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A CSD Podcast Star is Born

September 24, 2019
Dr. Hogan, left, with Emily Zimmerman of Northeastern University, one of many guests - including several IHP colleagues - she has interviewed on "See, Hear, Speak."
Dr. Hogan, left, with Emily Zimmerman of Northeastern University, one of many guests - including several IHP colleagues - she has interviewed on "See, Hear, Speak."

Dr. Tiffany Hogan’s “See, Hear, Speak” has become destination listening for speech-language pathologists.

The idea of starting a podcast began for Tiffany Hogan during a meeting she had with two SLP students last summer about an online class they were taking with her. The students felt that what she was teaching should be heard by a larger audience.

“They told me that I should do one, and my initial thought was ‘That’s crazy.’ I mean, I hadn’t even listened to a podcast before,” Dr. Hogan, a professor of speech-language pathology and director of the MGH Institute’s Speech and Language Literacy Lab, or SAiL, says with a laugh. “But by the time they left, I knew I had to do it somehow.”

She approached it as she would one of her research projects, by exploring myriad resources on how to start a podcast. She discovered that only one other speech pathology professor was doing a podcast and it was unrelated to language and reading, the topics she studies. She chose a title, “See, Hear, Speak,” adding the tagline “Interesting conversations with people who care about reading, language, and speech in the developing child” because it described her research.

“I have to admit that I was nervous at first about what would happen if it failed,” she recalls. “It was something I could incorporate into my course so I knew at least my students would listen.”

It usually takes a new podcast at least two years for it to be listened to 20,000 times, an established threshold of success in the industry; hers reached that level in less than nine months. And while she already is recognized as an expert in her field, it has become commonplace for people to approach her at conferences to say how much they enjoy listening.

“It has a larger listening audience than I ever imagined it would have,” she says. Hogan approaches the podcast, each episode of which takes about 20 hours to complete, as a hobby. Most of her time is spent developing a topic, corresponding with and sending the talking points to guests, and writing the opening and closing segments. The easiest and simplest part is the actual interview, where Hogan turns on the mic at the start and turns it off when she and the guests are finished; little to no post-production editing is needed.

Hogan likens her success to having excellent guests discuss topical issues. “I view my role as similar to an investigative journalist where people come in and I ask them about what they are doing,” she explains. “I don’t talk about my own research unless I can add something of value to the conversation.”

A wide array of researchers, clinicians, and faculty—including several from the MGH Institute—have been featured on the 14 episodes, seven of which dropped in July to accompany one of the online courses. And while she knows researchers will always publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and in books, she notes those media outlets just don’t have the reach of a broadcast. “Presenting information on a podcast can unlock the information for a whole different audience,” she says.

One thing that sets Hogan’s podcast apart from just about any other, speech-related or not, is an accompanying website that includes a full transcript of each episode, complete with links to articles and other details discussed during the broadcast. “That’s the professor in me,” she says. “I want people listening to be able to use this information. If any of this helps other people, then it will have been worth doing it.”

- John Shaw