When we talk to friends, fellow podcast enthusiasts, and those in the industry, a term we hear over and over used to describe the value of podcasts is “intimate.” As podcast listening is usually a solitary experience, done through headphones or in our cars, a relationships develops between the listener and the podcaster.
That kind of personal connection develops in many ways, but a clear breeding ground is when a host allows themselves to be truly vulnerable to their audience and lets us in to something deeply personal. It’s easy to automatically think of stories detailing traumatic or emotional experiences, but sometimes those personal moments come from a sort of honesty that catches us off-guard because it seems so, frankly, normal.
A wonderful example of this recently appeared in the form of The Michelle Obama Podcast. When celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile individuals step into the podcasting world, people often have preconceived ideas of what they’ll be getting. There are, in many ways, formulas to these things. But former First Lady Michelle Obama dispelled that notion right from the first episode where she chats comfortably with her husband (who just happens to be the former President of the United States).
The programme has only released four episodes so far, but our host has invited us into a variety of topics that make her feel approachable and familiar. In particular, her discussion with Dr. Sharon Malone about health and the things nobody tells you about puberty and menopause was simultaneously powerful and reassuring. There are so many things that occur in every day life – between partners, inside our own bodies, at our jobs – that people just never talk about. But if Michelle Obama is willing to make these semi-secret, pedestrian parts of our existence part of our vernacular, then perhaps we can all follow her lead.
Within the world of podcasts, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of famous faces or intensely-hyped concepts. In the case of The Michelle Obama Podcast, a recognisable name and face is participating in conversations many have been having before, but her candidness welcomes more into the fold and encourages them to seek out these conversations elsewhere. Hopefully, those who feel that sense of connection with her will continue to explore similar conversations from others building intimacy with listeners the world over.
The Michelle Obama Podcast is a Spotify Original, produced by Higher Ground. Discover new episodes on Wednesdays via Spotify.