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Podcasting for building understanding and mobilizing knowledge


Annie Webb


Jun 17, 2022


Have you ever thought of starting a podcast about the work you do, whether it be scientific research, traditional and Indigenous knowledge, and everything in between? As podcasting continues to enjoy increasing higher listenership, it's becoming an essential tool to share research and knowledge with the broader public.

On April 28th, 2022, the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) and the Canadian Mountain Podcast production team hosted a free webinar to talk about how they blend journalistic practice and knowledge mobilization together to create rich learning opportunities for student producers and the public at large. They also discussed their research into developing land acknowledgments for podcasting.

Listen to the full webinar here

The Canadian Mountain Podcast is a knowledge mobilization initiative highlighting CMN-supported research and facilitating other important discussions relevant to mountain research in Canada and around the world. The podcast is produced as a training partnership with the Journalism Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. As an extension of CMN, the podcast creates a space where we can learn about mountains in different ways, including through Indigenous and Western Ways of knowing.

Along with CMN programs manager Nicole Olivier, Professor Meg Wilcox and the podcast production team, Kyle Napier, Catalina Berguno Astorga, Vanessa Forbister, Sydney Klassen, Gabrielle Pyska, Eric Tanner and Ethan Ward, discussed their collaborative approach and process for producing the podcast. This involves researching the episode topic, generating questions and contacting guests, recording the interview, as well as post-production and editing.

The podcast is truly a collaborative effort that mobilizes complex topics into an audience-friendly platform and focuses on both audio and journalistic practices. The podcast is an opportunity to learn about a range of knowledge systems and therefore, the producers must have a clear idea of the theme and research the topic thoroughly before recording an episode. Some podcast topics are suggested by CMN, while others are generated by the podcast team through their own brainstorming. Approximately one episode is released per month by a team of one producer and one interviewer. Each 30-45-minute episode requires about 10-15 hours of work to produce.

The podcast team also discussed some of the challenges of the podcast production process, which include ensuring the topic and discussion are comprehensible to the listener, while keeping the episode authentic, personal and genuine, as well as ensuring episode and season consistency and guest availability. Another ongoing challenge is to normalize new journalistic practices and create a safe space for their diverse guests, for example by sending questions in advance. The producers also cautioned that despite meticulous planning, anything can happen at the last minute!

Some of their most important advice for podcast production and interviewing is admitting when you don’t know something and be willing to learn and engage. One striking example is the development of the podcast’s land acknowledgement. The team spent many hours consulting, listening and educating themselves to ensure their statement came from a place of sincerity and respect. They wrote about their process of developing their land acknowledgement in this article in JSOURCE, specifically focusing on audio platforms such as radio and podcasting. The say their most helpful tip came from Indigenous teammate and podcast alumnus Sarah Buffalo, who encouraged them to think of their own homes and what their land and trips to the mountains means to them.

Through this podcast, these students are being exposed to important research and sharing stories that may not otherwise be told, so that listeners may gain a better understanding of diverse perspectives and mountain research throughout Canada. They hope that they can inspire listeners to learn more and seek out even more knowledge to understand issues that matter to them so that they can get involved.

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