What’s it like to be a triplet?
What do teenagers think about 8-year-olds using smartphones, or about online groups that encourage anorexia?
What do young people’s ‘stress monsters’ look like, and how do they keep them in check?
At Exposure we’ve learned about all of these things since we started producing youth-led podcasts. It’s been a lot of fun, especially when you get them into a professional recording studio. So far we’ve been hosted/supported by White City Place, a creative development in west London, and across town at Splice in Shoreditch.
If you’re not of the Snapchat generation, listening to the musings of a bunch of teenagers or university students is like stumbling upon a conversation you’d never normally be part of. (Unless perhaps you have teenage kids — though from what some parents say, such conversations may still be a complete mystery.)
For Exposure, a podcast works well from a project management point of view: it’s less time-consuming and requires much less input from other people than making a film (we use 1-2 facilitators, a sound engineer and an editor to put the whole thing together).
It also works well for young people who don’t necessarily listen to podcasts themselves, and for those who don’t want to write articles for us, but still have something to say. There is a certain amount of written preparation involved — after one or two sessions of brainstorming and discussion, we get each person to work on a short written script to guide them — but we aim for lots of unscripted chatting during the recording. Often the off-the-cuff comments, teasing and quick-fire comebacks are the best bits in the final piece.
And though it doesn’t require a lengthy involvement from the young people, it’s still a valuable exercise in communicating effectively. As we’re preparing, we ask each person (and they begin asking each other): will that be clear to a listener who doesn’t have all the context? Are you going off on a tangent too much? Are you repeating yourself? Should that point come later on? Then, as we practice, we remind them to speak more slowly or more clearly, to pause or to emphasise something, and ask them to come up with discussion points and questions for each other’s scripts.
For us oldies, it’s also an excellent language lesson. Posting slips, sliding a couple of DMs, curving someone, double-tapping an Insta pic? I’ve deciphered them all now.