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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

US-based podcaster puts women and the workplace first

British-born New York-based journalist Ashley Milne-Tyte's show aims to “focus on ways to improve things”

British-born New York-based journalist Ashley Milne-Tyte, who runs The Broad Experience podcast
British-born New York-based journalist Ashley Milne-Tyte, who runs The Broad Experience podcast

The Broad Experience is an American independent podcast “conversation” about women, the workplace and success, modelled on the BBC radio programme Women’s Hour - thoughtful and insightful dialogue into the issues women struggle with at work.

Six years old, the show is hosted and managed by British-born New York-based journalist Ashley Milne-Tyte who, as a one-woman band, produces just one episode a fortnight.

Ms Milne-Tyte is a radio journalist by trade and, in 2012, had to create a media business as part of a four-month course in entrepreneurial journalism she was taking.

With her radio background, she decided to launch a podcast and because she loves audio “as a medium”, she says. So why women and work?

“Women make up about half the workforce in the US and UK, where I live and where I’m from, but we’re so under-represented at the top in the workplace and public life, and this matters - we’re not the ones making the decisions that affect us.

“This has become a massive, international conversation since Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg published Lean In but, in 2012, not many people were talking about it.”

Indeed, episode 98, Leaning Back, plays on the book title. It focuses on women looking to scale back their careers after having children. Kathryn Sollmann, of career advisory firm 9 Lives for Women, is the guest and warns that women lose four times their potential compensation for every year out of the workforce - and that women who do take time out take on average 12 years.

Scaling down to, say, 80 per cent of a full-time job is pointless, Ms Sollmann tells The Broad Experience, because most people paid to work full-time will not normally work at full capacity anyway.

Women are often surprised to be turned down when they request part-time work, she says, but they tend to make no professional pitch beyond a simple request to go part-time, and never from the company’s perspective, about how it will or will not affect the business.

Ms Milne-Tyte stresses that, while there is a big gap in women’s education levels versus their success in the workplace, she didn’t want the show to be “whiny” but to “focus on ways to improve things” while also giving women “encouragement and inspiration”.

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She records guests in person or via Skype and usually asks them to record their half of the conversation using a voice memo app on their phone, as the quality is far better than her taping a Skype call. She then squeezes into a closet to record her own part of the show with her radio equipment.

She sources guests by reaching out to people whose work she admires or whose blog she reads - one of her latest interviewees, she says, is an author “whose book I loved”. But often at least one guest is a listener. If fans write in with suggestions for topics, she says, she will write back and ask them to be on an episode if she covers that subject.

“Women often have their own definition of what success is, but we feel we have to live up to society’s version - which usually means being powerful and having lots of money. The episodes I’ve done on how work can adversely affect our relationships resonate with a lot of people.”

At around 20 minutes long, the show achieves its Women’s Hour goal - each episode offers a quietly absorbing vignette of life about a new way for women to find success at work and outside.

Is Ms Milne-Tyte earning a living from the show? “No way, but then I never expected to,” she says. The show does bring in income through sponsorship and listener donations but it is a “small chunk” of her overall income. She would like to broaden the listener base but marketing is “almost a full-time job” and she needs to do other radio and podcasting work to pay the bills.

Still, The Broad Experience will continue its broadcast every fortnight or so, she says.

“I don’t have a grand plan except to keep doing it.”

The Broad Experience can be downloaded free from iTunes or at thebroadexperience.com.