I was not a podcast early adopter. A couple of years ago when Serial first broke, it took several of my friends raving about it for weeks if not months before I finally got around to listening. And for years, it remained the only podcast I had ever listened to. It’s not that I was opposed to listening; it’s just that I was accustomed to reading instead, having left National Public Radio and audiobooks behind with my hour-long car commute when I moved to Amsterdam.
So the first time I appeared on a podcast, I didn’t really have a huge frame of reference. And I was incredibly nervous. Give me a keyboard to hide behind, and the eloquence will flow. Make me actually form the words out loud with my own voice? Heresy!
Fortunately, the cause was good. Our Hiraeth project was just getting off the ground, and Amsterdam Mamas had generously agreed to give us a shout-out on their podcast, which was well into its third season. I arrived at their studio extremely nervous, but with my short statement written out so I wouldn’t have to worry about my mouth just running off on its own.
To my horror, podcast host Donna Bardsley explained that they like to keep things a little less formal on the podcast, and I would have to talk about Hiraeth in my own words.
Well, my words are the written ones. Not the ones that just fall from my lips without going through my fingers first. But they were doing us a favor, so I womanned up and talked without my script. The experience wasn’t half as terrible as I anticipated, and the result, which appears during the last few moments of this useful and informative podcast about moving internationally with children, was less garbled than I had feared. (Starting at 37:05)
Having already received my (albeit brief) trial by fire, when Monica, one of my Hiraeth co-conspirators, suggested we start a Hiraeth podcast, I was relatively unfazed. Even when it turned out that the first two episodes would consist of navel-gazing by us, the founders of Hiraeth, and our ruminations on moving, finding home, and life in general. My story appeared at the beginning of episode 2. And . . . I have to ask. Do I sound like this much of a valley girl in real life? I have never heard any person say “kinda” more times in the space of fifteen minutes. It was a bit mortifying. (Minute 2:00)
By this time, though, I was starting to feel a little less desperate about the idea of talking into a microphone. Or maybe just more accustomed. I’d also started actually subscribing to podcasts myself, so I could get a feel for how other people talked on them. I liked the intimacy, the casualness, the window into other people’s lives, the feeling that you were part of a fascinating conversation. And I discovered that podcasts were the perfect accompaniment to all the cycling from place to place that I do here.
When Andy Clark, a British journalist and expat asked if he could interview me about the Expatriate Archive Centre for his new podcast, HereInHolland, I jumped at the chance. Public relations for the archive is, after all, my job. And I was getting to like this podcast thing. Thanks to Andy’s punchy questions and impeccable editing, I came out of this interview actually feeling pretty articulate. (From the Beginning)
So when Monica asked if I wouldn’t mind sometimes helping her host the Hiraeth podcast, I thought, why not? Our next scheduled interview was Amy Levin, who had edited a book in which I co-wrote a chapter, so it kind of made sense. As it turns out, I quite enjoyed joining Monica on the interviewer side of things. There’s the obvious power rush, but it’s also just fun to be able to ask your own really burning questions without having to hope the podcast host will ask them–because you are the podcast host. I had no real idea how to prepare for an interview beforehand, so my questions were all extemporaneous, but I liked it. I could definitely get used to this. (Starting at 1:41)
And earlier this week I talked on yet another podcast. It was Amsterdam Mamas again, but this time rather than just a 30-second spot, I was extensively interviewed by Donna about the Amsterdam High School Lottery saga you’ve been living through with me on this blog for the past few months. Unfortunately, the interview turned out to be unusable because of the crazy background noise. She had interviewed me at a school open evening. The music from the band, the chattering knots of parents and teachers, and the hundreds of boisterous pre-teens, while absolutely authentic to the experience, completely dominated the sound on the recording, drowning out my pontifications.
I was all set to repeat my eloquence when Donna suggested an alternative: she’d gone through my rather voluminous blog posts on the topic, and condensed them into a script of several pages that she simply wanted me to read into the microphone. I found this turn of events hilarious, now that I’d gone through all this trouble to get comfortable talking without a script on podcasts. But I was not about to complain.
So here’s my latest adventure in podcast land (Starting at 17:20):
Some people have to be dragged kicking and screaming into new territory. I don’t typically think of myself as one of those people, but in this case it took being on the mic side to really get me into the earbud side of podcasts. Last month most of the well-known podcast producers did this campaign called #trypod, intended to get people to share not only individual podcasts with their friends, but also the whole idea of adding podcasts as one of the types of media they consume. I’m a bit allergic to hashtags, and tend to use them rarely and even then ironically. But I guess this is my own little plug for listening to podcasts. Try it! You might like it. And before you know it, you might be starting your own.