conscient podcast blog, october 2021 is about feedback received (and appreciated) from a colleague about #conscientpodcast episodes 63 and 64 but also an exchange about the isolation of producers of content about the climate emergency.
Today is October 31 and I just published e75 radical listening as climate action yesterday, which lays out my ‘theory’ on radical listening. Next is a series of conversations here in Vancouver with artists and climate emergency workers. I’m not sure when season 3 will end. I know I am publishing more content than people can listen to, but my wife Sabrina reminds me that conscient is essentially a research project, where I post my findings, which are not all meant to be listened to right away, or even at all, but create a collection of data from which I refer to in all of my art and climate work. Thanks for your patience.
Today’s blog is about feedback.
I was fortunate to get feedback about episodes 63 and 64 from a colleague who said:
This approach—the fictional classroom of the future discussion 2021 and your podcast—is brilliant. The writing is engaging, and it is an excellent way to revisit the fine content you were able to gather and then to provide some analysis. Thank you for this work you are doing. It is deep and vital for the climate movement. You are making a significant contribution and you are doing it so gracefully.
It was heartwarming. I responded:
It’s good to know. Expectations are not a good thing. I try to avoid them, but I have been underwhelmed by the response to ‘a case study’. Of course, people need time to listen, and digest, but the initial reaction is mostly… silence. This might be because of the quality of the work but I think it’s mostly discomfort with the climate emergency itself and a kind of passive denial. This is tragic given where we are going as a society… I do get some feedback but it mostly from veteran climate workers or close friends. Very rarely from the public. I wonder what people think. Anyway, it’s always been about sharing my learning journey and I still have so much to learn and unlearn. I should have known that this would be a lonely path…. Upcoming episodes are mostly monologues, some anecdotal, others poetic. Not very refined but very ‘real’ (always site specific and first take only with minimal editing). I have a feeling this will lead to more mature work in season 4 and beyond as I work through some personal issues this fall.
We had a second email exchange a few days later where my colleague said (slightly edited):
I am still surprised and disappointed that listeners do not engage more… It may be the nature of how people listen, typically doing other things, so they never get around to rating, reviewing, messaging. They also tend to listen at a later date as they store up podcasts to hear when they have a chance or going for a drive. … This is a lonely path, and one that requires faith that people are listening and the work will hit its marks. It has caused me to change my measure of success. The number of downloads is of course the most tangible measure, but that too easily becomes a cruel master and often discouraging… My rubric for a successful podcast has to do with quality of the production, diversity of the guests, and originality of the content. If I feel I have been faithful to these goals, I try to be content with that. … A community of content creators is so valuable for us doing this work. … The early days of podcasting in the 2003s/04s often included communities of podcasters who listened to each other’s shows, appeared on each other’s show, and responded to each other’s shows as they also promoted each other with bumpers and shout outs. I love that generosity of spirit.
To which I responded:
Thanks. As a podcast listener myself I rarely send reviews, but I do when an episode excites me or shakes me up deeply like some Green Dreamer, Outrage and Optimism or Zen Studies episodes. I get that people don’t think of feedback or dialogue. Some listen and absorb but remain silent while others listen and can’t process what they hear (la fin du monde) and remain silent. I don’t look at my listener stats. I fear they are very low and prefer to focus on content and do my best at promotion and just keep going. I also try to focus on quality, but also volume, in the sense of diverse perspectives. My wife suggested that I think of it as a research project where I share my findings in real time. I’m writing an episode now on my favorite podcasts and why. I also like the idea of solidarity between art and climate podcasters. It might be fun to do a ‘joint episode’ between those doing art and climate work in English. BTW my next few episodes are very personal: musings while kayaking, a crazed soundwalk in the dark, conversations with activists, etc. They are all about being in this moment, radical in the sense of being real about what is going on and letting that be the driver, as opposed to continuing the facade of fake modern life. It’s a privilege to be free to think and express one’s point of view, but also a responsibility.
My correspond shared this further insight a few days later:
I cannot listen to podcasts about climate emergency. It is so deeply embedded in my mind at the moment, I find it counterproductive. There are times when I get wooed by the complacently of the world that I have to give myself a jolt about the depth and breadth of the catastrophe, but for the most part I am curious about adaptive strategies, literary approaches to climate, and stories that are off-the-beaten-path.
To which I responded:
I hear you about not listening to climate podcasts. I mostly listen when alone or in the car but also spend time just listening to life, that is why I focus on 5-6 podcasts only. * I published a piece about listening yesterday, https://www.conscient.ca/podcast/e66-stillness/, that I’m happy with. It’s short and takes the listener into my thinking process (for better or worse). The one I’m most pleased with is coming up soon, e69 soundwalk in the dark, a weird and destabilizing episode because I present myself in a fragile state of mind, not seeing the ground in front of me, not unlike how we live with the climate crisis, fumbling our way along, until we adjust to the darkness and see and think more clearly. I think this ‘audio art’ path is more likely to touch the hearts of listeners that artist interviews (which remain important, but others do well).
*an upcoming episode of conscient will focus on which podcasts I listen to and why.
All for now. Thanks for listening and take care.