What I’ve learned from setting up my own podcast

Earlier this year I set up a podcast series, Past Matters, which asks museums, galleries and historic houses what their most underrated items are. Prior to that, I set up a podcast series, Millennials Now, where I interviewed millennials on the direction life had taken them now that this ‘snowflake’ generation had grown up.

And two podcast series later, I’m blown away by the kindness of human beings. I’m hardly the BBC turning up to film and project someone’s story or the story of an object to an audience of millions. However, the people I’ve talked to and the institutions I’ve approached have all been so welcoming and friendly.

This experience has reinforced the message drilled into me by an air cadet officer when camping in Wales – if you don’t ask in life, you don’t get. At the time he was referring to whether I wanted a cap so I didn’t melt while hiking the Welsh mountains in 40 degree heat, but it’s a principle that covers a lot of situations! If I had been too scared to ask people to talk to me, I definitely wouldn’t have secured interviews with them.

I would love to work in the heritage world full-time, but it’s a hard one to crack, particularly as its beset by funding issues. I don’t make any money from my podcast, this is a passion project that I’m lucky enough to be in a position fund and dedicate the time to myself – I know what a privilege that is. Making this podcast is a reminder of that as well as the fact that if you really want something you should fight for it, and try to make your own opportunities, even if that means failing. Repeatedly.

It is hugely irritating how some people of particular backgrounds get things handed to them on a silver platter, believe me, it’s a cause of much teeth gritting in my life. However, that’s no excuse for you to sit on your arse complaining; that definitely won’t get you anywhere, so you might as well give whatever it is you want a go. Ask the question. Use the tools you do have at your disposal to try and make your own opportunities.

Maybe this podcast will escalate to more heritage media opportunities, maybe it won’t. But I can rest easy that I did everything I could. The advice that always sticks with me when you see those articles asking people who have reached a grand old age for tips is: “you’ll always regret more the things you didn’t do, not the things you did”. And that is advice I try to religiously live by.

Of course, I’ve also learned some amazing historical facts along the way, too during this podcasting experience, including:

  • Porcelain can be interesting
  • Some tapestry weavers could work from a print positioned behind them that they could only see in the mirror
  • Colchester likely had a workshop of Greek jewellery makers
  • The first gorillas the British public would ever have seen in the flesh (rather than bones) were taxidermied in such a way that showed Victorian racial prejudice against Africa, despite (or maybe because of) their hunter’s own part African heritage (was he trying to disguise it by showing his scorn?).

To find out more, check out the episodes here. 

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