On Tuesday, I posted the 55th episode of The PolicyViz Podcast. I won’t publish a new episode until the fall, so this gives me a good chance to take a breath, take stock, and gear up for the next set of episodes.
In terms of taking stock, I wanted to look back at the first 55 episodes and see what I did right and what I can improve upon. On the positive side, I feel like I haven’t just focused on the people who have the most followers or most publications in the “data” field (to include the open data and data visualization areas). Yes, I had Edward Tufte, Nigel Holmes, and Alberto Cairo on the show, but I was also joined by Seth Blanchard, Rebecca Williams, and Justin Grimes, just to name a few. I also feel like I’ve had a decent mix of professions: some folks from design, some researchers, and other practitioners. I may be a bit too heavy on the data/journalism side, but I think that makes sense given there’s so much work going on in that space. I feel like the sound quality has also improved–having someone edit the final file definitely helps–but guests have been very willing to try different rooms and microphones to include the sound quality as much as possible.
On the negative side, I got a little lazy on the gender and race split. I was trying to be cognizant of getting a good mix when the show first started last year, but at some point, I sacrificed that balance for ease of scheduling. Of the first 55 episodes, 33 of my guests were men, 18 were women, and 4 episodes had a mix of men and women (women were guests on four of the last five episodes before the summer break). So not too bad–a 60%-40% split–but I can improve that balance and am hopeful I can keep that in the front of my mind in the future.
Going forward, I have a few things I’d like to tweak. First, I’d like to add more researchers to the line-up. I’d like to highlight people doing not just interesting research (probably social science research, since that’s my area), but people doing interesting research with interesting data, or researchers thinking carefully about communicating their work. I’m also planning on adding people on the presentation skills/design side, partly because the Rad Presenters show has now closed and also because it’s an obvious area of interest to me, as evidenced by my forthcoming book.
Second, I may try to scale back and go to an every-other-week format. I’d love to continue publishing an episode every week, but it’s hard to schedule the interview, get the sound edited, and write the post every week. (I’m curious to hear what you think on this one–is the weekly format just right or too frequent?) Furthermore, unless I can find more sponsors to help offset the costs, I’m not sure the weekly format is financially sustainable.
Third, I’d like to try some more and better ways to advertise the show. Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried banner images with a picture and quote on social media. And for the last couple of episodes, I’ve tried an audio banner ad, but I definitely haven’t mastered that yet. Better advertising and improving the SEO will hopefully get more eyeballs (or earbuds? not sure what the right saying is here).
Overall, I have a lot of fun doing the podcast–who doesn’t want to talk to smart, fun people?–and I’m excited about the slate of guests I already have lined up for the fall. And I think listeners feel the same: The feedback I’ve received has been almost universally positive and I’ve received great support from the open data, data visualization, and presentation communities. Andy Cotgreave (a previous guest) included the show in his list of recommended data-related podcast and yesterday, Andy Kirk included it in his list as one of the 10 most significant developments over the first part of 2016.
So, that’s about it. If you have thoughts on what I’m doing well or need to improve upon, please do let me know. And if you have ideas on how to better advertise the show, get sponsors, or anything, please get in touch. And if you can spare a moment, please rate the show on iTunes.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. Be safe, enjoy the sun, and play with your kids if you have them. I’ll see you in the fall.