It was with much excitement that I heard the words “why don’t we try and record a series of conversational podcasts .. as pilots?” These words came from Mike and Suze – two colleagues from the Co-Production Network who are working with us at Renew on an evaluation process, or as we call it – The Co-Design Project.
Creating podcasts is something I had been keen on doing for a while but not really got around to doing with much gusto. I had recorded a conversation with two of our mentors (one in Welsh) via Zoom, and they were fine in terms of the content and subject matter. But visually they weren’t very exciting, simply because it was two people looking at screen talking to each other. Podcasts after all, are meant to be listened to rather than watched!
The idea for this series was more around natural conversations between people. We wanted the listener to be able to recognise themselves in what they heard. We wanted them to inspire action, stimulate conversation and drive change. Their ‘USP’ would be sharing real stories and experiences from communities right across Wales. But what kind of style should we adopt? A single host asking questions? a co-host? or a ‘chain-letter’ style delivery? In the end we decided on a 3-way conversation style, which allowed for more shared learning. We decided to utilise a co-ordinator or a mentor from amongst our ranks, then add a person from a group who Renew Wales had supported and then a third person from a group elsewhere doing similar work- the UK or maybe even the world!
So where to start? How would we choose these people? Well, it became clear that we’d have to theme the podcasts in some way and so we came up with quite a long list, from obvious ones like transport, community buildings and energy, biodiversity, growing, and waste… to more subtle themes such as the motivation to act, inclusiveness in terms of who’s involved, raising awareness / spreading the ‘word’ and what you can do with/without funds.
It was a collaborative task but eventually we came up with suggestions of suitable people and set about selling the idea to them. But I needn’t have worried as no one has refused to take part! We’ve now recorded the 5 we set out to do as pilots and they’ve all been very fascinating and inspiring.
There are too many participants and organistions to list here, but we’ve had contributions from Cerys Jones of Repair Café Wales, from Jeremy Wadia from EcoDewi, Geinor Styles from Theatr Na’Nog, and David Davies representing the Communities Creating Homes programme. But from further afield we’ve also heard from Sandra Philips from MovMi in Vancouver and Salome Wagaine from Season For Change in London. The final one of these podcasts was in Welsh- around the theme of place-making and housing.
There’s been a relaxed and friendly atmosphere while recording which has been great and we hope this has come across to listeners. We also hope that many have been inspired to act or have learnt something or have been provoked into thinking more deeply about something.
Plenty of learning has taken place behind the scenes too- in terms of the recording and production itself but also there is improved knowledge and experience of using various graphic packages to create visual representational, cover art and promotional products for the podcasts.
Thanks to all those who have participated in this series and to Mike, Suze and our editor, Emmi for all their work and encouragement on this. While we have decent enough listening figures for them so far, it would be really encouraging to see the numbers increase and maybe even hear back from people who have taken up the challenge to do something themselves!
I for one, very much hope we can continue to record new and exciting podcasts in the future as a means of inspiring more action on climate change and reaching new and different audiences.
Renew Wales Communications Officer