Third, it’s about connection. “A podcast, at its core, is just two people talking to each other” is what an American public radio executive said when he kindly took time to meet up before we started making Colour Code. The simplicity was comforting. For months, in production, it helped me stay calm. “We’re just recording conversations, that’s it.”
And to have a conversation, a good one, you need to actively listen.
Recently, my friends at Word Bomb, a podcast about words and what they say about our culture, published an episode exploring the word “white.” (Full disclosure: I used to executive produce this show). I reconnected with Pippa Johnstone, one of the hosts.
Wasn’t she nervous to tackle the word “white?”
“Yeah, I think we were really hesitant,” she acknowledged. “It’s a word that’s like a lightning rod this year.” However, she said that it was probably her favourite episode of the entire season to produce.
“It’s less scary to talk about whiteness if you’re white. I experience white privilege and I can talk about it without it sounding accusatory, and I think it’s important to have white people do that work,” she said.
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“Sounding accusatory” – I’m just going to repeat Pippa’s words here. Words on paper can go pretty far, but actual human voices? There are a million shades of meaning that can be conveyed in ways that text on screens can’t do.
She reminded me that I’d told her, way back in the beginning, that people don’t listen to a show for a half hour just to troll you. I guess I said it as a booster for courage. But it’s the thing I still cling to, too.
As we all learned from that incredible This American Life episode with Lindy West, when she confronted her own troll, if there’s any way to connect in this era of super-confusing, fragmented communication and trolling, it might be to go as analog as possible and just use our voices. Talk. Listen. Pretty simple.
Podcasting just gives us a way to do it.