As a Contributing Editor for Canadian Family Physician, I recently had the opportunity to guest-host a COVID-19 and Disability Podcast. It was my first-ever time hosting a podcast and while there was a lot to learn (and a few adventures as you will see below), I really enjoyed the process. If you’d like to listen, click here:
In June’s issue of CFP, Dr. Shane Neilson wrote an essay about disability in the time of the pandemic. Shane is a disabled poet, physician and all-round interesting human. In this COVID-19 and Disability Podcast, I interviewed Shane about both his personal life and the topic of the article, which are very intertwined. In the podcast, not only do we discuss unfair policies when it comes to people with disabilities, but Shane also shares his own experiences in the healthcare system including the times when he felt like the system failed in caring for him and his family.
I’ve known Shane for a year now, but before we met, I felt like I knew already him because I’d read his writing. It was an interesting feeling to feel like you already know someone even though they don’t know you. One thing I always love about Shane’s writing is that he is very open and honest. This disability podcast is no different. Shane talks about the death of his mother who worked as a nurse in New Brunswick for her entire life. She dedicated her life to the health care system, a system that did not take care of her in the end. He also opens up about his family’s struggles in getting proper healthcare for Shane’s son, who also has a disability.
Shane’s piece, Why I won’t see you on the Barricades: disability and COVID-19, discusses some of the reasons why those with disabilities are at an even greater disadvantage during the pandemic than those without.
How do you host a podcast in a pandemic?
This was my first time hosting a podcast and it just so happened to be during a pandemic. In others words, home studio, here I come! Needless to say, I had helpful guidance from those who have done it before, like my cousin Catherine, who hosts a beautiful podcast about sharing peoples’ “untold stories” called Pieces of Us. The staff and leaders at CFP gave me some useful tips about how to host it through Zoom. And of course, online YouTube tutorials were my go-to savoir as per usual.
Low-budget home podcast studio
I didn’t need much in terms of equipment: my laptop, an external microphone and a pair of headphones. I covered the floor with a blanket to reduce the echo. Since my apartment isn’t set up like a studio, first I tried recording it in the washroom because it is a small, quite space. Is that weird?
Anyway, once I was set up there, I realized my WiFi signal wasn’t strong enough and the internet connection kept cutting out. At the last minute, I had to change locations and instead quickly set myself up in my living room. It was a bit hectic getting started to say the least.
A silent space is also key. The quietest spot I could find was the farthest corner of the living room, away from the hum of the refrigerator. And it involve me sitting on the floor. Even though the hum of a refrigerator may not seem like a big deal, microphones pick up these sounds pretty easily and it can make the podcast sound quite unprofessional.
After settling into my quiet corner on the floor, I set the microphone on top of an upside down garbage can so I wouldn’t have to lean too close to the floor when speaking. My notes were scattered around me, but when I referenced them, I had to be sure not to move too much. I wanted to avoid recording the sound of my papers rustling.
The lovely folks at CFP took care of the podcast editing (and that’s a whole different beast). I’ve edited video material before during my MA Journalism program and it takes time. Did you know that just one minute of video-editing can take hours? I imagine that podcast-editing is time-consuming, too. Perhaps I’ll be able to try my hand at that in the future.
Until then, I hope this podcast gives you perspective on how we should be ensuring we take care of our community members with disabilities, especially in the time of the pandemic. Thank you Dr. Neilson for your your thought-provoking thoughts. As usual.
Let me know what you think below!