The first three podcasts forged in the BBC Sounds Audio Lab creator programme launched on the 14th July, and we’ve been chatting to the creators about podcasting, their projects and the future of the podcast industry. In the first of a series of interviews, we’re speaking to Talia Randall about her show, Blossom Trees and Burnt Out Cars, which unearths the radical ramblers and activist gardeners opening up nature to everyone.
Pod Bible: What was your introduction to podcasting as a listener?
Talia Randall: It was probably one of the big guns at NPR that first got my attention. I also loved Two Dope Queens. Recently the shows I’ve been addicted to are Harsh Reality, Wild Boys and The Trojan Horse Affair. I think an investigative podcast works best when the host really inserts themselves into the topic and doesn’t pretend to be neutral. I also enjoy The Polyester Podcast. It’s a self-published, intersectional feminist and culture show. I think the seriousness they give to seemingly throwaway or ‘bad taste’ subjects is really refreshing
In terms of audio more broadly I was very briefly involved in pirate radio quite some time ago and before that, the first thing that properly had me as a listener was Blue Jam by Chris Morris. I’d be scared to listen back to it, I can’t tell you how much that twisted my melon.
PB: Why was audio the right medium for your project?
TR: We all know that a good podcast is an intimate experience. As a listener I really enjoy the feeling of someone inviting me into a corner to have a natter about some random, interesting topic. It’s a bit like having a gossip in the smokers section of club. You hear a revelation, inhale sharply and then rush to share the secret with someone else.
Obviosity my podcast is less gossip and more feelings about nature but I want that mood to be present; a one-on-one chat with a stranger, before you know it, you’re getting to know each other really well; you’re sharing revelations with each other.
There’s also that vibe when you’re on a walk – how your mind can wonder with your feet. Spending time alone in nature is a joy and a privilege and there was something about the meandering thoughts you have on a walk that chimed with the style of the podcast.
PB: What the biggest thing you’ve learned from making the podcast?
TR: Honestly, that I can do it! I was learning everything as I went (which is usually the case for me but certainly not on a platform this big). Learning how to edit, to sound design, putting the whole thing together. I mean every time I opened my laptop was a crash course in learning a new skill with a hefty deadline looming over me. I’m neurodivergent too so holding that all in my head was messy and complex
I also learnt that I can take on the subject matter. This last time year if you’d have told me I was gonna make a nature show I would’ve howled with laughter, yet here we are! Check in with me next year, maybe I’ll be making something about another subject that will surprise me. (I’m currently open to commissions babes)
PB: What would you like to see more of in the podcast space?
TR: We need a much broader range of audio makers and stories. I think this is true of arts and culture in general. I’ve had a few comp tickets to award and industry events via the Audio Lab scheme and although there’s been lots of great things and I’ve learnt loads, there is so much more than needs to be done to make more audio creatives (and listeners) feel like they belong. For example, I might be misremembering but I don’t remember any wheelchair access at many of these events. I think there needs to be a conversation about transcripts and captions for podcasts. I’d like to see more genuine risks on lesser known talent and, honestly, we need to talk more about cash. Money and the arts are so opaque and until we stop expecting people to work for little money (or no money) we just won’t have more perspectives.
Come back next week, when Adam Zmith will be talking about The Film We Can’t See.