Blog post

Heroes unmasked podcast series

Read Lindsey Porter's blog on Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's development of a new podcast series.

4 February 2022

Lindsey Porter, a senior communications manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has written this blog looking at the trust’s development of a new podcast series.

At the beginning of autumn 2021 and facing a winter dominated by COVID-19 stories, the communications team started to look at what we could do to shine a light on the positive work, people and stories that we knew were happening daily across our hospitals. These interesting and insightful accounts were struggling to see the light of day in our internal and external communications channels, which through necessity were focused  on messages about vaccination, protecting our communities against a new variant and how an overburdened service was managing to provide care, to name a few.

Our team works across all areas of the trust, supporting different specialist services and encountering fascinating people all the time. The lightbulb moment for the podcast came when having a chat with our head of security, Mark O’Byrne, in a corridor one day while waiting for a media visit to complete. A chatty man, Mark talked openly about his life, about his job and his love for what he does. He had us completely captivated talking about his open heart surgery, which included conversing with surgeons throughout, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. And so the quest began to find people willing to share their stories, not necessarily about their jobs, but more about what makes them tick - the person behind the mask.

During the pandemic, with increased time on our hands and unable to carry out normal social activities, many people switched across to podcasts - it’s no surprise that the number of podcast listeners doubled in the last three years. As of 2020, there were more than 15 million podcast listeners in the UK and popularity is rising. We felt that a podcast would be a platform that would enable us to raise the profile of the organisation with quality storytelling about those who work within it. An opportunity to go behind the scenes of one of the country’s biggest and busiest acute hospital trusts. And these being human accounts, it was felt that this would be just as relevant and interesting for the general public as it would be for our staff population.

Taking inspiration from organisations such as The Wellcome Trust and the brilliant work it does with blogs and podcasts, we chose to work with a professional broadcast editor for this first series, with a view that we would commit to a year of podcasting, evaluating along the way and taking time to observe and learn about the process. We ran a pitching session in the team with colleagues presenting their suggestions and why they should be featured in the podcast. It wasn’t enough to say this person really loves their job and is great at what they do, we needed more depth, and working collaboratively has helped us get the broadest representation possible of those involved.   

The series includes tales of past rugby careers, living on submarines, balancing children’s critical care with sheep farming, and writing an anthology of staff BME experiences. And of course Mark’s episode was the very first in the newly launched series. Initial download stats are looking good, but more than that, we’ve created something that staff are excited to be a part of and enriched from having a listen to. And for the public we’ve created a human voice.

Let us know what you think. You can access on all your usual podcasting platforms.


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