By Katie Wiles, podcast producer

On 14 April, smack dab in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown, CAMRA launched an inaugural podcast – Pubs. Pints. People. 

It is an understatement to say that the timing left much to be desired. Podcast production had been well under-way for the last six months – we had recorded, interviewed, and put the finishing touches on 10 pre-planned episodes to launch.

Then COVID-19 happened. The pubs were closed, the office shut, and we were stuck in our homes with no end in sight. Looking at the neat little package of episode we had spent months putting together, I realised there was no way we could release them. They were recorded in a world where people could go to their locals, meet up with friends, plan their visit to GBBF. They were completely disconnected from our new reality. 

After the initial shock wore off, some of the manic excitement that drove Matt, Ant and I to podcasting reignited. Some interviews – like our chat with Catherine Tonry about GBBF and our interview with Robin Dunbar about how great it is to go the pub – simply couldn’t be released. But there were still a handful of interviews we could dust off for a fresh attempt – if we could enlist more help.

What started out as a tentative project between me and volunteer co-hosts, Matt Bundy and Ant Fiorillo very rapidly evolved into a much wider movement. As we built up the confidence to start recording again (on a weekly basis to stay abreast of the fast-changing news environment), the podcast attracted the attention of more members. And with that attention came more offers to help.

Members who had never volunteered with CAMRA before came forward to offer their time and advice. We soon surpassed the original 10-episode schedule and marched ahead to a destination unknown. We were quickly joined by Adam Taylor from Manchester, Alan Walsh from Surrey, Harry Davies from Sheffield and Stella Sims from Brighton, who organised and conducted interviews for the podcast – adding their own unique voices to the show.

When the weight of editing became too heavy, the volunteers rallied again. David King, who coordinates the audio files for What’s Brewing and BEER, led the march – with the help of Paul Hadfield from Croydon, Tim Webb from Kent, Simon Clark from North London and Adam Grant from Hertfordshire. This team takes on the thankless task of editing hours upon hours of interviews to produce a neat package each week.

Roles we didn’t even realise we could ask for help on with were soon filled. Iain Loe, a lifelong CAMRA volunteer who has been part of many key events in our 50-year history, helped us pull archived materials for the show. From the Young Members Group, Rebecca Fennelly and Sean O’Mahoney took on weekly scripting and social media management positions.

These volunteers are working behind the scenes to deliver top-quality, interesting, and relevant beer and pub-related stories to over a thousand listeners every week. Many of them are not your “typical” volunteer – they might not hold a branch position, or a lifelong membership card. Yet they’ve been inspired to lend their time to an initiative that hopes to show the world that CAMRA is just as relevant in 2020 as it was in the 1970s.

I don’t know how long the podcast will run, or when we will take a break. All I know is that there is no way we would be able to produce a regular, high-quality podcast without the volunteer who have come forward. I cannot overstress how much work goes into podcast production behind the scenes – and I thank all the volunteers involved from the bottom of my heart.

Members can support the show with a small donation by visiting: https://supporter.acast.com/pubs-pints-people

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If you’d like to get involved in the CAMRA podcast, we’d love your help! We need more script-writers, editors, producers, archivist etc. You can learn more about how to get involved by visiting: https://camra.org.uk/volunteers-area/volunteering-opportunities-2/

To tune in, visit: https://shows.acast.com/pubspintspeople/

August episode list:

Alcohol: high & low – 4 August

Weird & wonderful beers – 11 August

Micropubs: an opportunity for the high street? -18 August

Collaborations – how do they come about? – 25 August

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