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  • Katharine Kerr

2022 Highlights From Our Founder and Looking Ahead


Grow Festival in July

It could have been easy to let 2022 slip by without a backwards glance. I am after all just embarking on leave from my business to have my first baby, and right now nursery paint colours and little animal mobiles are top of mind.

Whilst pregnancy has added to the challenges of running a business and doing the work this year, it has also brought a renewed vitality and focus to what we do at Podcast Pioneers, and what we want to continue doing, even whilst I’m off in the land of night feeds and nappies.

It's been a very busy year and more than ever I’ve found myself making instinctive decisions about the work we do. Certainly a shift for the ‘consider-all’ producer type who plans out multiple timelines and eventualities, but it’s also led to growth; to saying no to the wrong things and yes to the right ones.

At the start of the year we embarked on a series with the Tree Council, with whom we developed an inclusive and educational six-part series aimed at inspiring young people into jobs in nature. Our second goal was to show the world the importance of hedgerows in our natural landscapes and ecosystems. Their amazing team put complete trust in our idea: to take the listener out into the magic of nature with sound, and to put young workers in charge of presenting their work and passions.

Rick with one of our stars on location in Norwood Park for Life on the Hedge

With a rapid turnaround time and plenty of location recording around the country, I needed a producer with the flexibility and skill to both write, coach and implement recordings. Cue Rick Simmonds, who I’d worked with in a previous life at the Heart Network. Not only did Rick Simmonds do justice to the goals of the charity with an absolutely beautiful production, he shared the principles that make Podcast Pioneers projects unique – that is our focus on creating intelligent and imaginative listens that deliver true value to their audiences and the world.

Since then, Rick’s been a stalwart part of the team, working with us on conservation charity Jamma International’s Beneath the Baobab with Gordon Buchanan, and the University of Portsmouth’s Life Solved to name a couple of fantastic productions. I’m delighted that he’ll be looking after things at Podcast Pioneers whilst I’m on maternity leave.


Beneath the Baobab explores conservation at the intersection of communities and wildlife

A few other highlights from this year, if I may, if only to share with you a few good listens!

Our ongoing partnership with inspirational thinktank Green Alliance has meant their Insights podcast is keeping the public and policymakers one step ahead of the conversation on our green future. We’ve collaborated with Karen Shalev Greene and Caroline Humer to bring forward issues and debate around our world’s hidden crisis: the missing persons pandemic. Missing Persons Uncovered sheds light on the problem and its misconceptions, as they push to raise the profile of this under-developed research area.

We’re proud to have worked with Ben Bowers on The Nod – his mindful motorcycling podcast aimed at promoting healthy conversations and good mental health, alongside pals Charley Boorman and Anthony Partridge.

Advolly Richmond, Prof. Alex Antonelli & Ajay Chhabra in Kew's Palm House

I’ve continued to provide services to our friends at the brilliant Fresh Air Production, creating Kew’s latest series “Unearthed: Journeys Into the Future of Food” with hosts James Wong, Advolly Richmond and Poppy Okocha – a project that couldn’t be closer to my heart, even if morning sickness and a Summer heatwave presented some challenges! With Fresh Air I also worked to evolve National Grid’s “The Clean Energy Revolution” during a time when the public conversation around energy and its role in our lives and the path to net zero was undergoing massive change. Presenter Max La Manna stepped into big shoes from Helen Skelton on series 2 and has done a sterling job!

This year had its fair share of awards ceremonies too, with Legal and General’s Rewirement Series 2 recognised at Communicate Magazine’s Corporate Content Awards in April, and my lockdown labour of love – Greater Anglia’s Lives on the Lines – receiving a bronze for branded content at the British Podcast Awards.


Another fantastic night at the Corporate Content Awards in April, pictured with Michaela, Richard and Neil from Fresh Air Production

And as the face masks faded, the opportunities to feel confident getting out and about at conferences and conventions in 2022 grew. This year has been fantastic for meeting people face to face again, and not just for in-person recordings. From the absolutely bewildering success of the Podcast Show in May, where Rick, Catherine Lodge and I manned our stand and chatted with businesses looking to dive into the world of audio, to the Grow Festival in the Summer, where fledgling podcasters flocked to the parched grasses of Kennington. I loved giving talks at these events too, as well as a workshop to Audiotrain attendees looking to make successful branded podcast content.

Rick and Catherine at the Podcast Show

As part of the AudioUK Board I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from some of our industry’s finest in order to better represent and advocate for companies in our trade. As my contribution I worked to develop Audio UK’s Sustainability Guidelines, with thanks to Climate EQ, which we launched with a hugely fun panel at the Radio Academy Festival in September. Our all-woman line-up saw Bauer, The BBC, News UK and Indies represented and reaching some important consensus on how we collaborate as an industry to ensure our working practises are supporting everyone on the road to net zero.



An excellent cross-industry conversation at The Radio Festival

For me, it’s truly fantastic to reflect upon the alignment that’s taken place in the kind of projects Podcast Pioneers works on this year. I can proudly say that everything we do is done with the aim of helping make the world a better place through audio. We want to enrich lives with knowledge and disseminate ideas and information that moves people, creates memories and emotion and stirs action. So do our clients!

I’m hugely grateful to all the people I have worked with and the friends I have made this year, collaborating on projects we care deeply and sincerely about. And I’m honoured at the time and energy everyone has put in to making our programmes the best they can be. Trust, collaboration, passion and fun has been at the heart of our relationships this year and I think it shows in the results.

As we look forward to 2023, it’s my ambition that the programmes we make continue to bring hope, optimism and positive change to a world experiencing more than one crisis. I hope that the continued hunger for podcasts continues to stir opinion and insights into other lives and experiences and to enrich the world my son will shortly be arriving into.

This year, you can follow the revitalised Podcast Pioneers blog on our industry as well as thoughts and techniques for the medium at podcastpioneers.com/blog.

In the meantime, wishing all my colleagues and friends a very happy and prosperous New Year!


Katharine

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