Sharing things – a new podcast for Edinburgh people
‘Sharing things’ is a new nine-part podcast that will explore Edinburgh people and what makes them tick. Taking the format of a conversation between two people – whether student, staff or graduate – each episode promises to provide humour, ideas, and the unexpected.
We spoke with student producer and presenter Amalie Sortland about working on the podcast and what we can look forward to.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Amalie (pronounced Amalia – everyone gets it wrong…) and I’m from Norway. I study Politics and I’m in the final year of my undergraduate degree. And I’m now also the host and producer of the new podcast ‘Sharing things’, created by the alumni department here at the University.
How did you come to be working on a podcast?
The opportunity was advertised as part of the Career Service’s Employ.ed internship programme, for which I applied. I had experience in university radio and as facilitator of student council, and I’m genuinely curious about people and their lives. I think that’s why I got the job, but maybe my managers would say something different!
So tell us about ‘Sharing things’. What’s the concept?
The podcast is our very own take on the ‘show and tell’ game, with the added twist that we make two members of the University community, be that staff, students or alumni, tell each other about the stories attached to an object that they bring to the conversation. This then leads to a full and frank conversation – sometimes funny, sometimes moving, and often unexpected.
Why have you asked participants to bring objects?
The only thing the participants have in common when they walk into the studio is Edinburgh. So we’ve asked them all to bring objects that mean something to them or remind them of something, be that a memory, an experience or a person. This provides a starting point for the conversations and a visual clue for the participants. I suppose you could call them ‘conversation starters’. And then there’s the wonderful sense of informality and the unexpected that the objects bring. They really have helped make the conversations so intimate, yet fun - they really prompt people to tell their stories.
So why a conversation and not a straight-forward interview?
I think this was an easy decision because the Edinburgh community consists of people exchanging ideas. It’s not about a person in the spotlight, it’s about getting to know people and what they are about through conversation.
You’ve told us to expect the unexpected. What surprised you most while working on the podcasts?
I think what has surprised me the most is that the participants themselves are surprised by how much they have to talk about, and how easy it is to get to know another person even though they don’t necessarily have much in common in the beginning.
The list of participants is really varied and covers a wide range of University people. Do any participants and moments stand out for you?
One of my favourite moments was when Lori Watson, a lecturer for the University’s Celtic and Scottish studies and accomplished musician, gave a live fiddle performance in the studio. This felt very special and unique.
I also really liked the conversation between politics alumna Anne Miller – a writer and fact-finder for BBC’s QI quiz show - and current student Hadrien Espiard. They really bonded over a mutual fasciation for weird knowledge and fun facts. It was also fun to witness journalist Melanie Reid, an English alumna, and Rosie Taylor, a current student, empathising with each other about how they have dealt with hardship in the past.
What will alumni listeners get from this podcast?
This podcast humanises people in the University of Edinburgh community and will remind people that we are one big community – being an Edinburgh person is special and we all have that in common. That’s what’s so wonderful about this, everyone has something to share and also something to learn.
We really hope that actually listening to people in the community will enhance a sense of interconnectivity and promote a feeling of belonging. It’s great that we can get to know each other better!
And what did you learn about the Edinburgh community? Has working on this podcast made you see it differently?
I’ve learned that everyone has stories to share and all stories are equally important. This podcast is therefore not about the University per se, it’s about the people in it, and their stories as people. Their University life and subsequent experiences are entwined and we can all learn from every aspect of them.