Jul 19 • 1HR 4M

A world first: The Earthworm podcast is here!

I am The Earthworm, hear me roar! Or rather, hear me chat politely with a guest in this first ever audio edition of The Earthworm

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Content and community for gardeners, growers, plant lovers and nature nerds. Featuring interviews, insights and inspiration.
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Photo © Brian Ritchie/BBC

I have so much respect for broadcasters. Or anyone, for that matter, who is able to speak eloquently, or even just confidently, in front of a live audience. 

I’ve given a couple of speeches in my time, but that’s a whole other kettle of words. A speech – not a very good one, mind, but a speech nonetheless – can be a mere recital of a pre-composed piece. That suits me fine. Because it’s not the public speaking, per se, that I have an issue with. It’s the seemingly spontaneous articulacy shared by the best broadcasters that I find myself in awe of.

As a writer, every idea, every sentence, every word, goes through several filters and editorial checks inside my brain before ending up on the page. If at any stage I feel like an idea could be communicated more succinctly, more clearly, more colourfully, then I go back and change it. 

The best writing may feel natural, but the reality is often far more contrived.

It’s not that writing is somehow a false representation of the writer – someone with zero sense of humour is unlikely to write lol-worthy comedy; someone with zero smarts is unlikely to write something that causes you to stop and think. But the beauty of writing is that it gives you the opportunity to communicate the best possible version of what it is that you’re trying to say.

All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying that I have always steered clear of audio or video content. Until today. 

Today, I am sharing the first ever podcast edition of The Earthworm. I have conducted literally hundreds of interviews over the course of my journalistic career, and have hundreds of audio files on my laptop to show for it. But never have I ever let a reader – or should I say, a listener – in on the conversation.

So why the change of heart? Well, for that you can blame (or thank, I guess) Mark Diacono. After we spoke a couple of weeks back, he asked whether I’d ever considered sharing the audio from my interviews. I told him that I had considered it, but had some reservations. He then said some very nice and encouraging things. Nice and encouraging enough that I cast my reservations aside, and decided to give it a whirl.

So here it is: the complete, unedited, uncut1 version of my interview with Mark Diacono, the champion of unusual edibles and forgotten foods.

If you’ve already read the print version of the interview from Friday, you’ve only heard (or seen) the half of it – there is still plenty to enjoy.

You won’t, for example, have heard Mark talking about the differences between the worlds of elite-level cooking and gardening, and how he came to straddle the two. You won’t have heard him explaining why he won’t get on a plane; or how he goes about designing a herb garden; or the incredibly ambitious and exciting project that he’s plotting for his own Substack, The Imperfect Umbrella. And you won’t have heard him, or me.

Give it a listen. Savour the sounds. Taste the difference. 

The Earthworm is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.


I’m always asking for your feedback and comments. That’s not just because it’s what you’re supposed to do on a platform like Substack; I genuinely enjoy hearing from you, and learning about your own experiences with plants and wildlife and gardening in general.

But this being a first, I am especially keen to hear your thoughts. Did you enjoy listening? Would you like me to produce more podcasts in future? 

Finally, a good number of my subscribers are creators in their own right. They/you might be curious to know how I’ve put this podcast together. The conversation took place over Zoom and the audio was recorded using a tabletop Olympus VN-713PC dictaphone (hence why my voice sounds clearer than Mark’s). The percussive fills are edited presets from Apple’s GarageBand software. And finally, I put it all together using the Audacity app on my laptop.

Any suggestions for how I could improve or professionalise or simplify (if possible) this production process would be gratefully received. 

Thanks for reading and/or listening.

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For full transparency: I haven't included the conversational preamble (hellos and how-do-you-dos); the end-of-convo equivalent; or the bit halfway through our conversation where we got cut off and had to re-connect to Zoom.