In this special edition of ’10 minutes with’, the presenter of the new Metro podcast ‘My Platform’ Jess Austin talks about how the team came up with the idea, the pleasure she gets from hearing her guests’ perspectives and her apocalyptic choice of fantasy podcast guest…
How did you get into making news brand podcasts?
I’m an avid podcast listener and have long wanted to start one of my own. I’m very lucky that Metro already has two successful podcasts – in Mentally Yours and Smut Drop – so when I mentioned my desire to launch one for our section, I received brilliant support from my editors.
The idea was always just to be an extension of our section: giving a platform for underrepresented groups to share their stories.
How does the format help tell the stories you want to tell?
The format was actually hard to get down! All the episodes are hooked to previously published Metro pieces, but I didn’t want reading the piece to be a prerequisite for any potential listeners.
We wanted to make sure we told guests’ stories in each episode but were also able to investigate the points they made more than in the article. It’s something I think we’ve done well; with each guest discussing their stories chronologically, while diving into wider discussion points throughout the episode.
What’s the process behind making each episode?
Firstly, we had to identify the stories that really resonated with Metro readers. All of our guests authored successful first-person or opinion pieces on the site over the past few years, so we examined which articles did well not only in terms of numbers, but the conversations they started afterwards.
After that it was just about finding a time that worked to record! We opted for virtual recording – not wanting access or geography to be a barrier – and so for every episode the guest, our fantastic producer Juliette from Pineapple Audio Production, Metro assistant head of social Alex Goldsmith and I sat down to record on the platform Riverside.
Every guest knew we’d be discussing their articles, the reactions their pieces received and what life is like for them now, and I of course had questions prepared, but I wanted each episode to feel like a conversation, rather than a Q&A.
What’s been the episode that’s attracted the most engagement from your audience?
So, the podcast is very new, so I don’t have full insight into the listens just yet – but I do have an idea of what the response has been to the articles that we have republished to accompany each episode.
Rowan Atkins, who wrote the article ‘As a teen, I let my good looks define me – now, at 44, I feel invisible’, was our first guest. She spoke so powerfully and eloquently about pretty privilege.
When we initially published her piece last year, it did over 100k on site and the same again on other platforms – like Apple and MSN. When we republished a fortnight ago, it did over 1 million views across all platforms, which is such a wonderful response.
What’s been your favourite episode to record?
Not to be all Miss Congeniality about it, but I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve recorded. Every guest has such a unique perspective and I’ve loved hearing all of their stories and actually getting to speak to them.
I feel very lucky that I get to work with such incredible voices, and very privileged that they trust me enough to not only help tell their stories in writing, but want to discuss them further with me on the podcast.
As I said, I love podcasts, and I’ve always hoped to have my own – I’m just very grateful it’s this one!
Who would be your fantasy podcast guest?
I’ve completely forgotten the names of every famous person that I admire, so I don’t have a specific person – but someone I would like to talk to would be a prepper (someone who is preparing for the end of the world).
At a previous job, I ran a series about the many ways the world could end, speaking to experts on things like nuclear warfare, supervolcanoes, asteroids, pandemics… I found it fascinating.
I’m one of those people who is soothed by having as much information as they can on terrifying things, and so I think it would be brilliant to interview someone who feels the same, but then takes that fear of impending doom and converts it into actively preparing for its arrival. That’s definitely a story I’d like to hear.