The Joy of Podcasting

A new season of Inspiration News (http://www.srichinmoy.tv/inspiration-news) podcasts has now premiered on Sri Chinmoy TV (http://www.srichinmoy.tv). I made some small contributions to both series. What could be more fun? It reminds me of various kids’ magazine shows that I used to watch after coming home from school, with titles like Wombat, What’s Happening, C’mon Kids and Simon Townsend’s Wonder World (in which the host, the aforementioned Mr Townsend, would end each episode by saying “And remember, the world really is wonderful”). These were part of growing up for scores of Australian kids. Presenters who were obviously enjoying themselves, presenting various topics in such a way that we didn’t even realise that we were being (gasp!) educated – in our own living rooms! As I write about television nowadays, I keep au fait with the children’s TV scene. Sadly, there are fewer such programs nowadays. Inspiration News is not strictly for kids, but it tries to exude a similar exuberance (and dare I say it, innocence) to such shows.

It’s been unusual doing person-on-the-street interviews. Last year, my friend Kel McMeiken and I went on a trip to the ice-cream shops of Greenwich Village, with cinematographer extraordinaire John-Paul Gillespie, to answer that profound question: where is Manhattan’s best ice-cream? (I don’t think we answered that question, but we enjoyed trying.) The first place we visited, fittingly, was a place that proudly advertised Australian ice cream, with all-Aussie recipes.

Unfortunately, the young lady behind the counter (who wasn’t Australian) didn’t want to be filmed. In fact, she became rather panicky and nervous, demanding that we don’t film the shop (even from the outside). Legally, we were well within our rights to do this… but this went against the grain of Inspiration News, so we decided to go elsewhere: another shop, where the lady at the counter was cheerful, friendly, and didn’t mind chatting to us on-camera. As a result, her ice cream shop was on the podcast (so there – nyaah!). We went to a few other friendly shops. Happily, only the first shop had given us the cold shoulder.

A couple of months later, the World Harmony Run (http://www.worldharmonyrun.com) was heading through Temora, which is known as the friendliest town in New South Wales. (Its reputation became so strong that a group of people from Sydney, responding to an invitation by the Sydney Morning Herald, piled on to a bus and took a day trip to Temora. The verdict: yes, despite all the friendly faces in all the country towns, nobody beat Temora.) I thought that this might be exactly the kind of inspiring, happy story that would be perfect for Inspiration News.

The good news: Temora people really are friendly. The bad news: They’re also video-camera-shy. Most people, when approached, would smile and say “I’m sure you’ll find someone.” We were only there for a short time (en route to Bathurst), so I couldn’t speak to everyone, but I got the impression that the media wisdom – that everyone wants to be a star (which explains the success of YouTube and reality TV) – does not apply to the good folk of Temora.

Eventually, I interviewed the Mayor and his wife (who had come to welcome the World Harmony Run) and a local newspaper reporter (who had come to cover our visit). Everyone else was too shy. It would be nice to go back, but perhaps not with a camera.