A blog by Airinë Nuqi
Dr. Clarisse Cossais started her radio career in 1993. In her eyes, podcasts are something quite new, but very fast tracked. She explains how now, every broadcast program that she produces for the radio will, essentially, be uploaded as a podcast. Cossais is a freelance radio journalist and producer for Deutschlandfunk Kultur, as well as other public service broadcasters like: rbb, NDR, and SWR.
Having started her lecturing career at HMKW in 2017, Clarisse has been contributing to the Media Production module with her expertise regarding podcasts, for around 4 years.
In more recent news, she published her own podcast series “Littéramours” with Sigrid Brinkmann.
Like the rest of us over the past year, Cossais found herself on a walk with her friend Brinkmann, coming to the conclusion that they both needed to do something during this time of total stagnation during the pandemic. The fact that Brinkmann loves french literature and Cossais loves german literature, was the push they needed to come up with the idea of “Littéramours” and get the show going.
“We felt so stuck, we had the feeling that we cannot go to lectures, we cannot go to exhibitions, we cannot travel to the person we want to ask, and as a journalist it’s not so easy,” Cossais says.
The premise of the podcast is, inviting guests and speaking to them in both german and french. Each episode is done twice, in both languages, with the same guest. “We do everything together. She speaks french very well,” Cossais says on Brinkmann, “and I speak german very well, we both have an accent of course… but I think it is encouraging people to say – it doesn’t matter if you have an accent, because as long as you have the ideas and the willingness of expressing yourself, that’s it.”
Most guests aren’t invited after they have their work already translated, but rather before. Additionally, something that both Cossais and Brinkmann are enjoying during this project, is the freedom it has given them. “The first book we were speaking about, will only be completed in two years, and we were like okay, it doesn’t matter,” says Cossais.
Cossais and Brinkmann have known each other for 12 years, and work together on national radio.
So, if you are reading this and feeling inspired to start your own podcast, here is some invaluable advice from Cossais:
Finding your niche
Before starting their podcast, Cossais and Brinkmann did quite a bit of research on their idea. Has something like this french-german literature fusion ever been done before? Should it be short or long? Should it be discussion based or rather feeling a guest out and listening to them? How long will an author be able to talk about their work?
Cossais reflects on how Brinkmann and herself do not like programs, where people discuss for hours. Their goal instead is to take the attention away from themselves, as the hosts of the show, and shift the attention to the guest completely. “We wanted to have more time for the authors… and sometimes we speak a bit longer … but we don’t want to say ‘Me and Sigrid are doing…’ That doesn’t matter, it’s not about us,” Cossais says.
Cossais heavily insists on the importance of quality. One of the first and main things to think about and prepare, was the professional studio. She stressed the point that the podcast had to have a very good sound quality.
Cossais and Brinkmann are experienced radio hosts and moderators, so quality should not come as a surprise on their non-negotiable list. However, with new tech equipment, a professional studio does not always have to be a must. With the right mic, and editing skills, a quality podcast can be recorded in many places outside of a studio, especially if you are just starting out.
Do what YOU want to do
“For students, if they would come to me and say we would like to make a podcast, I always say yes! Even if it is a one hour discussion podcast… just doing something is always better than doing nothing,” Cossais says.
If you are a student, a young professional, just starting out, and you have an idea? Go for it. The only way to learn is to try. And the way to enjoy what you are doing, is to actually do what YOU want to do. It helps, if you have a special idea, an interesting execution, or even a new strategy on how to present your work. But always do what you want to do.
Preparation is a given. But haven’t you listened to a podcast at some point, and thought: this person is such a great presenter, so natural and seems somewhat… unscripted? There is no such thing. Sure, for some presenters, their natural charisma, a word, a sentence, some in-between joke, might be unscripted, but even their script most likely consists of a few bullet points. “I mean they are some beautifully talented people who can do it without preparation. I do not belong to them,” says Cossais.
And some final parting advice for prospective podcast creators:
“Do not underestimate the time it takes,” says Cossais. Cossais compared the public work you can do, like podcasts in this case, to a kind of business card that can be used, when people ask ‘oh, what do you do?’ and that you never know what might come out of it.
“From the moment that you are doing something, things happen. Because you are already putting in some energy, and you are making something,” Cossais says, not giving too much away.
To check out Cossais and Brinkmann’s podcast “Littéramours” follow the link below: https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/litt%C3%A9ramours/id1548542614
To read more about Dr. Clarisse Cossais and her teaching at HMKW Berlin, you can visit her profile here: https://www.hmkw.de/hochschule/lehrende/fachbereich-journalismus-und-kommunikation/clarisse-cossais/