• Rebecca Somerset

Reflections on venturing into podcasting


Title states Jesuit Collections Podcast under which is a photo of a reliquary shaped as an eye under which subtitle states The Significance of Relics under which to left is the British Jesuit Archives logo and to right the Stonyhurst College Collections logo. All on a navy blue background.
Podcast artwork

As someone who personally enjoys listening to and subscribes to many varied podcasts, I was quite excited when it was suggested that the British Jesuit Archives should consider doing podcasts as another way to share what we do.


The suggestion came as we were exploring how to promote the relic exhibition and so the natural progression was to create a podcast for this. We have in fact created two podcasts linked to the exhibition. The first is an interview with Dr Jan Graffius, Stonyhurst College Collections curator, responsible for curating the exhibition and the second podcast, which has not yet been published, involves discussing the Holywell bones with Professor Maurice Whitehead, Dr Hannah Thomas and Jan.


What I had hoped to achieve with The Significance of Relics podcast was to find a way to share some of the many conversations I had enjoyed with Jan over the years about her experience of caring for relics and to capture the passion she conveys for their importance. I wanted others to also benefit from what I had learned listening to her talk on this topic. Although the podcast largely focus on Jan's knowledge there are also references to the relic collection held at the British Jesuit Archives and the work being done with these. I hope that there is something for everyone in this podcast, but in particular I hope it is useful for others, like us, who have relics in their collections that they are not particularly sure of what to do with. I hope listening to the episode might give some encouragement to begin considering how to list and make these available to researchers, and to reach out to experts, such as Jan, to learn how this is best done.


The second podcast, most likely to be entitled The Holywell Bones, came at Jan's suggestion to include Maurice and Hannah in a recording as they had made vital contributions to the research she did on identifying these bones. Each of them brings a different focus to the episode, which creates a wonderful rounded story. It became clear in the recording that this episode highlighted that there is much scope for more research to be undertaken on Welsh Catholic history, and so I hope that this episode might inspire someone to study this.


Since recording both these podcasts, I have undertaken a short beginners course on podcasting and I continue to research doing podcasts. Now, that I have more knowledge, looking back at these first two attempts, there are things that I would probably do differently, but overall I am extremely pleased with how these have turned out as I think they provide wonderful insight into how we, in the heritage sector, care for objects and work to research and produce exhibitions.


The actual recording of these podcasts has also been a learning experience. With the first podcast we had several attempts at remote recording, but we continually hit technical issues such as internet speeds insufficiently strong, that we ended up recording in the Pray-As-You-Go recording studio in Mount Street. Emma Holland, P-A-Y-G Creative Manager, made the task stress-free for us. I'm also immensely grateful that she took over the editing process and thereby made recording a podcast extremely easy for me.


We succeeded in recording the second podcast remotely and I am now equipped with a good microphone set up but where possible recording in the studio will be my preference as Emma was able to prompt us when necessary to slow down or repeat something that was not audibly clear, which makes for better audio, and there is no worry about unwanted distracting background noises.


I really enjoyed producing teaser clips, such as the one below from the interview with Jan, in order to promote the podcast, having learned about a tool to do so on my podcasting course. And Deputy Archivist Mary created the artwork, inspired by our exhibition theme, to accompany this. And to address access issues we have included a full transcript on the website.


You can listen to the entire podcast episode on Extras | Jesuit Collections


As I believe it is so important to share not only the wonderful collections we are privileged to care for, but also about the work that we do to collect, preserve and make this available, and since I enjoyed creating these first two podcasts, I am determined to do more podcasts in future, and not just in relation to new jesuitcollections exhibitions. I think podcasting provides an exciting new way of sharing our work and I have lots of ideas for topics and interviews so watch this space for more to come! Of course, as with everything, podcasting is not a quick process and requires careful consideration and planning with lots of time for scripting, recording and editing needed. And I have lots to learn and practice.


If you have any feedback on our first podcast or have suggestions for future ones please get in touch.

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