Women in Podcasting: Interview with Kylie Sturgess

Token Skeptic podcast logo Podcaster NewsKylie Sturgess is the host and producer of the Token Skeptic podcast. It is a bi-weekly podcast that brings you a skeptical look at stories in the news, science, pseudoscience, and more. She has conducted over 100 interviews with artists, scientists, politicians, and activists.

When did you first start podcasting? What’s your experience been from then until today?

I first started podcasting around 2006; the experience of interviewing people has always been enjoyable. I was able to use my contacts and extensive reading of science, psychology and philosophy books to be enthusiastic about the chance to talk to authors, artists and activists further about their work.

As a result of podcasting, I took a year off to study broadcast radio and now my pre-recorded audio is aired on two different local stations and I often do interviews live (live!!) as a host for a mid-morning show on arts and issues. I sometimes do the graveyard shift, spinning CDs of the funky-geek-math-rock kind, as music-podcasting isn’t my forte and the experience is a great technical challenge.

Due to my studies, I podcast fairly irregularly now (the original podcast is on two USA stations as a part of their public broadcasting), but as soon as the holidays and the new year gets underway (and my second book of podcast work is out!), I’ll be putting lots of previously-done-audio online.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

I was often dismayed to hear interviewers who didn’t “do their homework” about a topic and so I thought that I’d see just how much of a challenge it could be! The experience has been a good one, although it’s surprising how even a little (and I do mean little!) success can get noses pointlessly out of joint; the important thing is to tap into what made you enjoy it in the first place and use that to drive you.

Podcasting audiences are surprisingly kind and supportive and it’s often a silent, listening majority who keep me on my toes and going back for another tighter edit or tougher question.

I used to follow podcasting lectures from the USA with tips and tricks and now use my site to occasionally post advice for other podcasters on what I’ve learned. The more the merrier is my opinion!

Could you explain a bit about what skeptic means, for those who are unfamiliar with that concept? What kinds of topics do you cover in your podcast?

Skepticism involves favouring conclusions that are valid and consistently reliable, rather than for convenience’s sake. All empirical claims are up for rigorous testing using the methods of science (the scientific method) – especially their own claims. An acceptance of a claim is proportional and depends upon valid logic and a fair assessment of what evidence is available. In addition, the study of reason and psychology underpinning belief in claims is vital. Skepticism values method over conclusion.

As a skeptic, I’m interested in paranormal, pseudoscientific claims and consumer rights. I’m also an atheist (albeit one who has taught in many religious schools, as an out-atheist, including teaching introductory philosophy courses and high school critical thinking) and I’m very interested in how people with and without faith can support science and critical thinking in numerous ways.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

Do some research and find what’s out there that works and you think you would be comfortable trying too!

There’s never “too many X topic podcasters”, there’s never enough minority voices – give it a try, you never know what it might lead to.

It’s surprising how the experience of stretching your communication skills can lead to great confidence, especially with technology, and we can never have enough women who take back the spaces that should be available to all. Even if there’s only a handful of listeners, it’s a buzz if you make it so.