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    Open Minds, Open Conversations: An Interview with the LOAF Podcast

    Sophie Magalhaes interviews the students behind the LOAF podcast and explores podcasting at Oxford.

    I knew vaguely of the podcast run by four of my fellow Christ Church students before interviewing them for Cherwell. It takes hard work to balance any extracurricular alongside an Oxford degree, and I have immense respect for those who manage to pull it off. When I saw via Instagram that the boys of LOAF (Lukas, Ollie, Adam, Faris) had recently interviewed a dame on their podcast, I thought it would make for a fascinating insight into the workings of student-run podcasts, and perhaps, get to know the people behind the voices I didn’t know very well. They enthusiastically agreed to an interview. I have to admit, they had me surprised by the sheer grit and cheerful camaraderie in their approach to this newly discovered educational endeavour.

    Podcasting is a versatile platform for students to share their interests and perspectives with a wider audience. This is how the LOAF podcast started out in its initial stages this past Hilary, or a ‘drunk night-out idea’ as the group laughingly shared. After successfully applying for an Oxide slot, the four boys took to a microphone in the comfort of their own accommodation, sharing their distinctive characters and jovial dynamic with an external audience. In a few short months the quartet have doubled down in exploiting the platform to be a professional space for intellectual discussion and influential speakers. but not at the cost of friendly banter. 

    When three out of the four podcasters welcomed me into their large room in Christ Church’s Peckwater Quad on a sunny Sunday evening, they were chipper and keen to discuss their creative child. Prior to the interview I’d listened to a handful of episodes. It was their pilot episode on Spotify which sparked my interest the most, although now recently archived. At the core of LOAF is a relatable and lighthearted friendship. Ollie, enthusiastically chatting whilst tossing around a football, describes himself as open and loquacious. Lukas brings the podcast to a more professional standard; after a period on the Oxford Union committee he claims he is happier using his public speaking skills on this intimate platform under his own creative direction. Adam is the creativity behind the scenes, devising imaginative ways to market on social media and gain a wider listenership.  The three boys all agreed that Faris adds a different dimension to the podcast, grounding the group dynamic with a healthy introspective lens. 

    The boys explained to me that LOAF cannot be pinned down to a single genre; its variety is what makes it unique. From discussing pop culture to analysing social norms, it was clear that, in their range of topics, all four boys felt strongly about their objective to challenge and educate. Recently having transitioned to a guest-focused professional approach, LOAF has interviewed a handful of influential personalities in supporting this educational mission. Latest speakers include mental health advocate Gabe Howard and ex-CEO of Royal Mail, Dame Moya Greene.

    It was Dame Moya, Adam shared, whose cutting words really inspired the group. “She really gave us confidence as podcasters.” With the pull of an Oxford SSO, the gang were pleasantly surprised to discover how many influential people were willing to come and debate contentious topics or simply to offer wisdom relating to a given field.  Detailing her career path, Dame Moya stresses the importance of listening and communication – not only in forging a better relationship between employees and the union, but in getting to know people one resolves disputes and navigates changes fairly and effectively. Chuckling, they claimed they all started listening to each other more after that. 

    Looking to the future, the LOAF podcasters hope to grow more confident in their ability to create stimulating discussion. The challenge they are now faced with is how to take their platform a step further. They aim to expand their network of speakers and avoid overly-politicising the podcast. To continue expanding their listenership they must remain neutral and relatable. The purpose of speaker episodes is to delve into interesting topics which are both fun and educational to listen to. The balance between relaxed banter and challenging intellectual conversations helps to stabilise a middle ground, setting LOAF apart from serious politicised platforms. At its core is a lighthearted friendship. 

    You can stream the LOAF podcast on Oxide and Spotify


    INSTA: @theloafpod

    TikTok: @theloafpodcast

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