Why I podcast

September 13, 2013

A couple times, after we stop recording, people have asked why I have a podcast. I need a better answer than I currently have. This is all going to be stream-of-conscious as I sort out the reason and come up with an answer.

The podcast started as a way to learn something new. I was going to do a half dozen shows so I could understand how recording worked. It was a replacement for my normal community-center classes on stained glass, soldering, clay, hula hooping, laser cutting, woodshop, bookbinding, etc.

We’re way beyond six shows and I’m starting to make plans for people three months out: I’m going to be doing this for awhile. I need a better answer to the why question.

Let’s see… It isn’t “to give back”, I hear that reason from other people but I don’t feel that motivation myself.  “To share my passion with other people” is closer. I really like engineering and building things. I want other people to come and play in this lovely sandbox.

I suppose that dovetails into my other reason, “I like people to share their passion with me”. Wow, that kinda came out wrong. And now that I’ve seen that, I look back to the other and snicker. Oh, go ahead and snicker, might as well laugh with me instead of making me go it alone.

Do you ever have those moments when everything is snicker worthy?

Back to topic!

Ehn, let’s circle around and see if I can put this another way.

I like Sports Night, the TV sitcom about running a sports TV show. It is smart and funny. But what I liked best is that the people on the show loved their jobs. Their jobs were annoying, sometimes dumb, sometimes hard. They were jobs. But the characters loved doing them. A common thread with my TV habits is that I like watching happy people do neat things.

Do you see where I’m headed?

I like doing the show because people share their passion, enthusiasm, amusement, happiness, spark of ingenuity, whatever-it-is, with me. I think this is a solid reason and accounts for about half of “why”.

I’m a little shy so I need a way to engage with people, especially in this way. I need the cover of the show to be able to go up to the head of content at EETimes and say “talk to me?”. Or to have a serious (semi-serious) talk about going to Mars with a woman I’ve never met. Or to have a good friend talk about his views on engineering without it seeming like makework.

There is another, subtler reason. I’m a proponent of women in technology (and science). I’ve heard from many sources that a lack of role models causes women to give up too easily. And I’ve seen how never having met a female engineer has warped some folks sense of the possible. I make sure to get a big cast of female engineers on my show. If we’ve have two males guests in a row, I start mining my women-in-tech contacts to make sure the trend doesn’t continue. It hasn’t been that difficult. Really.

To sum up, why I do a podcast, in order of importance:

  • To talk to people who love their jobs
  • To share my passion for engineering
  • To promote the visibility of women in engineering

Huh, ok. Those are good reasons. I don’t need to introspect any deeper. Oh, and in case our accountant reads my blog: