Giving female voices a platform within political podcasting is a key factor in differentiating shows, according to the co-hosts of current affairs podcast Oh God What Now?
Ros Taylor, contributing editor at audio production company Podmasters and co-host of OGWN, spoke about the need for women’s participation in political commentary as part of the latest episode of PodPod, as well as the competition between them and other chart-topping political podcasts in the UK such as The News Agents and The Rest is Politics.
“One thing you’ve got to bear in mind is that OGWN has a lot of women on it and I think that’s important,” said Taylor. “In a lot of political podcasts, there are not a lot of women and they are not foregrounded, and I think that’s one of the key ways in which we’re different.”
“The default podcast for politics does seem to be quite male and I think we have always tried to fight against that, and we continue to challenge that idea in what we do, which to me is very important.”
The anti-Brexit podcast, previously known as Remainiacs, has been running since 2017; long before The Rest is Politics and The News Agents existed, both of which launched in 2022. It has since evolved into a self-described “no-bullshit politics podcast” that attempts to make sense of what’s happening in the news.
The podcast features a rotating panel of co-hosts, and as well as male commentators like The Guardian columnist Dorian Lynskey, The i newspaper political correspondent Ian Dunt, and political writer Alex Andreou, it also features regular female contributors including Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith, freelance journalist and author Marie Le Conte, and activist Minnie Rahman.
“We bust a gut not to do a ‘manel’, because like manels are crap, and it's embarrassing,” said OGWN co-host and Podmasters editorial director Andrew Harrison. “And when we started out, the first few episodes of Remainiacs were manels because we were literally putting things together on the fly. But very, very quickly, we recruited Naomi and Ros and all the female panelists.
“We don't make a point of going, oh, this week it's all women. It just happens every now and again. And, what I really don't want to do is go, hey, it's International Women's Day. Let's have an all female panel, cause that's patronising.”
According to Harrison and Taylor, another factor that makes them different from hit political podcasts like The News Agents and The Rest is Politics is that their business is not reliant on the names of already famous politicians and journalists, but instead has built a natural following.
“We've got a really healthy business here and we've got people who love our podcasts because of what our podcasts are,” said Harrison. “...[Our rivals are] the Premier League and that's fine, but when you're the Premier League, you're very dependent on your big ticket signings and we sort of feel like we've built it up more from the grassroots and that it makes us a little bit more robust.”
“I mean for me, The News Agents obviously is an incredible professional piece of work but it's fundamentally an offshoot of the BBC and it's very similar to the kinds of things that the BBC does because it's ex-BBC people and it's not in any way, I would say, breaking new ground in the way that I think we have done,” added Taylor.