Introducing: The History Podcasting Platform (HPP)

History podcasting has never been stronger, and I know so many people who want so badly to take it to the next level with an idea they have - but where to begin? If history podcasting is something you think you'd be interested in, or if you've been doing this for a while and want some kind of support base, then look no further than the History Podcasting Platform (HPP). The HPP is a grassroots movement initiated by yours truly to help make history thrive through other people's podcasts, as well as my own, and in this blog post - the first in a long series - we introduce you to the concept. What is the HPP, what will it look like and why am I doing it? Read on...

BUT FIRST...

Before we go any further history friends, remember that you can sign up to WDF's new and lovely newsletter, to get a juicy telegram delivered to your inbox every Saturday.  You can keep up to date with the latest developments in the History Podcasting Platform movement by bookmarking its website home, located in this cosy place here. To those of you wanting to skip ahead of everything, and just get down to business, make sure to download my reference guide here, for absolutely free!

 In May 2012, I began an incredible journey with  When Diplomacy Fails . Since our establishment we've covered wars as diverse as the First World War, the Korean War and the 1916 Rising. The podcast has been an invaluable boon to me in that time; it helped me get a job, was part of the reason why Cambridge accepted me for its PhD program, and even netted me a book deal! History podcasting worked wonders for me, and it can do the same for you too!

In May 2012, I began an incredible journey with When Diplomacy Fails. Since our establishment we've covered wars as diverse as the First World War, the Korean War and the 1916 Rising. The podcast has been an invaluable boon to me in that time; it helped me get a job, was part of the reason why Cambridge accepted me for its PhD program, and even netted me a book deal! History podcasting worked wonders for me, and it can do the same for you too!

I am, by my own admission, something of a Google addict. I spend so much time Googling topics associated with podcasting when I really should be doing something more useful, such as sleeping. Yet, as often as I Google topics associated with podcasting, something which I notice crop up time and again is that handy guide: ‘So you want to set up a podcast’, says the internet, ‘Well here’s how you do it.’

After reading so many of these guides, and combing them for new bits of information that I can make use of myself, I’ve come to something of a conclusion. Let me break it down for you into two bits.

Number one; starting a podcast and starting a history podcast are two very different processes.

Number two; there doesn’t seem to be a proper guide for how to set up a history podcast, and those that do exist do not offer that all-important resource – support once you begin your podcasting journey and take that immensely brave step.

Considering both of these factors, another thought occurred to me then. I am always harping on about my motto for When Diplomacy Fails Podcast – that this is where history thrives. In my arrogance, for so long I applied that slogan only to me, and to what I was doing, with the impression being that history thrives because I make it thrive, in my podcasts. But the very real, encouraging truth, is that history is thriving now, and will thrive in the future, wherever there is a history podcast to be listened to, and wherever a history podcaster takes it upon him/herself to establish something new and incredible.

You might find these conclusions to be strikingly obvious. History podcasts have never been so popular, and one needs only to consult Mr Google to find out someone’s top list of history podcasts. Heck, I even made my own one, largely because I was sick of the same ones always making the top spot, and I felt these guys and gals deserve their place in the podcasting sun. But it was when I was in the process of re-sharing that very article that I got a comment from a listener which really stuck with me. He’ll know who he is, but I’ll leave his name out for the minute, let’s just call him Sid. So upon reading that blog post which I shared on the Facebook Page, Sid said:

‘Well done in promoting other shows. It’s commendable.’

Commendable... At first, sure, I patted myself on the back. But the more I thought about it, the more it stuck with me. Should I really be commended for sharing positive views about other history podcasts? Shouldn’t that just be the natural, inbuilt thing to do? I mean it’s not like I go out of my way to NOT share them, it’s more the case that I don’t share them because, well, I’m busy and stuff, and they don’t share me so…boo on them.

But this comes back to that conclusion I came to, where I thought about WDF’s tagline of ‘where history thrives’. If history really does thrive within the walls of WDF, then that should mean every history podcast I can get my hands on, every historical article of note, every historical blog post or hilarious (accurate!) fact, should all be shared, right? Zack Twamley does not have the monopoly on making history thrive, and if that is genuinely what I believe I stand for as a history podcaster, then I need to make more of an effort to be the force of good in the history podcasting world.

So now combine what I mentioned earlier, about there not being a proper resource pack for enthusiasts trying to start up and maintain a history podcast, with what I’ve just said now about wanting to be force for good in the history podcasting world. Where those two ideas meet, is where the History Podcasting Platform was born.

The History Podcasting Platform doesn’t have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account or a website. It won’t make an appearance if you look for it on Google either. It also isn’t its own podcast, and won’t be appearing in the New and Noteworthy section on iTunes anytime soon. What the History Podcasting Platform (HPP) is though, is a movement. It is a movement initiated by myself, but powered by the enthusiasm of, well, enthusiasts.

 I believe the turning point in my history podcasting career came in May 2017, when I launched WDF Remastered, in a project called  Five Weeks To Run Wild.  For five weeks,  I released two episodes every day.  We've never looked back since, though I think my listeners are still in shock...

I believe the turning point in my history podcasting career came in May 2017, when I launched WDF Remastered, in a project called Five Weeks To Run Wild. For five weeks, I released two episodes every day. We've never looked back since, though I think my listeners are still in shock...

You may even be reading this right now and be thinking to yourself ‘I really want to start a history podcast, but I can’t because of X.’ That X is something different for everyone. It could be time, imposter syndrome, a lack of academic qualifications, a pathological hatred of your own voice, little to no money – it doesn’t matter. What if I told you that not one bit of any of that actually matters? Do you know what DOES matter? What matters is you.

Let me ask you two questions. First, do YOU want to start a history podcast? Second, WHY do you want to start a history podcast? If your answers to these questions are something along the lines of ‘yep’ and ‘cos of history duhhh’ then great, you’re in the right place! If you have a more philosophical, but still positive answer, then that’s great too, you can read on as well.

The HPP isn’t going to solve all of your problems. It isn’t going to make your podcast for you, or make that podcast fart rainbows. It won’t automatically make you money. It won’t install enthusiasm and passion within you when there is none to begin with (see question one!) What the HPP will do though is prepare you, support you, encourage you and then hold you to task.

Hold me to task on what, you may be wondering. Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but history podcasting is a serious business. And by that I mean, there are many people in this craft, myself among them, who believe that history podcasting is just as good as reading a book or taking up a college course on that subject. Why do I hold history podcasting to such incredibly, some might say IMPOSSIBLY high standards?

Because I know that my history podcasting peers do as well.

You won’t find Thom Daly inventing stuff about John Marshall in his American Biography podcast. Thom wouldn’t do that, because he’s responsible, accountable and understands that his listenership must trust him and his credibility for the whole history podcasting gig to actually work. Let me put it this way – you don’t know Thom Daly deep down. Sure, you know him as your friendly neighbourhood host of American Biography, but you don’t KNOW him.

  • You didn’t follow him to make sure he got that qualification. 
  • You didn’t proof-read his script to make sure that he wasn’t leaving out that important fact. 
  • You certainly didn’t employ a private detective to ensure that he wasn’t swapping characters around in his episode to suit his political views.

You simply trust that Thom is a good soul, and that he would not do such a dastardly thing. That, in essence, is what all listeners must feel to instil confidence in a history podcast host – trust. Trust is critical if any of this is going to work. But don’t worry, part of the mission of the HPP is to show you how to build that trust, and like I said, you don’t need a history degree to be able to do that.

Don’t believe me? Step forward Professor Dan Carlin, PhD in history at Yale; or what about Sir Mike Duncan, research fellowship in classics at Cambridge University. Both of these men are responsible for incredible history podcasts. Yet, these men do not have these qualifications. I made them up, because you don’t need their degrees, you just need to see their name and hear their charming voices to know you’re in the right place. How did they do that? By years of legwork, and of building a relationship of trust with their listeners.

 Our current podcast series looks at the Korean War from a perspective you may well find surprising, if not controversial...

Our current podcast series looks at the Korean War from a perspective you may well find surprising, if not controversial...

The HPP will show you how to build this relationship, and from that, develop an engaged listener base that cares about you and your history podcast. How will this happen, you may be wondering. Well, one of the core tenants of the HPP is where I come in. Sure, I’ll be providing these eight or so blog articles for you to read and help you on your way, and I’ll condense the series into a PDF when we’re finished, create a section of the website for easy hunting, and release it for free for anyone to read if they like. However, I will also go beyond that.

For the HPP to work I must engage with you. If you want my help, you will have to ask for it, but once you do, plans start from just $99.99 a month and…I’M KIDDING! The HPP is absolutely free, and I’ll explain why and what I get out of it later, but back to what I was saying about where I come in. You ask for help via email, Facebook messenger or Twitter etc., you know the drill, and I'll get back to you.

All you need for this to work is

  • a) an actual history podcast idea
  • b) patience
  • c) enough free time to talk to me.

In return I will provide several services for absolutely no charge. If you do want to give monetarily, then that's great! Now when you pledge to our Patreon you won't just be giving to WDF, you'll also be giving to this new initiative, and helping me help others wherever I can.

But what will I actually do to help would-be podders out? Well the services I offer include one-to-one support and advice whenever you might need it; access to our Facebook group community where you can share views, learn from others and (within reason) promote your show and resources like this blog series to help to get your feet off the ground.

I will help you get used to your voice, I will help you fine tune your script, show you how to reference your work properly, and how to make the picture come together. Yes, that means I will also be advising you on the technical side, but the warranty for this section of advice is that it’s the most basic advice you’ll need. Since it’s the advice I have stuck to though, I think you’ll do okay with it.

So in short, you come to the table with an idea, a willingness to learn, patience and enough free time for us to realistically work on this, and in return I will be here for you wherever I can be. Again though, I can’t sort out your life, so don’t email me at 2AM because you forgot to buy milk. What I can do is sort out your podcast, and provide my podcasts as a platform from which to do that.

  1956 - The Eventful Year  is a series available in part to all listeners, and in full  to Patrons at the $5 level . It's part of my goal to diversify my content base and reach more people with a large portfolio of history podcasts.

1956 - The Eventful Year is a series available in part to all listeners, and in full to Patrons at the $5 level. It's part of my goal to diversify my content base and reach more people with a large portfolio of history podcasts.

This brings me to perhaps the most important part of the HPP idea – if we get you to a certain point, and you feel ready, you can guest star on my podcast for a collaboration episode and/or submit a guest episode for the WDF feed. Guesting in my podcast should give you a boost at the start of your show’s life cycle which I have found from personal experience is super important for several reasons. I feel passionately that it would only be right to make use of my podcast to help you to get this exposure; it wouldn’t be much of a Platform otherwise, now would it?

So if you’re reading this right now and you’re thinking that you would love to start a history podcast, and that this seems like a godsend, but also far too good to be true, then let me take you to the other important pillar of the HPP, and why I am so excited about it.

The HPP is not a network, in that we won’t be accepting advertising as a bloc of shows, and you won’t be tied to WDF or any one of my other shows once your show is established. However, in another sense it is a network, because I’d like to think that after we work together to make your show as good as it can be, and after we prepare you for the very exciting road ahead, you’ll remember me in the future.

What do I mean by that? Well it’s really quite simple, but also not at all set in stone. When someone asks you ‘Hey, how did you manage to make such a fantastic history podcast in such a short time’, you make sure to tell them who sent you. If you’re feeling brave or generous, perhaps you could even help them set up their own history podcast, using the same principles and advice I gave you. In such a way, you'll be paying the lessons you've learned forward, and I’ll be helping to create several new history podcasts of stellar quality, all of whom will know of me, and tell their friends if they ask.

 Poland Is Not Yet Lost will involve us travelling to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 18th century, as we try to ascertain how this enormous, cultured, vibrant state vanished off the map of Europe by 1795. I hope you'll tune in!

Poland Is Not Yet Lost will involve us travelling to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 18th century, as we try to ascertain how this enormous, cultured, vibrant state vanished off the map of Europe by 1795. I hope you'll tune in!

In that sense, I am in this for selfish reasons, you could say, but on the other hand, if you don’t tell anyone where you came from – that’s fine too! I’m not doing this so that people will know how wonderful I am as a person (my dog already thinks I’m wonderful anyway). I’m doing this so that an army of history podcasters approaching this in the right way will emerge, and that history podcasting as a result will flourish even more than it already has. I’m doing this because like my motto says, WDF is where history thrives, and wherever a new quality history podcast is born, that is where the thriving begins.

So what do you think? Are you excited for what’s to come? Are you nervous about whether I’m going to burst your bubble or not? Well either way, I hope you’ll tune into next week’s article where we answer that key question emphatically – ‘No, you don’t need a college degree to set up a history podcast.’ This article will come complete with some vital tips to help you set up a well-researched, structured, authentic history podcast. Look out in particular for our free-to-download reference guide, which will make accounting for yourself so much easier in the long run, and could even land you a book deal if you play your cards right!

Thanks for reading in any case history friends, and hey, if you’ve never heard of me before and you only stumbled across this blog right now, why not sign up to our newsletter in the link right here? We release a whole load of content every week, and if you’d like to see why I feel qualified to create something like the HPP, then why not check out my history podcasts, or this one, or this one, to see where this obsession began? If you're serious about starting a history podcast, why not download my free guide on referencing to give yourself a head start? Until then, thanks for reading, and I’ll be seeing you all soon.