Vogue announces first-ever podcast series. What it might mean for you?

Vogue, has joined the podcast plane and its flight captain is none other than Academy Award-Winner Steve McQueen. “This project has been bubbling in my mind for a number of years”, he says in an interview with InPublishing. The inaugural flight is in August 6th and will feature in the passenger lounge Adwoa Aboah, Daniel Kaluuya and Gwendoline Christie.

The news raises an interesting question. If you’re a brand, even super brand and don’t have podcast, what gives?

Stretched further if you don’t have your own television station i.e. YouTube and Vimeo station, offsite conversational platform alongside, snapchat, Instagram, twitter, then time to take stock. And what of your own in-house cinema/Netflixish franchise, or conference get-togethers?

These are all water cooler spots for your community and admirers to gather and cash tills to sound off into the night.

Some of the aforementioned, in their seemingly analogue days were once the preserve of designated companies e.g publishers, broadcasters etc, but we passed that rubicon many years back. Now, it’s all changed.

But imagine I say to you I can teach you to become a five star Michelin Chef in no time. In fact before you know it, you’ll be joining Tim and Kwame, Sarah and Nasma as a foodie. You’ll be selling to anyone, and everyone — and winning awards.

“Rubbish”, many star chefs will say. You don’t have the skill set, innate talent, and it takes years; many try but few are chosen. They’re right in some respect, and whilst I’m in no way belittling the craft, a craft indeed that takes years of practice, this analogy draws a comparison.

If you study this picture well below, what do you notice? It’s Prince Edward being interviewed.

Look carefully and there’s a slew of photojournalists and to the right is a camera women, except she isn’t a camera women. It’s Julia Caesar, one of the UK’s first videojournalists.

Julia and I, amongst thirty other young people, belonged to a rare animal back in 1994. We were trained to shoot with a camera, interview at the same time, direct the shots, and produce the story. It’s hard to believe, but the industry fell on the floor laughing as you’re doing now, but keep the Michelin image in mind.

Others derided these upstarts, sabotaged our shoots, and then, and then, the broadcasters admitted, “You know this thing we do it isn’t rocket science”. It has threshold skill, but it’s the access that’s a large part of it as this proto podcast shows, interviewing Ozwald Boateng in early 2000s.

We know that unequivocally now, so you think you still can’t make the equivalent of a Michelin chef? What Julia, myself and many others including you soon appreciated is, it’s not the skill per se, but the knowledge, innovation, and historical memory.

Anyone can operate a camera, makes films on a mobile phone, but the philosophy, the years of learning and doubting and anxiety that soon materialises into a Heston Blumenthal dish, or an award winning performance, that’s it there. McQueen’s Turner prize is further testament to this.

For many of us our foray into these new digital worlds, with shiny strange names, and supposedly elite practices, mirrors our own struggles in figuring out how to tell stories in different ways twenty plus years ago. The same goes for those before us, and those before us, such as Robert Drew, or Harry Watt.

I’d previously spent seven other years working in radio/ podcasts in the field dodging bullets and presenting live on the BBC. Here too were choke points, not least in understanding what made great proto podcasts. I’ll leave these three interviews here for you to answer, Eartha Kitt (aka Bat woman), the great Fela Kuti pioneer of Afro beat, and an excerpt interviewing Dr Kenneth Kaunda former President of Zambia and if you want to hear Maceo Parker the man behind the James Brown sound, George Clinton and Spike Lees Cinematographer you can access my 2007 iTunes library here.

Strangely too that also in 1991 when the BBC experimented with Bi-media journalists, those that would work on radio and TV, the union protested. Yes they were indeed luddite years, but you’re here and now, rarely reveals your ignorant spots.

So what’s next? In many regards, some have climbed that summit by innovating within the digital space e.g. Serial the podcast, others have recognised that a good old fashion microphone, interesting guests, and a patient and good listener of a presenter makes riveting radio/podcasts. Desert Island Disc, on BBC Radio 4, in which someone imagines themselves cast on an island and chooses their best records to keep them comfort has stayed the test of time. It was brilliant when it was conceived and will continue to be by letting extraordinary people share their stories.

Vogue’s announcement evokes the thought if you’re not innovating, and you have an audience, whether you’re a supermarket, church, car manufacturer, then you’re missing a strand of your persona that an audience is unknowingly waiting for.

And that furthermore, the artefacts honed by broadcasters has currency too in the digital world. Imagine Vogue as follows:

Thanks Steve, we’re now going over to London Fashion week with Naomi. Hi Naomi what’s going on?
Naomi: “Well we’re just getting ready for the homage to the late McQueen, by some exciting new talent, Steve
Steve: Thanks Naomi, now to our editor who’s in Japan. Hi Edward.
Edward: Yes, Steve, you join me with Shinsuke Takizawa…But before then, here’s Kanye West with his exclusive new single on V1- ogue

The tech part about this is the new way of listening to sound which is set to become the norm in immersivity using Binaural sound. It’s being honed by the BBC and gives the perception as you skate to work, or jog that you’re physically in the same space. One of our MA’s Jasmin has been researching this so if you want to hear more drop me a line to forward to her. The pop up studios, cinema journalism film, and innovation are touch points that await you and your audience and undoubtedly, like 20 years ago, will too soon be in vogue.

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Author Dr David Dunkley Gyimah with the BBC’s George Alagiah

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah currently heads up the disLAB, which prototypes story forms. He has a thirty year career working for top brands in the media e.g. BBC and Channel 4 News and has consulted for several organisations such as the FT, UN and World Association of Newspapers. He was a catalogue model in his youth (LOL), and a TV presenter/reporter before becoming an International Award winning videojournalist, and radio/ tv/ conflict correspondent. He publishes www.viewmagazine.tv

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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