When I work, I like to listen to podcasts. Unlike music, I never feel the urge to get up and change the channel. Recently, author Trisha J. Wooldridge, who is the driving force behind the Broaduniverse podcast (a.k.a. the broad pod) and I discussed the idea of spotlighting the podcast for this blog. What resulted from that conversation is the following interview.
How did the Broad Pod start?
Shortly after I joined the Broad Universe Motherboard about two and a half years ago, several members pointed out that the readings and book tables at conventions were great, but we are only serving the percentage of our membership who attend conventions that way – and members attending conventions was only about ten or fifteen per cent of membership at the time. Even now, as more members are going to conventions – I hear so many great, “This is my first convention! Thanks for getting me into this.” – it still will never be something we can serve every member with.
So, I suggested we move to doing a podcast version of the Rapid Fire Reading that was open to all Level 1 members – and could be both read from and heard anywhere across the globe that had an Internet connection. Everyone seemed to like that idea, so I went with it.
What’s new this year with the Broadpod?
For 2011, I started a second podcast for us called Broadly Speaking, which would follow an interview format and cover writing tips and adventures in writing. The suggestion, when I made it mid-2010, was met with a lot of excitement and support from the Motherboard and members, so we moved forward on that one, too!
How do you come up with the topics?
I actually post a poll to the members every fall asking what topics they like. I keep a few perpetual topics that, so far, have been quickly filled every year: Powerful Women, Humor (which I also spread to two episodes because it was so popular), and Vampires. Then, once I’ve got a list of the top choices people send me, I ask members to vote on what they want. That allows us to have topics that I know the members have readings for.
With Broadly Speaking, the “theme” for each episode matches the Broad Pod readings theme, but each hostess of the show is welcome to put her own twist on it with questions to the guests.
What has been the most interesting topic covered on the Broad Pod?
That’s a tough question to answer. For just about every topic, I get a great diversity of readings, and there hasn’t been any topic that is without several bits that totally surprise and delight me with the content or presentation. I do have a special place in my heart for the humorous readings we’ve done and was more than happy to add the second humor theme to this year at the request of several readers. Interesting in the fact it was unexpected, I have absolutely loved hearing the romance themes. In general, I’m not a fan of romance, but I have been blown away by all the romance readers this year and last – most especially the first queer romance I heard, which came from Jessica Freely (www.friskbiskit.com) this past February.
For Broadly Speaking, well, I’m in the same boat, mostly, except I think that Rae Lori (www.raelori.com), who hosted February, and Julia Rios (www.juliarios.com) who hosted the this March’s episode, just did superior jobs than I in my first interview. I loved the questions they posed to their interviewees and how well they paced the episodes.
What do you hope people listening to the podcast will get from the show?
From the Broad Pod, I hope the listeners are entertained by the great stories we get to share with them. From Broadly Speaking, I hope listeners get a great insight into the life of writers, inspiration, and advice about publishing.
I also hope that the writers who we get to profile get the attention they deserve for their beautiful fiction.
Where can potential listeners to the show find it?
We also have links to the most recent episodes on the Broad Universe website at www.broaduniverse.com
Has learning to put the podcast together been a steep learning curve?
ZOMG – yes, yes, yes! Not that I’m normally comfortable with admitting when I find something difficult or how much work I normally put in, but learning how to podcast was probably the hardest and most “alien” task I’ve ever done as part of my writing career. Everything was new, from figuring out how and where to post it, to how to work the audio software, how to work software I never plan on owning, what tools I needed… and probably much more than I can think of off the top of my head.
Fortunately, I have had a lot of Broads who have been willing to help. Morven Westfield (www.morvenwestfield.com), who has become our official IT Goddess/Consultant for the Motherboard, has her own great podcast at www.vampireswitchesandgeeks.com, so she pointed me in the right direction about hosting and software. There was still a lot of trial and error – we went through three different hosting sites before finding Posterous.com – but she was a huge help in narrowing down all the massive amounts of information on podcasting that are out there. Rae Lori (www.raelori.com) also was a big help on a lot of the details and helped me find the right music for our jingle. More recently, when I was putting together Broadly Speaking, Justine Graykin (www.justinegraykin.com) actually composed and mixed the beautiful music for Broadly Speaking and created our 2011 copyright message.
Even with the help, the biggest problem for me was learning the software. I use Audacity, a free program, to put the episodes I host together. But, as I figure must be common, when recording, there are a lot of things that need fixing. First, different women are using different equipment (and programs) that don’t always mesh (and I still have to work with women on occasion so that the programs play nicely together.) Second, different equipment has produces different quality recordings; sometimes they are too soft or too crackly or there is a lot of feedback, and I need to clean that up as much as possible. The third major difficulty comes from the readers themselves, which I only have so much ability to fix. If a woman is naturally softspoken, I can boost her volume, but I can’t do much with women who read too fast or have a lot of stumbles. I have sent back a few recordings because I knew the woman could do better – and that is hard in it’s own way.
Another learning point for me, particularly with Broadly Speaking, is the “feel” of a live interview. I have worked in broadcast media maybe three times in my life before doing the Broad Pod. All the hundreds of interviews I do per year have been for written articles, and those have a different “feel” and pacing to them. Broadcasted interviews also have a different feel and pattern than live, in-person interviews, like during a panel at a convention. Listening to more of other broadcasted interviews, particularly by other Broads, I’m learning how to do a better job of my interviewing in this medium.
Not part of the learning curve, but still a constant challenge for myself and all of the wonderful women who help me, is to make sure everyone remembers deadlines. It’s so easy to forget when you’ve got a recording deadline, and as I’m the head producer, it’s mostly my duty to remind folks. Fortunately, I do have the great women I’ve mentioned – and many more who are helping with the hosting – who have been wonderful in helping make this podcast happen – and be the excellent production it is.
What has been the most important thing you have learned while developing the podcast?
Despite all that I’ve learned in the technical realm, which has gone on to serve me even in my freelancing business (You’d like me to add audio components to these classes I’m editing for you? Of COURSE I can do that!), the most important thing I’ve learned is to appreciate my own voice.
A few years ago, I had this “brilliant” idea that I wanted to record my poetry, so a musician friend of mine had me do it. I just hated the way that I sounded! I feel I’ve got this nasal, deep voice that hisses the “s” sound, and just, well, bleh! As I worked with the readings, in general, for Broad Universe, I got in a lot more practicing on how to read out loud and control my voice. Broad Mary Robinette Kowal (www.maryrobinettekowal) also puts out a great workshop for authors in reading aloud, which I’ve attended at least three different times at local conventions. So, I’ve had the chance to actively work on my voice, which is a muscle, and like any muscle, tends to work best when exercised regularly.
By the middle of 2010, when I finally did my own reading for the podcast, I was feeling, “Well, hey, I don’t sound half bad.” By October’s Vampire podcast, I was downright happy with how I sounded! And I realized I was happy with how I sounded. It was a great ego boost, and any ego boost increases one’s confidence in all aspects of life.
Anything else that you want to share?
I’d love to see more people commenting on the podcasts! What worked for them, what didn’t work, what they want to see more of. Also, I always appreciate it when Broads help promote the podcast. As I’d love to feature every member at some point, the bigger we get, the more we can help each and every member. Yes, this is a whole lot of fun to do, but the goal is in line with Broad Universe’s mission to promote, honor, and celebrate women in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We have some amazing, amazing writers in our ranks, and it’s a loss to the people who don’t get to hear these voices. I am constantly entertained, moved, challenged, and changed by every episode – and I hope to share that experience with as many people as possible.
Trisha J. Wooldridge (www.anovelfriend.com) is the readings and events “chick” for Broad Universe, and the producer of both the Broad Pod and Broadly Speaking. When not telling everyone how awesome sister BU members are, she gets paid to teach and tutor; edit online courses and other people’s writing; and write about food, horses, music, events… and Bad-Ass Faeries (www.badassfairies.com). The faeries even win her cool prizes, like EPIC awards in 2009 and 2011. You can usually find her at conventions with a painted face, cussing out helpless pieces of technology, or trying very hard to not fall off her horse, Calico Silver.
The most recent broaduniverse podcast has been the Broadly Speaking Episode by Julia Rios on Strong Female Characters. I will host the next Broaduniverse Podcast, which will be readings in Humor.