Telum Talks To: Ed Stott from That's Helpful

Telum Talks To: Ed Stott from That's Helpful

By Cindy Paskalina Kweesar

Telum talks to Ed Stott, the Producer / Presenter of the That's Helpful podcast, about her start in journalism and what sets audio storytelling apart from other platforms.

Telum talks to Ed Stott, the Producer / Presenter of the That's Helpful podcast, about her start in journalism and what sets audio storytelling apart from other platforms.

Could you share your journey into journalism and how you eventually got involved in podcasting?
Some people are born into musical families, where records are listened to non-stop and playing a musical instrument is a given. I was born into a radio family. Growing up, it was never off. At 13, I wrote letters to broadcasters around Manchester begging for work experience. The BBC let me in! After that, it was where I spent all my school holidays. I was given my first proper job at 17. It was fun and fast-paced. I couldn't believe I was getting paid for it, and I'm fairly certain I didn't take my BBC lanyard off from the day I got it until I moved to Australia when I was 21.

Between working shifts at a local café, learning that the phrase "old mate" does not mean that a person is actually your friend and that wearing shoes was now optional, I got a job producing at the ABC. Since then, I've been an EP in commercial radio, returned to the UK for a 6-month stint as a Business Journalist with BBC Radio4 and 5Live, gained a first-class Law Degree, and I'm the only person outside of the US to have completed the Transom Story Mentorship.

I've produced and presented award-winning radio documentaries and podcasts for ABC Radio National and Nova Podcasts, and my latest project is my own podcast, That's Helpful, a self-improvement podcast backed by science. Every episode will teach you something that will shift your perspective, share a life-changing skill, or empower you to make better choices. It was chosen as one of Apple's top five podcasts for 2022 and regularly ranks within the top education and self-improvement podcasts for Australia and New Zealand.

What sets apart delivering stories through audio from other media platforms?
Audio is so intimate. You are literally invited inside people's heads through their headphones, which is a huge honour and major responsibility. When you only rely on one sense to tell a story or share ideas, you have to work a little harder to build the picture, be more creative, and often allow the listener to draw their own conclusions. There's a reason podcasting has blown up over the past few years, and its intimate nature is one of them, but the fact that people can take these stories anywhere with them to keep them company during times that might otherwise not present themselves as an opportunity to learn, connect with others and broaden their world view is another. 

How has the podcasting industry changed over the years?
I've noticed a push towards more narrative stories - the guests that my listeners now connect with the most are the experts in their field, but they also have real-life experiences and share their personal stories and anecdotes with my audience. The other emerging area that I see through feedback from my listeners is people listening together - parents and kids, couples, and friends. With a podcast like That's Helpful, which often explores and advises on some of life's biggest questions and challenges, it gives people an opportunity to not only learn together, but also works as a starting point for broader conversations and connections within their own lives.

What's the most memorable story or project you've undertaken in your career, and why does it stand out?
Being one of five journalists accepted onto the Transom Story Mentorship was definitely one of the most memorable projects in my career. Learning how to craft a narrative from some of the world's most gifted storytellers and journalists saw my career pivot into audio documentaries and now into podcasting. Getting to see how This American Life's Ira Glass organises his tape and decides what stories will make it to air, hearing how NPR Code Switch's Shereen Marisol Meraji upholds journalistic integrity when covering stories about race and identity and learning how audio documentary veteran Jay Allison crafts a script were monumental, light bulb moments in my career. They transformed not only how I tell stories but also what I understand about the power of audio to convey new ideas and transport you into someone else's shoes.

Could you tell us about any projects you're working on that you find particularly exciting?
That's Helpful is definitely my most exciting project. After 15 years as a journalist, primarily for public broadcasters, launching my own podcast where I have free reign to create and contribute in any way I see fit has been incredibly inspiring. To see it reaching and helping so many people and getting wonderful feedback has been even more rewarding - sitting just that bit closer to my audience has reminded me of the incredible power of storytelling.

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Edwina Stott

Producer / Presenter

That's Helpful

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