Did you know, 11th May is Somerset Day? It’s a day that gives everyone an opportunity to celebrate Somerset as a place to live, work, play and learn. And there’s a podcast for that! Somerset Stories had previously featured in our Oh. My. Pod. section of the magazine – which highlights independent podcasts of all kinds – and we asked host Lewis to tell us more about it…
Who are you and what’s your podcast about?
My name is Lewis Webb, and I’m the creator and host of Somerset Stories. The podcast is really a celebration of all things Somerset, its characters, famous faces, and a whole range of topics. Each episode delves into the story of someone with a connection to the area. As Somerset is such a rural county, we often cover things like the natural world, or food and drink – cider and cheese are huge here! But there’s more going on than just those obvious things. We’ve had comedians, chefs, and actors. But I’ve also wanted to explore some of the more left-field elements of life in the county, so there are episodes with a high-wire walker, a snail-farmer, and the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society
What was the first podcast you ever listened to?
A US film podcast called Filmspotting that has been going for years. They have a real knack for talking about films in a profound way, where a lot of critics only touch on the main details.
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
Over the last few years, Somerset, and what it stands for has been having a bit of a resurgence. Everywhere you go, there are people doing really interesting things around food, art, music, sport – all sorts. There’s a lot of interest in the culture here, and also a lot of new residents who are bringing new ideas to the area. But before we launched, there wasn’t really a podcast that brought all of this together. Somerset Stories does this, and it’s gained some solid momentum. We’ve completed four seasons and – after a few months off at the start of this year – we’re starting season five later this month.
Which podcasts do you take inspiration from?
One of my favourite hosts is Jay Rayner. Something I try to take from his podcast is making sure I’ve come up with some questions that aren’t obvious or superficial. I find podcasts come into their own when you can explore people’s motivations and passions beyond the surface. The other is Adam Buxton – he seems to have an ability to have great conversations with everyone from nuclear physicists and economists, to musicians and filmmakers. My goal is to give listeners an experience that entertains them, but also gives them a window into a world they might know nothing about.
Who’s your dream guest for the podcast?
I’m a massive fan of film director Edgar Wright, who went to school in Somerset. Hot Fuzz is filmed in and around Wells, so he’d be an amazing guest. Jensen Button is also from Somerset, and would be a really interesting interviewee… so if they’re reading this, please get in touch!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as a podcaster?
There’s a lot of work that goes around the production. It’s not just recording and editing; there’s the guest communication and arranging interviews, doing research to come up with decent questions, and keeping the ball rolling with websites, social media and other promotional activity. It’s a real commitment.
Which episode would you say is the perfect introduction to your podcast?
For an interview with Somerset “royalty”, Julian and Matilda Temperley; S3E10 has to be a good place to start. What Julian doesn’t know about cider apples isn’t worth knowing, and Matilda is a creative force of nature. They combine old and new Somerset in a way which really epitomises the types of stories I’m interested in. Families often make for excellent guests as there’s a fun dynamic that listeners can tap into.
Where can the Pod Bible readers find out more about you?