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Collaborating for Academic Podcasts: Teamwork, Interviews and Publicity

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In her final blog post, Kira Allman discusses the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration when creating a podcast.

In an earlier post, I discussed the value of podcasting for public engagement in providing unexpected opportunities for networking. This post will expand on that particular point, with a focus on how academic podcasting opens up possibilities for collaboration in recruiting a production team, conducting interviews, and gaining publicity.

After taking some initial steps to plan the target audience, format, and theme of your podcast, it is worth considering whether your podcast could be a useful vehicle for new collaborations. One of the many appealing things about podcasting is that it only takes one person to launch a podcast: you.

So from a public engagement perspective, podcasting presents exciting opportunities for individuals. Much academic work is intensely solitary, and perhaps particularly in the humanities, the predominance of the monograph in the realm of publication epitomises this rule. A podcast can certainly be produced by a single author, but it doesn’t have to be. And it can, in fact, be interactional and interdisciplinary in spaces where collaboration is uncommon.

You can start with your team.  

For RightsUp, we began with an interdisciplinary team. Although the podcast is based at the Oxford Human Rights Hub, and two of our producers are lawyers, I joined the team as a doctoral student in Oriental Studies with no legal training. We found that an interdisciplinary team was essential in achieving our core goal: communicating legal concepts to an audience of experts and non-experts. Our experience proved that we could become better communicators in our audio format precisely because we had to first communicate with one another in the production team.

And if you don’t have a particular skill or expertise, just find someone who does. Perhaps you have a great idea for a podcast, but audio production is not your cup of tea. Rather than letting the technical details stand in the way, consider using this as an opportunity to find a collaborator who has audio production experience or is enthusiastic to learn.

Include interviews, guests, or panelists.

In addition to collaboration in the production team, podcasts present exciting opportunities to meet colleagues and trailblazers in various fields as guests and interviewees. Diverse voices make for engaging podcasts – in both cadence and content. Inviting other experts to participate in a podcast can invigorate a topic with fresh insights and also provide those experts with a new platform to share with their own networks.

There are numerous ways to incorporate guests in both scripted and unscripted podcasts, from serving as interviewees on a specific issue or topic to guest producing an entire episode. While working on RightsUp, we made many “cold calls” to possible interviewees and received an overwhelmingly positive response and high levels of participation. The moral of the story is not to underestimate the power of podcasting when it comes to connecting with new people.

Find partners for promotion.

Once you have produced a podcast, garnering an audience means generating publicity. Posting your podcast on platforms like Oxford Podcasts and iTunesU can go a long way, but the more channels through which you can share your podcast, the better. Collaborating in the production team as well as in the podcast itself (in the form of interviews, panelists, or guests) offers more opportunities to share your podcast in different, interdisciplinary networks, as your collaborators share and promote the podcast themselves.

In some cases, another institution or department may also be interested in sharing your podcast if the theme is relevant or if someone from the institution participated in the production. For example, share your podcast with funding bodies and academic divisions, and ask them to spread the word on their social media accounts. Collaboration at every stage of the process helps to build momentum for promotion and publicity at the end, when you’re ready to broadcast.

kira-squareKira Allman is a DPhil candidate in Oriental Studies and co-produced a podcast series called RightsUp funded by the AHRC-TORCH Graduate Fund. See her first and second posts on this blog.