What We Are Listening To: Two Scientists walk into a bar

Jane Grogan is a scientist with a background in radio and each week she talks to a different scientist about their work, while in a bar.

What do I like about it?

This show is really well put together. The introduction is simple and clear, and then each show starts with a series of vox pops – snippets of different voices talking about that particular shows topic. The host Jane then sets up the topic and the guest and we’re off.  But my favourite bit about this is when Wellington the producer chips in. It’s not Wellington himself, not his voice or the things he says but the mechanic and the way it is used. When you have two people who live and breathe a subject, it’s quite easy for them to move into jargon, and discuss subjects and concepts that may be beyond the grasp of many listeners – in other words assume that because they know it, everybody listening knows about it. Rather than ignore this section of the audience, or stop the conversation with the guest and waste interview time explaining these concepts, Two Scientists avoids alienating the audience by using the producer in post production. When putting the show together, if there’s a point at which they feel the average listener may be lost, Wellington “buzzes in”, Jane records an extra line or two to answer him, and then picks up the interview again. Effectively, Wellington is the guy that isn’t worried about what people will think by admitting he doesn’t know what that last part meant. It is a really simple way to keep the audience engaged and involved in the subject, without losing any pace.  As a result I reckon I could now jump into an intellectual conversation about breast cancer or brain damage, without sounding like an idiot.

What could make it better?

This is actually a question I’m struggling to answer.  The sound quality is so good that I’m not sure if I believe that it’s actually recorded in a bar, but to be honest that doesn’t make any difference to my consumption of it. The only thing I would advise them is to bank more interviews as the show has already gone from being a fortnightly to a monthly release. Preparing, recording and producing a podcast can eat a lot of time, particularly if you are producing it to such a high standard. If you go to make a brand new show every two weeks, you can quickly find your output slowing down because one guest cancels, or gets ill. My advice on this would be to record the interviews whenever and wherever you can. If you can always have 5 or 6 interviews ready to go, you give yourself a buffer zone of three months where you can maintain that regular output. Now this may not be the way that everyone listens, but it certainly helps maintain your profile within iTunes and increase your chances of organic listens by becoming featured.

Who could take inspiration from this format?

Anybody who does an interview based show. At first listen it may seem fairly straightforward but it’s a great example of how a little planning and post production editing can make your show a lot slicker. And also how a topic which can make people feel inferior, can be presented in a format which makes them feel part of the conversation.