Close your mouth and open your ears

  • May 1, 2017

By Zaynab Ubaid

My experience working at “The Broad Experience,” a podcast, was quite fulfilling. I learned lessons that I will carry with me throughout my professional career and for the rest of my life. My job as an intern mainly entailed research and transcription for upcoming episodes of this feminist-oriented podcast. Though I did little interacting with the interview subjects, I gained a lot of knowledge through observation and listening. It’s true what they say, “Sometimes it’s better to close your mouth and open your ears.” That was my biggest takeaway from this internship.

While I was transcribing raw, uncut material for the show, I caught glimpses of all the work that goes into conducting interviews. As a journalism major, I’ve always been unsure as to whether the questions I ask my own interview subjects were the “right ones.” I always wonder whether my questions are hard-hitting enough, thorough enough, interesting enough. I have always been plagued with doubts that I am not doing it the proper way.

My time at “The Broad Experience” helped reinforce techniques that improved my interviewing skills. Listening to the way my boss, Ashley Milne-Tyte, went about asking questions to get the best answers from her subjects was fascinating. She would prepare her questions in advance and talk to her subjects in a comfortable manner so that they felt at ease opening up and giving more detailed answers. Additionally, it was so interesting to see how different podcast interviews are from print interviews. Though I am currently on the print track, I applied for this internship because I wanted to be well rounded.

Podcast interviews needs to be more conversational and less formulaic.  Additionally, it is imperative to find a candidate who can articulate his or her words and get his or her thought across clearly. My boss would often locate potential interview candidates, and in her first interaction with them, she would merely say that she would like to talk briefly to them. During the conversation, she would ascertain whether they were eloquent, and if they were, she would ask for a formal interview with them.

That was one of my first mistakes on the job. My boss had asked me to find an interview candidate for a show she was doing regarding why there are more women than men in secretarial positions. I had made the mistake of including in my emails to possible sources that I was interested in scheduling an interview. My boss immediately told me that with interviews that rely on audio, I should never immediately tell them I want to interview them, in case they prove not to be the most coherent of speakers. Instead, I should simply say I would love to talk to them.

It’s the small lessons like these that would help me in the future.

As for my advice to students who may be interested in interning for “The Broad Experience,” it’s important to be aware that this podcast focuses on women and the issues that they may face in the workplace. Because there may not be interaction with the interview candidates themselves, I would say that one should possess an interest in the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed the transcription process because I could listen to the stories of several different women from diverse backgrounds and the issues each encountered in her line of work. There is something quite empowering to hear these women speak up and bring to light such matters. Female podcasts listeners often relate deeply to the content and write to my boss about the specific issues they themselves face in the workplace. Truly, it’s an honor to hear these organic, uncensored stories.

Overall, my time at “The Broad Experience” is one I will never forget. Even though I worked remotely, I still had a wholly enjoyable run there, and I feel that I have gained much insight into the world of journalism, specifically in audio and podcast.