With the drop in radio popularity, podcasts have become the latest global outlet open to all who want to get their voices heard. A new addition to the podcast world is Quintessential, standing strong on Marverine Cole’s long standing broadcasting experience, we are set for good quality, sophisticated mind exploring chatter away from cat videos and viral life hacks. Be ready for something to liven up those early mornings and tired lunchtimes. Let’s talk to Marverine and find out all about her new podcast.
Why do you think podcasts are so popular now?
People are addicted to their headphones. Blocking out travelling noise when they’re on the bus, train or wherever. But what happens when you’ve exhausted listening to your music collection? What happens when you’ve not got enough data to stream your favourite radio station, and you want to hear voices and discussions. You turn to podcasts; you download them to your device and you relax. That’s what’s happening. A real revolution in what people listen to. There’s something very mesmerising about listening to voices and feeling as if you’re sitting right next to the guests. Being immersed in a topic. I got into Serial, and for me as a journalist, following the digging around being done about an old murder case was truly captivating. So the possibilities are endless. I think we’re getting more and more addicted to them because listeners are craving deeper insights and experiences from podcast producers who are clearly passionate about a particular topic.
What will make your podcast stand out from the masses?
There are three main reasons why Quintessential stands out from other podcasts, and black British podcasts that exist right now the only constant is me, as producer and host chatting to different guests, sometimes in the studio and sometimes on location. I’m doing what I know best and what I’ve always done as a news reporter and presenter. I’m a journalist and interviewing people is at the heart of that. Some people may listen and think it’s similar to BBC Radio Four’s Women’s Hour or ITV’s Loose Women. It’s a focus on women of colour – black and minority ethnic women. We don’t get a look in, when it comes to mainstream media. I wanted to explore with more depth the lives and stories of everyday women and famous women from all walks of life. So as well as big names like Tameka Empson, Laura Mvula and Sandra Martin from Gogglebox, I’ll be talking to BAME politicians, academics, businesswomen, entrepreneurs – regardless of age. Lastly, the US market is buoyant where black voices are concerned, the UK market is burgeoning. At the moment in the UK, millennial voices dominant podcasts. I’m a 40-something BBC-trained journalist and newsreader, my voice and standpoint is that bit different.
What gap do you see your show filling?
I see it as something of a showcase for my interviewees. There are lots of incredible black and minority ethnic women in Britain who are excelling and there aren’t many shows like this, that show the many facets that we are as women; that show us beyond the stereotypes and that are perpetuated in some sections of the media.
What will be the focus of the show, will you stick to a particular topic, will certain topics take precedence?
I ask a guest to be on my show because either I’ve noticed them and what they’re doing and I want to hear more, because I think my audience would be interested. Or someone’s approached me, and wowed me with what they’re doing and they want to shout loud about it. Plus, because I’m very much a nurturing person, it’s my aim to make that person feel comfortable about opening up and being them. No topics take precedence. I focus on the guest, and what they do drives the narrative.
Who would be your ideal guest, and who can we expect to hear on your show?
My ideal guest is a woman who is making great strides in her field – be it work, or within her community or tribe, someone who’s perhaps trying to effect change, because by their very nature they are an educator. Educators inspire and motivate us to do more, to be better and to also leave a legacy. It’s not all about famous name interviews. I’ve got my sights on politicians, and as well as women in banking, the law, in STEM.
You have a wealth of experience in on screen broadcasting, why are you leaving the small screen when we are screaming for more representation?
Being on screen means being self-employed and whether you’re an actor, a presenter, reporter or newsreader the ability to be on screen on mainstream TV at least is about whether or not a commissioner wants to hire you. Whether they like your face and your skill set. I’ve over 3,000hrs of live broadcasting experience. I thrive in a live TV scenario, with a script and autocue, or without a script ad-libbing, so I reckon I have a lot to offer in terms of skills. Let’s just say I’m always open to offers.
What have been the highlights and lowlights of your broadcasting career?
I once worked under a newsroom boss who, I didn’t realise until I left the organisation, no-one really liked. It was one of my first jobs in news. When I left I told everyone I was leaving the profession, I hated it so much. That was a low point. When you’re out in the world as a fledgling journalist, trying to hustle for shifts when you aren’t that confident in yourself and your own abilities, that’s hard. I was ready to leave the profession at least 3 times in the early days, but something inside told me to hang on in there and be resilient.
What type of audience are you hoping to reach, is Quintessential specifically targeted at women or are men welcome?
I want my podcast to be an interesting listen to everyone. In fact, I was at a party just last week to celebrate the opening of a new restaurant. I bumped into a revered journalist friend of mine, a white guy, he leaned into me at this party and said ‘Marv, I know it’s not meant for me, but I wanted to tell you that I’ve been listening to Quintessential and I think it’s brilliant’. I respect his feedback so I was chuffed to hear him say that. But I said to him, ‘I never said it wasn’t for you. It’s for anyone. Just because I call Quintessential ‘Britain’s biggest conversation celebrating women of colour’, that doesn’t mean that only women of colour should listen to it. Just because all my guests are all black and minority ethnic women, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be an interesting listen, if you’re white. I don’t think you should exclude yourself if you are white and reading this. Everything we talk about is universal, whether it’s about how my guests are shaping their creative businesses, about their experiences of anxiety and depression, how they’re handling newfound fame after appearing on TV, about being LGBTQ, tackling homelessness in their communities… it’s just from a black British perspective.
What qualities do you believe have helped you to maintain a career in broadcasting and how will you use them to transfer over to audio broadcasting?
So I started in radio, because I moved on to TV reporting, producing and presenting. I think resilience is key: pursuing your chosen guest to interview, getting them on side with your project enough to spend time with you. Radio interviews are intimate things. Technical skills, I’ve still got to brush up on my audio mastering skills, but if you’re going to be a broadcaster you need to know how to pick up a camera and record a usable shot, you need to know how to use audio recording equipment and edit. Networking skills, from day one as a trainee journalist I had a little black book of contacts I built up of people I’d meet through stories I’d done. Nowadays people say to me ‘Marv, you know so many people’, so that’s to my advantage, and I also use that to help connect people together who I know could help each other.
What are the main challenges in producing a podcast?
It’s my passion project, so I’m doing it alone. Logistically it’s tricky because I’m in Birmingham and when it comes to guests in London, I need to co-ordinate those interviews when I’m down there working. Plus, like everyone podcasting, we’re doing it for the love of it. So I spend time recording interviews, editing, making the graphics and also paying for my own travel for interviews, paying for studio hire for my roundtable editions and so on. For me those are the main challenges, luckily for me I’ve always been good at audio recording, honed from my days dashing around Birmingham as a News Reporter for BBC Radio WM interviewing police inspectors, victims of crime, counsellors and whatnot. Putting people on the spot and racing back to the newsroom to cut clips for the hourly news bulletins, so it’s second nature to me.
Are there any podcasts you enjoy & why?
Tea and Biscuits with Janice and Sheryl, they give good banter and most times I’m stifling my laughs on the bus. Shout out Network’s Melanin Millennials, Imrie and Satia talking politics. I love young people’s take on politics, it really turns on its head that notion of black people just not caring enough. I enjoy listening to Stephanie who’s just launched Black Applause about black British writers. It’s so fresh and new, I love her honesty.
Where can we listen to you show, and how often will you be releasing episodes?
Because I’m juggling producing it alongside freelancing for ITN and postgrad studies, I don’t stick to a regular release date. Purely because it’s not me in a studio alone, or with someone else having conversations about topics. It’s about releasing the interviews, once I edit them. But I’m moving towards a regular release date. I launched back in December and there are some interviews online now. With more to come. But I’m on all usual podcast platforms, you can get my RSS feed.