I met my co-hosts Aparna and Sanjana over video chat for our first official podcast discussion on the 12th of January. We had been chatting about the podcast on WhatsApp on and off but we’d scheduled this meeting to decide the format, themes, and schedule of our episodes, as well as draft a plan for our pilot episode.
Sanjana suggested two segment ideas for future themed episodes:
1) What If? – Discuss what happens if a specific element is changed in canon
2) Missed Opportunities – Discuss gaps in canon where we can explore diversity
We decided to introduce segments based on the episode and the texts we were discussing, thereby keeping the format for every episode quite flexible. We also decided to record episodes every three weeks rather than every month to make up for the delay in the podcast schedule (I’m about a month behind). When I told them about my too-many-participants problem, Sanjana pointed out I had to stop looking for more at some point soon. While I had initially planned to do another round of recruitment in mid-January, I’ve now indefinitely postponed this plan. Aparna suggested having multiple guests on a single episode. While I was tempted by the multiple guests format, I was (and still am) hesitant about that since it would mean much less time and space for individual guests to share their diverse perspectives and ideas. I’m still undecided but for now, I plan to have more frequent episodes than I had planned with individual guests. Of course, that might turn out to be a huge mistake and cause my future self to boo and hiss at my current self!
Sanjana suggested that the first theme we explore should be race, which Aparna and I immediately agreed to. Sanjana thought it would be a good place for us to start, considering that we’ve grown up identifying with Western media which features people from another race and how this continues to influence our beliefs. She also believed it would be interesting to explore Harry Potter and Doctor Who, both of which are set “in the world that colonised us.” Later, I mentioned that one of my supervisors had suggested our first episode not tackle race since that is a theme which most intersectionality scholarship delves into the most, often at the expense of others. Hearing this, Sanjana had second thoughts. However, I agreed with her previous points. Furthermore, intersectionality scholarship largely explores the perspectives of black communities in the US who have a very different relationship with race than three Indian women, one of whom is now an immigrant in a largely white country.
Before the race episode, though, we agreed it would be prudent to record a pilot episode where we introduced ourselves and our engagement as fans with fandom. Here, we wouldn’t focus on a particular individual theme and would use it as a test episode, since none of us had any podcasting experience. The day after our meeting, I listened to The Sorting Hat episode of Imaginary Worlds, and thought it would provide a perfect framework for our pilot discussion.
Lesson Learned Number 1: Plan!
We had initially decided to record our episode on 18th January but didn’t end up talking about the episode at all until the 17th (by which time we hadn’t planned anything). I suggested meeting to discuss the pilot episode before we recorded it on the now postponed date of the 19th/20th. For future episodes both with my co-hosts and with guests, I’ve learned to be more proactive about planning the schedule to prevent delays.
Lesson Learned Number 2: Communicate!
Sanjana thought the pilot was going to be a mock episode about race. I didn’t think we needed to rehearse an episode before recording it; the pilot episode could act as our experiential learning process. After our meeting, we decided to do a technical test on the 20th and record on the 21st. To avoid miscommunications in future episodes, I’ve learned to clarify plans and not make assumptions about what the other person may have understood.
Lesson Learned Number 3: Discuss!
By the time we met via video chat on 19th January, Aparna had suggested two articles. Before meeting, we jotted down our ideas for potential discussion topics on a shared Google doc. We decided the segment order collaboratively and organically as Paru made notes on this shared document. We also decided that we’d take turns leading different segments and divided responsibilities collectively. We ended the meeting feeling very good about the usefulness of the meeting itself and excited about our episode. For all future episodes, I’m going to meet my co-hosts and guests – preferably over Skype but at least over email or Instant Message – to discuss the format and themes of our episode before recording it.