I’m making a podcast

Update: The Department for Bad Ideas will launch in 2020. It will look slightly different to the format described below.

Get the latest information; visit the podcast’s website.

This year, I’ve set myself a goal to launch a podcast.

I’ve been wanting to set up a podcast for ages — my brief encounters with student radio back in the day having not been enough to satiate my creative urges — but until now I have been devoid of an idea. Well, not anymore: I know what podcast I want to make.

Here’s the pitch

This is a podcast about public policy as game show. It’s called the Department of Bad Ideas.

In each episode, two guests engage in a battle of policy ideation and wits. Their task is to come up with the best-worst ideas possible. They have to be impractical, unpalatable or entirely nonsensical.

In my line of work, we’re encouraged to come up with the best we can within constraints. This podcast is about blowing the roof off the constraints and having fun with policy that would never see the light of day.

This is how it will work

Each episode will comprise three rounds.

In each of the first two rounds, guests are given a policy problem ahead of time that they will be asked to solve. The problem could be anything from the ridiculous to the real: like preparing for an alien invasion, or solving a shortage of teachers in schools.

Forewarned with both problems, the guests will get five minutes in each round to pitch their solution. In round one, our guests will pitch the most impractical but most politically attractive idea they can think of to solve the problem. In the second round, they have to do the opposite: find a brilliantly practical idea that will crash and burn when it reaches the Red Box.

At the end of each round, I’ll award points for originality, presentation, practicality and political attractiveness.

The final round will be different: instead of preprepared pitches, guests will have to think on their feet. They’ll be given more policy problems to solve — but this time they’ll do it on the fly. Just to make things more difficult, they’ll have to do it without hesitation, repetition or deviation — inspired by hit BBC radio show, Just a Minute. Points will be awarded on the same basis as previous rounds, with a bonus going to whomever is still speaking after one minute.

After the three rounds are over, we’ll total up the points. Points mean absolutely nothing, but our guests can at least gloat at their ridiculous idea generating prowess.

Now to make the thing

So that’s the pitch: now I just need to make it.

I’ll chronicle my process as we go, in case it’s useful for anyone else that wants to dip their toe into podcasting, so stay tuned for that.

And if you fancy being a guest on the podcast, let me know! Direct message me on Twitter or drop me an email.

All posts in this series

  1. I’m making a podcast
  2. Getting started
  3. Setting up a website
  4. The RSS feed and hosting
  5. Iterating on the idea