Women in Podcasting: Interview with Pam from Hip to Be a Square

Hip to be a square logoPam from Hip to Be A Square podcast has stitched together a show about many different topics. It is about quilting and crafting. It is also about things that geeks and nerds would find interesting and relatable. The podcast even has Helper Cats! Everything gets put together in a similar way to how little pieces of fabric are turned into a quilt. Her tagline says it all: “Quilt long and prosper.”

When did you get started in podcasting? Can you give us a brief history of your podcasting experiences between then and now?

I started my current podcast in October of 2010, although I’d had experience previously as producer/speaker on another podcast. I first discovered podcasts just after my daughter was born in 2006, when maternity leave from my full-time job left me feeling out of touch (and too many re-run episodes of Law & Order were not helping!). I started listening to a podcast about science fiction literature and television on the recommendation of a friend, and heard their call for female voices to help with the “on-air” reviews. I’ve loved science fiction since I was a kid, and thought, “Why not me?” So I worked with that team for about a year and a half, and then it podfaded. Around that time, I started listening to quilting podcasts, which is another hobby of mine. After a year or so, one of the podcasters put a call out for other listeners to start more quilting podcasts, and again I thought, “Why not me?” and voila! Hip to be a Square was born, “your place for things quilty and geeky”.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

Aside from the narcissism of thinking, “Why not me?”, I was looking for a way to keep a diary of sorts to track the quilts I was making. I had kept up a mommy blog about my experiences in raising my kids when they were really young, but I got sick of hearing myself say “gosh, motherhood sure is hard!”, so I started writing more about what I was sewing. I was really not sure how a visual medium like quilting would come across in an audio format, but I thought I’d give it a shot! My podcast has become a bit of a weekly diary about projects I’m working on, with a smattering of product reviews for quilting tools and patterns. I’ve also started talking more about what I’m reading, recipes I’ve tried, struggles with depression and anxiety, and fitness updates since I’ve recently lost a of weight.

How did you come up with the name of your podcast? Can you tell us about how that relates to the topics you cover in your podcast?

As a nine year old nerdy girl, I really felt like Huey Lewis and the News was speaking to me with their song “Hip to be Square”, and at that time I in my quilting career, my quilts were mostly made up of squares I sewed together. I think my original idea was to show every how awesome quilts could be even if they only had squares in them. Eventually I realized there really are a lot of interesting shapes out there like triangles and rectangle and even an odd hexagon or circle, so my quilting repertoire has grown, but I still love the name for the nerdy connotations.

What words of wisdom would you share with women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

Don’t overplan your podcast, and let it evolve organically. When I first sat down to record, I had a list of topics that was supposed to carry me though the first 4 episodes, and I talked so fast and so briefly about each topic that I covered them all in 22 minutes. And that included an introduction of who I was and my sewing history! I was so inspired by other quilting podcasters that had research topics like the history of a particular technique or quilt style, and I desperately wanted to emulate them. I came to realize my niche in the microcosm of quilting podcasts, though, was being the girlfriend you sit next to who makes funny comments under her breath and tells a LOT of stories about her cats and why she loves Han Solo and Captain Picard. Some of my favorite podcasts have been ones where I’ve skyped in another quilting podcaster and we do my episode together, but all the listeners get to eavesdrop on our conversation.

I’ve seen a lot of podcasts, both quilting and other lifestyle ones, that podfaded because the effort involved in researching or producing (like adding sound effects or bumper music) got to be too much for a one-person operation. We just want to hear your voice!

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