Women in Podcasting: Interview with Jessica Cook

Jessica Cook Podcaster NewsJessica Cook is involved with two podcasts, both of which focus on gaming, yet are different from each other. She is a host of the Cat Context podcast and also a host of the Game On podcast.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?

I started podcasting in 2012 with my own show Cat Context, which discusses video games and geek culture. Back then I actually worried that I was getting on the podcasting bandwagon too late. It seemed like a potentially outdated technology, while everyone was moving to video.

Now I know how wrong I was! In 2015 podcasting is alive and well and in fact probably in better shape than it’s been in for years. The popularity of NPR shows like Serial have brought in new listeners to the genre and inspired those of us who have been around for a while.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

When I was a little kid I used to sit under the kitchen table with a tape recorder (oops, showing my age) and record “radio” shows. Later in college I joined the campus radio station and had a great few years playing obscure rock and taking silly phone calls. Moving into podcasting in modern times seems like a pretty natural extension — apparently I just love talking into a microphone.

You’re involved in two different podcasts and each one covers gaming. How do the two differ?

Cat Context is a very free-form show that I do with two close friends. We started out planning everything down to the minute, but at this point we barely have show notes or even an list of topics ready when I hit the “record” button. I think people tune in for our rapport as much as our subject matter, and our number one goal is to make the listener laugh even (particularly!) when that means being goofy. I do edit each show diligently to remove anything I think is not interesting to our audience or too “inside baseball”, but the recording can be pretty chaotic!

GameOn, on the other hand, is a tight 30 minute show with a focus on news and current events in the game industry. I probably spend more time writing the show notes than I do recording, with a focus on doing things like finding the hot stories from the week, writing short summaries, and making sure that we give even coverage to all games. It’s also a show for a professional audience, many of whom are in the game-making industry themselves, so I try to act accordingly: no swearing, no rumormongering, no being rude or overly negative.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

My advice is: just go for it! I have found the podcasting community to be very inclusive, intelligent, and friendly. Whereas some places on the internet have “clickbait” headlines or mean comments from viewers, I think the pace and content of podcasts means that listeners are generally a pretty calm, thoughtful group. And you don’t need much: just get a microphone, a free piece of audio editing software, and something to say. I look forward to listening!