iTunesU to host podcasts
  • offer the opportunity to borrow kit and advise on its use.
  • help you create great content, plan and devise your podcast
  • keep you going, give you encouragement and help you stay the course.

If you’d like to find out more, then visit our podcasting page, with photos and videos from the day, including links to Lynda.Com where you’ll find great training resources and to biographies and slides from all our contributors.

Thank you once again to everyone who made our day possible, there are great stories to tell and we can’t wait to hear them.