“If you are a depressed regressive, what is there to be excited about?” asked Geoff Lloyd, popular national radio presenter in the UK. Geoff met Ed Miliband, former UK Labour Leader, whilst interviewing him during his 2015 election campaign.
Then, when Geoff took a break from his radio career he asked Ed this very question and hence, Reasons to be Cheerful was born – a podcast to discuss political topics and good policy ideas from around the world.
Their podcast has topped the iTunes chart in the UK, engaging listeners directly with policy ideas in an informal self-deprecating way. Combining great guests, comedy and a modern way to talk about politics, the show has a fresh approach to serious questions.
Ed believes that podcasting is a really interesting medium and, compared to being a politician, there is obviously a lot more freedom being on the other side of the microphone. His interest in it comes from his passion for getting ideas out to people. “In a way what we have tapped into is the idea that it is not all doom and gloom and Trump and Brexit” he says.
The pair described the format of the show – how they found that identifying a specific theme works best for their discussion. The duo chooses topics relevant to people: universal credit, housing, rent control, drugs. They are able to express ideas that politicians don’t normally talk about in an informative way. “It is important to give it a structure and appeal to people who are only a bit into politics. We wanted to make it accessible,” says Geoff.
Trying to conclude, the pair agree that the cross-party nature of the people who listen and the feedback about the show highlights that it is a success in its own right. People want big ideas that can solve the problem but in fact, they recognise this can’t really always happen with a podcast. Importantly, serious ideas do not need to be boring.