This is Creativity
Neuroscience B&B Fellow Greg Suess has a passion for podcasting and we benefit tremendously. Greg sits down with each monthly B&B Distinguished Lecturer for a unique and up close discussion. See below for this exclusive interview with Greg on the other side of the questions for once. Oh, and don’t forget to check out his amazing podcast here.
When did you first become interested in sound/audio as a way to express your own ideas as well as the ideas of others?
My interests in podcasts came from two separate avenues. First, when I was a lab manager at Florida State University, I had many tasks that required long hours in the lab. Some of these tasks required very repetitive motions or lots of sitting for a long period of time. I needed enough of a focus that I could not multitask doing something else, but the tasks were routine enough that it would get very boring after the first hour or so. I always liked to listen to music but after a while you start hearing the same songs over and over again. It was then that a fellow lab mate introduced me to the idea of podcasts as a way to constructively do your work but also have something else to focus on. After a few suggestions I found them to be very enjoyable and after some research, found that many writers, sports personalities, etc had podcasts whose content was very enjoyable. These made my long days in the lab a little easier.
The other circumstance that contributed to me getting into podcasts was conversations that I had with friends. During my stay in Tallahassee there was a quaint little sports bar about a five minute walk from my apartment. It is an institution in town (it has been there since the early 80s), and has great staff, and serves fantastic wings and burgers. Best of all is that it is a great place to have a nice dinner, watch some sports, and chat with friends. Every week a friend and I would head to this restaurant to catch up and have dinner. For some reason, whenever we would have a conversation, our ending point is nowhere near the topic that we first started with. We can be talking about what happened in chemistry class and end with arguing which is better, The Godfather or Goodfellas. Upon the conclusions of these “down the rabbit hole” conversations, I always wished that I could have had them transcribed or recorded, given the enjoyable nature of them. I find the most interesting podcasts to be ones that are conversational, rather than informative. Given the easy cost of entry to enter the podcast space and the fact that I like listening to them and enjoy having conversations, the chance to jump right in seemed like a no brainer.
When you interview someone for a podcast, like one of our Distinguished Lecturers, do you have all the questions written down beforehand or do you improvise?
Definitely a little of both. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy podcasts that are conversational as they seem more genuine and frankly are more fun to do. Any conversation involves both an understanding of the background you are discussing, but also the ability to change direction and improvise as you branch further off the main talking points. I usually do some pre-production prep that involves researching the person that I am interviewing. In the case of the Distinguished Lecturers, I try to supplement my prep with primary research articles from their lab, along with outside non-scientific sources, such as a profile of the person or an article written about them by the associated press or university paper.
I also try to watch a youtube video or clip on the person to know how conversational they seem. Together I pool these resources into a general script with talking points that I think are essential to bring up. During the interview, I reference these points if we hit a snag but for the most part I use it as a transition tool from one topic to the next. I believe this is how most professional interviews go. There is a script that represents the “bones” of the talk, and it’s my job to fill in follow-ups throughout the conversation. I find this to be very effective.
What are the benefits of a podcast, as opposed, to say, a video or written Q&A (like the one we are doing right now!)?
I think podcasts have a more important place in mainstream media than ever before. In today’s hustle and bustle world, people simply do not have the time (or inclination) to digest informative or entertaining content in a slow manner (see declining cable news numbers or newspaper subscriptions; a topic for another day). Podcasts have the luxury of being portable ways of consuming information. Everyone has a phone and/or computer, and that is really all you need in order to listen. Podcasts also relay a sense of intimacy with the topic. I feel like you get a little something extra when you hear a professor passionately talk about their work than just reading the text in a manuscript. You can glean the passion an interviewee has about topics when you can hear their voice instead of reading their words. Videos are another wonderful way of consuming content, however they cannot be accessed anywhere such as during your daily commute or during a workout (which podcasts can). There will always be a place for written or visual content to be consumed, but podcasts are just another way that people like you and I can obtain information and express our thoughts.
Do you ever cover topics outside of neuroscience?
Absolutely. While my training and trade is in neuroscience, there are many other topics, fields, and issues that I find fascinating. In addition to neuroscience, my podcast has also covered food, politics, sports, pop culture, technology, and ethical issues. My hope is that anyone who listens to the podcast will find something of interest given the diversity of guests and topics. I cannot say that the podcast is pigeon holed into any one subset. Rather, it is a set of conversations with many unique individuals from all walks of life.
If we want to hear (literally) more from you, where can we listen?
You can go to gregsuess.com and click on the podcast tab for archived episodes. The main page will also display recent episodes. Searching Greg Suess on all the social media platforms will also direct you to the podcast. Finally, for Brains and Behavior distinguished lecturer interviews check out Georgia State University’s Neuroscience Institute page.
Thanks again Greg and cheers to many listeners along the way!