CoLab – Podcasting Across Disciplines
In summer 2019, Jay was commissioned to co-facilitate a series of workshops, and record a pilot podcast episode, as part of the University of Sunderland’s collaborative research project “CoLab” – “enabling interdisciplinary activity across faculties”.
Working closely with John Mooney, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, this project involved exploring the potential of both podcasting and comedy to engage young audience in public health messages. Using John’s work as a pilot model, this project also involves experimenting with podcasting as a means to make the research of academics more accessible to a general audience.
The production of this pilot episode involved facilitating multiple workshops with young people; from focus groups discussing alcohol consumption, to comedy writing and improvisational comedy; and conversations with key project partner Richard Berry, Senior Lecturer in Radio.
Below is a full transcript of the CoLab podcast, including two original comedy skits devised as part of the process:
JOHN MOONEY [00:00:00] I think we could try and build in the “It’s not risky, it’s Friskee”, so explain that, pad that out a little bit.
LUKE JAMES [00:00:05] Well, you could explain how it’s not.
JOHN MOONEY [00:00:08] “People criticize this drink for being strictly about being whisky aimed at youngsters. That’s so far from the truth. It’s really not whisky, and it’s nowhere near as risky. It’s Friskee!”
LUKE JAMES [00:00:23] I’m thinking maybe, at one point, could you list the ingredients in the drink. You know, how they’re actually really, you know, it’s really high in alcohol and sugar and.. And then, you know, try to pass it off as if “oh, it’s only got this and this, it’s perfect.” [LAUGHS].
JOHN MOONEY [00:00:38] [LAUGHS].
HESTER DOWLING [00:00:38] I think pure alcohol rather than straight.
JAY SYKES [00:00:41] Yeah.
HESTER DOWLING [00:00:42] That makes it sound like it’s got a gender problem.
JAY SYKES [00:00:48] [LAUGHS].
JOHN MOONEY [00:00:49] Peure has got connotations of health and purity.
JAY SYKES [00:00:52] The rest is a healthy mixture of sugar, glucose, fructose…
SOUNDS [00:01:02] (THEME MUSIC)
RICHARD BERRY [00:01:03] Typically, what happens within academic podcasts, it’s academics talking to other academics, or academics talking about their work. Whereas I think what we’ve done here, and what you’ve been doing working with the participants, is adding that extra layer, and working and evolving those into.. Into comedy.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:01:20] You know how for smoking there’s adverts, and it literally like shows all the effects of this person smoking.
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:01:25] Yeah, there’s nothing like that with alcohol.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:01:26] There’s nothing like that. Like, they show these adverts, and it’s like people jumping around and having fun in drunking..
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:01:32] Parties and loving your best life.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:01:33] Yeah.
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:01:34] But then it’s like please drink responsibly. Well..
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:01:35] But you don’t want to, if you think you’re gonna be like that. Like you’re gonna have such a good time, like, you’re not gonna think about being responsible.
JOHN MOONEY [00:01:43] I’ve come to understand [the] podcast as being a much more talking to the individual. Each interaction can be considered almost a one-to-one level of communication.
RICHARD BERRY [00:01:53] This project is probably more multilayered than lots of other similar projects, but I think what’s interesting about podcasting is it’s so diverse and it’s so flexible. I’m Richard Berry, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in Radio, and I’m a researcher in podcasting based, at the University of Sunderland. And I’ve been working with John on this CoLab project.
JOHN MOONEY [00:02:19] Hi I’m John Mooney. I’m a Senior Lecturer in Public Health, and I run the Masters in Public Health at the University of Sunderland. My main research interests are on local alcohol policies, which have been the subject of this piece of work. The project’s arisen as a spinoff, of some funding we received from Alcohol Concern, to evaluate service for young people that looks towards identifying young people, and specifically who might be at risk of developing drug or alcohol problems. And the key with any alcohol problems is to intervene as early as possible, and that’s certainly the case with young people. So the project arose out of that, and the wider agenda around communicating the health issues around ahcohol, and working with communication professionals to come up with novel ways in which to do that.
JOHN MOONEY [00:03:16] Are there likely to be teachable moments with young people? So, for instance, being arrested, or having an accident? Something that might encourage people to think again, or seriously consider how they might reform their drinking.
PARTICIPANT 3 [00:03:29] I think you definitely learn from my experience.
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:03:32] Yeah.
PARTICIPANT 3 [00:03:32] From personal experience as well. [LAUGHS].
PARTICIPANT 4 [00:03:34] So I’ve been drunk and fell downstairs before. My leg’s never been the same since. And I not – either not to drink that, or…
PARTICIPANT 3 [00:03:43] To avoid stairs.
PARTICIPANTS [00:03:45] [LAUGHTER].
PARTICIPANT 4 [00:03:46] To avoid stairs!
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:03:46] Take the lift.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:03:48] Not wear heals on a night out, or just don’t get as drunk as what you have been.
PARTICIPANT 5 [00:03:55] Again for me, personal expereinces, it’s just being careful knowing to watch your drinks, take them with you. Whereas when I was when I was younger, I’d be like “oh no, it’s fine, I’ll just leave it on the side and I’ll come back to it”, but now you literally can’t afford to do that, you’ve got to watch yourself.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:04:09] But there’s no, like.. You know how for smoking there’s adverts, and it literally like shows all the effects of this person smoking..
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:04:16] Yeah there’s nothing like that with alcohol.
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:04:16] There’s nothing like that. Like, they show these adverts, and it’s like people jumping around and having fun, and drinking lots and being with their friends and partying, and then all it says is just “please drink responsibly”.
PARTICIPANT 2 [00:04:27] Yeah, they’ve just shown you like parties and loving your best life, but then it’s like “please drink responsibly”, well…
PARTICIPANT 1 [00:04:33] But you don’t want to if you think you’re gonna be like that, you’re going to have such a good time, like, you’re not going to think about being responsible. Especially not if you’re young, and all your friends are doing the same, you’re really impressionable.
RICHARD BERRY [00:04:45] For me, I was brought into this project relatively at late stage, because of my research in podcasting. What’s interesting for me about what’s been going on here is about how we can explore ways in which audio content, in this case podcasting, can be used to kind of articulate the research that’s happening in the university. So in this case we’re talking about research into young people and alcohol, and how we can tie that into the style of comedy that we’ve done, and this idea of being funny, and finding ways in which you can communicate quite.. Sometimes quite dry, or quite complex messages, but in ways that’s accessible.
JOHN MOONEY [00:05:35] And Stand Up – they say you’ve got to start high, and end high. So you want draw people in. It’s all about attention grabbing. You need to distinguish yourself, you need to have a clarity of purpose from the outset. No one can sustain a really high energy set throughout. So the important thing is to.. You’ll probably wax and wane in terms of energy, and wax and wane in terms of volume, in terms of tone of voice. There’s nothing more off-putting than someone that speaks in the same tone of voice. But one thing I’ve learned the hard way is don’t do a Newcastle accent in Newcastle.
PHILLIP CHRISTOPHER [00:06:07] (LAUGHS).
HESTER DOWLING [00:06:07] No.
JOHN MOONEY [00:06:07] Then people say you’re take [the mick out of] someone. It’d be alright for me to exaggerate a Newcastle accent if I was from Newcastle. But someone coming in not from Newcastle, and doing a broad Newcastle, like “noo waay man”, you know, that kind of… You can see bristling in the audience, you know? But I could get away with that in Glasgow. I could get away with (intelligible Glasgow) speak after a drink of Budweiser, and that.
PARTICIPANTS [00:06:31] (GIGGLING)
JOHN MOONEY [00:06:34] So, basically, in Govanhill, that’s how they speak.
RICHARD BERRY [00:06:37] The potential there is in “how can we expand that?” How can we look at other subjects across the university? And how can we use these techniques of podcasting to articulate ideas, and articulate research, in a way that’s different to the kind of traditional format of an academic journal.
JOHN MOONEY [00:06:57] Absolutely. Now, I could just pick up on the point Richard made about comedy, and another aspect of what we’ve been looking to do is make use of comedy to communicate positive health messages. So, for example, corporations such as Big Food and Big Alcohol have, for decades, been very wise to the potential of comedy to communicate the wrong sort of messages about health, and the wrong sort of messages about what to eat and drink. So, what we are looking to do is to turn that on its head a little bit, and use comedy to communicate positive public health messages, in a way that also addresses the image problem that public health almost certainly has around being “nanny state”, around being killjoys. And I think comedy’s a really useful way, as well as other novel forms of communication that Richard mentioned, such as podcasting and YouTube channels, social media outlets, to try and address that.
PARTICIPANTS [00:07:59] It’s not whisky, it’s not risky. It’s Friskee!
SOUNDS [00:08:07] (CHEESY UPBEAT MUSIC).
LUKE JAMES [00:08:07] Friskee! It’s new, it’s fresh.
HESTER DOWLING [00:08:08] It’s totally radical, it’s lovely.
JOHN MOONEY [00:08:11] It’s really really tasty!
JAY SYKES [00:08:12] I love frisky. It’s my favourite drink… After school!
HESTER DOWLING [00:08:17] Getting your stomach pumped is so much fun.
JOHN MOONEY [00:08:21] People are criticising us for making whisky that’s aimed at young people. But it’s clearly not whisky, so it’s nowhere near as risky.
LUKE JAMES [00:08:29] Only 16 percent of frisky is pure alcohol. The rest is a healthy mixture of sugar, glucose, fructose, and stimulants! We used the stimulant gonorrhea.
SOUNDS [00:08:39] (BEEP)
LUKE JAMES [00:08:40] We used the stimulant guarana.
JAY SYKES [00:08:41] With properties that might be described as addictive. But that’s great, because then you can have even more.
HESTER DOWLING [00:08:47] So if you like being stimulated, this is the drink for you.
JAY SYKES [00:08:50] I love being stimulated.
SOUNDS [00:08:51] (MUSIC ENDS DRAMATICALLY)
JAY SYKES [00:08:55] Frisky is not suitable for children under the ages of 12. Please drink responsibly.
RICHARD BERRY [00:09:00] I spent a long time teaching advertising with students. One that kind of forms of advertising I always kept coming back to were adverts made by the then COI, the Central Office for Information, around taxing your car, and all those boring, dull, worthy public messages that government departments needed to get out there. One thing they always fall back to is kind of clever, interesting comedy. Things that were funny, things that were entertaining. Because how how do you make those messages palatable? You try and make them entertaining, don’t you?
JOHN MOONEY [00:09:35] Absolutely, I think that’s a major way of engaging people. The mechanism of comedy is about identifying something that people can empathise with, and situations they can relate to, and find interesting. And comedy does all of those things simultaneously. So I think it’s a very powerful way of getting serious messages across, in an economical form of words.
RICHARD BERRY [00:10:01] I think the other thing as well – I don’t know if you find this in your work, but sometimes when you ask students to teach something they have to think about; “well, what’s the message here? What I really trying to convey?” And they have to process it in a different way, don’t they? When they’re communicating ideas to other people.
JOHN MOONEY [00:10:18] From my own point of view, understanding something is hugely enhanced if I have to try and make it funny, or if I have the opportunity to make something that’s engaging and entertaining, as well as being informative. You have to understand it a much more fundamental level, and I think that’s probably what your students are getting at as well.
HESTER DOWLING [00:10:43] It’s dangerous…
JOHN MOONEY [00:10:43] Like energy drinks, it’s addictive.
HESTER DOWLING [00:10:43] It’s the amount of.. Energy that it gives.
JAY SYKES [00:10:49] Oh, okay.
JOHN MOONEY [00:10:51] So, addictive properties, because you’re getting…
HESTER DOWLING [00:10:52] So the addictive ones then, that would be the most serious.
JAY SYKES [00:10:54] So that’s great to work with, then, because like with, say, Pringles: One pop and you can’t stop. Can we play with..?
HESTER DOWLING [00:11:02] So, it’s “please drink responsibly”, and all that.
JAY SYKES [00:11:03] (CHUCKLES).
JOHN MOONEY [00:11:03] Yeah, you see that in the end.
HESTER DOWLING [00:11:03] Yeah.
LUKE JAMES [00:11:03] Right, and then what I say next? So you’re right in front of me, wouldn’t you be?
JOHN MOONEY [00:11:12] Yeah, I mean, just, I think you’re on the right lines, just run with it, don’t be too hung up on having to..
LUKE JAMES [00:11:17] Yeah.
JOHN MOONEY [00:11:18] Jay can tidy up stuff for us.
JAY SYKES [00:11:22] So we’ll do this now, and even if it’s fractured like this…
RICHARD BERRY [00:11:22] How have you found that process of writing, and working with those participants, to come up with these ideas and these scenarios?
JOHN MOONEY [00:11:32] There’s a term in public health, much used, perhaps overused, called co-production. And that’s all about being as responsive as possible to other participants within a group, so that you’re actually using the ideas, the best ideas, that come out of group discussions, that come out of the perceptions of other people participating in the project. So, for instance, that’s been particularly valuable in this project, because we’ve been looking to use the perspectives of young people, and it’s a number of decades since I probably could be described in that way. Basically, it’s been really illuminating to explore the perceptions of young people, and how those have changed in the preceding decades, and how they’re continuously changing as a way of getting insight, as a way of getting inspiration to tailor our messages aimed at current young people.
SOUNDS [00:12:26] (CHEESY NEWS JINGLE)
LUKE JAMES [00:12:35] Good morning and welcome to this Tuesday edition of “Booze, News and Views”. I am Charlie Frickson. Today, I’ll be talking to Lord Alistair MacDougall, one of the founders and leaders of MacDougall Breweries. MacDougall has been viciously criticised recently, as his brewery has put out a new product aimed specifically at younger people. Many have questioned the ethics of producing an alcoholic beverage aimed at such young people. Lord MacDougall, what do you think about the ethics, I mean, about this new beverage, which you have titled “Friskee”? What was the thought process behind producing an alcoholic beverage for young people? Because we’re talking about people aged from 14 even – do you think it’s good that a product like this in the world exists?
JOHN MOONEY [00:13:21] Oh, absolutely. Well we’ve found, doing market research, that young people have actually been drinking less alcohol lately. And the alcohol they have been drinking has been damaging drinks. Likes of Buckfast – which is basically called “Wreck the Hoose Joose” in Scotland. So we’ve introduced a much more responsible spirit called “Friskee”. It makes you slightly tipsy, but still maintains that sociability that we take pride in, in terms of other drinks aimed at the older consumer.
LUKE JAMES [00:13:50] We’re talking about children here, I mean…
JOHN MOONEY [00:13:51] Well, you say “children”, but we’re only talking people from 14 onwards, and we’re stictly…
LUKE JAMES [00:13:56] Young people, young people…
JOHN MOONEY [00:13:57] …strictly controlled. And I know of generations of Scottish clansmen have been brought up on alcohol, drinking from a young age. Alcohol was very much the initial means of obtaining safe drinking water, in the days before chlorination and sanitation.
LUKE JAMES [00:14:16] Wha-? How-?
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:16] As I’m sure you probably know. Everyone drank. Generations of Scottish people have grown up on..
LUKE JAMES [00:14:23] Wait, so wait..
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:24] ..Sensible and judicious consumption of healthy liquor.
LUKE JAMES [00:14:29] And- and, you know, we’re talking about clans here, so, you know, we’re talking like stuff you’d see from Braveheart, and that, right? You know, like, a long time ago.
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:34] Absolutely.
LUKE JAMES [00:14:34] Err, err, and–.
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:36] When Scotland was great!
LUKE JAMES [00:14:36] Err, yeah.. Make Scotland great again.
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:39] Yeah but..
LUKE JAMES [00:14:39] With Friskee!
RICHARD BERRY [00:14:40] And how have you found working in this podcast format to do that? Do you think you’ve reached any insights that you would not have reached, had you used more traditional methods?
JOHN MOONEY [00:14:54] Yes, I think the key take home message. I don’t that has been the Digest ability of the information and that I’ve come to understand podcast as being a much more talking to the individual. So people consume information. It’s the headphone generation. So it’s speaking to lots of people in the broadcast sense but each interaction can be considered almost a one to one level of communication which is probably the essence of podcasting and which is really instructive in terms of communicating health messages because you realize you have to be compelling and to draw individuals in their own level because there’s an element creative practice here as well isn’t.
[00:15:40] It’s not sort of writing or presenting formal ideas you’re asking students to participants here to be kind of creative with it as well. The element of focussing there isn’t there. You’ve got a hey guys it’s got to be 30 seconds and funny and snappy and as that helped shape some of the ideas.
JOHN MOONEY [00:16:01] Absolutely, and I think what’s been really helpful is just having the time and the space to develop the ideas, and making everyone aware of the fact that not every idea is going to be really useful, or really funny, or really engaging, so it’s a.. It’s a question of almost brainstorming things that might work, and enabling people to almost switch off their inner critics, and come up with ideas that can then bounce off other people in the group, can bounce off the facilitators, and, at the end of the day be the raw material for a really well-balanced and coherent product, or a piece of work.
LUKE JAMES [00:16:41] A lot of parents out there, you know, they’ve been going on social media and they’ve been complaining about, as I say the ethics, I mean.. What do you think about those who complain that, you know, that is unacceptable?
JOHN MOONEY [00:16:50] Well, we’re in a culture which is basically saturated with alcohol in Scotland. All we are doing is making a much more affordable, healthier alternative to the types of drink which are irresponsibly sold by some of our competitors.
LUKE JAMES [00:17:05] You don’t think children drinking is a bad thing, basically.
JOHN MOONEY [00:17:07] Children are going to drink. That’s basically a fait accompli. So, if we accept that, then our duty as providers – as responsible providers – is to provide them with alcoholic drinks that are not overly intoxicating, but still give them that sense of sociability, assured they’re not going to be imbibed with high caffeine, such as in some of these much more dangerous drinks. Such as, in Canada, actually called “*BEEP*ed Up”, in fact, which we believe is completely irresponsible, and completely against our ethical codes.
LUKE JAMES [00:17:46] Okay, well joining us to provide a counter argument to Lord MacDougall’s is Vera Brown, who is with us today. She is a mother, she has been one of the many people who have been vocal on Facebook and Twitter about the dangers of MacDougall’s products.
HESTER DOWLING [00:18:04] Hello.
JOHN MOONEY [00:18:04] Hi Vera.
HESTER DOWLING [00:18:04] Hello, it’s nice to be here.
LUKE JAMES [00:18:08] What are your thoughts on this new product by MacDougall?
HESTER DOWLING [00:18:10] I’ve tried it, it’s very nice actually.
JOHN MOONEY [00:18:13] Thank you, Vera, glad to hear that.
LUKE JAMES [00:18:16] Err, well okay, well…
HESTER DOWLING [00:18:16] Well I tried its afternoon, it was very nice. I was very surprised.
LUKE JAMES [00:18:20] Errr…
JOHN MOONEY [00:18:20] Thank you, Vera.
SOUNDS [00:18:21] (CHEESY NEWS JINGLE)
JOHN MOONEY [00:18:31] In your experience then Richard, in working with other academics, and researchers, do you find any parallels in the process of making what is ostensibly serious material, and to engaging informative content? Are there lessons to take away from experience in public health that’s applicable to other disciplines?
RICHARD BERRY [00:18:55] I think there probably are. I think what was interesting in this project is there’s a fourth person, really, involved in this, and that’s Dr Caroline Mitchell, who brought her background in kind of participatory practice into this. In terms of how we involve participants in that research stage, which I think was interesting.
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:15] Well yeah, I think that it’s given me…
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:18] Oh wow, John!
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:18] I got the bug…
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:18] I’ll be brilliant!
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:18] I really got the bug again for radio, I think that’ll be brilliant to do.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:21] Oh wow!
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:22] Amazing.
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:22] I happen to think some of the best broadcasting voices are Scottish.
JAY SYKES [00:19:27] (CHUCKLES).
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:27] They are, some of them.
RICHARD BERRY [00:19:30] Eddie Mair.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:31] Yes, Kirsty…
RICHARD BERRY [00:19:31] Wark.
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:31] Oh, Kirsty, Kirsty Young, yeah.
RICHARD BERRY [00:19:32] Young.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:32] She’s got a lovely voice, beautiful.
JOHN MOONEY [00:19:32] Yeah, yeah.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:35] Well done, well done. And Hester and the other, the bloke..
JAY SYKES [00:19:40] Luke.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:40] .. Were buzzing when they came downstairs. They were. I said “how’s it gone?” “Oh it was great, you know?”.
JAY SYKES [00:19:44] That’s good to hear, that’s good to hear.
CAROLINE MITCHELL [00:19:44] So they seemed happy, they seemed really happy, yeah.
RICHARD BERRY [00:19:47] Typically what happens within academic podcasts, it’s academics talking to other academics, or academics talking about their work. But I think what we’ve done here, and what you’ve been doing working with the participants and with Jay as the producer, is adding that extra layer, and talking to them, getting some ideas from the participants, working and evolving those into comedy. This project is probably more multi-layered than lots of other similar projects. But I think what’s interesting about podcasting is it’s so diverse, and it’s so flexible.
JAY SYKES [00:20:25] Hi, I’m Jay. My name’s Jay Sykes, I’m a freelance Audio Producer based in Sunderland, an Academic Tutor at the University of Sunderland teaching audio and radio production, and I’m also the editor and workshop co-facilitator on board the CoLab project with John, Richard, and Caroline.
JAY SYKES [00:20:44] We don’t know what that is, so we need to introduce what the concept of “guama” is. Because, like, the average person knows what caffeine is, but the average person doesn’t know “guana”. So..
HESTER DOWLING [00:20:52] It’s guarana, the word.
JAY SYKES [00:20:52] Guarana?
HESTER DOWLING [00:20:54] Yeah, G U A, R A N A.
JAY SYKES [00:20:57] Okay.
JOHN MOONEY [00:20:57] Just use “stimulants”.
HESTER DOWLING [00:20:59] Well, he said it’s like caffeine, didn’t he?
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:02] Yeah, it’s a stimulant.
LUKE JAMES [00:21:02] I think “stimulants” might be funny. You know, just.. “Only 60 percent of Friskee is pure alcohol. The rest is a healthy mixture of sugar, glucose, fructose.. And STIMULANTS!”
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:12] (LAUGHS).
HESTER DOWLING [00:21:12] (LAUGHS) Yeah.
JAY SYKES [00:21:12] Yes, I like it.
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:13] You gotta say it stimulatingly, yeah, like that. (CHUCKLES)
LUKE JAMES [00:21:16] We use a stimulant gonorrhea, which produces..
JAY SYKES [00:21:18] Gonorrhea?! (LAUGHS).
LUKE JAMES [00:21:19] Gonna.. Guarana.
HESTER DOWLING [00:21:20] (LAUGHS).
LUKE JAMES [00:21:20] Guarana… Can we work that in? Like, you know, we used the stimulant gonorrh– err, guarana.
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:29] Err, I think that’s just a bit…
LUKE JAMES [00:21:30] Yeah, okay, yeah. Too long.
JAY SYKES [00:21:31] Well we could, no, we could do that. You could do that. Because you can say it, and we can put in a little beep, because it…
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:37] Well, STDs would be a risk if you’re becoming more frisky. (CHUCKLE) So..
JAY SYKES [00:21:42] Aiii! That’s not a bad idea, we haven’t played on the sexual angle of “Friskee”…
JOHN MOONEY [00:21:44] No.
HESTER DOWLING [00:21:44] No.
RICHARD BERRY [00:21:44] I was at a podcast conference the other week. And there’s a session from George the Poet who’s made a podcast called “Have You Heard George’s Podcast?”, which won loads of awards last year. And they were saying, “well what is it?” Because he’s a poet, and he’s a spoken word artist, and is now a podcaster – and he said he “didn’t put it in a box”, when he’s coming up with the ideas. That’s what you’re talking about. You’re not putting it in a box, so you’re not saying “well this is an academic talking about their work”, or “this is not a comedy podcast”. You can hybrid, and you can put other forms in, and you can find the best way to communicate the message that you want to communicate. I think that’s perhaps, you know, a takeaway here. We’re in found good academic practice, in terms of engaging participants to identify ideas and themes, worked with them to then co-create content with an academic. And I think when it comes to public health, that may be it. Does that mean that you’re working with people with weight issues, or with smoking issues, and empowering them to explore these issues and then to make content around that? Because as we know people are resistant to advertising, but people like content. They like stories, they like hearing other people. Podcasting in particular has done some great work around mental health because they’re giving people a forum to talk openly about their mental health. And there’s a lot of podcasts that do that. And you hear some incredible stories because of this intimate nature of podcasts. But then people can listen to that and empathise and engage. So, I think, you know, the potential around public health is huge.
JOHN MOONEY [00:23:26] In mainstream public health there’s now a huge emphasis on being able to contextualise evidence, to effectively “storify” it, and make it much more engaging and identifiable to your target audiences. So, gone are the days when public health professionals would rely exclusively on graphs and charts and tables to communicate public health messages, which had a very dry form of communication.
RICHARD BERRY [00:23:52] Yeah.
JOHN MOONEY [00:23:53] However convincing and however robust they might be scientifically, for the purposes of academic conferences.. When you’re actually trying to convince a council, or council members or the lay members of a committee about the benefits of a particular intervention or policy, what you really need to do is contextualise that evidence, and give a human face – much in the way that you’re suggesting.
RICHARD BERRY [00:24:15] It’s about stories, isn’t it?
JOHN MOONEY [00:24:17] Absolutely.
SOUNDS [00:24:17] (THEME MUSIC)
RICHARD BERRY [00:24:21] So, we’ve given you a taste for podcasts, John. Is this something that you could see going forward as something that might become part of your research output?
JOHN MOONEY [00:24:31] I’ve certainly rediscovered my bug for radio, and broadcasting in general. And podcasting. I would certainly see as a part of that. I’ve always enjoyed listening to the spoken word, and that’s something I’d really like to make much more of professionally in the future, yeah.
RICHARD BERRY [00:24:51] Is there any advice you’d give to any other academics within this university, or other universities, who might look at this and go “hmm, maybe, but I’m not quite sure.” How do you convince other people to think about podcasting as a way of communicating messages?
JOHN MOONEY [00:25:07] Well I think the lifeblood of academia is communication and dissemination. And so, I think unless you are actually up to speed and comfortable with modern forms of communication, you risk your message not actually being heard, and not being able to effectively get across to the to the groups, the populations, and the audiences that you want to reach.
RICHARD BERRY [00:25:30] Absolutely.