Audio equipment
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Culture
Politics

The highs and lows of podcasting

By this time next year the global number of podcasts may likely surpass the population of Queensland, and that’s even taking into account the giant melon currently occupying the town of Chinchilla. There are podcasts about inanimate objects, Nicolas Cage, urban mythology, fountain pen addiction, and even podcasts about podcasts — the latter being a kind of hellish inception far worse than one could ever begin to imagine.

Running a podcast not only gives you the very cosmopolitan moniker of ‘podcaster’, but on occasion it also makes offline interactions a tad uncomfortable if someone were to find out that you’re running a digital audio series out of your bedroom in your spare time. And even worse, if they ask you to tell them about it. I should know, because I too have a podcast that I co-host out of my bedroom each week. As my co-host Kumars Salehi put it: ‘telling people you have a podcast is very awkward, it’s like announcing you’re vegan, and as a vegan podcaster I struggle with both of these.’

Two years ago, before the first wave of leftist podcasts came to be, and after a fast-paced discussion between what has now become the cast of Delete Your Account, we settled on an idea and turned it into a weekly program that centers left-wing mobilisation efforts, with a bent towards the US political landscape. The show was born before the Donald Trump presidency, and right in the thick of the election cycle. We now have nearly 120 episodes under our belt with guests that have included labour organisers, prison abolitionists, incarcerated workers, political theorists and comedians. The experience has not only been exhilarating for someone like myself who was previously unaccustomed to the podcast scene but it’s also been nerve-wracking, especially with time zone differences that have the team facilitating complicated interviews on short notice and even shorter sleep cycles. It’s a formulaic process you become accustomed to, to some degree: the long nights, early mornings, and terrible puns (most of the puns the fault of my co-host, Kumars Salehi).

One would think that there would be nothing easier than podcasting. After all, isn’t it just pressing record and talking? If only!

The amount of labour that goes into developing and publishing a single episode of Delete Your Account is extensive: from selecting a topic, finding and booking the right guest, engaging with a myriad of reading materials, outlining the program, and recording, to the even-more-behind-the-scenes work that our producer spends countless hours on: mixing and editing every episode to make sure Kumars and I sound decent, as difficult a task as that may often be. From making sure our show is accessible by providing transcripts, and resources to accompany episodes that may discuss subjects certain listeners may be unfamiliar with, the content our audience hears is just a piece of a larger process that we are all constantly learning from and trying to master.

The issue of keeping the program up-to-date with what the hell is going on in the world, both politically and culturally, is also no easy task as it involves keeping your audience engaged on multiple levels. Then there’s the gloom factor, as I call it. Listening to current events can oftentimes be incredibly dispiriting, especially to those on the left who now find themselves at a loss as to what exactly can be done to truly revolutionise our world. It’s for this reason that we ask guests to provide listeners with a kind of directive by asking them at the end of the show, in one way or another, ‘how can we help?’. The purpose of Delete Your Account was always to build a transnational community that learns from one another, especially as to how we can help those most impacted by the wide-ranging manifestations of capitalism. And this is no walk in the park.

For all the painstaking work that goes into the show, a heavy load of it done by our elusive producer, the result has been well worth the effort. We’ve managed to build a loyal fanbase of not only longtime organisers but even newcomers to the left whose introduction to anti-capitalism came from listening to an episode. That people we have never met (beyond the confines of our online spaces) are learning how to mobilise their communities is the most impressive feat that’s come out of our little show. Podcasting is nothing without the audience that comes along for the ride. Sometimes it’s a bumpy one, but we’ll get through it one bad pun at a time.

 

Delete Your Account | @deleteuracct

 

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American writer, poet and journalist, whose work can be found at Roqchams.com, Shadowproof and also on the podcast Delete Your Account. Of late, she mostly resides in Sydney.

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