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In Conversation: 'On The Topic' Podcast

Author: Leah Holford Published: 8th January 2021 12:30
Leah Holford talks to Alex and Dan - the duo behind local podcast On The Topic - about all things podcasting, pop culture, and how they've kept the show going throughout the last year.

 Podcasting - whose initial roots date back to the 1980s under the term ‘audioblogging' - really began in 2004 with people uploading their digital broadcasts to the internet, and most would listen in on their Apple iPods. These days, you can listen to Podcasts on pretty much any computer or mobile device, and it's opened up a world of multitasking opportunities. The diversity in the genre of Podcasts available nowadays means there's something for everyone; whether you're looking for something intellectual and informational, or something more light-hearted to enjoy while you're relaxing.

The ‘On The Topic' team started their Podcast on 20th May 2018, originally named ‘The Weekly Roundup With Alex and Dan.' After meeting at a house party through Dan's long-term partner, Claire, the two became friends. Soon after meeting, Alex (who volunteers on hospital radio at St Richard's in Chichester) suggested starting up a Podcast after ‘Infinity War' was released, wanting a similar platform to his radio show where he could discuss it.

"I remember feeling a bit awkward recording that first episode," Dan says. "It's something I've never done creatively. I come from a musical background as I used to be in a band, so just talking about stuff was a new concept for me."

Initially, the Podcast was - as the name suggests - a weekly roundup of pop culture news, film and TV reviews, with a focus on Marvel. However, as the pandemic made weekly casting harder, a friend of the podcast and creative force behind the logo Joey Casey suggested a name change might open up the opportunity to target a wider audience. He thought that a change in direction would make the show more accessible by adding more subject freedom and room to be creative.

Since the name change, ‘On The Topic' have hosted episodes based on conspiracy theories, celebrity divas, paranormal goings-on, and Urban Legends - making it a truly diverse and entertaining Podcast to tune into. Both Dan and Alex have enjoyed being able to sink their teeth into some research for each episode, and have loved the engagement and contributions that their listeners have given.

The pair have found that podcasting isn't as simple as recording a broadcast and uploading it, and with restrictions in place across the nation it's become even more of a challenge. However, Alex and Dan have risen to the challenge and remain working hard to bring entertainment to people's lives on a regular basis.

Keen to please, they are always looking out for episode suggestions from listeners via their social media channels, and will often ask for input from people, whether it be from comments on a post or from a voice clip they can use in the episode.

"We always take feedback from our listeners; good, bad and otherwise," Alex says.

At present, they are unable to sit together with a cup of tea and record their episode as they usually would, but through trial and error, found that they were still able to deliver a good quality podcast through Zoom. Making sure the audio quality was clear enough and that they could record together for long enough were just a couple of the issues they had to resolve, but now they've found themselves in a comfortable routine and delivering regular content.

On The Topic plans to invite more guests onto the show as soon as current restrictions on social distancing allows, and were disappointed in 2020 when some of their planned guest slots were unable to go ahead. They have previously invited people onto the show to contribute to episodes they are considered to have expert knowledge in, and plans are being made to have more welcomed, including our very own Peter Hopkinson, Editor of About My Area Portsmouth, the owners of Solent Sky Services, and Strong Island Recordings, who were originally due to be on the show during 2020. They are also keen to hear from local creatives, shop owners, and anyone looking for a way to tell their stories.

"We love the interaction with other people," Dan says. "And it's great to take people's minds off the current situations they're in," Alex adds. "You feel like you're in the pub with us!

"Whether there's a pandemic or not, we all go through different walks of life and different experiences. To take someone's mind away from things they're going through just blows my mind," Dan concludes.

Their dreams for the future of the podcast include adding to the guestlist, releasing some merch, and having more interaction with listeners as they hope to rise higher in the world of Podcasting.

"We'd love to be able to interview some celebrities; interviewing The Gospel Youth would be a dream for me. And to be paid to do what we love," Dan says. Alex adding, "There's nothing wrong with aiming high".

On The Topic have recorded an episode based on the questions from this interview, which will be aired soon. Both Alex and Dan are keen to involve their listeners and to keep people connected, united and entertained, particularly during these hard times - actively encouraging user interactivity to contribute to the podcast. The podcast is available to listen to here. To get involved, you can also visit them at @onthetopicpod on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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