Three and a half years go, while a graduate student in New York, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science John McMahon started the “Always Already Podcast” with two of his friends. “We all believed that oftentimes academic ideas and academic writing in particular are not always accessible to audiences beyond academics,” he says, adding “we thought it would be fun.”
The response has been 5,000 to 6,000 subscribers since the podcast’s inception.
The podcast has two parts: the first is an hour discussion of topics surrounding a particular academic article or book and analyzing of listener’s dreams and answering advice questions. While the later half is an interview-focused format, with interviewees ranging from activists to artists, which began about two years ago.
“These are the sorts of conversations we’d have with one another anyway,” he says. Despite being in four different locations, John and his co-hosts have never missed a beat, releasing one episode a month, coordinating recordings over Skype. He says the podcast has been able to link his two academic worlds together. “I’ve had a number of my colleagues here at Beloit come be guest hosts on the podcast,” he says, such as French Professor Michelle Bumatay and Critical Identities Studies Professor M. Shadee Malaklou.
“I was invited as a guest in October 2016 by host John McMahon, to talk about my expertise as a scholar of [the Matinian psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary] Frantz Fanon,” says Shadee. Since her initial guest slot, she has regularly appeared on the podcast. “I enjoy the conversational and informal nature of this podcast very much,” she says. “It allows me to engage in high brow theoretical debates without the pretense of high brow theory.”
While he’s never had a student on the podcast, he’s assigned podcasts as a final project for his U.S. Federal Government and Politics class. “I thought it was really fun, I enjoyed them doing it, and I think they definitely liked it more than doing a paper,” he says. John says the assignment allowed him to hear his student’s political voices in a format not often engaged in an academic setting.