Record of Change

For the first time in a long time, it feels like all people on Earth have something in common. An exploration of what unites us in a time of social distancing, we visit and re-visit people in Hongkong and India, Greece and Gaza, among other places.

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episode 9: Bonus: Making a Pandemic Podcast [transcript]


The hosts of Record of Change reflect on the challenges of making a podcast in a pandemic - with multiple interview subjects across the world - while confined within their living rooms.

Additional Shownotes

More about Record of Change and this episode, including a transcript, in the post for this episode on our website: recordofchange.com

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Credits
  • Prathap Nair (Host)
  • Matthias Jochmann (Post Production)

An Huy Tran, Thomas Reintjes, Kecheng Fang and Stephanie Raible also helped make this episode.


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 2020-10-25  32m
 
 
00:00  Prathap Nair
This is record of change, a podcast that documents how people’s lives are being shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
00:08
I’m Prathap Nair and with me are Huy, Kecheng, Stephanie and Thomas.
00:15
You may not have heard from Thomas because he's the behind the scenes magician who edits, produces and makes the episodes listenable along with Matthias.
00:25
So today we’re gathered here to make a shorter update episode, to provide some context on how the first season of the podcast and the team came together.
00:36
So Matthias, can you talk about the nitty gritties of putting this podcast together?
00:42
Like getting the project grant, finding team members and diversifying the group.
00:48  Matthias Jochmann
Sure.
00:49
So I think all of us remember when this pandemic started, that there was a lot of campaigning in the social
00:54
media that we are all in this together and, stay at home and this stuff and people were clapping on balconies.
01:01
What I found very interesting about this moment was I felt like this is the first time maybe ever, at
01:06
least in my lifetime, that there's something happening for everyone at the same time, all over the world.
01:12
So this was kind of the starting point of all.
01:14
Actually, we all have something in common - no matter where we are, how rich we are, whatever's our background.
01:19
So this was the initial motivation.
01:22
And then, together with my friend Kim, we started brainstorming about a podcast idea to listen to people to record this change that we all go
01:35
through because by then when we started this, which was maybe in February, March, 2020, we thought, Oh, our sense for time is so different right now.
01:44
By then I was still in Palestine and working there for an international organization and it already felt like - time feels so different.
01:53
And now looking back now it's October and it feels like two years have passed, but it's only a couple of months.
02:01
And then we thought it would be great to have a number of interviewees from all over the world who share their perspectives.
02:09
And since we were like two westerners, global North people sitting in Germany, we're thinking, oh, we should diversify the team.
02:21
So we have a team that, is a bit more diverse than the two of us were.
02:25
And we needed to get interviewees.
02:31
I mean, even though I have worked a bit in Asia, maybe someone from Asia would be more interesting to interview someone from Asia.
02:38
So you are a bit closer by profession by cultural background or location or so, and then there was this open call by the Bosch alumni network for online activities.
02:49
And, we luckily got a grant that at least provides some kind of remuneration for us, the team, so that we could approach
03:00
people in a bit more professional way than not just doing it on a voluntary basis, but also provide some, some small fee.
03:09
And, yeah, so.
03:10
One by one, we put together this team and now it's the six of us here and I'm very happy about this team.
03:19
We went already through a nice process.
03:21
We started building up this team - how do we want to work together?
03:27
What are our tasks?
03:29
We meet every week, which is great, to catch up and also to improve our podcasts.
03:34
And together we identified I think a great number of people - interviewees that are located all across the globe and super diverse.
03:43  Thomas Reintjes
And there's even still the seventh person you mentioned – our friend Kim.
03:47
She is also the member of our team where too, just like me, this is Thomas, by the way, the background magician that Prathap talked about.
03:56
And she's the other one of those.
03:59  Prathap Nair
Should we talk about how we went about finding our subject or is that too much detail?
03:59  Matthias Jochmann
Very briefly, because I think it's kind of unique or it's a bit
04:01
outstanding that we have never met in person in this group, we all met online only, right.
04:08  Prathap Nair
Yeah, I've never met any of you guys.
04:10
I immediately had Didem in mind, the person I interviewed first, because she lives in Istanbul and at that time, Turkey wasn’t in our list.
04:27
And, Huy you want to tell us how you found Ray.
04:28  An Huy Tran
Yeah, sure.
04:44
I knew Ray from actually six years ago in an exchange program.
04:50
We took part in an exchange program with other youths from Southeast Asian countries.
04:56
And, after the program, we weren’t in touch.
05:00
I got his Facebook and then he posted one day, I saw that he became a flight attendant.
05:16
I congratulated him and he talked about how happy he was to find that job.
05:22
And, after that, we also didn't talk much about it.
05:26
I just know that, well, now that he is a flight attendant and then after coronavirus got known worldwide.
05:35
One day I saw him posting a picture of himself wearing a uniform of a barista.
05:41
And then he talked about how he has to change his profession for a little bit because of the pandemic.
05:51
And then I read the whole post and then I thought to myself, it was like really fascinating what he has gone through.
05:57
But at that time I didn't expect that I would attend or like take part in this podcast project.
06:06
And then we talked for a little bit about, putting this project together then I thought, well, I think he’s the right person to share his story.
06:17  Prathap Nair
Now Kecheng, do you want to go?
06:19
Would you like to tell us?
06:19  Kecheng Fang
Yes.
06:20
Sure.
06:20
So when Matthias first invited me to this project, my initial idea was to find some
06:27
journalist friends who went to Wuhan in January or February, where the pandemic first broke.
06:35
They would have interesting stories to share.
06:38
Unfortunately my journalist friends were either too private or not confident in speaking English.
06:46
So, I had to find someone else.
06:48
Then I remembered Wenni who was infected with COVID-19.
06:53
And I, I know this because she posted a lot about this situation on Facebook, about her experience.
07:00
So I think, okay, that's a firsthand source, right?
07:04
So, it's even better to directly talk to a person who had the firsthand appearance.
07:11
So I'm sure he has a lot to share and I was personally very interested in her story.
07:18
And then she invited her husband to join.
07:20
So, actually her husband actually spent much longer time in hospital than her.
07:25
So I interviewed both of them together.
07:30
So that's how I found them, basically also I think Facebook played an important part here for us to get to know this person more directly.
07:40  Prathap Nair
Thanks for sharing that with us Kecheng.
07:44
Matthias.
07:45  Matthias Jochmann
Yes.
07:45
I interviewed a Fidaa who I also never met in person.
07:51
But as I mentioned, I worked for this international organization in Palestine and based in Ramallah and so I worked since January this year, actually.
08:00
And I was very eager to have a perspective involved from this region because it's very special.
08:06
And then when we started talking about lockdown, I thought, Oh, actually people in Gaza, they are faced with sort of lockdown for 12 years already.
08:17
So I was very eager to have this included and after reaching out to some friends, I got the contact of Fidaa who was luckily willing to share her perspective.
08:28
My other interviewer Mike is a well-known playwrights and activist in Cape town.
08:37
We actually met, I think, five years ago in China, in Guangzhou Southern China, in a workshop because we were both
08:44
involved in the theater and yeah, I haven't been in touch with him for long and I didn't know what he was doing and stuff.
08:50
When we talked about different locations of interview, just reached out to him thinking, Oh, he could be in very interesting person talking
08:58
about culture, talking about, global South talking about, yeah, there's these inequities that are even more visible now during the pandemic.
09:06  Prathap Nair
Yeah.
09:09
Stephanie came on board a little later when we were trying to talk to someone from the U S.
09:15
Can you tell us a bit?
09:19  Stephanie Raible
McKenzie, at least in concept, found me.
09:21
As someone who teaches undergraduates and works with a lot of 18 through 22 year olds, I think Kim thought I might be a good person to add to the team.
09:36
So in finding Mackenzie, it's interesting this summer, I, oddly enough, I don't interact with many high school students.
09:44
I usually only find them after they graduate, but I happened to meet Mackenzie in August of 2020.
09:52
And I met her through her internship and as someone who teaches social entrepreneurship, we were
09:58
kind of scouting around for activities that we could do remotely with our students at the university.
10:04
And I met McKenzie when she was an intern.
10:08
And I remember thinking she's gone through this very typical us experience of, of kind
10:13
of losing out on that typical end of high school experience that we all see in movies.
10:18
And it's just very iconic, but at the same time, she's very atypical as a person.
10:23
So she decided to take this gap year.
10:26
So she's not kind of following this traditional path that she'll go to university next year.
10:30
But, I, all of a sudden, when we were trying to think about who might be, kind of a good person to fill this role,
10:37
I didn't immediately think of her, but then all of a sudden it just clicked that she was in this perfect position.
10:44
So yeah, that's how I found Mackenzie.
10:46  Prathap Nair
Thanks for filling us in Stephanie.
10:48
How was it to make a podcast during the pandemic for each of us?
11:00
Stephanie, would you like to go.
11:05  Stephanie Raible
I think for me, the hardest thing is actually trusting that there's a vision
11:11
in a way, because it seems like everybody and their neighbor's currently launching a podcast.
11:16
So, I think what it is I, I never like hearing my own voice, but I think being a part of
11:18
this team, and, and this is where I give my, my, my tear kind of like smiley tear emoji.
11:24
I think this group is fantastic.
11:26
And, when I kind of got looped into this, some of the folks who would be on the team, I thought, you know, this is exactly something that I would love to do.
11:34
I don't want to hear myself talk, but I love stories.
11:38
I'm someone that even as a researcher, I center around stories.
11:41
So it just seems like a great opportunity to meet people and to do this kind of work.
11:47
So, yeah, I'm selfishly very happy that I got to be a part of it.
11:51  Prathap Nair
Interesting.
11:52  An Huy Tran
From a perspective of diversifying the profile of the interviewers, because we only have,
11:59
like, before you joined the team, we only have male identify interviewers before you joined team.
12:14
So I think it is a great plus for us when you joined.
12:18  Matthias Jochmann
Not only because you're a woman.
12:19  An Huy Tran
of course.
12:19  Stephanie Raible
Well, if it helps any, it only occurred to me yesterday and I'm a part of this group for several months that I'm like, wait a minute.
12:26
I'm actually the only woman.
12:29  Prathap Nair
You don't see gender.
12:31  Thomas Reintjes
So you're asking about difficulties, right?
12:34
And, so I'm a radio producer.
12:36
And so for me, this pandemic has been just very challenging and trying to record good
12:42
audio because I love my job as a radio producer because it enables me to meet people.
12:47
Right.
12:49
It gives me permission to tell people that, hey, I want to come to your place.
12:53
I want to meet you.
12:54
I want to look around and I want to interview you and with my professional recording gear and microphone, right?
13:02
And now we are sitting at home.
13:04
We can't meet to meet each other and.
13:06
We still have to try and record good audio and record this moment.
13:10
And, so figuring out how to do that.
13:14
And for this podcast in particular, like finding a solution to record people that works in every place and that everybody can do.
13:25
And that still delivers a good quality - that has been challenging.
13:29
And you can hear that in some of the episodes, some of the audio is better.
13:34
Some of the audio is not so great, so we are still learning and trying to figure that out.
13:40
And it also, of course, it depends now on what everybody has at home, what technology do they have at their disposal?
13:47
But I think in general we nailed it.
13:49
I have to do a shout out to TalkSync, which is a brand new app, which just appeared in the right moment.
13:55
And it helps you to record on a smartphone.
13:58
I think it's super easy and, yeah, they're doing a great job.
14:02  Prathap Nair
Yeah.
14:02
So that's been the interesting aspect for me as well.
14:06
I'd love to go out on the field and report because I'm a journalist, but of course now that's not possible.
14:12
So we're all limited by this pandemic.
14:15
So yeah, that's been something,
14:25  Matthias Jochmann
The challenge is to set up team call with all of us because we're located in, three, four, five different time zones.
14:33
So there's East coast, us, the majority in Germany and, Hong Kong.
14:40
And Huy, you were in Tokyo until two weeks ago.
14:43
So now the most suitable time that we found was 8:00 AM for our US colleagues and Kecheng in Hong Kong.
14:54
So it's kind of the only possible time that we can talk, sort of not to ruin someone's sleep.
15:07  Prathap Nair
Is there a favorite clip to anecdote to share from season one?
15:15  An Huy Tran
Yeah.
15:15
So for me, personally, I don't have a specific quote or citations, but there was one detail in Kecheng’s episode that really catch my attention.
15:20
So when, when you talk about her experiences of being hospitalized with her, and then, all of the nurses and all of the doctors
15:30
kind of like kept a certain distance from them, but then there were these cleaning ladies who came and then offer them snacks.
15:39
And then like, they tried to talk to Wenni and her husband so that they would not feel too lonely.
15:44
I mean, that was something for me, personally, very, very nice and very humanized, you know?
15:51
Because of course it is different kinds of humanization because for the nurses and for the doctors,
15:58
they are also doing a very nice job for helping Wenni and her husband to recover from the disease.
16:04
But when they were in the hospital, I think they were really lonely.
16:09
And then with such kind of like small but nice interaction, I think it made their day.
16:15  Kecheng Fang
Hmm.
16:15
Yes.
16:15
So actually I asked that question because they posted on Facebook about her interactions with these care workers, cleaning ladies.
16:25
So I was touched by reading her updates on Facebook.
16:30
So that's why I deliberately ask her about these interactions.
16:35
I really wanted to share that with the audience.
16:39
So yes, I want to mention a quote also from Wenni and a Dominic's episodes.
16:48
Dominic said that after being in hospital for about like two months, he felt like, he’s skiing for the first time.
17:00
So yeah, that touched me because yes, it's difficult to, to imagine what it's like to
17:06
be staying in a hospital without actually directly touching the sunshine for two months.
17:12
So that must be difficult but I'm also glad to learn that they both got some positive things
17:19  Thomas Reintjes
yeah, I think for me, the Alkis episode is one of my favorites maybe because I'm self-employed as well.
17:26
Like in his case, it’s even more at stake because it's a family business.
17:31
And I was really feeling that pressure that he was under.
17:35
And also I find it interesting to hear how he changed the menu of the restaurant.
17:42
So thinking about the fact that a restaurant menu reflect this time, somehow I found that really interesting.
17:50
And then he shared this roasted watermelon recipe.
17:54
That's like my favorite moment of the this season.
17:58
And it's maybe it's also because I'm vegetarian.
18:01
I'm not vegan, but vegetarian.
18:03
So.
18:04
I so want this watermelon and I put it on my bucket list whenever I should.
18:11
If I make it to Athens sometime, I want to go to his restaurant for that watermelon and honestly like, it feels so much like comfort food.
18:21
I just feel this immense craving for his roasted watermelon and the carrots that taste like salmon.
18:31
Fascinating.
18:32  Prathap Nair
I've heard a couple of people reach out to me also.
18:35
They told me the same thing about the watermelon.
18:39  Matthias Jochmann
In the episode, McKenzie from the US, there was one point when she
18:43
actually said: yeah, you know, I think my parents suffer more than we students do.
18:46
But then there was another moment I was editing or post producing this episode.
18:47
And there were several moments when I was wondering whether she's crying.
18:48  Stephanie Raible
Yeah.
18:48
I think especially when, when she was talking about her parents and to give a little bit of context she was saying
18:54
that a lot of the graduating high school going to prom, which is where everybody gets dressed up and goes and does
19:01
a kind of like a dance and all these other things that you see at the end of a high school experience, you know?
19:07
Yes.
19:07
She missed out, but as someone who's kind of also looking to the future, she had a lot to look forward to in the
19:13
sense that, you know, she's doing this gap year, she's eventually going to university, but for her parents, that's the
19:19
last time that she's kind of home and that, you know, they get to miss taking pictures of her with her cap and gown.
19:27
For me personally my pick would actually be Mike's episode because there was one point in it and I think this is where it
19:33
connects to me professionally when he was saying that he wanted to preserve the dignity of the people that worked in the theater.
19:41
And he was basically saying, you know, I don't want to give charity to these actors.
19:46
I want them to be able to feel like they're earning that money that they bring in.
19:54
I thought that was really insightful, because I think as someone who works in the social entrepreneurship realm
20:00
and I previously used to teach cultural entrepreneurship, so people that are in kind of the cultural industries,
20:06
it's interesting because that is the orientation that we have, but it's not the first one that people go to.
20:11
It's usually the charity side of things saying, well, let's just bring in money and let's just give people money.
20:16
But I think he's absolutely right that - especially when you've developed a craft over all of these years, and you're
20:22
no longer able to use that craft and to share that, that magical experience with an audience, trying to think about how
20:30
do you give someone that experience when it looks like for the foreseeable future that that's not going to be possible.
20:36
So I thought that was really, insightful and creative.
20:40
And I really even went on the website of the sand foundation just to see a little bit more about what they're doing.
20:48
So I'm really hopeful that you know that goes well and that we can see in future episodes, how that maps out.
21:04  Prathap Nair
What has been the pandemics effect on your life?
21:07
How has your work evolved in this pandemic time?
21:09  Thomas Reintjes
You know I'm still renting a desk at a coworking space and paying good money for that, but for months I couldn't go there.
21:19
So I want to work from there - I mean I could work from anywhere - but I just didn't want to work from home because I feel like I need people around me.
21:30
And even if I don't interact with everyone in my coworking space, I feel like it's different environment.
21:37
It's a work environment.
21:38
I have people around me.
21:41
Yeah.
21:41
Sense of community.
21:42
And then suddenly being cut off from that and having to sit at home and just doing everything by myself.
21:52
Yeah, it's been strange so I hope that I could go back sometime… I go back now less than one once a week.
22:03
If I really have to be in that space, I go there, but I still wouldn't feel safe to spend all day every day there.
22:11
So, yeah, still working from home and still trying to adapt to that.
22:16
And my boyfriend has work from home as well, and we are trying to be at opposite ends of the apartment so that we’re not on top of each other all the time.
22:31  Prathap Nair
Okay.
22:32
So in my case, also, everything in my life has acquired a sort of stillness.
22:38
I miss traveling.
22:40
The most important part of traveling for me is that I work when I travel, I research for stories and I report them when I travel.
22:47
There are actually very few things you could do as a freelance desk reporter writing in English and living in Germany.
22:54
So I don't see the status quo changing for another year though.
22:59
Huy what's up with you.
23:01
You recently flew back to Germany from Tokyo, didn’t you?
23:05  An Huy Tran
Yeah, so basically when we started this project I was in Tokyo.
23:12
I'm an ethnographic researcher and I was at that time in Tokyo collecting data for my own research and my research had to do with migrants.
23:22
So I would do a face to face interview with them all the time and then do participant observations.
23:30
So I would go to large social gathering events and then do my observations.
23:35
And in January I just went back from a traveling trip from Taiwan to attend this last lunar new year party with the Vietnamese community there.
23:51
And then little did I know that actually was the last time that I would be out of Tokyo for the next half a year, or like for the next eight months.
24:01
Like after that, everything just went down here.
24:04
I couldn't even do any of my field work face to face anymore.
24:08
Like I couldn't talk to people face to face anymore.
24:11
So, as a researcher in the field at that moment, I was deeply frustrated.
24:18
But, I mean, like, I still consider myself to be in a pretty lucky position in comparisons to others who basically lost their jobs or had
24:27
their income severely infected affected because for me, I had to move everything online, but I could still do like management a little bit.
24:37
And, I stay in Tokyo until September.
24:42
And then I flew back from Tokyo to Germany.
24:47
It was a direct flight from Haneda to Frankfurt.
24:51
So it was 12 hours.
24:53
The funny thing was that after during the interview with Rey, he said, when he fly domestically, he has the full PPE on.
25:05
But I started to question myself or I started to question my own safety because when I stepped on the plane, I didn't see any PPE at all.
25:14
So the flight attendants just wear face mask and gloves.
25:19  Prathap Nair
Can you imagine wearing a PPE for 12 hours?
25:24
Matthias before this pandemic started you were also in Gaza?
25:31  Matthias Jochmann
No, I was in Ramallah.
25:33
Well, I'm supposed to be there still.
25:36
I have an apartment there.
25:37
I pay my rent there.
25:39
But when the pandemic started, my employer said, well, maybe it gets worse here, so you can go back home to Germany.
25:46
Then since my wife was pregnant already, we decided to go to Germany even though by then, which was end of March.
25:52
It was maybe on the peak until now in Germany and in Palestine and Israel was pretty low numbers.
25:58
So it wasn't weird and yeah when we left, we thought you had made a couple of weeks and stuff, so we just packed necessary stuff.
26:09
And, yeah, here we are.
26:11
We are still here.
26:12
Our baby was born in Germany instead of Jerusalem, which we already had everything
26:16
planned for, you know, like chose the hospital, sought out how to do it and stuff.
26:21
Now she was born in Germany and we are living in the house of my mom with my mom where I grew up.
26:28
So it's my wife, our daughter and me now living in my childhood bedroom.
26:33
And yeah, since end of March, I'm working remotely for Ramallah.
26:38  Prathap Nair
Yeah.
26:39  Thomas Reintjes
Sounds like you should do an episode about yes.
26:42  Matthias Jochmann
But, but I mean, I wanted to say earlier when we talked about our favorite episodes.
26:47
So, I think all of us and I would say most of our interviewers are from a sort of privileged part of society or societies.
26:47
I'm happy that we have also this perspective from an environment where, you know, people don't have the choice during pandemic times.
26:57
So this was something that touched me personally a lot.
27:01
Cause I have some colleagues that have family in Gaza and so on and colleagues that go to Gaza, if they can.
27:08
Yeah, it just touched me a lot hearing that.
27:10
I mean, they have a double lockdown, they've been locked down for years in the Gaza strip.
27:16  An Huy Tran
So Kecheng, how did the pandemic affect you?
27:22  Kecheng Fang
So I got a job, as an online teacher.
27:26
So, but I feel okay.
27:29
Yes.
27:29
I think actually by teaching online, basically all of the course materials could be covered by online teaching mode but I feel bad for
27:41
the students because I believe that for university students, classroom teaching lessons are only a small part of their university life.
27:54
A major part of university life would be like a community, right.
27:58
Connections with other students and teachers in the campus.
28:02
So that is not possible now.
28:03
So, I think the students got negatively affected more than teachers.
28:04
So that's my story.
28:16
And the other situation is that actually, because I have family and my parents are still in mainland China and I am now in Hong Kong.
28:27
So actually, yeah, it used to be quite easy to travel between Hong Kong and mainland China.
28:32
Yeah, you can travel to the neighboring city in mainland China very, very easily.
28:38
I just take a subway and then you arrive.
28:40
But, nowadays the border has been basically closed for like almost a year, so, yeah, we’re not able to travel to mainland, easily.
28:54
So that creates a lot of difficulty especially when people have families in mainland China or they have families in Hong Kong, but they are now in mainland China.
29:04
So, that's a major influence for people in Hong Kong.
29:08  Prathap Nair
Now we are in autumn already and the second wave is already upon us, do we have any thoughts for second season?
29:26  Stephanie Raible
I think from my end, I'm really excited to hear how McKenzie's current internship is going.
29:32
So I spoke to her, I think a day or two before she was starting to work with an organization called vote.org
29:39
here in the States, which is a nonpartisan organization that is trying to get folks registered to vote.
29:47
So, it's an exciting place to work in a time like this.
29:52
So should be very interesting.
29:53
She’s probably one of the most interesting 18-year-old.
29:55  Thomas Reintjes
I really enjoyed this episode that we are recording right now because I learned a lot about all of you that I didn't know before.
30:03
So I'm also looking forward to that part where we learn more about natural relationship between you and your interviewees in the second round of interviews.
30:23  Prathap Nair
Yeah, for sure.
30:24  An Huy Tran
So I am actually writing like a chapter for my own dissertation on methodology.
30:29
And then I came across this term qualitative dance between the researcher and the research.
30:38
So it basically talks about the interactions between the interviewers and the people that the interviewer interrogates.
30:44
It's like a dance.
30:46
So we would promise to have more dancing in season two, I guess.
30:50  Prathap Nair
Look forward to it.
30:51  Matthias Jochmann
It's true.
30:52
I think I'm looking forward to hear every interview, user journey that they've gone through.
30:56
So I'm very grateful and very much looking forward to the interviewees journeys they are going through.
31:01  Kecheng Fang
Yes, same here and also I think we can have our interviewees tell us a little bit more about people around them so that we can get more perspectives.
31:15
For example, as Tom and Matthias suggested we can ask Wenni to share the experience of her parents who are actually in mainland China.
31:27
So that we can get to know more about how mainland China controlled this pandemic.
31:33
So I think we can definitely get more interesting information and the perspectives in season two.