I decided to go back and listen to the second episode I released, which was originally I think in early 2018. It was about the Khmer civilisation leading into the Angkor period. It was... strange, it felt like reading an old diary or something of that nature... was that really me who came up with some of these creative decisions?
Tips for anyone thinking of making a history podcast - number one - resist the temptation to use excessive sound effects or background music. I don't know why I felt the need to have most of this episode set to music or sounds... there is a section at the end that just has the sound of rain for like 5 minutes? And the music under some of the discussion of the early Khmer kings was overbearing. I think I felt like nobody would keep listening if there were not interesting sounds - and I think that might explain the Simpsons gag as well.
The dialogue itself though, I was surprised I didn't have too much that I would change? There was the occasional stumble, and I think as I was generally less familiar with that early Cambodian history as I am now I might have fallen into a couple of the common misconceptions - like I mentioned that scholars use the phrase 'dark ages' of Cambodian history - which none do anymore.
I brought this up on twitter, saying that podcasting itself was quite a strange medium in this way. Like, I started this project three years ago, but it was as if I had been writing a book that I had to publish each chapter at a time... without being able to go back and change what I had written even if the story itself had evolved in new directions. Happily someone pointed out that this was one of the benefits as well - that once you have written a book the whole thing is done and thats it, you don't have the ability to change course over time.
I guess I think of those early episodes a bit like the first season of a TV series, sometimes it can be awhile before the show finds its feet and direction. I'm glad that even though I might not like some of the earlier stuff, my tone is a bit all over the place and the amount of sources I had was minimal... I guess it was just necessary to get started and start that journey even if the content wasn't as polished as it could be. And if people like it enough they will see it get better over time.
I just hope I don't look back at the episodes I am releasing now and think the same thing in three years time!