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  • Writer's pictureAlex Young

Stripped Back with Cambridge Podcasts's Angela Young

Meet Angela, ex BBC News Reader, Founder of Cambridge Podcasts and Producer of the Favourite Positions podcast. She's a story teller who loves nothing more than to help people share what matters to them to most.

Hear from Angela on her exciting career to date and what she advises if you are looking to get into journalism or podcasting yourself.

Angela, our favourite person in the whole world (for those who don't know, Angela is Alex's wonderful Mum)! Please tell us what you do and what you love about it?

I produce podcasts for clients.

I used to be a radio reporter, producer, news reader and news editor but left the BBC on a career break to go to university. I got a degree but also a husband and two children and never went back to the BBC – and have missed radio reporting ever since. A few years ago I realised that the things I loved about reporting – meeting people, interviewing them, editing the interviews and writing scripts, were exactly the skills needed to make a podcast; they were also skills that not everyone who wants to make a podcast necessarily has. Just weeks after I launched Cambridge Podcasts, I met the CEO of an incredible not-for-profit called the Internet Watch Foundation, which removes child sexual abuse material from the internet. She commissioned me to make a podcast series for the IWF and that was the start!

How did you get into the position you're in?

I had the right skill set but had lacked the motivation to do anything about it. By launching Cambridge Podcasts, I forced myself to go out and seek work, rather than wait for it to come to me. Now I am self employed and can work when I want (around client and studio availability) and that suits me perfectly.

What are the challenges you face in your line of work?

A lot of people think they want a podcast but don’t really know what should be in it or who the audience is. The biggest challenge is guiding them to work out what they want to say and who they want to say it to. The practicality of recording, editing and uploading is the easy bit.

The other challenge I had was overcoming my fear of digital editing, It sounds hard to believe but when I left the BBC, I used to edit ¼ inch tape with a chinagraph pencil, razor blade and sticky tape. A young sound designer I work with said he had seen that in a documentary. I felt like a dinosaur. However, I have overcome my fear and learned how to do it – or rather I am still learning. The skill of knowing what to cut and where so that the edit is nice and smooth remains the same – and pressing the back button on the software if you make a mistake is a lot easier than putting back in a piece of tape you had cut out and thrown in the bin!

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this industry?

If someone wanted to launch a podcast, I would use Nike’s slogan and say “just do it! You don’t even have to buy a microphone (although I would recommend it), you can use the internal microphone on a laptop or phone and press record on your built-in software. You can launch your podcast via a hosting platform and hey presto, you are a podcaster. You will make mistakes and you will improve with every episode but you have to start somewhere.

If you want to get into the media, my advice would be start writing, filming or presenting something somewhere – a school, college or university newspaper or radio station or your own blog. This will start building a portfolio. Then knock on doors – radio, TV stations or newspapers and ask if you can look round. Ask lots of questions, and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Don’t be too proud to make the tea for the sports team on a Saturday afternoon because one day they may ask you to read out a set of results on air and then you have the first item on your showreel.

How do you prevent yourself from burning out?

For me it is more about permanent availability than burnout. The problem with being a freelance is that you don’t want to say no to work; therefore if a client or potential client contacts you out of hours, it is tempting to answer immediately to prevent them going elsewhere. But a WhatsApp message on a Friday night (for example) can cut into your time with your family. I am trying to get into the habit of only replying to emails in work hours (I don’t have email alerts on my phone) and if it is a WhatsApp message, dropping a quick line saying thanks for getting in touch, I will reply fully on the next work day. This is still a work in progress!

Thank you so much for time, Angela. We are so lucky to have your expertise on the Favourite Positions team and genuinely couldn't do it without you. It's a pleasure to be able to share part of your story here and play a part in it ourselves (though we were expecting you to answer the Q 'what do you love to do' with 'work on the Favourite Positions series', haha!). For all that you do to ensure that each episode is well produced and an exciting listen, we are so grateful.

Find out more about Cambridge Podcasts' services here and get in touch with Angela directly if you want to ask her for her advice on journalism, podcasting or self employed life.

This guide forms part of the Stripped Back series which have been designed to provide open, honest and encouraging information. They're a chance for you to understand the real ups and downs those being featured have experienced in their journeys to date. The aim is to demystify entry points to certain industries, as well as outline tangible advice for those looking to get into a new area of work. We hope you enjoyed this guide by Cambridge Podcasts.


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