When it's your own podcast you can do whatever you want, and Jamaica Plain's Rob Hochschild utilizes his podcast to interview people he admires -- musicians, artists, journalists and more.
Q: You host and created the Media Narrative podcast. What does it focus on and what made you want to start it?
Hochschild: My podcast focuses on people who are making media and/or contributing to the public conversation in a range of ways. I’m interested in the stories they tell, the way they work, and the challenges they’ve faced. I started it to bring attention to people whose work I admire, whether they’re authors, artists, journalists, producers, or working in some other medium. Also, I just love interviewing people. And after decades of writing and producing audio for organizations and outlets, I wanted to make some media completely on my own. There’s also a solo episode (#13) during which I give a little more of an answer to this question.
Q: Why is it called Media Narrative?
Hochschild: “Media narrative” is a phrase we hear a lot in the news these days, and while I chose the name partially because I’m trying to tease out those commonly heard storylines, it also represents my admittedly cheesier sounding aim, to dig out the stories behind the stories. In an interview I just did with former Jamaica Plain-based journalist and current DigBoston editor Chris Faraone, he talked about the ups and downs of going after under-covered Boston-area news and features. When his paper covered reports of racism in Red Sox nation, he was drawn into a kerfuffle with some of Boston’s prominent TV and radio figures. Ultimately critics of his reporting were proven wrong when his work won a big end-of-year award.
Q: And how can someone listen to it?
Hochschild: I have a subscribe page on my website that explains it pretty well, but you should be able to find it where ever you listen to podcasts. Most people listen on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), but you’ll find it on all the other popular platforms, like Spotify, Stitcher, Radiopublic, Overcast, Downcast, Podomatic, and on and on —anywhere that runs podcast RSS feeds.
Q: So who are some of the people you've interviewed? And who did you really enjoy interviewing?
Hochschild: Hey, I’ve enjoyed all of the interviews. I think I’ve done about 18 so far, but three that stand out are my post-reading-event interview of Billy Bragg in Brookline, a conversation I had in my home with Boston radio legend Jose Masso, and one at the Podcast Garage in Allston with Radiotopia executive producer Julie Shapiro. I enjoy interviews when I can have a lively back and forth with the person I’m talking to. And it was really fun to interview a long-time friend and colleague, Matt Jenson, who also wrote the theme music for my podcast.
Q: Alright, you're given the opportunity to interview three people who are now living -- who are you going to pick and why?
Hochschild: Ta Nehisi Coates -- his books and magazine articles are incredible, but have you ever heard this guy be interviewed? He talks boldly and articulately on a range of topics, from race to sports to politics, films, books. I’d want to cover the gamut with him.
Naomi Klein -- incredible writer, thinker, activist. She’s also a leader. She’s ahead of the curve and really trying to address the critical issues of the day, such as the environment and corruption in business and politics and, yet, she manages to find hope here and there.
Richard Thompson -- one of my all-time favorite guitarists and all-around musicians, and one ridiculously funny guy. And it would be fun to try to keep up with him; he is one fast-talking British dude.
Q: Alright, same question, but this time, three people who are deceased?
Hochschild: John Coltrane -- An all-time great musical innovator. I doubt he realized before he died in 1967 how extensively he would influence generations of saxophonists all over the world. I would ask him about focus and commitment to creative work. And playing with Miles. And inventing a new sound. And about Philadelphia, where I grew up, and where he lived for a long time.
Edward R. Murrow -- Not only did he pioneer the age of broadcast journalism, he spoke truth to power, and dominated the media landscape and was highly trusted in that role for decades. We could use a Murrow in 2018.
Flannery O’Connor -- There’s a humor that weaves through some of her bleakest stories, like “A Good Man is Hard To Find.” I would ask how she achieved balance in her work and about writing in general.
Q: You're an associate professor of liberal arts at Berklee College of Music. What classes do you teach?
Hochschild: I teach writing, literature, and freshman seminar, on the undergraduate level; and a career planning class for graduate students in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.
Q: Do you play instruments?
Hochschild: I hack around on guitar and tenor saxophone. I won’t remind anyone of Thompson or Coltrane, but I have fun.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
Hochschild: I’d just like to encourage anyone who’s thought about launching a podcast to give it a try. You don’t need fancy equipment -- all you need is something to record your voice, minimally. Your smart phone will do just fine. And for $200 or a bit less, you can have a setup that sounds nearly as professional as broadcast radio. From there you can do anything. I’ve started this one by doing something that falls naturally into my wheelhouse -- interviews. I love it, and I want to keep doing it, but I want to try some other things in podcasting, too. As one of my interviewees, Julie Shapiro (#2), said, “There’s just space for everything at the end of the day. It doesn’t mean every podcast is going to succeed and make money for its producer, but the beauty of this moment is that isn’t everyone’s ambition.”
And on the terrestrial radio side of things, I just start working at WUMB-FM (91.9), where I’ll be hosting a Sunday morning music show, beginning in January 2019.