For the January 2022 edition of THAT LEEDS MAG I have spoken to Hazel Millichamp; we chat about her Light on Leeds podcast. The podcasts highlight the great and the good of Leeds, with interviews from local artists, writers, social activists, comedians, radio hosts, authors, sports people, theatre directors, mermaids, Father Christmas, fiddle players, musicians, entrepreneurs, BAFTA winners, playwrights and much more.
A podcast is a series of audio files on a particular topic, they can be accessed on your phone or pc and listened to at your own leisure. I personally like to listen when driving for education and entertainment. They seem to becoming more popular.
Here is an abridged version of our conversation from 7th January 2022. Look out for some highlight clips on THAT LEEDS MAG socials.
Deby: What prompted you to start the Light on Leeds podcast?
Hazel: I’ve always listened to podcasts, my favourite podcast person is Adam Buxton (Adam and Joe, comedians), I consider Adam to be my Podfather. He really influenced me to start it. My day job wasn’t particularly fulfilling, and it gave me the impetus to think, I want to do something creative. My partner at the time had a recording studio with all the equipment so, I didn’t have to know anything technical. It was great. “But what do I podcast about?” I’d spent the last however many years banging on about how great Leeds is to anyone who would listen, or even who didn’t want to listen. Just about all the opportunities and how friendly it is, and how there’s always something great going on. I just thought, well, it’s a no brainer. Now people get to choose whether they listen to me going on about Leeds or not.
I'm not jeremy paxman
Deby: How do you get your interviewees?
Hazel: At the beginning I tended to concentrate on South Leeds (where I live). I did worry a little bit that I would perhaps run out of people to talk to, which has never been the case. I started with what I knew – Slung Low* and Alan Lane he is such a great person. He is the epitome of what I wanted to talk about, brilliant Leeds things and amazing local people. I ask my guests if they know anyone I could chat to. Social media is brilliant for finding out what’s happening in Leeds and contacting potential interviewees. So partly it’s word of mouth. And partly, it’s just going out there and asking. As time has gone on (I’m 128 podcasts in), quite often I have people on and they know so many of the people who’ve already been on the podcast, and I think that helps, once you’ve got yourself established and people have enjoyed the experience of being on it. Because I’m not Jeremy Paxman. I’m never going to put you in a corner with difficult questions. I try to keep the podcast as much like a casual chat as possible and I’m asking things that I’m genuinely interested in. To the listeners I hope it feels a bit like they are eavesdropping on an exciting conversation. I have some guests who are so enthusiastic about what they do that I barely have to say anything, which is lovely.
Before Covid I’d invite guests to my home, we’d sit in my living room and have a cup of tea. I always wanted to press record straight away because I don’t want to miss anything they said.
Now with it not being in person I’ve started saying a preamble before I press record over what we will talk about to check if there is anything further they’d like to include. At this point there’s not usually anything to add, I round off every interview with three questions; 1, What is great about Leeds? 2, What is not so great about the city? 3, What’s your hidden gem?
What often happens is, I go to ask them the questions, and then they realise the interview is ending and say, “oh, no, no, I didn’t tell you about this”, we are all human.
I really enjoy speaking to people, during COVID, it was particularly helpful for me, because I was getting to speak to at least two people doing awe inspiring and positive things.
A huge part of my enjoyment of creating the podcasts is learning the stories behind the great work that we see going on in and around the city. For example, Jed from BuyNowtLS6 is so enthusiastic. Hats off to them for setting up the Library of Things. I’d love the idea to spread around Leeds and I’ve had some great feedback from the podcast.
the podcasts provide behind the scenes information to listeners
Deby: Do you do all the editing and promotion yourself?
Hazel: When I first started out, I always had somebody to edit my podcast for me. Now after lots of researching and learning I do it all myself. And that feels like a great achievement, there’s the editing, the promotion and arranging times with guests, you’re always in different stages with different people. Some people like to have a phone call because they get a little bit worried about it and just want a bit of help and advice. The actual podcast is the tip of the iceberg, there’s so much that goes along with each one. I like to keep the editing to the minimum to provide a genuine feel to the sound and reactions of myself and the interviewee.
When the Podcasts go live on the website I post across socials to let my listeners know, people can subscribe on some platforms to get a notification as well.
Deby: Is Light on Leeds a business?
Hazel: For me it’s an expensive hobby. It’s never been about the money. I pay for the website, and the podcast hosting site. I feel like I’m doing it for the good of the city, providing a record of the great people in Leeds.
Deby: What would be your perfect day out in Leeds?
Hazel: It would be quite food and beer oriented. I think it must start with breakfast at either the Tetley or Riveresque, both of which would be on my journey into town on the dreaded bus. Then Kirkgate Market I always feel like you haven’t even been to Leeds if you’ve not visited Kirkgate Market. I’d have a walk around there to see the great things going on. Then off to a class at Slung Low*, they do these amazing classes. And then to a fabulous show. We’re so lucky that there are so many great places to see performances, I’d spend the afternoon being entertained. Followed by a beer at Whitelock’s because it’s just like being in a Sherlock Holmes novel when you’re down that alley (Turk’s Head Yard). An evening meal at Ciao Bella on Dock Street. I love that place. It’s been there a long, long time. Anyone who comes to visit me in Leeds always gets taken there. It’s brilliant. And then a pint at the Adelphi on the way home.
Deby: You’d be knackered, educated, entertained and full.
Hazel: Yeah, little bit of all of those.
I'm doing it for the good of the city and for my own enjoyment really
Deby: You’ve done quite a few theatre reviews for South Leeds Life, can you tell me a bit about these.
Hazel: South Leeds Life have a great scheme, offering free tickets to Playhouse shows for a review. Like most I can’t just afford to go to the Playhouse, willy nilly (though I’d like to), so this was brilliant for me. Initially I just took part in the scheme but now manage it with support from Jeremy Morton (South Leeds Life). The Playhouse tells us when the press nights are, and then we advertise that in South Leeds Life, which is predominantly Leeds 10 and Leeds 11.
People can get in touch, they get 2 tickets, sometimes there’s a nice complimentary drink when they get there too. The requirement is that within 48 hours of seeing the show they provide a 500 word review. Not everybody knows how to write reviews, so if they ever need any help, or they need somebody to go with them, then I’d be there for that. Then we publish it. It works nicely. The idea is that it’s getting people to engage with the theatre who wouldn’t normally attend. It works out nicely for me, because occasionally, for whatever reason, they don’t take the tickets up, then I get to go.