The Magic of Storytelling in Podcasts – Ashley Hamer – Creating The Greatest Show – Episode # 047

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Creating The Greatest Show, Podcasts

Our special guest for today is Ashley Hamer, a renowned science communicator, writer, speaker, editor, award-winning podcaster, and podcast influencer. Furthermore, her outstanding work has been showcased in esteemed publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, and Cosmopolitan. Currently, she is the Host of Taboo Science and Managing Editor at Descript, an AI-powered audio and video editing app. Ashley shares the difference between interview and narrative podcasts, and the importance of guests in making a podcast successful. She also discusses the significance of editing in crafting a seamless podcast and the art of identifying compelling topics during interviews. Additionally, she shares insights on the role of the host in a narrative podcast and the value of natural, unscripted conversations in creating engaging content.


  • Thorough research is key to finding the right guests for your podcast episodes. Whether in science or any other field, utilize search engines, social media, and relevant sources to discover experts with fresh insights on the chosen topic.
  • Whether it’s a narrative or interview podcast, the quality of the guest is paramount for success. The right guest can elevate the entire episode, while the wrong one can adversely impact it. By focusing on securing the best guests and preparing thoughtful interview questions, you can enrich the overall experience and bring a diverse perspective to your show.
  • As a podcast host, it’s essential to remember that you are responsible for the content of the show and its presentation. Embracing editing, even beyond correcting factual errors, allows you to enhance the flow of the conversation and ensure coherence.
  • The distinction between an interview podcast and a narrative podcast lies in the role of the host. In an interview podcast, two individuals engage in dialogue, whereas in a narrative podcast, the host takes on the role of the storyteller. The host’s narration shapes the narrative, and the interviewee provides supporting information. Ultimately, both podcast types share the essence of storytelling, making every podcast an opportunity to tell a compelling story.
  • Intuition plays a crucial role in identifying compelling topics during interviews. Emotional waypoints indicate potential points of interest for the audience. While preparing interview questions is valuable, allowing for natural, fluid conversations often leads to engaging and spontaneous discussions. Being open to exploring unscripted topics adds depth and authenticity to the podcast, enriching the overall podcasting experience.
  • As a beginner in podcasting, it’s common to desire to come across as professional and experienced. Emulating the practices of seasoned podcasters can be beneficial for growth. While some may aspire to follow Joe Rogan’s style of unedited conversations, it’s important to recognize that his expertise comes from years of experience. For new podcasters, editing can be a valuable tool to refine interviews and compensate for any lack of experience, ultimately leading to a more polished and engaging podcast.
  • Active listening is the key to successful interviews. Being fully present in the moment with the interviewee allows for natural and engaging conversations. Emulating the ease of chatting with friends, where questions arise naturally, can enhance the interview process. It’s essential to avoid unnecessary interjections at the end of every answer, as silence can be a powerful cue for further exploration. Embracing the art of attentive listening contributes to a more authentic and enjoyable interview experience for both the interviewer and the audience.

READ MORE: 4 Types of Branded Podcasts with Examples

Quote of the Show

“Every podcast should be a story. There’s a beginning, middle, and end.”

– Ashley Hamer

Connect with Ashley

Clips from the Episode

Ways to Tune In


[00:00:00] Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for a podcast. For podcasters, this is creating the greatest show, and I’m your host, Casey Cheshire. Join me as we interview podcast hosts. And investigate the ingredients of a successful interview podcast. We’ll talk mistakes, earned skills, powerful questions, and more.

This show is sponsored by Ringmaster, completely done for you B2B podcast production.

Casey Cheshire: Here we go. I have pressed the button and the Starship rocket has literally lifted off from the launchpad. I am so excited to talk with my guest today. Who are they? Who are they? Casey. Stop talking. She is a writer, a speaker, an editor, an award-winning podcaster and podcast influencer renowned science communicator.

In fact, she won the Number One Science podcast in 2018. Damn. Her work has also been featured in USA Today, time, Cosmo, and a bunch of other [00:01:00] places. Managing editor at Descript, Ashley Hamer. Welcome.

Ashley Hamer: Hi. Thank you for having me. This will be fun.

Casey Cheshire: How did we get you? Why are you here? This is amazing. Thank you so much for being here. I can’t wait to chat with you. Just learn from you today. I’ve got my pens, I multiple pens ready? The notebook. We’re ready to go. So let me ask you this question to start this whole thing off, Ashley, pull back the curtain for us on your show and your experience and share your most important strategy for great narrative podcast.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, I think if I had to really nail down. One like headline tip for a great narrative podcast. It’s honestly the same that I would give for a great interview podcast, and that is your guest. I think the quality of your guest is probably the most important for any podcast because you know you are the same person from episode to episode.

You can do all you can do to [00:02:00] make your show a great. A great experience, you’re bringing on a wild card and that person can make or break your episode. So I think really the best thing you can do is really reach for getting the best guests you can. And and then writing great questions.

Having enough guests because in a narrative podcast, you can have multiple guests. So getting as many guests as you can for a broad point of view is really important too. And yeah, writing the interview questions and doing the interview, that you want to do in the way that you envision your episode happening, basically.


Casey Cheshire: I’ll love that. Okay, let’s break this down. You need to get a great guest in there. I heard you say, start with getting them and so I think back you’ve had you’ve had multiple people you’re interviewing on a single show. How do you get the [00:03:00] great guests or maybe even before that, how do you know they’re great guests beforehand?

Ashley Hamer: Yeah. So you have to do all, you have to do your research. My, my experience is in science podcasts, so I was one of the creators and original hosts of the Discovery Podcast, curiosity Daily, and I am currently the host of a. Podcast I made called Taboo Science, and the way that you figure out who the right guest is for any given episode of those podcasts is, doing your research.

If you want to do an episode about a particular topic, start googling start looking for, what I like to do is say put into the Google search bar the topic and then say researcher or scientist or something like that, start looking at who’s done the most work in that area. And really, not even necessarily the most work, but the most recent work is really good so that they’re that it’s fresh in their minds.

Yeah. If you’re not doing a science podcast there, that’s [00:04:00] a, you still Google around, look on social media, look on all sorts of, wherever your your topic is, most likely to be. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: Putting some time and attention into that to avoid, I’ve had people that don’t really know anything as a guest on before, and you don’t really know that until you get into question two or three and you’re like, oh no, I’m stuck. What do I do? And I could have solved that by just doing a little bit of Googling and I wonder if.

You putting topic plus researcher, plus scientist, that second word being critical because you’re self-selecting for people that have that deep knowledge that you wanna interview.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve totally had that experience where like early on in curiosity, daily, cause we were a science podcast, but we were accepting anybody cause we were new, especially like when you have a new show you don’t really you don’t ask for that much.

And we had someone on who I think. Gosh, we had to cut 75% of the interview because she just kept, she said [00:05:00] things that were not scientifically accurate and we could not play them. So we did some fancy editing and I popped in and explained some things behind the interview. But that was a bad experience and we learned from that and definitely did our research from then on.

Casey Cheshire: Wow. Bad experience. That makes me wanna dwell on it. So tell me you had to afterward explain or just clarify, did you have to see this is the dif difference, the factual podcasts and some people listening have, maybe it’s more businessy and then. That could just make it boring content.

But if it’s factual, it could be health, it could be, in this case, science people are out there probably getting triggered left and right because you said that, the rocket had, 12, engines instead of three. Like people probably getting really triggered out there. So what did you have to do and why did you do it?

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, so we the way that we had already structured our show at the time, our curiosity daily went through many iterations. I’m not even sure it was called Curiosity Daily at the time, but the way that we had it structured was my [00:06:00] co-host. Ran the interview and then I would pop in with little, it was almost like behind the music, like little pop-in oh, did you know that this little fact about what?

Whatever. And so that actually made it very easy for me to pop in just a few more times to, to be like, actually, a scientist say that this isn’t really true, but maybe you know what she really means, or I, I didn’t. I didn’t wanna put words into the guest’s mouth, and if there was something that was completely factually inaccurate, we just didn’t include it.

But if there was something that needed a little bit more context to be totally accurate, that was when I would come in and talk about it. But that’s something that you can do on any podcast. You can just pop in and be like, and, Because sometimes sometimes a guest forgets a date or something, or they forget a fact and they’re like, oh yeah, you know who, whoever it was.

And so it makes sense for you to pop in and be like, Hey, host here. This is actually what they said. So if that happens to you, that’s a good way to do it.

Casey Cheshire: I’d never even thought about the fact that, what happens if they, have you ever had this where they [00:07:00] state a fact during a conversation and Know, like on the spot, you know it, it’s not true or not

Ashley Hamer: Yes. ​

Casey Cheshire: And then how do you

Ashley Hamer: And

Casey Cheshire: just, what do you

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, actually that’s a time when, especially if I’ve done my research and like I know that this person is really, knows a lot and they say something that I know is not factually true. First of all, I’ll be humble and I’ll be like, maybe I’m wrong. Like maybe I’m the one who’s mistaken.

So that’s a great way to approach that. That situation is to be like, but I thought that this was the, this was what was happening. And then they can correct you or they can explain why. Actually, both things are true, so it’s always good to ask. It’s always, you don’t have to be confrontational about it.

But and if they, if they push ahead and then you look into it later and you’re like, no, that wasn’t right at all, then you know, you take care of it in the edit.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah, and the fact that there is an editability, I think sometimes when we’re a little bit more conversational, we’re like we’re [00:08:00] stuck. We have to deal with it. But you’re right if you disagree with someone, you just chop it out. You don’t have to include it in the episode.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, I think even when you’re conversational, even at a chat show you’re the host, you’re the person who’s putting the podcast out there. it is totally fine to edit the podcast even not to take out factual inaccuracies, but even just to make the conversation flow in a way that makes more sense.

If you didn’t. Really like nail the introduction stuff altogether and the outro stuff altogether. you can put those things together so that it makes sense to your listener. And I, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s something you should do.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah. Like really craft the story. I think that’s, and I’m so glad to talk to you about this and really roll up our sleeves on narrative, because I think sometimes, Times you can be like purists about a conversation like, oh, it’s Joe Rogan. We’re hitting start, we’re hitting record. We’re not gonna touch it ever like it’s a religion and then we’re just gonna let it ride.

Like if somebody on [00:09:00] that podcast goes to the bathroom, they don’t just let it record for 10 minutes. They like hit pause and they get back. So yeah. Talk to me about what have you experienced in the narrative world? First of all, what is a narrative podcast?

Ashley Hamer: That’s a really, that’s something that I’ve been struggling with myself. I’ve just recently landed on that for the kind of thing that I do because I really, the way that I think of, especially taboo science, it’s like I, I start with an interview That’s my, that’s the nugget of what those episodes are.

But the difference is that in an interview podcast, you hear two people talking to each other the entire time. And the way that I edit the podcast is I am the storyteller and you hear supporting information from the interviewee. So it’s not you probably don’t even hear me ask a question or, talk to them at all in, an episode.

Sometimes you do, but, usually you don’t. So in that sense, I think the [00:10:00] narrative is coming from me. I am the narrator, and the interview is just someone who is supporting that narrative. So really a narrative podcast is, it’s a story. But you could say that every podcast should be a story too, right?

The same thing I was saying about

interview podcasts. There’s a, beginning, middle, and end yeah.

Casey Cheshire: Or there should be, I was actually just listening to a podcast that didn’t have that, it didn’t have that, it didn’t really give enough credit to the, before, during, and after. The idea of. What questions to ask now and later, and it got boring because it was like a buckshot scattering of different questions all over the place, present future, present, all, personal business.

And then it was just really hard to follow and it wasn’t until I listened to that episode and I thought, man, it is really important that we give the story more credit. And whether it’s an interview where you hear the two people like you’re saying, or. Or even more important where the [00:11:00] narrator’s guiding the whole thing that we’re thinking about this in advance.

Talk to me about how you prepare, how do you design it? Do you do the interview and then piece it all together or do you have a plan at the beginning and then try to fit the interview to check the boxes?

Ashley Hamer: So it’s a little of both. At the very beginning when I’m first thinking about the topic that I want to cover, and I’m looking for interview guests, I’m thinking about questions that I wanna answer. Taboo science the kind of tagline is answering the questions. You aren’t allowed to ask.

And so a lot of times when it’s a topic, like for example our first episode of the, of season three was about addiction. So there are a lot of questions about addiction that I think people have. And one of those is, for example I think a lot of us in school were taught that. You, if you do heroin, you’re gonna get addicted on the first dose.

That’s, that was like a very common one. And


Casey Cheshire: textbook, right?

Ashley Hamer: yeah. And when I started talking to people about, me doing this episode they brought that up themselves. And so it’s [00:12:00] this, that seems like something that’s really important to cover. So I’ll have I’ll have some of those ideas kind of brewing when I’m first planning out the episode.

But then and I’ll ask those questions of the of the guest. But a lot of time once I’ve done the interview, I realize, wow, they had some things that I didn’t even think to ask, be they and some parts of this topic are like, way more complex or way more interesting than I thought. And so after I had that interview, that’s really when the full breadth of the story, of the narrative kind of comes together.

Casey Cheshire: Got it. Okay. So as an aside, was that true? Do people usually get addicted from once?

Ashley Hamer: So interestingly, people are more likely to get addicted to tobacco than to heroin. They in studies there, there’s actually a higher incidence of people addicted to tobacco after trying it once than there [00:13:00] are people addicted to heroin after trying it once.

Casey Cheshire: so I definitely understand that when you talk to the guests. That’s when the details really come to light and you’re allowing yourself to hear topics that you never even thought might appear,

Ashley Hamer: Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: and you prep a little bit in advance so that you know where to go and where to start fishing. Do you, can you recall any moments where you heard these nuggets? You heard in the conversation, these topics come up and you thought, oh, that’s something I haven’t planned for, but you want to go with it?

You wanna like chase that and fall it where it goes?

Ashley Hamer: Oh yeah, that happens all the time.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah. Tell me about it and how do you

Ashley Hamer: questions. Yeah. Oh I think I know when it’s a good topic to chase when My heart beats a little bit faster, right? Or like I’m, or my jaw kind of drops when they say something. [00:14:00] Those are really just checking in with my own body, honestly, is, a really good way to know that.

Like this thing that they just said, other people are gonna react to that in the same way. And I need to follow up on that question. So yeah, I treat. My interview questions that I prepare ahead of time as a very loose guideline. I think when I first started doing interviews, I, actually didn’t write questions because it was just like what you’re talking about.

It’s like, oh, it’s a conversation. It’s natural. let’s just go where, we need to go and I. As I’ve gotten more experience, I definitely realize how important interview questions are, but you don’t have to be beholden to them. once someone says something that you have another question about that isn’t written down, absolutely go for it and start talking about that topic.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah, I totally can get that. It’s interesting that you took that approach where it was like completely unscripted and then you started writing some particular questions to start with. A lot of people start the opposite way, especially in the interview podcast, where it’s let me have.

Like 20 different questions. Sometimes they’re custom, sometimes they’re not. [00:15:00] And then as they get more comfortable and confident, they drop some of those and then just chase after the follow-up questions. But either way, it definitely feels good having a few things handy.

Ashley Hamer: Yes, definitely. And you know what? I think that speaks to what I was doing that speaks to the desire of a beginner to appear like a professional or appear like someone who’s really experienced. And if you do the things that experienced people do, then you’ll be. You’ll be ahead of the game.

Which is the same thing I think with people who really want to do the Joe Rogan type thing with their interview podcast. Just play the entire conversation as the podcast. No, don’t touch it with any edits. Joe Rogan can do that because he has talked to thousands of people. He has interviewed thousands of people and he knows exactly how to run a conversation.

But if you are just starting a podcast, if you have, don’t have that many interviews under your belt the edit is [00:16:00] really gonna be helpful for you because maybe that conversation didn’t turn out the way that you, that it would’ve after a ton of experience. Being able to move things around and cut things out in the edit will make for a much more, it.

It’ll save a lot of things. It’ll make up for a lot of inexperience, I think.

Casey Cheshire: That’s such a great point. I think whiskey helps too.

Ashley Hamer: Sure.

Casey Cheshire: So talk to me about the edit process, and I hear all these different importances, it’s, you can speed things up, you can chop things out, and what kind of things are you looking for? What kind of things are top of mind when you have all these raw recordings and you’re starting the editing process.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, I, what I’ll do first I used a script to, to go through my


the cool thing about script is that, you see everything is in a transcript. So it’s basically like you’ve, what I used to do before I used Transcript was I would run my recording through a transcription app, and [00:17:00] then I would edit it in Google Docs, and now script just puts that all together.

So I’ll go through my transcription. And I will look for things when, where the guest talked about something that I wanna cover or said something that was really interesting and I will highlight those moments. Then you can do this really cool thing in the script called copy highlights, where you literally, it will just copy everything you highlighted and you can paste it into a new composition.

So then you have everything there that you wanted to include. And at that point, I rearrange everything by theme. So if they talked about, Getting hooked, like how, whether you get hooked for the first time, on heroin or whatever. I put all of those quotes into their own section and then I put all of the quotes about, the other topics they talked about into their own sections.

And once I have all that, then I can see what my episode is gonna be about. Basically I see oh, okay, we covered these 10 themes. [00:18:00] And then I start making an outline that kind of touches on each of those and makes narrative sense to go from each of these topics. There are good segues from one to the other.

Casey Cheshire:

You see all the pieces in front of you and now you, you start mapping them out. We talked earlier about this idea of the story arc and making there some sort of challenge and drama. How do you build that in? I gotta imagine that people are expecting like a faster paced, a higher sense of something is going on and a little bit more drama.

It’s not just us hanging out, like things are happening, it’s quick paced. How do you map that out? How do you create that?

Ashley Hamer: That’s something I’m still working on. Honestly, I find it difficult to do with a nonfiction podcast. There are masters of the craft who can do it really well. And it’s something that I’m really trying to learn because I think when you have. A legitimate story, like an actual, there’s a character and [00:19:00] this character did this, and then that’s somewhere where there, it makes a lot of sense for there to be like conflict and resolution and like a climax to the story.

But when you’re just explaining a topic, maybe that’s where I’m going wrong in the beginning, right? It’s, I need to have an actual point of view, an actual Like thing that I’m saying and an actual story with an actual character. That’s how it’s been taught to me a lot even with nonfiction.

But when you just have a topic that you’re talking about, it’s really hard to find a place where the climax is going to be. But what I will do so far, like my approach to that right now is to find the place where there’s. Emotion. So for example, In this most recent episode, the guest talked about her daughter.

Cause I was asking, how do you help people who are, facing addiction Now, her, daughter isn’t, experiencing addiction, but she is a teenager [00:20:00] and you have a lot of conflict with teenagers if you’re a mom. And so she started talking about. The conflicts she’s had with her daughter and the ways that she’s tried to just be there for her and just sit with her, even if, her daughter doesn’t want to talk to her.

And it, there was a, I remember during the interview kind of feeling like, oh, this is really, this is touching. And I realized like that is a place where I want to have it. Kinda right before the end. I want that to be the place where people end the, I want that to be the ending note.

So again, emotion is a good, that’s a good waypoint to look for.

Casey Cheshire: And I wonder then, do you, how much of you in the interview is going, okay, something’s happening here, or you’ve checked in with yourself, you’re feeling the heartbeat? I. And you’re like, I need to follow this because I know I need a motion for the later narrative, or you just lost in the interview.

Ashley Hamer: I’m just kinda lost in the interview, and then when I go back through it I [00:21:00] remember how I felt. But that’s, and so the way that you hold onto that I think is just you should review the interview sooner than later. Don’t put it away for a month because it’s hard to remember.

But yeah I’m sure there are. More organized ways to keep track of that. And I’m sure I could probably like a good way to, to do that and maybe I’ll start doing that if I have trouble is to write down the timestamp of places that these things happened. I know that many people swear by that.

But yeah, I just go with my gut.

Casey Cheshire: So in my mind I wonder, do you ever have interviews where this doesn’t happen? And does that episode just totally suck at the end because you never found a motion or what?

Ashley Hamer: So you are figuring out my. The reason that I do the podcast the way I do originally, I’ve come to really en enjoy and I think the structure really works. But the reason I started doing it this way was because I didn’t [00:22:00] trust my own interview skills and I didn’t trust that.

A conversation on its own was gonna really carry it. And also I’m also just a kind of person who really loves telling people facts. I just love sharing like stuff. I’m the kind of person at a party who will be like, oh my gosh, did you know this about narwhals? And

Casey Cheshire: Are awesome.

Ashley Hamer: They are awesome that that I, did you know that a narwals tusk is actually one of its teeth?

It’s just one tooth that comes out of its mouth and through its forehead. It’s so weird. Anyway,

Casey Cheshire: So they’re kinda like, they’re kinda like country bumpkins of the ocean.

Ashley Hamer: yeah. Yeah. It’s just like one snaggle tooth that’s real long. Yep.

Casey Cheshire: Wow.


through the ocean, causing a commotion because they are so awesome.

Ashley Hamer: It’s a beautiful poem. I like that. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: There’s actually a song. Do you know the NARAL song?

Ashley Hamer: oh, no, I see. I thought you just wrote that off the

Casey Cheshire: Oh no. It was beautiful though, right? No, there’s if you go on Spotify, there’s Narwals Are Awesome is a song and once you listen to it, you’ll never get out of your [00:23:00] head.

Ashley Hamer: I’m looking it up after this. Yeah, definitely.

Casey Cheshire: But

circling you, you’re talking about facts. You were talking about facts.

Ashley Hamer: so the combo of me. Yeah, the combo of me, like not starting this out not having a lot of confidence in my own interview skills, I think I’ve really improved since I started the podcast. And loving to share facts means that if I have a bum interview, I get to break it apart and put in as much of my own narration as I want.

So if there’s nothing that I particularly that made my heart race, in the interview I can add those things in and I can turn the episode into what I want it to be.

Casey Cheshire: So you can speak the emotion into it as the


Ashley Hamer: Yeah, exactly.

Casey Cheshire: Cool. So there really is that control over it where you try to get the guests to do it, but no worries. It’s not like you need to [00:24:00] stress if they don’t do it. I will speak some emotion into it and be, I’ll create the emotion. But does it always have the emotion, would you say there’s always some kind of,

Ashley Hamer: That’s what I try to I, I’m not gonna say that I’m successful every time, but that’s the aim. Yeah. I think that’s just the way that, that I know that I’ve done it right.

Casey Cheshire: Talk to me about the emotions. Have you had anyone cry on you,

Ashley Hamer: Ooh, I ha I have n Oh, have I? I don’t think so. I know I’ve gotten a little bit weepy and I try to hide it, but like I’ve gotten a little misty-eyed when people

Casey Cheshire: as the interviewer or as a

Ashley Hamer: Yeah. As the interviewer. As the interviewer. I can’t really recall exactly what the interview was, but yeah sometimes people say things that are just really moving and I get a little bit Little emotional.

I did recently have a baby. So it’s happening more often. It’s crazy when you have a, a kid suddenly like all emotion is [00:25:00] just raw and out there. It’s wild

how I’ve changed. But yeah

Casey Cheshire: So we’ve got two, and I’m literally trying not to cry. Washing love is blind, so

Ashley Hamer: yeah.

Casey Cheshire: even know what’s going on anymore.

Ashley Hamer: I don’t know how it does that to you, but yeah I’ve really I’ve become a big sap since, since that, but yeah guests have definitely made me get whippy and that’s a great point to to keep in an episode.

Casey Cheshire: I’ve done this wrong. I wonder if you’ve had any experiences with this and. Maybe we can even sort out what to do, right? When the guest gets vulnerable with you and is telling you something where maybe even you want to cry how do you cont Do you keep asking questions? How do you approach those things?

Cause I’ve definitely done that wrong, I think.

Ashley Hamer: So it’s different for me, I think because I’m so often speaking to a researcher, and so the researcher will tell me about things that happen. To other people or to, or whatever, like what an, what a patient might experience or something like that. So [00:26:00] it’s not necessarily so much about them, although I did.

Now I’m remembering. I have an episode about necrophilia. I told you taboo science, there are a lot of wild topics that we cover. And there was. One of the guests did mention sexual assault that she experienced, but it had been so long ago that it wasn’t even really an emotional moment for her.

She was just like, yep, it happened. It actually led me to my current, like it led me to my career because I wanted to figure out why people do things the way why people do things like that. But but yeah, it’s generally it’s a little bit removed for those researchers.

Casey Cheshire: Got it. Thankfully. Cause, cause I think the worst thing you can do is revert back to interviewer mode and, okay, great. Next question. It’s almost like you need to dwell in that moment and be in that experience, even if they’re not experiencing the, other people are, and sometimes that can play poorly if they, one time I paused, right?

Someone said something powerful Friend or parent, some, someone had either committed suicide or died or something would [00:27:00] happened and I waited and I gave it a pause in my mind and then tried to I followed up, but that was almost too quickly, so it sounded like I just, all right.

Cool. Thanks. Thanks bro, for sharing. Onto the next one.

Ashley Hamer: That’s, how, what kinda weird lives do we live where we actually have to hear ourselves, make a faux pa over and over. I, like that’s hard to do in a regular conversation when you’re just like sitting in a bar with someone and then oh yeah, I did not handle that well, but it’s in the past now, it’s Nope, there’s a recording of it.

Yeah I totally get that. And it’s not all podcasters are like, Social wizards, like the I’m not, I’m social. I have a little bit of social anxiety myself. So it’s I don’t think that I handle things perfectly every time. But you’re right. Like I think if someone is going to share something vulnerable with you, it’s a good it’s only right for you to.

Thank them for being so vulnerable. Not literally necessarily. Although you could say thank you for sharing [00:28:00] that. That’s a totally valid thing to, to say, but just to acknowledge that they have done something above and beyond for an interview. By sharing something like that.


Casey Cheshire: Yeah and I’m reminded by speaking with you that it doesn’t necessarily have to make the cut either, but you

could even just. Pull and do an aside. Man, that was incredible. Thank you. And ouch or whatever it is, be in the moment. And if you want to cut that thing out, I, again, not feeling like everything has to make it in there. And if you need to pause five more seconds, put it in there.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, absolutely.

Casey Cheshire: How does someone with social anxiety end up being like an award-winning podcaster?

Ashley Hamer: I started as I started as a musician, but then I got a I started my first like office job was as a writer and I was like, this is perfect because when you’re a writer, you don’t have to talk to anybody. That’s not true. I thought, I was like, I just get to sit at my computer and write things.

No, I then I had to start [00:29:00] interviewing people and that was like, Oh my gosh. It was my heart would be pounding. And I would, and a lot of, I started writing for Groupon. That was when I first, my, my first writing job. And so you would do these cold calls of people, of like massage therapists, just to write something on the blog about like how to talk to your massage therapist and you’d call people out of the blue and be like, will you talk to me?

And it was not They were not always super happy because, some of them had bad experiences with Groupon as a company. That was very stressful. But over time, you just do it enough and you interview enough people and it becomes second nature and you start getting used to it.

Yeah. Yeah. But I started out just thinking that I would never have to talk to a single person, which is just the biggest mistake.

Casey Cheshire: Oh man and slowly that’s almost like that inoculated you to be able to. You’ve done enough of them so that the heart now is only fluttering when it’s [00:30:00] something important is happening, not just all the time. It’s come on man, that’s, you can’t have the alarm on all the time. I’m not picking up any signals like but it calmed itself down and you have the experience now and

Ashley Hamer: And that actually makes you once you’re calm. Yeah, I didn’t die. It being calm makes you a better interviewer because I know early interviews the entire ti like I would lose track of what the person was saying because I was so focused on getting the next question right. And that happened a lot.

And I would, I would just hope that the recording got what they said because I did not. Hear it because I was so in my own head. And so really finding a way to get comfortable with interviewing is gonna make you a better interviewer.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah, I think that’s, I’ve definitely experienced that half the anxiety of doing an interview is. Knowing that other people are gonna hear it, and man, I hope they don’t catch me not paying attention or not knowing the [00:31:00] answer, I. Calling me out. Not that anyone’s ever gonna do that,

Casey Cheshire: that nervousness of am I gonna know what to ask next?

Like what happens if you and I are chatting? You make this brilliant point. I’m like so lost in it. And then I’m just like staring at you awkwardly going okay. Next question. Scramble. Scramble. And it might be only two seconds for everyone else, but for me it feels like an eternity of silence.

Ashley Hamer: Absolutely. Yeah. There’s that. Yeah. Such a big fear of not knowing what to ask next. And

the funny thing is yeah, I guess the way to deal with that is to really be there in the moment with that person. I. There aren’t a lot of conversations with friends, I think that where you don’t know what to ask next, or you are afraid that you’re not gonna, that there’s just going to be silence and you’re going to be stuck because you’re interested in what they have to say and you’re.

And it, just kind comes as second nature. And that’s, it’s the same way with interviews. You just have to [00:32:00] be there listening to them. It’s very possible that the last word that they say in their sentence is the thing that’s gonna spark a question. But also sometimes it is okay to just be, to just not even say anything to the end of a, of a.

Question or to the end of an answer and just move on to your next question, because also, like nobody likes to hear an interview where at the end of every answer, you the interviewer says, okay. Next question. Okay. Next question. So it is okay to just not say anything too

Casey Cheshire: It’s okay to even pause. And figure out what you’re gonna do next. You don’t have to fill it up with a bunch of things, just pause rather than asking a dumb question, especially if you’re not narrative and you’re not gonna cut that thing out, or maybe you cut that thing out, right? And even if you wanna pause for a while, I think sometimes the fear is that it’ll slow the energy and the tempo down, but maybe the final product doesn’t have that.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah. Also, I think sometimes for me [00:33:00] it’s like you, you’re afraid that everybody knows that you don’t know what to say next, and that they don’t know that. Honestly, when you pause think about. If you were on in their shoes and you just finished saying a bunch of stuff and you finished your thought and the interviewer took a second, I think what I would think was, they’re really mulling this over.

They’re really thinking about what I said, like they appreciated what I said, and they’re trying to come up with a really good question. At least that’s what I think. So I, I think pausing is actually really good.

Casey Cheshire: This podcast is so meta. Do you like that?

Ashley Hamer: Yeah. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: One of the things I like to do with with that is I’ll write down one of those. Words that is oh my gosh, I can’t wait to go down that rabbit hole with you. I’ll write that down. And that’s my thing. And as soon as I’ve found that next thing where if I, if the next word you say doesn’t take us on to another thing, I know I, I can always come back to that word.

Ashley Hamer: [00:34:00] That’s a, yeah, that’s a great way to do it. Taking notes is

Casey Cheshire: Yeah.

but then I could get lost back, lost in. I’m just like listening to you. And if a word triggers great. If it doesn’t, I’m still here. But then, like right now, when we’ve exhausted this topic, I know that I wanna come back to this other thing, which is rituals. I wonder if you have any rituals before you do an interview, before you hit record that maybe lessen that anxiety, or maybe you’ve trained it all out, but are there any things you’ve done before to set yourself right.

Ashley Hamer: Not gosh, I wish I could say yes and be like, oh yes, I do a yoga practice before every interview. Sometimes I’m just coming by the seat of my pants. But what I’m trying to do more and as someone with social anxiety, like this has been something that I have to like, Actively practice is just chatting up top without the record button on just talking to the guest because it makes me more comfortable.

It makes them more comfortable. It builds some chemistry. [00:35:00] And, five, five minutes at least of just talking about stuff. Sometimes that can be, oh, is your microphone set up, blah, blah, blah. But hopefully it’s, oh, where are you based? Oh yeah, I’ve been there, blah, blah, blah.

That’s, I think that’s really important and it’s something that I’m trying to do more and more. I’ve been on podcasts with people who are like very gregarious and they’ll spend. 15, 20 minutes chatting before, before the interview. And I know what I’m doing. I was like, do you really? It’s like we’re wasting a little bit of time here, but you’re, no, this is fine.

I’ll, I’m gonna go with it. But it makes me feel so much more relaxed and it makes the podcast feel a lot smoother.

Casey Cheshire: So cool. Great. What a great point to bring up. And again, this is so meta, right? We chatted beforehand, you’d just gotten home from the airport, we’re chatting a little bit, reminded me, Asheville, just different, things we chatted about and I love that. Best practices are just flying out of [00:36:00] you.

The facts are flying out of you without even realizing the idea of the five minutes. But when you go a little bit too long, you start getting those experiences like you had where you’re like, huh, are we maybe starting to waste time here versus, the point of it’s not to chitchat forever, but to get to the interview.

So there’s a certain time point where after five minutes we might be wasting good interview time.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, I think that’s right, especially if it’s a, a busy professional that you’re talking to who has, a hard stop. You don’t wanna, you wanna get to the point, but you do some of that chitchat, it can feel wasteful, but it is important to do for at least a little bit.

Casey Cheshire: I like to start, before I hit record, I like to thank the guest for coming. Again just as a quick, cause I feel like it, I dunno, this could be completely bizarro, but I feel like it puts me in a place of like gratitude. Beforehand. I’m grateful the guest is oh we’re feeling our gratefulness just now.

And then we’re hitting record. So if they are nervous, cuz sometimes you [00:37:00] have, we’re the nervous interviewer, but we have guests that are nervous

and it’d be great to put them in a good position. Have you dealt with, especially in your scientists, have you dealt with nervous guests?

Ashley Hamer: I have, so especially I was an interviewer for, I. The agu, the American Geophysical Union that was doing a series just talking to. To scientists in various fields, and a lot of them had never done an interview before. It was just people who, I’m just a scientist. I go to work and I come home. And, I asked them about their career and their hobbies and just, it’s basically just get to know a scientist.

Like what are scientists like?

Casey Cheshire: That’s cool.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, a good number of them were very nervous about things. And it’s I honestly, one of my biggest compliments from that experience was one of, one of the people who started out the interview. Just admitting I have a lot of stage fright. I’m very nervous right now and I reassured her [00:38:00] and I was just like, it’s just a conversation.

We’re just chatting. It’s fine. Everything’s editable. If you say something wrong, we can edit it out. It’s totally great. And at the very end, she’s thank you. Like that, you really put me at ease. And I felt a lot more calm about it. And that was like, that was huge. I, cuz I really tried to and I was really glad that it came through.

Casey Cheshire: And you’re able to give those assurances. And now on these kind of, because the interview is not as important. The the raw interview is not as important cuz you’re gonna edit it. Do you do like a prep call beforehand or are you just more just showing up and setting some assurances there than just hitting record?

Ashley Hamer: It’s, this is another meta one because we talked about this on our prep call.

I am anti prep call just because, I don’t know, I just wanna get to the point. And I don’t wanna waste people’s time and it doesn’t, I’m not saying the prep call’s always waste people’s time. Your prep call was a quick 15 minutes.

It was easy. It was painless. And it also helped us build some chemistry so that I wasn’t meeting you for the first time on the interview which is great. [00:39:00] I totally respect prep calls and if that’s part of your process, I think that’s great. For me, I. I just, I don’t know. I I think maybe it is partly that I know that I can edit the interview later, so I so I don’t do them.

I also just, it might be a confidence thing I don’t wanna ask too much of these, busy researchers. So I don’t ask for the prep call, but yeah, I think it’s, I do it all. Just one shot.

Casey Cheshire: Yeah, I think that makes sense though. Like I am very pro prep call and but for a interview conversational podcast, I think it can really helpful. Whereas I totally understand that if you’re in that narrative format, you could, you can literally have some of that rapport and relationship building.

During that conversation and then just not air that.

But I think either way it happens, right? Either way, you need to carve time for it. Rogan’s gonna be drinking and smoking with someone for half an hour before they’re confident and calm enough to maybe, share the good stuff. So [00:40:00] maybe that just is in the five minutes you’re mentioning before hitting record, just a little bit of meet and greet beforehand.

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, for sure.

Casey Cheshire: I couldn’t possibly let you get out of here without talking a little bit more about the script. So what’s the deal? Let’s tell people about it. I love it. It’s huge. Every PO podcaster should be using it. What’s the deal?

Ashley Hamer: Yeah, so Descrip is an AI powered audio and video editor. It, the way it works is you upload your recording or you record in the app and it makes an automatic transcription of your audio or video, and then you edit. Basically just like it’s a word doc, you can, if you take out a word, it takes it out from the recording, which makes it really visual and very intuitive and a great way to edit, especially like I said, narrative podcasts.

It also, but the video part I’m not a video editor, but I am making a video component of every single [00:41:00] episode this season, and it’s so easy to edit video with this thing. I really love it. But yeah, that’s a whole lot of the top podcast houses use script in their first stages of their podcasts.

The interview transcription the editing together, the story and figuring out where everything goes. And then, many of them will, when, they have their sound engineers and stuff, and they will export the timeline to, audition pro tools, whatever. To do the final polishing, but they really rely on on script for that, that first that first pass of figuring out like how the story all goes together.

But yeah I love it. It’s great. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: We love it. We use it here too. Big fans. Shout out from everyone here at Ringmaster. Big fans of the script. So where can people get connected with not only script, but you throw out some social channels, some URLs, those kind of things.

Ashley Hamer: All right, so I am mostly on Twitter at smashley Hamer, s m a S [00:42:00] h l e y h a m e R. My podcast is at Taboo Science on Twitter. Also, you can find the whole podcast at Taboo Science Show or on any podcast app that you fancy.

Casey Cheshire: Whatever

Ashley Hamer: And yeah, that’s about everything. Yeah.

Casey Cheshire: Heck yeah. Ashley, you are amazing. Thank you so much for coming on here. I have just been like learning left and right, writing things down just, and even thinking about my own, thinking about how I’ve been doing things. It’s so great to just, take a second, just think about these interview tech tactics and techniques with you.

So thank you.

Ashley Hamer: Thank you. Honestly, in talking to you, I’ve thought of some other I’ve come down to some things that I wanna do better, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna implement those,

Casey Cheshire: Hell yeah. Hell yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. And for those people listening, if you learn something and I freaking know you did, cause I literally have three PA pages of notes. That’s a world record, three pages of notes. Normally it’s two. Everyone’s gonna be all freaked out now, but three [00:43:00] pages of notes.

So share this with someone else. If you learn something. LinkedIn’s a great place for that one person, three people, 9,000. But put your take, what was your big takeaway? Was it the find the emotion? Was it script and looking into that, whatever those things are. Put that in the comments.

Put that in your description. Ash, Ashley and I, we’ll hop in there, we’ll do some comment battles. It’ll be great. And again, that’s thought leadership. So good. Thank you so much again for being on here.

Ashley Hamer: Thank you. It was so much fun.

Casey Cheshire: All right everyone. This is when the greatest, coolest episode yet of creating the greatest show. We will see you all next time.


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