Meet Aradhna Tayal Leach, Managing Director of The Radio Academy

Aradhna Tayal Leach started her career in radio as a Broadcast Engineer, but since then her path has given her extensive experience across the media, arts and technology sectors. In a former role at the BBC Academy (the training and development department within the BBC) and through her own consultancy business Clockhouse Media, Aradhna has spent most of her career leading events, initiatives and strategies across the creative industries.

Alongside this work, she is also the co-director of Radio TechCon (the UK audio industry’s technical and engineering conference) and last year, Aradhna became the Managing Director of The Radio Academy, which is the UK’s only audio and radio industry charity. She is bringing her passion for industry development to the role in the hope that our industry can better reflect, represent and influence society.

Francesca Turauskis spoke to Aradhna about her path to the role of Managing Director, bringing in experience from other creative industries and just how many different ways you can have a meaningful career in audio.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FT: You are the first engineer to lead The Radio Academy. I’m not sure that enough people know what engineers do, and how that looks as a career. Can you give me an insight?

ATL: I started my career at the BBC as a Broadcast Engineer in network radio. I was trained on all aspects of broadcasting, everything from the microphone in the studio, fixing a sound desk, your editing software – or hardware as it often was in those days – all the way through to processing and transmission. So it’s very, very broad.

Then as you go further along in your career you’ll probably specialise in one area: you get Transmission Engineers, you have Studio Engineers.

When your [sound] desk is broken or the microphone isn’t working or you’ve done something when you are editing and you’ve just lost three tracks and you don’t understand why – that’s when you’d call someone like me [a Broadcast Engineer] to come and try and troubleshoot, fault find. Hopefully, ultimately, the number one aim is recovering the programme or getting you back on air.

You also have Sound Engineers or Mastering Engineers who might be more controlling the sound desk, making the sound sound good – music or speech. Engineer is used both for a technical role and a support role, so I think sometimes the terminology can be confusing.

It was really exciting for me when I started my career because I studied engineering at university, but I was very much part of the team that got radio out on air. I felt that if it wasn’t for me fixing problems then we wouldn’t have radio going out to people. So you feel very much part of that.

FT: It really sounds like being somebody that wants to problem solve is a big aspect of it. Are there other skills that you think people can bring into engineering, besides the hard skills?

ATL: Communication’s really, really important. Imagine you’re picking up the phone to someone who has just lost this piece that they spent the last three months recording and then editing. You need to be able to talk to that person to reassure them, to understand why this is so critical – and at the same time you might literally be trying to get Radio One back on air because they’ve fallen off for some reason. So understanding the bigger picture priorities but also the individual’s context and priorities, and communicating appropriately on both.

I think being able to project manage is a really big skill in engineering. For me that was something I was really interested in – I like seeing the whole problem, the thing we need to do, the challenge, working it through, figuring out how we can do it realistically within a certain timeframe. Who do you need to be involved in that? Where might you need to get permissions? Where are your boundaries? For example, you can’t access that studio until midnight – does it mean that I’m going to stay here till midnight or do I need to find a night engineer?

I liked problem solving and then delivering the project side of things – which probably relates more to what I then ended up doing for most of my career, running projects and thinking more strategically about things.

FT: What was your introduction to The Radio Academy?

I found out about The Radio Academy – it must be maybe 10 years ago? At the time, The Radio Academy ran a three day festival every year – which is now a one day festival. It was a much bigger affair [10 years ago] and half a day of it was dedicated to engineering and technology called TechCon (which ultimately has evolved and left The Radio Academy and is now Radio TechCon). The chair of the TechCon committee approached me through the BBC Academy to join, mainly because there were no women on the TechCon committee because [engineering and technology] is such a male dominated world. They wanted to get some different people and perspectives involved.

Fast forward quite a few years, 2018 I was elected to [The Radio Academy] board of trustees. which was really interesting and that’s when I really got involved. The reason that I put myself up for election was because I felt that the Radio Academy, it’s such an important resource to have and I wanted to help shape that and make sure that it was actually supporting all people in the audio industry.

I hadn’t necessarily always felt represented, there weren’t very many people who looked like me. There weren’t very many people with my background. That’s why I wanted to join the board of Trustees. This is our industry charity, so therefore I want to volunteer my time and help to shape that.

Then last year I saw this job [as Managing Director] and I just thought “actually, I can do something really meaningful here”. And it’s a very, very different position being the MD compared to those various experiences I’ve had volunteering my time.

FT: We have people coming in to audio from lots of different places now, and The Radio Academy seems mostly broadcast related – is that accurate?

ATL: The Radio Academy is forty-one years old, so obviously there was only radio then but we are very much for the full audio community.

I really hope that more people, especially those starting out in podcasting, do come and look at all of the resources available through our website and through our events. It is our industry’s charity and it’s a really important way to come and be able to connect with other people and see what opportunities there might be for you.

It’s important to me to bring together our whole audio community, and not keep divides between radio and podcasting. You can have a much more exciting and fulfilling career knowing that you can move around audio – you can produce both radio or podcasts.

FT: Is there something that you are very proud of that you’ve done in the first nine months being in the role?

ATL: In terms of active change – representation, accessibility, feeling safe, included and valued, those are just so ingrained in me and my values and The Radio Academy and what I believe we need as an industry. Certainly I think that’s coming through.

I’m really proud of how much we reach out and are trying to be really transparent and open, including where we’re not necessarily getting things right. I’m only human, I’m learning and I think we’re putting a real human face to The Radio Academy and to the industry.

And hopefully to reach out across the whole country as well and whatever level you are at in the industry and whichever bit of it – to reach out to you and say, “we are here for you, what do you need?”

I put myself forward as well. It makes me vulnerable, but I think it’s important and the position that I am in, I want to be visible. I want people to see me and to see the first woman of colour at the helm of The Radio Academy. I couldn’t have imagined seeing that ten, twenty years ago. I didn’t see it when I was starting out in the industry.

I have a brilliant team, so trying to shine a light on what they’re bringing, as well as trying to highlight our members and different people’s stories and perspectives.

If you say what is the one thing? Just being more present and available and open. Hopefully. It’s a work in progress.

FT: You mentioned reaching out across the country – The Radio Academy has regional branches, and I think there’s also regional events as well?

ATL: Yeah, that’s really, really important to me. I grew up in Manchester and it’s a big city, so I’m lucky. But even still, when it came to getting a job and working in media, you had to up and go to London. That’s all that was available. If we want to be inclusive and open and accessible, it’s about going to where those people who don’t feel included are, and showing through actions.

Talking about what I’m proud of, we run this Foot In The Door event, and this is probably one of the things that has really taken on since I’ve started. We’ve been running training days for quite a while, but it’s really found its groove. It travels to different cities around the country a few times a year and we partner with a university in that town and then all of the industry experts travel to that university.

It’s not just for students, it’s for anyone at that new, early-career or career-change stage to find out a little bit more about careers and audio. There’s practical workshops and discussions from the experts and people that you wouldn’t have access to normally. We were in Glasgow in February and we had 150 people in the room and it was incredible.

We have branch events around the country as well, which are organised by people in the local area and a really nice way of bringing together colleagues. What’s nice about The Radio Academy is that you get outside of your own company. It expands your network locally, as well as plugging you into this national network that we’ve got across The Radio Academy.

FT: Do you think that remote working after COVID has made it easier for people to get experience whilst not necessarily having to leave their home regions?

ATL: It definitely helps, yes, because there’s so many good tools that you can use now to have your own remote studio. Being able to do that and then being able to have interviews with people far and wide, nationally or internationally, makes a big difference.

I actually think having a more diverse range of shows and producers and presenters, people with all different backgrounds and based in all different places, it all adds a different perspective and a little bit of colour to our whole landscape. Whereas if you are all in one place, working out of one square mile, talking to the same people and to each other, you are not going to have as rich a tapestry across the audio landscape and therefore we all suffer as an industry.

The bit that I think is still tough though, which we haven’t quite cracked, is while you can do the work and you can get experience, a lot of our industry is still based in centralised city hubs. So from the “outside”, it’s hard to get the connections, find out where the jobs are, meet the commissioners and the publishers who are going to give you advertising revenue, etc. You’re sort of expected to have already made it before you can meet the budget holders.

I think that’s why having these branch events is helpful with widening your network and getting those contacts, finding collaborators, finding mentors or people who might recommend you for jobs or give you advice that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to if you’re just sitting in your own home somewhere.

FT: It is so difficult and there’s still a need to go to those meetups and be brave enough to speak to the right people.

ATL: Well, I think putting yourself out there and going to meetups – it is hard, but it is essential. And actually believe it or not, it doesn’t get easier. The higher up the chain you get, you’re more likely to know somebody there, but I often go to things and I think, “I don’t know anyone there” and that never stops being a little bit scary, but you learn to be able to do it because you learn the value of doing it.

FT: Beyond doing things like local meetups, is there anything that you would like to see the industry itself do from a top down perspective to help support that career development?

ATL: There are some things that I would like to see. I do think the impetus shouldn’t be all on the creator or the person early in their career. It should also be the other way around. Those senior people should be taking their evening off to go to one of these meetups as well. They will find it really valuable themselves, but also they should be there meeting new talent and you might find the next person that you want to hire. And even if you don’t, you have a lot to give and you have a lot to share.

I also think that there needs to be really open and transparent routes into the industry and up through the industry as well. One of the things that The Radio Academy runs is RAMP, The Radio Academy Mentoring Programme and that’s specifically aimed at people at the mid-level in their careers because I don’t believe that you can just say, “yeah, you can get into the industry. Okay, you’re in now, bye!”. I would like to see more initiatives which have a joined-up follow-up after the programme ends. And I think that’s an industry-wide thing. The Radio Academy and other organisations like us, we’re really well placed in terms of being independent and we must work together. We are not against each other, this goes beyond competitive divides.

Then the third thing I’d say is training. I think there’s a real, real issue in audio with access to proper training. Our industry runs through freelancers. On one level people report that they can’t hire the right talent. On the other hand, you’ve got so many people wanting to get into the industry, loving audio. That’s a beautiful thing. Why would you know exactly which microphone to use or what the legal implications are? We can teach that, and we should be.

You should absolutely go reach out to your local community station or set up your own podcast and learn. But also, we shouldn’t leave people blind to just try and figure it out and then test them at interview. There needs to be more training and resources available outside of those staff jobs. We’re working on that.

FT: You have experience in film and TV as well, and is it the same across a lot of creative industries?

ATL: It really is. And it’s really interesting looking at film and TV in terms of what they’re doing, what we can learn from them. Because it is a brilliant thing that you can be a freelancer, you can have a successful well paid – or paid anyway – career in the industry, but then if that’s how you run [an industry] then you’ve got to support that.

The other things as well as training – are you providing suitable provisions for better mental health, safe working conditions, fair working conditions? It’s an industry wide thing where we all need to come together on these topics and make sure that as an industry we’ve got support structures in place.

FT: There’s so much to go into! Is there anything that you’d really like to add that I haven’t touched on?

ATL: The thing that I really care about is industry development. For some people it’s about making content that really resonates in society, that has an impact with people, that represents people, that offers a voice or a perspective that you might not come across otherwise. What I think I’m good at and where I bring value is that you can’t have impact in society if you are not looking after your own, looking after the industry and looking after the people.

To represent society, you’ve got to be representative and to offer open and inclusive and different perspectives, you’ve got to live that yourselves. That’s what I care about. That’s why I wanted to do the job at The Radio Academy, to work on that. And so all the focus, this term ‘industry development’, is what I do. It’s about developing the industry so that we, as a whole, are lifted, that we’re resilient, sustainable, and effective in order that the content we’re creating for our audiences is the best and most impactful it can be.

FT: I love the fact it’s come back to the audience at the end there as well. It is to serve the audience, it’s to serve the stories.

ATL: That’s why we do it, isn’t it? Otherwise, we just record stories ourselves and why do we publish them? Why do we want to get them out into the world? It’s because we want to have an impact with other people, isn’t it?

The Radio Academy is the UK audio and radio industry charity, which runs national, regional and online events for members, skills and career development opportunities, and further resources such as a weekly podcast, careers advice and learning hub. Individual Radio Academy membership is open for freelancers, sole-traders, podcasters, or any other type of audio lover, and is £36 for the year.

Whether you want to take the next step in your career, master production or stay up to date with podcasting events, the Content is Queen community awaits to support your own development. Explore our membership options here and you can practise your networking skills in October at the International Women’s Podcast Festival in partnership with Spotify.

6 Podcasts Offering New Perspectives This Spring

Has anyone else noticed there have been a lot of new podcasts around this Spring? This season is generally a great time for new ventures, and maybe it’s because everyone has spent months seeking comfort indoors and had time to work on their projects.

We agree that this season is the perfect time to find a new favourite show, but it doesn’t always have to be a new show. We’re sharing a mix of old and new podcasts that we think will give you a new perspective for Spring.

Serial – Season 4

Are you listening to the latest series of Serial? It hardly seems like it needs recommending, but ten years after bringing mainstream attention to the podcast format, the new series looks into the important topic of Guantánamo. Serial has often felt like it is as much about Sarah Koenig as the story she is uncovering and this series is no different as we follow her and co-host Dana Chivvis through their investigation. We get a kind of meta-journalism, where they let us in on how this story has developed over years of investigation. Sarah and Dana find leads, lose the narrative and take us from the gift shop of the infamous island, into the stories the island became infamous for. We’ll get to learn more about the processes behind the show when Sarah Koenig comes to London for an exclusive in-person conversation as part of The International Women’s Podcast Festival in partnership with Spotify, but for now – listen here.

The Trouble With Politics

After our article last month highlighted the need for more woman-led politics podcasts, we were thrilled when The Trouble With Politics was released mere days after our list went out. Journalist and broadcaster, Marverine Cole, explores the state of our political system in the UK, platforming what the description generously calls “perspectives often skimmed over on mainstream news programmes”. The first episode analysed Black voters and politicians, with Marverine, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and Nels Abbey discussing the fallout from the racist comments made about Diane Abbott by Tory donor, Frank Hester. There is understanding and disagreement, with a much-needed discussion of potential solutions. More of this please – listen here.

Unlawful Killing (and Things Fell Apart)

The subject of death after police contact has been receiving increased attention recently, particularly around the use of disputed medical terms to explain the deaths. An article in The Guardian suggested that it was an episode of Things Fell Apart that caused the renewed attention. In the ‘The Most Mysterious Deaths’, host Jon Roson unpacked the history of the terms “acute behavioural disturbance” (ABD) and “excited delirium”, and the connections to racism and sexism. Once you’ve listened to that episode, Unlawful Killing is another must listen. The show proves how long this topic has gone unnoticed, and draws on the four decades of campaigning by the charity Inquest. Hosts Lee Lawrence and Lucy Brisbane have personal and professional connections to those at the forefront of these struggles, creating a show that is both knowledgeable and emotional – listen here.

The Healing Power of Nature

If you are after a podcast that helps you destress (which might be needed after the previous two looking and troubles of our society) this show is the perfect remedy – and we mean that literally. On the surface, The Healing Power of Nature is a nature podcast, but it is also part of a five-year research project by environmental psychologist Alex Smalley, who has been exploring how digital forms of nature can impact wellbeing. The show gives listeners an immersive experience, replicating natural soundscapes so you can access their healing potential even if you can’t access the landscapes. This is a joint production between Audible and BBC Studios Natural History Unit, so production is of the highest level, and being in dolby-atmos it is worth experiencing through headphones. Episodes are a quick 15 minute dose that provides nature to your brain and an explanation of the science behind how it can help – listen here.

Unsung

Sumit Sharma is known as one half of Breaking Atoms: The Hip Hop Podcast, a long-running show that is embedded in the genre. Here, Sumit goes solo on a short passion project about some of the hidden stories in music history. Over six episodes, we hear stories about a range of artists that transcended not just genre, but the boundaries of music. From Jazz bassist Charles Mingus to renowned Japanese DJ and producer DJ Kush, each story is short (the shortest is six minutes) but highlights the life and careers of artists that are influential but unsung. A bit of behind-the-mic trivia: Sumit made the show over his Christmas holiday, which goes to show how far passion and a deep knowledge of your subject can take you – listen now.

Camlann

A fantasy podcast that is funded by Creative Scotland but set in a post-apocalyptic Wales, Camlann is inspired by Arthurian legends but doesn’t follow the tales precisely. This gives some familiarity to the characters, but twists to the tale. Like many fiction podcasts, the matter-of-fact queer relationships provide a lot of heart to the show. The show is only seven episodes in, but a lot of listeners are already invested in Camlann, no doubt in large part because of the heartfelt acting and thoughtful script, which is no surprise given Ella Watts’ involvement (you can hear her tips on scripting in her Masterclass, ‘How to Write a Killer Script For Your Podcast’). The music can’t go without a mention, and is a lovely way to include Welsh in the project. What is also rather lovely is how each episode ends with a recommendation for another podcast they think you’ll like – listen now.

Would you like support to make your show? As well as writing articles about podcasts, we specialise in helping first-time podcasters get their projects off the ground. Get in touch to talk about podcast production or to book some time in our studio.

What To Do When a New Podcast Uses Your Name?

What do you do when a new podcast has the same name or similar idea as yours? It can be frustrating, but there are ways to navigate this situation, and even turn it to your advantage…

As more podcasts are created, and more companies adopt the medium, there’s more chance of shows popping up that are similar to existing ones. We’ve seen this recently as Lemonada media announced David Duchovny (X-Files) will host his first podcast, Fail Better, which is being compared to How To Fail with Elizabeth Day. It’s likely that this idea was organic because David Duchovny has written about failing in the past, and there’s space for both shows.

Elizabeth Day has a large profile of her own, but it’s more disheartening to see the indie podcast Straight To The Comments having to navigate the Daily Mail using the same name for their new, comparable show. Lisa Williams and Sarah Illingworth, the hosts of Straight To The Comments, said on a recent minisode of their show “you’d think that the Daily Mail would be using Google and seeing that we come up on the first two pages.”

Similar shows can arise organically, but it is notable that Straight to the Comments and How To Fail are women-fronted, and the more corporate takes on the topic chose men to host. It’s unlikely this was a conscious decision from production teams, but it does seem to exemplify this new, more commercialised iteration of podcasting.

Whether it is coincidence or more directly influenced, there is a lot you can do about similar shows, even as an individual or small show. We suggest some ways to navigate the situation, plus we learn more from the Editor of Straight To The Comments, Emily Crosby. (We invited DMG Media to also comment, but at the time of publishing we haven’t received a response.)

This article is a list of things to consider and should not be taken as legal advice.

Don’t get disheartened

It’s worth knowing that copyright is an automatic form of media rights that applies to creative works, so you don’t need to have ‘registered’ your podcast anywhere to prove you own your show. By being the first to create the show you are in a good position when it comes to any actual infringement.

This could also be a good chance to reaffirm your podcast idea to yourself and your audience, and it can be quite reassuring to know that you’ve got a good idea if other people want to do something similar.

Check if it IS copyright infringement

You own the copyright for your show, but copyright law can be complicated because it only applies to the execution of an idea, not to ideas themselves. This means that shows can be about the same topic – for example a particular cold crime case – so long as they cover the topic in distinct ways.

In a recent interview with Press Gazette, Jamie East (Head of Podcasts at DMG Media and Executive Producer of the Daily Mail’s new podcast) talked about this: “if you’re telling a story in a different way, or in a new way, or you’re using your own platform to tell that story, such as Straight to the Comments or Sidebar. Then you’ve got a point of difference already.”

Both hosting platforms and podcast apps do have their rules and regulations that can help clarify copyright issues. For example, in the Terms and Conditions for Apple Podcasts “1.7. Rights Infringement” refers specifically to copyright law and is more vague, but the “1.4. Impersonation” specifies Apple will remove:

“Podcasts designed to mislead listeners by mimicking, copying, or duplicating other content or search terms are not permitted. Creators must not pretend to be someone else or claim they are affiliated with someone else without their permission and cannot use the artwork, description, or metadata of another creator’s show without permission.”

Unfortunately, whilst artwork, description and metadata are specified, the podcast name isn’t.

Even if the new show isn’t directly mimicking yours or infringing on your copyright, if there is a possibility that it could confuse your audience, you should still address the situation.

Find out who the other show is

It’s important to find out who’s behind the new podcast to decide the best course of action. Is it a big company or an independent show? What are the names of the hosts, producers, executive producers and production company? You can often find this information on the shownotes in your podcast app, but Podchaser is another good resource for this information, and will also show you which hosting platform they use.

It’s worth noting that if there aren’t clearly any people attached to the show, or the feed has copied your show completely, it might be Podcast Piracy, and you might want to file a DMCA – more on that below!

Get legal support

It might feel intimidating to ask for legal support, but this is worth it, especially if you are dealing with a company or somebody who might also have legal support. “Lots of friends and colleagues encouraged us to pursue a legal case, and suggested law firms that could help us” says Emily. “Speak to as many of them as you can, to see whether you have a case worth pursuing. Legal cases are long and frustrating, so it might not be for you, but getting advice from someone who has fought a similar case is useful anyway.”

There are agencies that can offer free advice, and if you are part of a workers union such as Bectu or industry association such as Radio Academy or AudioUK, you can ask them for suggestions.

Contact the show

Contacting the creators of the show directly can be a good option, and  introducing yourself and asking them to change the name may be all that is needed. They might not have been aware of your show and because podcasts are non-linear content, if you do share an audience there could even be room for collaboration.

If you are dealing with an organisation or a person who refuses to stop using the name, your legal support might be able to send a ‘cease and desist’ letter if appropriate, which is a more legally binding way of asking them to stop using the name.

File a DMCA takedown notice

If the podcast creator doesn’t respond, isn’t co-operative or you can’t find them, your legal support may advise going directly to the podcast hosting platform to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice. This is a form of copyright protection for any digital media, and hosting platforms such as Acast or Spotify for Podcasters will have a procedure in place.

Do bear in mind that you have to be certain there is copyright infringement. As the Acast form linked says, “your statements in this document may subject you to legal consequences. You may wish to consult an attorney before submitting a claim.”

Use it as content and marketing

Whilst it’s natural to worry about the potential listeners you might lose, there is an opportunity to gain support and marketing from this type of situation by piggybacking on the PR of the new release. This was the direction that Emily and her team took with Straight To The Comments: “Rather than being buried by the media coverage of their launch, we’ve made enough noise that the press feel they have to mention us whenever they mention them.”

Protect your own podcast branding

It is worth asking your legal support whether you can trademark your show’s brand for future protection. In the UK you can register a trademark online and prices start at £170. However, you might find that you can’t trademark the name of your show as things like book titles are often exempt – but you might be able to trademark your cover art or logos.

The second thing to remember is that your show is always going to be more than your idea: it is about you, your expertise and execution. Ask yourself – what is your point of difference? With Sarah and Lisa’s Straight To The Comments, whilst there is the inherent comedic value to the idea of the show, it’s the pair’s expertise as a communications consultant and psychology graduate that is a point of difference.

Once you’ve pinpointed your unique offer, you can bring that into your overall branding. You might want to add a tagline to your show that highlights that main theme more, or perhaps make sure that your name (or names) are in the Author section of the podcast metadata.

Think about your audience (and potential audience)

The last thing to mention is probably the most important thing to keep in mind throughout the whole thing – don’t forget to think about your audience. You might want to address the situation and ask for support from current listeners and reintroduce yourself in case you get new ones.

“Our biggest fear was that new listeners wouldn’t find our show” says Emily “so we’ve concentrated on telling our story everywhere we can. It’s tempting to make episodes or social posts attacking the other show, but that’s not true to the values of our show, so we’ve stuck to the facts and encouraged fans to share our links. We work hard to make a great show, which will speak for itself.”

As podcasting matures and grows, individuals, production companies and media corporations will have to navigate how to share the space – but here’s hoping that independent podcasts get the limelight they deserve.

If you are a company who would like to support creators, head over to learn more about our new Marketplace where you’ll gain access to a diverse community of creators whose content aligns with your brand’s values.

How Can You Earn Money From Your Podcast?

Many podcasters have a goal of monetising their show, but podcasting is not always an easy revenue stream. Even podcasts with big celebrity names can have difficulty recuperating what was spent on the show (for example Megan Markles’ Archetypes, which was cancelled by Spotify after its first series).

However, plenty of independent shows without household names bring in enough money to keep production going, and even allow podcasters to make a living. Why do some podcasts succeed where others have failed? I think it comes down to having a clear strategy that matches the focus and values of your show.

There are a lot of ways to potentially monetise your podcast, such as advertising, listener support or selling merchandise. Every method of monetising has positives and negatives, but success can depend on choosing the right method for you. Your method of raising money has to fit into the way you make your podcast.

Below are some ideas to help you think about how monetising fits into your overall podcast ethos.

Think about your investment

Before you can think about making money, it’s important to think about what you are spending on your podcast – and I’m talking about both money and time. It is going to be easier for your show to pay for itself if you put less money in, but if you don’t have time to work on your show you might still find it difficult to break even.

To give your monetising an aim, set a budget for both the money you will put in and the time you will spend on the show. However big that budget is, there are three main areas you can then invest in:

  • Invest in marketing to build a large audience
  • Invest in building a community around your show
  • Invest in making a really professional podcast

If you are an independent podcast with limited resources, I’d suggest you focus on one to start with. Of course, if you have a lot of time and money to invest, you can always aim for all three! But there will likely be one area you focus on more and this is where you start your monetising plan.

If you’ve focused on marketing your show…

Monetise through advertising and affiliate links

We already know that podcast advertising commands the highest levels of attention and trust, and finding sponsors for your podcast is perhaps the most obvious way of trying to make money. We’ve written before about how to find sponsors for your podcast, and it can be relatively easy to find brands that want to reach your audience.

Unfortunately, because advertising often runs based on CPM (cost per mille) and affiliate links run on CPA (cost per action) you might need a big audience before seeing big returns. Even if you only spend a couple of hours working on an episode, you’d need thousands of listeners to make minimum wage.

As the saying goes, you often have to spend money to make money. If you’ve spent some upfront investment marketing your show and building a big audience, monetising through advertising could be lucrative.

If you’ve focused on community…

Monetise through listener support

If you are creating a show that is aimed at a particular community, you might not be able to build a large audience, but what you can build is a strong community. Shows that seem very niche are often very community focused. For example, Leanne Alie’s podcast Coiled was a very specific topic about the culture and history of afro hair, but it went viral on Black Twitter and won a British Podcast Award.

Despite its obvious success, Leanne spoke to us about her difficulty in funding the show through traditional means, and mused that listener support would have fit the show best:

“Upon reflection, because I had built an audience and built a community around that podcast, I could’ve tried to do a crowdfunder or something to fund the next season – but I’d have to do that straight off the back of the first series.”

As Leanne said, with a seasonal show crowdfunders could help raise revenue, and this is something that fiction podcasts do a lot. Re:Dracula is an example of a podcast that raised funds through crowdfunding before starting production, and the show is now multi-award-winning.

For always-on shows, asking for support via platforms like Patreon could be the better option. The important thing with ongoing support is giving a reason to join the paid community. This can be extra content, but it doesn’t have to be – it could also be a place to meet-up and talk about the show, a way to speak to you directly or a way to be involved in the show themselves, such as listener shoutouts or questions. Giving your paid community a fun name also helps, and sharing how much fun you have will give listeners FOMO if they don’t join.

Lastly, when fandoms build up around shows, another way to raise funds can be merchandise. Whilst selling merchandise does take time and money, it can be a really good way of rolling community, money-making and marketing into one.

Whichever way you choose to monetise through listener support, it’s important to pinpoint your call to action so that you feel comfortable saying it, and your community knows how (and why) to support you.

If you’ve focused on making a professional show…

Monetise through your expertise

If you are having fun making podcasts or are really community focused, you can sometimes get away with putting out shows that aren’t highly polished. However, if you are an audio professional or you are making a show based around your personal brand or business, it is worth making a really professional show.

Investing in top-notch audio quality, spending time researching your topic and sharing useful resources does take time and money. This can make it harder to see a direct return on investment when it comes to monetising, but it can open the door to indirect monetising from your podcast.

When you are a professional in your field, it can be good to think of your podcast as your business card. You can show your skills and expertise through the podcast, but point towards other offerings to make back the money. For example, do you offer 1:1s with clients about your topic? Perhaps you can use your podcast to show your expertise, but pitch articles to magazines and newspapers. You might build up your conversation skills through podcasting, and then pitch yourself to run workshops or appear on panels.

For those who work in (or want to work in) audio, your own podcast might not make money, but it could lead to paid work for other shows and production companies. You never know what opportunities your podcast could unlock.

Content is Queen recognises that it can be difficult for emerging creators to grow and monetise their content. That’s why our new Marketplace platform aims to provide a variety of opportunities to creators including advertising partnerships, commissioning briefs, and collaborative projects with other creators or commissioners.

If you want to learn more when it launches, sign up to the Content is Queen Marketplace waitlist now.

6 Women-led Politics Podcasts to Add to Your Library

As a women-led politics podcast breaks into the top ten in the podcast charts, Francesca Turauskis is using International Women’s Day 2024 as a chance to inspire your political podcast listening and support these women-led shows…

Take a look at the most popular shows on podcasts apps and you’ll consistently find The Rest Is Politics in the top ten. Many podcasts have tried to emulate the success of the show’s Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart pairing, but whilst many choose hosts that are unlikely political partners, they are always similar in demographic. The phenomenon even has its own Guardian name: ‘the dadcast’.) Considering how much politics shapes the gender inequalities we see, it’s disappointing when we can’t hear women’s voices in the discourse.

Sky News have finally branched out with their new politics podcast Electoral Dysfunction, making it to the top of the charts. The setup is similar to The Rest Is Politics, with Sky Political Journalist Beth Rigby joined by Labour MP Jess Phillips and Scottish Conservative MP Ruth Davidson as they talk about current affairs in a way that is civil.

We have success: a women-hosted political show is popular! Yet cynically I can’t quite celebrate Electoral Dysfunction’s success. Perhaps it’s that they are trying to “attract people in that don’t necessarily live and breathe politics” by… having three hosts who live and breathe politics?

Perhaps it’s that I can’t help but feel that if a person of colour was involved, the first minute of Electoral Dysfunction wouldn’t include the phrase “my Asian friend told me…”. It was mentioned during the obligatory ‘generic chat’ portion of the episode and came across as tokenistic.

It’s also because I know that Electoral Dysfunction’s success has no doubt been helped along by the investment in the release that many worthy shows don’t get – with press releases, news coverage from their parent company and high-profile app features, it wouldn’t necessarily need to be good to be popular.

The official UN theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #InvestInWomen. Championing gender equality and specifically #EqualityInAudio is central to the Content Is Queen ethos but this year I am using it to recommend these women-led political podcasts I think deserve to be in the charts too…

Surviving Society

Readers of our newsletter will recognise Surviving Society from our Community Spotlight. This weekly political podcast explores both UK and global politics with a focus on race and class from a sociological perspective. The host, Dr Chantelle J Lewis, brings both professional and personal experience to the topics and invites guests to talk about their different areas of expertise. A recent episode “E190: Skinfolk, but not kinfolk? Ethnic minority conservative political elite actors” explores the increase in ethnic minority representation in the right-wing, conservative parties of the UK. Because Chantelle and her guest are approaching from an academic perspective, the talk is in-depth and perhaps not for a casual listener – but a must for those who follow politics closely. Listen here.

Wood For The Trees

The winner of the ‘Politics and News’ category in last year’s Independent Podcast Awards, Wood For The Trees is hosted by Cait Macleod and explores issues she describes as ‘messy’ – for example legalising drugs or prison reform. Cait’s background in competitive debating is perhaps what gives her the confidence to enter these conversations, and she often interviews guests with opposing opinions. What’s also interesting is how she draws on global examples and experts, in particular looking to South Africa and Scandinavia. This is currently a short-run series and its last episode was in May 2023, but the topics aren’t especially time sensitive so it’s worth heading back to. Listen here.

If I Speak

This is more about personal affairs than current affairs, but If I Speak approaches personal dilemmas from the political point of view (and vice-versa). A new podcast that follows the ‘mates chatting’ genre, Ash Sarkar from Novara Media is joined by her friend and colleague Moya Lothian-McLean to discuss current trending topics, and tackle listener dilemmas. Moya’s podcast with Broccoli Productions, Human Resources, adeptly tackled the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and here she and Ash bring this type of background knowledge to topics such as the hyper-sexualisation of Houthis on social media, and a listener wondering whether to give her mum an allowance. Listen here.

Media Storm

Media Storm has seen a lot of success since it began in 2021, and it investigates wider political issues more than current affairs. Mathilda Mallinson and Helena Wadia speak to people that news stories are normally about, and episodes have covered stories such as gender self-identification law, medical cannabis and sex work. As they said in the notes for the episode on ‘Gaza and Beyond’: “We cannot hand our listeners the truth, but we can better equip you to identify it.” It’s a good example of really striving for balance in who they speak to. Listen here. 

The Trawl

I will caveat this recommendation by saying that The Trawl doesn’t focus on analysis like some shows, and the commentary can focus too much on the personal rather than the political for my liking. However, when Electoral Dysfunction claimed they were the first women-led podcast talking about politics, the hosts and fans of The Trawl duly corrected them on (fittingly) Twitter. Broadcaster, Jemma Forte, and political commentator Marina Purkiss have been commenting on the news cycle for nearly two years by scrolling through Twitter so that listeners don’t have to. The pair are proudly biased against the government and make good fun of the week’s events, so this is a good place to listen to others venting about the state of UK politics – and there’s definitely a need for that. Listen here.

Not BAME Podcast

An independent show I found that is worth a quick nod, despite being ad-hoc with episodes, because it analyses current affairs as they happened from a Black, millennial viewpoint. Hosts Cory and Bay discuss what has happened in the UK political week, but the last episode was back in November 2023 – a long time in politics, and an eternity with the current government. However, it is worth keeping an ear to the ground to see if it returns… Listen here.

If you’d like people to be listening to your new show in 2024, get in touch! We’d love to see you in the studio some time.

Meet Leanne Alie, Head of Podcasts at The Artists Partnership

Leanne Alie describes her route into the audio industry as unconventional, having started in marketing, but perhaps that knowledge of what audiences really want has shaped her success. You can often find her as the instigator for initiatives that open up the audio industry: she helped bring Spotify’s Sound Up Bootcamp to the UK; as Commissioning Podcast Producer at BBC Sounds she introduced the BBC Sounds Audio Lab open pitch; she’s worked as a consultant for several UK podcast events, and she is a trustee of the Multitrack Fellowship.

Besides these big initiatives to help aspiring producers, she has continued to make her own content for diverse audiences. As our London Keynote Speaker at the International Women’s Podcast Festival 2022 she gave us an insight to her own award-winning show, Coiled, which explored the history and culture of afro hair, and her relationship to it.

Francesca Turauskis spoke to Leanne to find out more about her career path, her new position as Head of Podcasts at The Artists Partnership, and of course trying to bring more diversity and representation into the audio industry.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FT: The first thing I’d love to know is, what was your entry role into the industry?

LA: I did have a very unconventional route into audio. I didn’t study audio, I didn’t do radio at Goldsmiths, which a lot of people have done. I was just a massive podcast fan for years. I remember listening to shows like Guys We Fucked and This Feels Terrible with Erin McGathy – I didn’t even know they were podcasts.

This is back in 2013-2014, and I was working at Spotify, doing Global Partnerships – working in ad sales essentially – because I studied marketing. At the time, Spotify was quite small in the UK, I think there were only about 300 of us, but for some reason I was one of two or three black people in the whole office and I was like, “this doesn’t seem right.”

So I got in touch with the Global Head of Diversity and she gave me a really small budget to do some DEI work in London – basically whatever I wanted. I worked together with another colleague and at first we were just doing events. Then I started working with different parts of the business.

One of the projects that I worked on was the Sound Up Bootcamp, the first time they did it in the UK (oh my god, this is a full circle thing because this is when I worked with Imriel [Content is Queen Founder] the very first time!) I worked with the podcast team looking at outreach and engagement in terms of trying to get the right people to apply for the programme, looking at what speakers we can bring in. So that was my first podcast project.

Shortly after that I did get laid off. Then I got approached by the British Podcast Awards to do some consulting work for them. The year before [2018] (and I wasn’t really aware of this until I was told) the Audio Production Awards was under massive scrutiny because only three women won an award and only one person of colour won an award that year. The [British Podcast Awards] saw that and was like, “we can’t have the same sort of thing…”. I believe Renay Richardson was like, “you should speak to Leanne about diversity stuff”. I was unemployed at the time, so of course I’ll do this.

Bear in mind, I wasn’t working in podcasting at the time, but I just loved podcasts. So I literally tapped into the two people that I knew and they just gave me a whole list of really great names to diversify their judging panel and then do a load of outreach and engagement to podcasters to encourage them to apply for the awards. I basically recommended all the podcasts that I love listening to and just started reaching out. And that was the year that George The Poet had just put out his first season of Have You Heard George’s Podcast? I thought it was phenomenal and they’d never heard of it. That year he won five awards.

Then I got a freelance job at Global as a Project Manager for their podcasts, it’s like a marketing role. I was working on the launches for shows, Full Disclosure with James O’Brien, Jennie Falconer had a show called RunPod. So I was doing all the marketing campaigns for those. Whilst I was there, it’d be very silly of me not to learn production because I had noticed that the podcasting industry was incredibly small and all the jobs seemed to be in production. How am I going to progress in this industry? So I shadowed the producers in my team and they basically told me everything I know.

Then I went to a live show of the Dope Black Dads podcast, which is an independent show, and I just said to them, “oh, I work in podcasting”. I didn’t say exactly what I did, but Marvin just assumed that I was a Producer. He called me up one day and this was a perfect opportunity to learn. So I went and produced Dope Black Dads and they also were launching another show in their little network called Dope Black Women. And I produced both of those podcasts for a year, weekly.

I do believe if I didn’t have that production experience, I wouldn’t have got a job at the BBC because I literally just applied for the [Commissioning Podcast Producer] job that I eventually got there.

FT: I love it when people say, “oh, it’s a bit unconventional for audio”, but it always sounds exactly right for podcasting. You started in marketing, do you think that has been important, even as a producer?

LA: Definitely, because one of the big things I’ve learned is you can have a fantastic programme but if no-one knows how to find it or how to listen to it, then there’s literally no point. So the marketing of the podcast has been a really important skillset that I’ve been able to bring throughout, and I’ve just had so many ups and downs and learnings in that sort of thing. So even though I kind of feel like my degree was a little bit irrelevant to what I’m doing now, the fundamental theories around marketing and understanding your audiences is something that I’ve taken throughout.

FT: You are still quite newly the Head of Podcasts at the Artist Partnership. What excited you most about this new role?

LA: I literally was saying for about the last two years, I want to run my own production company someday. That’s where I was heading. And to be honest, if I was hitting a brick wall at the BBC, I was just basically going to go off and do it by myself at some point. [Head of Podcasts] is basically a version of it because essentially [The Artists Partnership] has given me a level of investment and it’s a blank slate essentially. I get to make podcasts with their talent and they have a ridiculous roster of talent from actors to writers, directors, screenwriters, such a huge range, a really diverse list of talent as well.

I knew the challenge of running a production company was making podcasts that would be profitable, and this is what I’m doing here, but with a real focus on it. So I’m basically doing what I’ve set out to do, but under a very safe environment of an already established company, which is extremely, extremely helpful.

FT: How to make podcasts profitable is a big talking point at the moment. We have just seen Content is Queen look outside of podcasting to Innovate UK for their new Marketplace platform. It sounds like you’ve gone in a similar way in that you are looking outside of audio to do audio work. Does that resonate?

LA: I never really thought about it that way, but I guess you could say that to a certain extent, because [The Artists Partnership] didn’t have a podcast business until I was here. But, why don’t more talent agencies set up a podcasting arm? Because half the time, especially when I was working in commissioning, half the battle was getting the right talent or the right level of talent to do podcasts. If you have access to that at your fingertips, then why wouldn’t you just build a team? It just makes sense.

But in terms of the strategy that I’m thinking of here, I am looking less to broadcasters to make content, and I’m looking more at – I wouldn’t say outside of podcasting, but I’m thinking broader. Why don’t we work with TV studios and film studios and partners in the US? Because for me, the content starts with podcasts, but I’m always also thinking about what can we build beyond the audio?

FT: You have worked in public broadcasting, and you’ve worked in private organisations, and we also heard at the 2022 International Women’s Podcast Festival that your own podcast, Coiled, was a self-funded project. Have you found there are differences in the work culture and the ways in which you work across those different organisations?

LA: Yeah, the thing about ‘public service’ compared to ‘private sector’ is very interesting with public service and BBC right now, because even though they’re not making content for profitability, they are still making it to have numbers. So anything you make there still has to reach a certain amount of audience to show that people are coming to the BBC for podcast content. If the numbers aren’t there, they’re not going to reinvest in an idea, which is kind of similar to the commercial thinking in a way. But the reason they do that is because they need to show that the public funded money is being used to reach enough people. If it’s not reaching enough people, they’re not going to reinvest.

This is kind of similar to a commercial mindset in a way, but this is actually more about money. Say a show isn’t getting enough listenerships, that means it’s not making enough money, and if it’s not making enough money, it can’t necessarily sustain itself without the additional investment. And what you really want to get to is the podcast that is making enough money to fund itself plus additional revenue. So there are actually similarities there in that sense. But in the commercial world, it’s way more focused around “how are we actually driving the revenue?”.

Whereas when I was making my podcast, I just wanted to make it because I had a story that I thought was important to tell. And then it wasn’t until I was trying to make the second season – I say trying because I never actually made the second season – and I was trying to generate funding, it became extremely, extremely difficult. I tried grants, I tried pitching it to commissioners, I was told it was too niche, and then I thought my play would be trying to sell the IP. There was one product company that was interested, but they wanted to make too much creative change to the product. And because that was such a personal project for me and a passion project, I wasn’t comfortable making those changes.

Upon reflection, because I had built an audience and built a community around that podcast, I could’ve tried to do a crowdfunder or something to fund the next season – but I’d have to do that straight off the back of the first series.

FT: You have worked on DE&I in specific roles and you’ve done consultancy. Would you say it’s easier to do DE&I work when there is a specific role for it, or do you think it should be inbuilt to all roles?

LA: Yeah, the reason I don’t really do the consulting stuff anymore is because I basically got bored of telling the same people the same things all the time. I was working across different audio awards and things like that, so I did the British Podcast Awards a couple of years, [Audio Production Awards] APAs a couple of years, and I’ve got to tell people the same thing.

I found that when I was working in commissioning, it was so easy for me to bring in people that hadn’t worked with BBC before or worked with the BBC before and were from diverse backgrounds. It was easy. I was like, “I’m doing this shoot, I need a videographer, I need a photographer, I need a makeup artist”. And I was going out to actively make sure I was bringing in people who were from diverse backgrounds, and I had many opportunities to do that.

If I can so easily just build this into what I do in my work, why can’t other people do that? And that’s really how you create a sustainable level of representation within an organisation. That’s basically what Audio Lab was all about. It was all about bringing in people and ideas that were underrepresented. Because really and truly all those ideas that I commissioned then would’ve never been commissioned elsewhere. I still dunno if they would’ve been commissioned in other places now.

I personally think it’s all about building in diversity and representation into whatever you’re doing. I’m constantly thinking about it. Even with this job that I’m doing now, I’m thinking “okay, who’s the talent that I’m going to be working with? Is it representative? Who am I going to be getting to make the content?” Et cetera, et cetera.

FT: I think that will resonate with a lot of people. Like you say, if we’re saying the same thing over and over, how do we move this conversation forward? So the last thing I’d love to ask, what does equity within podcasting and audio look like to you?

LA: I think accessibility is a big thing. So people knowing exactly who they can go to pitch who they can go to for freelance work, and having transparency and equity when it comes to pay, I think is a very big thing. Because what I’ve found previously, especially speaking to a lot of producers, is sometimes the barriers to entry can be quite high in terms of just getting access to people in certain rooms, certain places. And that shouldn’t be the case really. Podcasting is a low-barrier-to-entry medium, and I think it should remain like that even in the corporate space.

I also think people more generally that are in decision making positions and in commissioning positions need to look wider than their initial scope. How are you actively going out to new production companies and producers to get your ideas? How are you actively bringing in producers that you haven’t worked with before and not just working with people that you know and trust? I know there’s associated risk with working with people that you haven’t worked with before, but oftentimes the risk actually does pay off.

I’ll give an example. When I was at the BBC working commissioning, we had a brief to do an Eve podcast and we sent out to all the usual suppliers, but I was like, “I actually want to send out to a couple other suppliers”, one of which was Don’t Skip, Christina Moore’s production company. And they gave the best pitch by a clear mile. If we hadn’t given them the opportunity to pitch, it would’ve been a completely different show. So I think it’s really important to always widen the scope of who you’re working with and always seeking out new talent.

FT: Do you think that open pitches and open invites like Audio Lab are a part of that?

LA: Completely. I think that’s why Audio Lab works so well, because I would say half the people that we even had that first year, they weren’t even connected to the podcast world, but they still had really great ideas. So how would they have been able to pitch otherwise?

I think people don’t want to do open calls because it’s a lot of work, you get inundated, but you can set up the parameters with enough people to go through those pitches properly. I find it’s a lot of work, but I think they’re definitely worth having and they do pay off.

FT: Is there anything you think would be good for the Content is Queen community to know?

LA: People ask me all the time if they should start a podcast, because there are just so many podcasts in the space, and I always say, “yes, you should always make your podcast”. Just think about what is your unique perspective. Everybody has their own story to tell, but I’d also think about what your purpose is. I don’t like making content just for content’s sake or just for talking’s sake. Think about why is it important to put this out there? Why is it important to tell this story?

I feel like there are so many podcasts out there, especially with men in particular, just talking. I feel like some people forget how much reach and influence they have. You have to be very mindful about the content that you’re putting out because you can be very influential. I think we need to be making sure we are putting out informed balanced content, which I feel like we lack sometimes in the UK space. But that’s just my two cents.


Whether you want to take the next step in your career, master production or stay up to date with podcasting events, the Content is Queen community awaits. Explore our membership options here.

What Does the AudioUK Manifesto Mean for You?

Earlier this month, AudioUK released a four-point manifesto asking political parties to support audio production and commit to policies that could grow the UK’s audio production sector. We explore how these changes at government level could potentially reach independent podcasters…

AudioUK is the trade association for the audio-led production sector, including podcasts, radio and audiobooks. Back in December, when we spoke to the managing director of AudioUK, Chloe Straw, we learned how a large part of her role revolved around policy and regulation, speaking on behalf of the audio industry in high-level meetings. We recently saw the product of some of that work when AudioUK released a manifesto, ‘The Sound of Success’.

The Sound of Success manifesto lays out four tangible ways that political parties could support audio production going forward:

1) An Audio Production Tax Relief
2) Audio-specific funds such as a Global Audio IP Fund and reinstating the Audio Content Fund
3) Funding train for the audio sector
4) Introducing 100% competition for non-news BBC radio and audio content, so independent producers could pitch to make shows for the broadcaster

UK governments have previously provided policies similar to these for other content production sectors, for example film and video-games. However, despite the UK’s strong heritage of public radio, audio has had very little specific support. As Chloe Straw said in the launch article “…it is imperative for the government to actively champion and foster this thriving creative sector. Aligning it with other creative industries in the UK will empower the sector to fully capitalise on the vast domestic and global opportunities available.”

Independent podcasters and creators might feel very detached from this type of high level policy talk, but the hope is this type of work will trickle down so individuals are also supported. Here are some of the ways we hope this will help podcasters in the future.

1) The manifesto itself is a great resource

Even if it takes a while for these policies to be adopted (if they are adopted) the work that has gone into this manifesto can be a great resource for podcasters. There is information on the amount of advertising revenue that podcasts bring in, the reach and size of the UK audio sector and the international IP market. These are useful figures, especially if you are looking for sponsors, building a business plan for your audio company, or generally talking about why audio is great!

2) Potential for new direct funding pots

Possibly the most exciting thing that would directly help podcast producers is the potential for funding pots they could directly apply for. The manifesto asks for the return of the UK Audio Content Fund, after a pilot scheme that ran between 2019 and 2023. The scheme was an open application that created some really interesting content, but it was only available to producers releasing the work through a broadcaster or radio station. AudioUK are suggesting reintroducing the scheme with a podcast element, which means people could pitch ideas for shows released purely through RSS or streaming. This should mean you wouldn’t need to approach or know a radio station to apply.

The Global Audio IP Fund could be another funding pot for podcasters to access directly. The Global Screen Fund currently allows independent filmmakers to apply for grants for a range of international projects, including launching and promoting films at festivals. One way a Global Audio IP Fund could work is supporting creators to reach more international podcast festivals and awards.

3) More accessible training opportunities

Free and accessible training opportunities are essential when it comes to equity in the audio industry. The Audiotrain programme, which AudioUK has been running since 2014, was initially set up through a government funding pot that no longer supports audio. Whilst AudioUK still funds Audiotrain directly, more monetary support could help make it easier for individuals to enter the industry and upskill.

It is worth pointing out, however, that even if the government does invest more money in audio training, it might not be available widely. Governments and the public sector tend to work with approved suppliers and partners, so such funding might not go to independent and grassroots organisations that already offer free and affordable resources, like Content is Queen.

4) Support for independent producers and creators

BBC Radio 4 is the biggest speech-based radio station in the world, and it commissions over 13,000 programmes and podcasts every year, so the BBC still has a strong influence on the UK’s audio industry as a whole. That’s why there are concerns about the BBC speech audio production moves to BBC Studios, because less shows would be created by external companies. The manifesto’s fourth policy would mean that independent companies could pitch to make shows for the broadcaster. For individual podcasters, working with an independent company is an easier route to creating something for the BBC, but it also means that BBC shows are likely to be more diverse and representative, because they will be getting a wider source of creators.

5) More international opportunities

The manifesto has a big emphasis on opening up the UK audio sector to an international market. This is something that governments are also likely to support, as it brings investment into the country. For podcasters and production companies, this could make international collaboration more viable. Whether it is creating a podcast in multiple languages, or using your intellectual property (IP) to start a local version of a popular show (for example Pod Save The UK) it’s exciting to think about the opportunities a more international market could bring to podcasters.

At the moment, this manifesto is just a request for policy change, so it could still be a while before we see any results. Nonetheless, this could offer a lot of opportunities to individual podcasters, and we’re excited to think about the shows it could bring to listeners.

Whether you want to take the next step in your career, master production or stay up to date with podcasting events, the Content is Queen community awaits. Explore our membership options here.

Content is Queen Secures Innovate UK Grant to Launch Groundbreaking Audio Marketplace

In a significant boost to innovation in the audio industry, Content is Queen has been announced as a recipient of an Innovate UK grant. This award propels forward a visionary project aimed at creating a comprehensive marketplace for audio content creators, advertisers, and commissioners.

Content is Queen is a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion in the audio industry. Imriel Morgan, the Founder of Content is Queen says,

“This grant not only recognises our commitment to reshaping the audio industry but also enables us to create more opportunities for diverse voices to be heard.”

The new marketplace initiative aims to streamline the commissioning process, foster creative partnerships, and promote diversity across the board. The marketplace is designed with three key stakeholders in mind: creators, advertisers, and commissioners, each standing to gain unparalleled benefits:

  • Creators will find a nurturing environment to grow their audience, monetise their content, and gain the recognition they deserve.
  • Advertisers are provided with a unique opportunity to connect with diverse, engaged audiences through high-quality, authentic content.
  • Commissioners can discover the next big thing among our pool of global talent, investing in content that drives the industry forward.

The support from Innovate UK enables Content is Queen to fast-track the development of the marketplace, ensuring they can offer these opportunities sooner. Imriel adds “It’s a recognition of our potential to make a significant impact on the UK’s creative and tech industries by promoting diversity, encouraging innovation, and facilitating new revenue streams.”

About Content is Queen:

Content is Queen is an inclusive, community-focused company dedicated to empowering audio creators through accessible resources, support, and opportunities. With a commitment to diversity and quality, we aim to build a more representative and innovative audio content landscape.

About Innovate UK:

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is the UK’s innovation agency. It works to create a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. Its mission is to help companies to grow through their development and commercialisation of new products, processes and services, supported by an outstanding innovation ecosystem that is agile, inclusive and easy to navigate.

For more information about Content is Queen and our upcoming marketplace, please visit network.contentisqueen.org.

8 Podcasts in Multiple Languages

English is currently the most widely used language for podcasts, but this doesn’t reflect the global listenership. Francesca Turauskis introduces you to eight shows that are reaching a wider audience with multiple languages…

One of my hopes for 2024 is that we start seeing more podcasts in multiple languages. We know that multilingual podcasts have so much value, something that was explored in the ‘Beyond Anglophone Podcasts’ at the 2022 International Women’s Podcast Festival. However UK podcasting as a whole is yet to adopt the idea of dual language production. The Anglo-centric view assumes there is not enough audience for multi-language shows, but I think it widens the audience for a project.

For English speakers like me who don’t have a second language, projects created in multiple languages can be a great way of learning a new language and, more importantly, it can help us engage in other countries and cultures. We get to access incredible stories through interpreters and journalists on the ground in locations around the world.

On the flipside, for people who speak another language, it can be a powerful way to connect to stories on a different level. In some cases, it can even be a way to revive a language that was lost, or protest against the historic dominance of English. (For more on this check out the Bello Collective article, ‘Anything for La Brega’, which talks about “The Bilingual Whisper” and the nuances of dual language productions).

If you’re after some great productions that are already showcasing the power of translations, check out these eight podcasts in multiple languages.

Ochenta Stories

Ochenta Studios has been creating award-winning multilingual shows for nearly a decade and it’s made audio content in over twenty languages now. For people new to multi-lingual podcasts, Ochenta Stories is the perfect introduction: created in the Corona-virus lockdowns, we hear short stories from around the world based around the question “What do you want to hear when this pandemic is over?”. Some of the stories are real, some fiction, and some fall in between, but all are reflecting on place and culture, and are voiced in two languages. For my own episode ‘Pierogi’, I got to connect to my Polish roots by working with an actress friend who created that version for me. Listen here.

Forgotten: Women of Juárez

Originally created in English by investigative journalists Mónica Ortiz Uribe and Oz Woloshyn, Forgotten: Women of Juárez sensitively approaches the story of hundreds of women going missing in the Mexican border town of Juarez during the 1990s. The Spanish version is voiced by a different pair of investigative journalists (Sandra Romandía for Mónica and Rossana Fuentes Berain for Oz) and translated by Podimo, another company known for its multi-lingual podcasts (the Danish true-crime series Murder In The North is a good example of expanding intellectual property (IP) into different markets). Women of Juárez is a better example of how feet-on-the-ground reporting can be enhanced with a dual-language approach. In the first episode, we hear the hosts talk about Monica’s reservations for Oz as an outside journalist – “I thought you were a gringo” she says, honestly using the derogatory word for ‘foreigner’. It’s a moment of journalist transparency and a reminder of how important cross-culture collaboration is when telling sensitive stories. Listen here.

Blum

Another show translated from Spanish, the English version of Blum was released last year by Mags Creative after the original rocketed up the charts and won multiple awards in the Spanish language world. The show is something of a mockumentary thriller that starts with the disappearance of Clara Torres. Clara was an Art History student obsessed with Ursula Blum, a mysterious (and real) painter from the 20th century. We’re following journalist Emma Clark’s investigations as she travels to Switzerland, creating a podcast supposedly in real time as she uncovers the mystery of both Clara and Ursula. We haven’t seen many mockumentary style shows in the UK, so this is a great example of how translation can bring creative projects to listeners. Listen here in English and here in Spanish.

0800 MATARIKI

A short series from (of all places) telephone company Spark NZ, 0800 MATARIKI is a great show for anyone who loves folktales or astrology. When the Matariki or Pleiades star cluster rises in the skies of New Zealand (Aotearoa) each summer, it marks the beginning of the new year in the Māori lunar calendar. This podcast depicts the significance of each star in the cluster, with a short story in both Te Reo Māori and English. The stories are soundscaped with Māori instruments and sounds from Aotearoa’s natural world, and are short enough that all listeners can enjoy both versions for the audio art. Listen here.

The Last Days of Maradona/Les Derniers Jours de Maradona

When footballer Diego Maradona died suddenly in 2020, it shocked fans around the world. Spotify’s series investigated what happened during the last days of his life, with a six-episode series containing archive audio and interviews with those who were closest to him. The show was ground-breaking as the first production to be released in six languages simultaneously, including two Spanish versions specific to the Americas and mainland Spain. I’m recommending the French version purely because the footballer Thierry Henry is the host in both this and the English. It’s worth a little listen even if you don’t speak French, just to compare the different archive audio used. Listen in French here and in English here.

Anything For Selena

Another Spanish language podcast, Anything for Selena was Apple Podcasts’ Show of the Year of 2021. It explores the life of Mexican-American pop icon Selena Quintanilla, and her murder in 1995 – a story that is very personal to the host, Maria García. This is a great example of the insight to another culture we can get from dual-language productions, because whilst this was a completely new subject to me as a white, British woman who was a child when Selena was a star, I learnt how she was a mononymous cultural icon who left a mark on Latino identity as a whole. Listen here.

And a couple without English translations (yet):

Costa Nostra

The International Women’s Podcast Awards, which are based in the UK, introduced a new category in 2023 to celebrate podcasts in languages other than English. Podcasts entering the category were asked to submit transcripts in English so that people didn’t have to speak the language to judge the category, and it was Spanish-language podcast Costa Nostra (Our Coast) that scooped the prize. Created by La Maldita, a company based in Madrid and Buenos Aires, it explores the side of the Costa Del Sol that is kept hidden from tourists. Behind one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world is one of the ‘most violent areas in Europe’. Listen here.

Esgusodwch fi?

Whilst we don’t hear dual language shows as much in the UK, we do get some offerings from the BBC through local stations like BBC Radio nan Gàidheal in Scotland and BBC Radio Cymru in Wales. I wanted to hightlight Esgusodwch fi? (Excuse me?) hosted by Wyn and Meilir Rhys Williams, because it celebrates the LGBTQ+ community in Wales. The show’s been running since 2021, and despite a short hiatus in 2022 it is good to see a platform on the BBC for marginalised voices to have conversations in their own language. Listen here.

How to Pitch Yourself as a Podcast Event Speaker

Do you want to be a speaker at podcast events and conferences? With The International Women’s Podcast Festival 2024 applications open from now until 13th March, we asked Kat Molesworth for some tips to make your speaker pitch successful.

When you’re pitching to speak at any event, you want your pitch to sparkle and catch the eyes of the conference organisers. We’re looking for a range of different ideas and skills to include in the International Women’s Podcast Festival (IWPF) line-up, and we have an open pitch policy so that we can book the best speakers for sessions. Here is the advice I would give if you want to be one of them.

Actually submit!

This first point should go without saying – if you aren’t sending pitches then it’s less likely that you will be asked to speak. We do reach out and invite people to talk, but the majority of our lineup comes from the pitches. The only sure fire way to get us to consider your chosen session is to pitch it. It’s way more effective than wishing and hoping.

And submit early…

Get in early with a strong pitch and you increase the odds of standing out from the crowd. Pitches may be open for six weeks but we start analysing their suitability as soon as they begin to arrive. For the last festival, we got more pitches on the final day than any other day. The pitches that start with “I saw it was the last day so I thought I’d throw something together…” do not go down well.

Equally, pitches submitted months after the process is closed are futile. You might try to chance your arm by pitching a day or two late, but like many organisations, we will already have more applications than they have slots. If we’ve just sent out a Final Speaker Announcement, we’re not going to consider you this year – and will likely forget you by the next pitching window.

Follow the instructions

Read the introduction, read the instructions and read the FAQs before writing your pitch – and then read them again before submitting. Working with a large number of people to bring an event together, we really appreciate the people who follow instructions when pitching. This is our first indicator of whether you are going to be wonderful to work with. If you hit every point we ask for and help us understand what our audience will take away from your session, we’re really happy.

Research the event

Make sure you understand the event you are pitching to, as well as the audience that attends. Find out who has spoken before, what kind of sessions they held and what the audience enjoyed in previous years. Events are unlikely to repeat large parts of content from the last programme.

With a knowledge of the type of session the organiser is looking for you can avoid pitching out of their interest zone. Our decisions will be driven by what benefits people in their careers as professional and indie podcasters. For instance, it’s unlikely IWPF would host a talk focussed on the history of your podcast, but we might be interested in specific insights or advice you have for newer podcasters. How can you take your knowledge and make it relevant for this event?

Be fresh and original

What do podcasters need in 2024? What has moved on since we last gathered? What new landscapes are emerging in podcasting? What advice did you need to hear in your early or mid career? People are coming to your session to learn things that they are unlikely to have heard before. The question to answer in most cases is not “what it is” or “why you should do it” but how to do something. Think about how to overcome the challenges you see in the industry right now, or ways we can use new technologies.

Originality is also important in what you present. If you care about speaking at an event known for originality don’t re-use a talk you’ve given elsewhere. Events want to be able to say they’ve got something unique from you. Give people something that has never been heard before and is going to be a one-off for this event.

Sell yourself

It may feel awkward (especially if you’re from the UK) but you need to embrace the fear and tell me why I should pick you. Why are you the only person that could do this talk?

Give me reasons to rave about you to people. We don’t need your CV – it doesn’t matter if you dropped out of Uni or have an armful of PhDs (unless it’s particularly relevant to your session). But do tell us what you have achieved in podcasting and audio. How did you build your pod / following / career / business to the point it’s at now? How do you support people? What are you doing that’s special?

When we are considering who might be the right fit for a session or panel we may have several people to choose between. If you stand out not just for your pitch but as a superb individual, the odds are in your favour.

But it’s not about you

There is very little that will turn an audience more quickly than being focused on pushing your agenda rather than their needs. People have invested their time and money, and they should come away with actionable advice that can be applied to their work or project tomorrow.

Speaking at events is a great way to build your profile and strengthen links, but if that’s your sole aim, I suggest you attend the festival and work the room instead. At IWPF we work to create an event packed with value for our attendees. Channel this into your pitch – tell me exactly how your session adds value to the schedule. Talking about your journey or the things I could read on your ‘about me’ page probably won’t achieve that objective. Focus on delivering exceptionally good advice, and you’ll find that people will flock to you because of it.

Stay connected if you’re not picked

You might be turned down as a speaker this time. This may be no reflection on you or the quality of your work but simply based on the confines of time and schedule. If it happens, stay connected.

People we chat to on social media, who share what we’re doing and contribute to the community, stand out (and conversely, so do those who don’t). You never know what will happen last minute – in the past we’ve had a speaker unable to make it with little notice. By submitting your pitch you are on my radar. Come and say hello to me at the event as well, because there is nothing like connecting in person to solidify that.

Be ready to say ‘yes’

You already know CiQ love speakers who are organised so here are a few quick tips you can get ready for when we’re booking people:

Plan out your session: At CiQ we always meet with our shortlist to get a sample of the proposed workshop or talk so having your main points planned out and ready will stand you in good stead to be booked. You don’t need to create a presentation or have every last detail written out but you do need the main sections of your session clear so our content team have a good understanding of what you’re planning.

Get your bio prepped: Tailor your bio to the event audience. This is great for two reasons: number one it tells the audience why you’re a great fit for them. Number two it means that your speaker page on the site will be different to other places your bio appears and so won’t get penalised by search engines for repetition.

Get your photos ready: Love or hate your own photos, every event you speak at is going to want one on their site. We highly recommend investing in a professional shoot to provide high resolution images that reflect the standard of your work. Make sure you have at least one photo that doesn’t crop your head or hair. Having a mix of very corporate to more relaxed imagery is good because events will be looking for different things. It also helps your brand stay fresh: if people attend lots of industry events and you have had the same profile picture for five years it stands out – but not in the good way.
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Pitching to speak at an event can be daunting but by nailing your submission you can stack the odds in your favour. Taking the time to make sure it meets the criteria and adds value to the event will give you the best opportunity.

Every year it is a joy to read well-crafted pitches for sessions we can’t wait to attend. Some of our greatest speakers have pitched us directly rather than waiting for us to notice them. So what are you waiting for? Send us a pitch.