Podcast development update

Hi all,

Very sorry to miss our last class before Spring Break, and looking forward to seeing you all again tomorrow!

Thank you to everyone for your helpful feedback with the podcast I am developing on writing and community. I’m still playing with ideas for the name (Under the Umbrella), which connects to the concepts of gathering together under some level of protection(?), and also a possible resort/beach/poolside vibe, but is not obviously about writing, which may be important for someone who is searching for a literary podcast they might be interested in. (A reminder that this podcast will be branded as a project of the Resort writing community project that I’ve been building over the past year.)

I’ve now listened to, I think, every episode of The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn (where he interviews interviewers about interviewing), to help me conceptualize and put my interviewing approach into words (broadly speaking, I am approaching every interview as a unique conversation between two people – I believe no two interviewers can conduct the same interview, and if they do it’s a very one-sided sounding thing). I will continue, with this podcast project, to aim for interviews that are full of curiosity (active listening on my part) and open to surprise. I’ve listened to more episodes of The Maris Review, and I am now able to put my finger on what bothers me about that podcast: Maris does a lot of agreeing with her interview subjects, as if everything they are saying to her is, yes, of course, obvious – and it makes me wonder why she is doing the interview if she doesn’t look for ways to be surprised? To me, it comes across as more about posturing that yes, of course, as a host, she knows all of the cool stuff already. I understand that there is some appeal to listening to two people who are already friendly with each other, and maybe she is responding that way to her subjects to be affirming to them, as a way of putting them at ease, but I think I want something different.

I’ve recently started listening to The Stacks, a literary podcast/book club that has been around for a few years and is GREAT – wonderful guests, lengthy conversations where I learn things (and the host does, too! and she is wonderfully enthusiastic but not overbearingly so), plus a cool format: each guest is on twice: once to talk about their own writing, and once to talk about The Stacks book club pick of the month. The host of this podcast has managed to build this project to a point where it is her primary income, which is inspiring to someone looking to get out of her current line of work!

I also attended a a Zoom panel hosted by the Columbia School of the Arts program on finding BIPOC & LGBTQ literary community after the MFA, and I was scribbling down so many notes – so many great words of wisdom shared! I’m reaching out to two of the panelists, Nadxieli Nieto and Jennifer Baker, both of whom I’ve worked with in some capacity before, to be early guests on my writing and community podcast.

As I’ve thought more about the format that this podcast will take, I’ve thought about how some projects need time to develop organically into their best shape (this was true for the LIC Reading Series I started several years ago, playing around with the format for a few months and seeing what worked, and I’ve also seen this be true in other people’s projects that I’ve followed over the years). And – if this is truly a project about writing & community, then I can’t really map it all out all by myself in advance – I thikn it makes sense for the format to develop organically over time with the community that is involved with the podcast (as guests, as listeners, etc).

My aim for this semester is the following:
-script a trailer or introductory episode that covers my reasons for doing such a podcast, why I’m – hopefully! – well positioned to host this podcast, and a bit about what listeners might expect to find in this podcast. I hope to record this initial episode and make some music/editing decisions
-reach out to several folks for brief interviews, for a first season of short interviews with individuals, as the podcast “gets its feet wet” and figures out its direction for future seasons
-ideally record a couple of these interviews and perhaps have eidted versions to share with class

I’m building this podcast to be a longer term project than the length of this semester, looking at this semester as a container for getting a good foundation going and as a kick in the butt to actuallly start broadcasting.

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1 thought on “Podcast development update

  1. Jason Tougaw

    This sounds great. To me, it sounds like you’re on your way. I say do as much as you want to get done but don’t feel like you have to get everything you describe done for this semester. One episode–even a rough edit–with the ancillary materials seems like plenty.

    As I think about it, I do think you wan to be sure people recognize from the title–or at least a tagline–that this is the focus is writers and literary culture.


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