Talking podcasts with Acast and Growing Up with gal-dem
This is Let There Be Pod in Association with Acast. In each issue of the magazine, our partner Acast – home of the UK’s BEST podcasters – sits down for a chat with one of its creators to hear what they love about making podcasts. In this interview from Issue #022 Acast spoke to Bijal Shah, Head of Commercial at gal-dem, about the journey of the Growing Up With gal-dem podcast…
Acast: With gal-dem being such a successful online publication, what was the allure to start a podcast?
gal-dem: gal-dem publishes both online and in print, and when we first started we were known for our events as well – for us, being accessible in as many ways as possible is so important, not just for creating content and community spaces that can be accessed by a wide range of people, but also for selecting the most appropriate medium for stories. Both Growing up with gal-dem and Reclaimed & Rewritten can deal with difficult but important themes. Audio is such an intimate medium that it allows for the sort of storytelling we need, that is engaging and detailed and informative, but also delivers on emotive impact and connection.
What do you find your listeners enjoy about being able to reach you through this medium?
Podcasting allows for a humanising style of content that is not always achievable in other mediums. You get a feel for the host, who they are, their sense of humour and what makes them tick. While we only have two podcasts out at the moment, our audience can get a feel for who we are as a publication through our amazing hosts and the ways that they interact with guests and sources. It’s also a type of engaging you can do wherever – you don’t need to be sat at a screen, or dedicate time away for print. With podcasting the conversation comes with you, whether you’re commuting, working, or resting.
Do you think there needs to be more women in the podcasting space?
Yes, but representation and inclusion in the space needs to be expanded beyond making more room for just cis-gendered women. We need to create space recognising incredible voices from a wide range of marginalised voices, be they disabled, queer, trans, POC, working class, migrants… Quite often we can look at one specific audience and try to tick boxes, but that approach is reductive and means further marginalisation can occur. What would be more fruitful is considering what barriers to access and audience exist across a wide range of intersecting identities, and start to consider as an industry, how can we begin dismantling them ourselves to improve the space overall. The more voices that are heard, the more stories that are told, the better this is for all podcasters.
What is one of the most important stories that have been told on Growing up with gal-dem?
Hard to pick! The first season of Reclaimed & Rewritten covered state sanctioned antiblack violence both in the US and in the UK and draws parallels between the ways in which policing specifically targets and affects Black communities on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a hugely important series and remains an incredibly important topic. Every season of Growing up with gal-dem brings the most beautiful vulnerability from both our guests and our hosts, but I think one of my favourite episodes has to be from the latest season when Nie and Natty met with and spoke to Paapa Essiedu. It was warm, funny, sweet, and open, and you really got a feel for how much shared empathy there was in the conversation. Give it a listen!!
What do you love about making a podcast?
The ability to have conversations, unfiltered, and publish them for audiences to listen in on in a way that isn’t always possible via print or digital mediums. With a podcast, you have an audience who are plugged in and actively listening. For 20-30 minutes you can sit in with incredible hosts, speakers, interviewees, guests, and just be part of their world, sit in on a conversation, and feel connected. Knowing that is how the episodes are received and enjoyed makes the production process so rich and exciting. We’ve also got an incredible team around us. We work really closely with our producers Ai Ai Studios, and have formed the sort of creative relationship you often dream of – they just get what we’re trying to achieve, and drive us to do bigger and better each season.
How do you think podcasting can change to highlight more voices?
Like we’ve said above – it’s not a one-step solution. Highlighting the barriers to entry for both listeners and creators is the first step, and then having buy-in across the industry (from the publishers to the indies to the hosts to the tech platforms) to address these barriers, dismantle them, and create continually expanding and inclusive spaces that welcome and learn from new voices and new perspectives.
Listen to Growing Up with gal-dem on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.
Want to join the UK’s BIGGEST podcast network, alongside Dane Baptiste, Jessie Ware and Adam Buxton? Start podcasting with Acast today! Use the code ACAST-POD-BIBLE for three months of their “Influencer” plan free at acast.com/start-podcasting.