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TsoHost talks to: technology podcaster the British Tech Network

TsoHost talks to: technology podcaster the British Tech Network

Posted 17th December, 2019 by Sarah

7-minute read

It will not have escaped your notice that a lot of your favourite digital tech comes from points west, in America, or points east in China or South Korea. Much of the commentary about these gadgets, likewise, comes from far away. But, British users, aficionados and geeks deserve to get a local perspective on their favourite tech.

It is the mission of Ewen Rankin, and his team at British Tech Network, to offer that perspective – welcoming contributors from around the world and viewing the week’s tech news through the very-British prism of “your mates down the pub”. This lends the discussion in a BTN podcast an air of easy-going conviviality which serves BTN well and gives it a distinctive style.

Ewen explains: “We want the guests to feel comfortable enough to talk about whatever subject interests them and not feel like they need to give toned down or anodyne responses to the week’s news. To be in the company of people who won’t judge them, but will still value them as ‘mates’, even if they can’t share opinions.”

And there is purpose to this, because Ewen and his guests ask the kinds of questions – discuss the kinds of issues – that consumers ask about tech. “The fact that we have a mix of British and International guests,” Ewen continues, “is seen as a great strength by our listeners, as it reflects their demographic. Our listeners also tell us they appreciate that we are real people who use real tech to help real consumers.”

Ten plus years of talking tech

The British Tech Network has been podcasting to the world for more than eleven years now; beginning with ‘The News Show’ which started on 6th July 2008 and was a summary of the previous day’s tech news. This show continues to this day, with a new episode every week day, barring holidays.

You can hear the daily News Show here. This show condenses the day’s tech stories into a bite-size five-minute burst of energy, provided by the American presenter, Kyle Swager. He lives in the Philippines, so is perfectly placed to gather up the news coming from South Korea, Japan and America’s West Coast as the sun goes down there. He puts the show together quickly, so it is ready to hit the Network by 8am UK time every day, which makes it a perfect listen for the morning commute. This helps listeners arrive at work knowing the tech agenda for the day.

After the initial success of The News Show, back in 2008, Ewen followed this with ‘The Big Tech Show’ and ‘The Mac Show’ - the subject of which is fairly self-explanatory. By 2009 he was inviting guests from all over the world to give a fully-rounded understanding of tech issues, and began posting the shows in both video and audio-only form.

Ewen finds that the audio-only versions are just as popular as the videos because: “People love to watch the videos, but many rely on the audio so they can still enjoy the shows while they’re driving.”

“And, of course, technology can be really important to the lives of visually-impaired people, so I’m always conscious of making sure that whatever visual images we are showing on the video, I am properly describing to those who are only listening. Meeting a few of our visually impaired listeners for a beer, when travelling, has changed the way I create the pages and the podcasts as well.”

Inside The Podcasting Studios Of British Tech Network

Pictured: The tech of the British Tech Network. Everything you need for a podcasting studio, including a bed for the dog.

So, in a medium where there are thousands of podcast brands out there, what does the British Tech Network offer that listeners can’t get elsewhere?

It seems like a rude question, but Ewen has asked it himself, to his listeners, so has a definitive answer ready:

“Our listeners tell us that they appreciate the humour – that very ‘British’ sense of self-deprecation. In a great many podcasts, the emphasis is on ‘being slick’ and we don’t look for this.

"We’ve had periods where we have been beset by technical issues and some of the topics of conversation have definitely been more ‘pub-like’. The fact that we don’t take ourselves too seriously is consistently appealing!

"Also, many listeners tell us that they value the way we don’t edit the final output, so it feels like the shows are ‘live’, even though they’re pre-recorded.”

The sun never sets on the British Tech Network

Finally, then, why podcasting?

“I think that podcasting was originally the pursuit of ‘geeks’ and it gave them an outlet for creativity that was denied them by mainstream media. But, as its popularity has increased, it had to be embraced by the media moguls, which has led to a great opening of opinion and diversity.

“Love it or hate it; podcasting is here to stay – and love us or hate us; we’re here to stay as well. The community that we have now and the friends I have gained through podcasting are invaluable to me. Kyle Swager is among my greatest friends in the whole world, and I’ve never clapped eyes on him, face-to-face.

“We do this for the pure love of getting together and talking about the thing we love, for the sense of camaraderie and for the feedback of people who tell us we’re doing a great job.

“BTN has been a wonderful addition to my life and, through it, I’ve met the most amazing people. Our summer ‘bash’ has meant that we’ve actually met a lot of people from the community and, as I sit down to do The Mac Show at the end of the week, the tiredness of the whole week evaporates the moment the mics go live and the first person dials in. The people we hold most dear span the globe. The sun never sets on The British Tech Network.”

Whilst Ewen and his colleagues might podcast for love – and they do operate as a strictly not-for-profit, fan-funded operation – they still have to keep the lights on and, ironically, pay for the tech. Which is why their listeners can contribute. So, if you want to support the great work they do, you can chip into their PayPal account here!

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