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October 2, 2017 | by  | in Podcasts | [ssba]

Podcast: Avocado on Toast

This week Salient spoke to Hazel Osbourne, a journalism student at Massey University and the host and producer of Avocado on Toast, a podcast which shares the experiences of young people living in Wellington. So far, episodes have covered a diverse range of topics including student debt, flatting, disabilities, and mental illness.


First of all, can you give me a summary of the podcast, and why you decided to make it?

At Massey we’re given the opportunity to do a communications internship paper. It’s a completely student- led initiative — you have to find where you’re gonna be, what you’re gonna be doing, and why you’re doing it. I knew I wanted to do broadcasting, I knew I had a passion for podcasting — long form audio has always been where I get news and entertainment, because I have a serious eye condition, so listening is a lot easier for me than reading.

The podcast came to fruition through me approaching Wellington Access Radio — I wanted to start out working somewhere smaller, somewhere that would give me creative licence, somewhere that fostered diversity. It gave me a lot of confidence as a student, that I would be able to accomplish more things I wouldn’t normally be able to at a larger network. At Wellington Access, they gave me the option to do whatever I wanted, which was terrifying!

On the first day I basically walked into the studio and was like, “teach me!” I set up an Instagram and a blog, and got everything rolling, but what I didn’t really have prepared was my content. I had ideas of what I was going to put in every episode, but as I got more comfortable, as I had more wriggle room, I thought, I’m just going to go for it — I’m gonna do student issues, things that interest me, and things that interest my peers.


Do you think the mainstream media adequately covers issues facing millennials?

I think that the millennial thing is such a hot button topic that it’s impossible not to see millennial topics in all mainstream media. I think what’s happening is we see things like The Spinoff, The Wireless, student media like Salient or Massive that do a good job, but people aren’t engaging with it as much as they should be. A lot of young people are influenced by their social media newsfeeds, that’s where they get their news; we’re influenced by the people we see liking and posting. I think it’s not about under-representation, it’s about having a clear angle and direction with the content. You can produce it, but you need the engagement, otherwise the story won’t be seen. And it won’t make an impact.


Is that why you like the medium of podcasting, because it gives you time to develop those angles?

Oh for sure. I think with podcasting, already your audience is ready to sit down and listen to something; it’s not taken lightly. I think that podcasters are really lucky to have audiences that are patient. Patient to wait on ideas, especially good ones. When you hit on a good topic and they get in touch with you, saying that it resonated with them and they’re really glad that you made it, having that reaction to something you’ve made — there are no words for that.


Lots of the issues on the podcast — mental illness, disability, student debt — are really confronting. I’ll be honest, some of the stories that people were so kind enough to share really made me mad that they had been treated that way. Is that your intention for the podcast, a call to arms to make things better?

For sure — I understand when people are diplomatic and say they don’t want to ruffle feathers, but what is journalism for? We’re here to ruffle feathers, we’re here to make people think, we’re here to make people consider other voices and the agency that other people have in their own stories. And that’s what hopefully my podcast does — it gives people a platform to be themselves, tell their stories, and know that their story is valid.


Can you give us a hint about what is going to be featured in upcoming episodes?

I’ve got a few ideas at the moment — I’m really interested in sustainability, specifically with sanitary products. So that’s going to be in association with the Wā Collective, who provide subsidised mooncups, it’s a project spearheaded by a few friends of mine. I also want to do one on clickbait, and trigger warnings.


Finally, what podcasts do you listen to, and what ones have you been inspired by?

I knew you were going to ask me this question, I have so many! This American Life — I would refer to that as the gateway podcast, the gateway drug to being addicted to binge listening to podcasts. The way that storytelling is taken into consideration on This American Life just blows me away. There’s something about Ira Glass; the way he tells stories, it’s magic. Heavyweight, Caucus, and Black Hands are amazing. One that I do remember closing my curtains, lying in bed, and listening to for hours is Serial, which is a classic. I also love Reveal, which is an investigative reporting podcast.


Avocado on Toast is available for download from iTunes and all major podcast distributors.


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