Merry that bit between Christmas and New Year!!

Hi all,

It’s a sunny Christmas Eve and I’m wrapping presents while listening to a 100% Xmas tunes playlist. Here is a gigantic picture of me as a reindeer, so that this newsletter has a social image.

I’ll keep this short and sweet as you’re probably doing something similar, or you’re on the move, or you’re home and family traditions have kicked in and your mum’s going to tell you off for being on your phone…

Here’s some stuff for when you’re bored on Boxing Day.

My list of things I wrote in 2019 that I’m proud of:

My podcast moments of the year:

Here’s my last published thing of the year - it’s about grief and what happens afterwards - and so is the newsletter Cruel Summer Book Club, by Jillian Anthony, Deputy Editorial Director, North America at Culture Trip. I recommend signing up.

That’s it, that’s the newsletter.

Thank you for reading! And for generally consuming my content! Your attention is gold dust and I appreciate it hugely.

I’ll write again in the new year when I should have a bit more news, and a slightly different direction for this lil publication.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy yourself and take some time off.

For anyone in London between December 26th and 31st, welcome to the The Best Time Of The Year. The place just empties out, it’s cold, it’s sunny and the city is ours again. Take lots of pictures and have a blast.

All the best,

Suchandrika x

Freelance Pod is one year old!

Hello there,

Well, would you look at that, I‘ve been making this little podcast for a whole darn year now! That was my main aim when I started: to produce a podcast for a year, and see what happened. I made that my aim because I’d had to leave behind my first podcast at my old job, after only six months of working on it. I was still fizzing with ideas and wanting to learn more about making audio.

Listen now

I go into more detail about starting Freelance Pod here. I set myself the challenge of making a podcast completely by myself, including the technical side. I also wanted to push the boundaries of my longform interviewing, and play with editing, to get the best narrative line out of my relaxed, often somewhat rambling interviews. I wanted to see what kinds of settings would result in different tones from my interviewees, and where to gently press them to find emotion and passion in their voices, the most compelling part of audio.

Listen now

This year of making audio has brought me more than I could’ve dreamed of. 38 episodes, three live shows, speaking, writing and teaching gigs. Tonight, I’m off to The Lovie Awards tonight, where I’ve been shortlisted for Best Host in the Podcasts category, alongside Anne McElvoy of The Economist Asks!

I’ve met and spoken to incredible interviewees I might not have contacted otherwise. I’ve become part of a supportive, fun and inclusive podcaster community, which I’d discovered when making my first podcast. However, until making a podcast of my own, I didn’t know if I could become a member of that community without feeling like an imposter. Now, I have.

I’ve really grown to love my theme of how the internet has changed the news and creative jobs, and I’m starting to dig deeper into more emotional subjects. I’ve decided to celebrate the podcast’s first birthday with an exploration of grieving in the digital age, with author Rachel Vorona Cote. You can pre-order Rachel’s first book, Too Much, which is out in February 2020.

*** UPDATE: THE EPISODE IS OUT NOW! *** Coming up imminently on the #podcast: author @rachvcote on the part that the internet played when she lost her mom and started to grieve for her.
Full of wisdom and insight into how much more open we can be about #grief now, in a digital age - but mourning online has its limits.
November 13, 2019

I found Rachel through her excellent Longreads piece on the subject, and we just clicked when we spoke, even though it was about the worst moments of our lives. I took away a lot of wisdom from Rachel’s episode, and insight into how the internet can help - and hinder - our deepest emotional processes.

Even though I’ve sat on this audio a little while, when it came to the voiceover, I realised that I’m still not ready to fully explore my own experiences of grief on the podcast.

On the 🎙🎙🎙 with Monty & @sadia_azmats of @bbcsounds #podcast No Country For Young Women! Results on yer 🎧🎧🎧 if you tune into @bbcradio4 at the end of the month 😂😂😂 #latergram
November 12, 2019

It’s something that came up this week when I was interviewing Sadia Azmat of BBC Sounds’ No Country For Young Women podcast. She avoids directly speaking about a family issue on the podcast, referring to it obliquely by reminding her co-host and longtime friend Monty Onanuga of when they last spoke about it.

However, in the second part of a live show, Sadia slips in some stand-up where she is very open and outspoken about the issue. When I asked her about it, she said that sometimes it easier to write and deliver a performance about a tough subject; to speak about it in conversation on a podcast is too intimate, too much. You can hear this interview as part of a BBC production I’m working on that’ll be out at the end of the month.

In a similar vein, I use Rachel’s reaction to my story, and her summary of it, to explain why I care about grief - in fact, why I know anything about it. For more background, have a read of these personal essays I’ve written, on the changing shape of grief, and on the things that are left behind.

Listen to the episode

I’m keen to make more episodes about grief and other emotions that are more visible in an internet age - if you have a story or an idea, let me know.

If it’s a subject close to your heart, I recommend Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain. Katie was 32 when her husband Jamie died suddenly, three years ago. She’s been detailing her progress through grief in her newsletters. The latest edition is about how long to hang on to a loved one’s things, and it features a look at my recent Curbed essay.

What a thing it is to see your words about #grief comfort someone else who's been suffering ❤💙💚💛💜🖤❤
You can read more from Katie Hawkins-Gaar (@katiehawk) by signing up for her newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain.
She quotes from my @curbed essay - link in bio 👆👆👆
November 13, 2019

Part of grieving is feeling isolated, and not knowing if the strangeness of what you feel is normal. The internet can help you find a community like nothing that’s come before; Katie’s newsletter is a good place to start.

My Sweet Dumb Brain

I’m currently writing up a running order for Freelance Pod’s third live show of the year, featuring author Gemma Milne. We’ll be talking about how to get your nonfiction book published (Gemma’s book Smoke & Mirrors is out in April 2020, and currently available for pre-order); how to brand yourself online; and how hype in science & tech reporting obscures the truth, and instead gives us weird headlines like ‘Robots are going to steal your jobs!’.

Been planning a live #podcast show with this brilliant one @gemmamilnewriter - get your ticket over at the link in bio & we'll see you @boulevardsoho in November! 🎤🎤🎤
October 27, 2019

If you like the internet, words and ideas about the future, plus some small helpings of silliness, it’s the evening for you. This Sunday, 17th September, from 6:30pm at the Boulevard Theatre, Soho. The stalls are filling out nicely, and don’t be afraid of sitting close to the stage! It’s a safe space and we won’t be mean to you. The best £12 you’ll spend all weekend, promise :)

Get your ticket now

Have I been reading, watching, listening to anything? Sure, but in a haze of back-to-back colds and transatlantic flights. It’s been a bit of a blur. I’ll reboot my memory ahead of the next newsletter.

Until then! x

Standard Issue Podcast at the Boulevard Theatre, Soho

Hi there,

You get to hear from Standard Issue Podcast on the latest episode of Freelance Pod! So let’s forget about the actual news and take a little walk down memory lane to the neon-lit Soho of the last century, via 90s lads’ mags, shall we…?

Listen Now

(L-R: Jen Offord, me, Mickey Noonan, Hannah Dunleavy: 3/4 of Standard Issue)

Standard Issue was first set up as an online magazine by comedian Sarah Millican, to be produced by women, for women. The concept has now evolved into a podcast, which has in recent weeks featured starry names like author Malorie Blackman, football legend Eni Aluko and comedians Sophie Duker and Sara Pascoe.

Sarah initially hired journalist Mickey Noonan to write for SI. One of my favourite discoveries of the recording is that, among many other print journalism jobs, Mickey once spent 9 months as a lads’ mag sexpert.

Mickey then hired Hannah Dunleavy (with a background in comedy and newspapers) - who would never have thought at that point that, thanks to this job, she’d one day end up on a stage with Janeane Garofalo, explaining what a Phillip Schofield is.

Jen Offord was brought onboard after she made the leap from the civil service to sports journalism, via blogging and publishing a book. Along that journey, she also had the misfortune of meeting Boris Johnson, alas.

Listen Now

(The Boulevard Theatre in a former life - see the bridge? We recorded just to the left of that, just out of shot. It’s a lot calmer there now)

We got together to record the episode at the newly-refurbished Boulevard Theatre, Soho (have a look around here), because we’ve both got live podcast recordings there in November. You can catch Standard Issue’s women in TV-themed show on Sunday 10th November, from 6:30pm.

Freelance Pod’s live show is on the week after, on Sunday 17th November, from 6:30pm.

If you’d like to know more about what to expect from the Freelance Pod live show, there’s also a cameo appearance form my guest for that evening, science writer and soon-to-be-author, Gemma Milne. There’ll be some debunking of pseudoscience, a look at self-branding and freelancing, plus a peek at the process of getting a nonfiction book published.

It’s a raucous, fun, witty and wise episode - Standard Issue and Gemma can come back any time!

Listen Now

What I’ve been up to recently

I wrote about what it’s like when your parents leave home before you do, for Curbed

I also wrote about how cloud computing can revolutionise workplace training, for The Times / Raconteur

I was quoted in this podcast report, by one of the hosts of the Media Voices Podcast (speaking of which, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff’s episode is v.good)

I’m writing to you from a freelance pop-up - an event where freelancers work in proximity to each other, leaving open the chance to meet new people over lunch. Sounds like your kind of thing? Follow FJ & Co for info on more events.

What I’ve found memorable online recently

That’s all from me for now, if you’re coming to the live show, make sure you let me know! x

Special guest for Freelance Pod's November live recording revealed...

Hi all,

The science writer - and soon-to-be-author of Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How to See Past It* - will be joining me onstage as my guest for Freelance Pod’s live recording at the Boulevard Theatre, Soho in November!

Aside from the writing, Gemma is a well-travelled keynote speaker and moderator, and co-founded Science Disrupt, which is all about discussions with innovators, iconoclasts & entrepreneurs intent on creating change in science.

I’m looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and learning some stuff about science, and it’s going to be a fun and interactive show involving you, the audience too!

Up for it? Let me know if you’re going to join us! Just hit reply to this email.

To anyone involved in, or who came along to my London Podcast Festival live recording: if you want to come along to this, please let me know if you’re thinking of buying a ticket?

Here’s the link for more information and tickets. It’s a huge honour to get to perform in this space, and so I can’t wait to welcome you to the perfect little Boulevard Theatre. It’s intimate, so, um, yeah, if you’re in the stalls and on the balcony edge, I’ll be able to see you from the stage… but I’ll only pick out people in the audience to contribute for fun reasons, promise! That’s the guarantee of a Freelance Pod performance.

*Gemma’s book is available for pre-order right now; pre-ordering is like shaking gold dust over a debut author’s career, just saying…

The next episode of the podcast is out soon, and it will be an interview with writer Rachel Vorona Cote about how we handle grief online. Episodes will be fortnightly-ish for the rest of the year.

That’s all for this little newsflash, I’ll write again soon x

"During war, all relationships are temporary"

Hi there,

The latest episode of Freelance Pod was recorded in front of a live audience at the London Podcast Festival in September 2019. Abdul Tahhan joined me onstage to guide us through his forced journey from Aleppo, Syria to London, and what’s happened in the six years since. As his own upcoming podcast aims to show, a refugee’s story doesn’t end when they get leave to remain in a safe place - but a new story of integration does begin.

While we did deal with serious subjects, Abdul is always keen to highlight the fact that refugees often respond to tough times as anyone else would do - with a lot of humour. That’s part of why Abdul is such a great storyteller, especially when it comes to experiences we don’t often hear enough about.

From the hierarchy of who gets to sleep on which floor in an abandoned Syrian post office that somehow keeps escaping the bombs, to whether or not he should add “love” on the end of his customer chat as a barista, Abdul’s perspective shines a new light on the things we take for granted.

I’m also incredibly pleased that the audience got into the spirit of things really quickly, despite the fact that, firstly, some of that laughter is going to be uncomfortable, and secondly that the Life in the UK Test questions they tried to answer are, yup, completely off the wall.

I loved pulling together a live show and performing it in front of the audience, so I’m thrilled to be getting the chance to put on a couple more shows this year - more info further down this email.

Listen now!

It's out! The latest episode is the recording of the #podcast's first-ever live show, courtesy of #LondonPodFest 2019!
Syrian refugee, stand-up comedian and journalist Abdul Tahhan takes to the stage with @suchandrika to recount his journey from Syria to London, via living in post offices, jumping borders, learning the word "loo" and being a barista.
Also - can you beat the audience on the Life in the UK Test questions? Good luck! Maybe all that pod merch could've been yours!!
You have two more chances to see the pod live this year. One's sold out, but tickets have just gone on sale for @freelancepod's show @boulevardsoho on Sunday 17th November.
#podcasting #refugees #refugeeswelcome #syria #migrants #citizenship #british
October 6, 2019

Here are the slides that provided the backdrop and structure to the 90-minute show. They’re worth a quick click through as we do refer to them on the episode, but you don’t need to look at them or have them up the enjoy the pod.

A huge thank you to Abdul for all the time and effort he put in; to London Podcast Festival programmer Zoë Jeyes for including Freelance Pod on the bill; and to my wonderful friends who turned up in the audience, answered silly questions and looked happy when they won even sillier prizes! Thank you so much for being there ❤️

Listen now!

(📸 by Bishakha Hughes)

Things I’m doing IRL

Two new live shows:

  • Unfortunately, this one’s sold out now - but it’s worth keeping an eye out generally for Refugee Journalism Project events, it’s such a great cause

  • Freelance Pod will be playing the newly-refurbished Boulevard Theatre Soho (see picture above for how it used to look), on 17th November, as part of their Sunday Service programme. It’s a gorgeously intimate space, and I’ve got a special surprise guest who I’ll announce soon. Come along and join us! It’s a lot less neon and X-rated now, promise 😂


What I’ve been writing

Events to look out for

A question for podcasters - please tweet Sarah back today if possible

What to watch

What to read

What to listen to

As always, if you have a moment and feel like it, please rate and review the Freelance Pod over on Apple Podcasts

That’s all from me this week, will write again soon x

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