As host of N2K’s T-minus Space Daily podcast, Maria Varmazis focuses on providing space professionals with the daily need-to-know news, technology updates, financial deals and more, that help them do their jobs effectively. The podcast aims to be relevant to a diverse audience in or adjacent to the space industry, ranging from marketing personnel who are new to a space-focused company, to those who have been working in the space industry for decades.
While she has been in cybersecurity for most of her career, Maria is new to covering this industry, despite being a “space geek” her whole life. The T-Minus Space Daily podcast gives her the opportunity to talk about what she loves for a living – with particular interests in space policy, space cybersecurity and the increasing involvement of artificial intelligence (AI) in it all.
On the latest episode of Inside the Media Minds, Maria and co-hosts Christine Blake and Luca Pagni dive behind the scenes of the daily space podcast and key industry trends Maria is keeping a pulse on.
The Human Touch Behind Podcasts & Company Storytelling
A major theme for the T-Minus Space Daily show is workforce development, and Maria’s goal is to support others coming into the field who are new but share a common passion for space. This focus on people is what drives Maria’s guest selection. She recounts how her most memorable episodes have been when interviewees are willing to connect on a human level and share their personal stories and experiences beyond quick soundbites.
Maria foresees this type of storytelling to become a more crucial component for commercial space companies this year. “Taking their own narrative a bit more seriously” and not solely relying on the technology to tell the story will be a huge differentiator for those companies wishing to expand their customer base and have long-term longevity.
To hear more from Maria on her experiences hosting a daily podcast and what’s in store, listen to the full podcast below or read the transcript!
0:44 – Maria’s Background in Journalism & Content Creation
4:27 – T-Minus Focus Areas & Maria’s Topics of Interest
7:52 – The Origin Story of the T-Minus Podcast
10:17 – Coordinating a Daily Podcast
13:20 – Maria’s Podcast Teammates
14:46 – Maria’s Most Memorable Episode
16:37 – The Human Connection in Podcast Shows
18:32 – How AI Will Make Waves in Space
21:09 – Maria’s Mentality for Satellite and Space Events
23:15 – Commercialization & Consolidation in the Space Industry
25:12 – Future Projects for the T-Minus Team
27:18 – Maria’s Preference on PR Pitches
29:20 – Deciphering Technical Lingo
31:28 – Maria’s Hobbies Outside of N2K
Miss a past episode of Inside the Media Minds and want to catch up? Check out our past episodes here!
Christine Blake (CB): Hi everyone, this is Christine Blake, the host of Inside the Media Minds podcast. And I’m here with my co-host today, Luca Pagni, one of my colleagues, and we are excited to be interviewing Maria Varmazis, the host of T-Minus Daily Podcast on N2K Networks. So thanks, Maria, for coming on. We’re so excited to talk with you today.
Maria Varmazis (MV): Thank you so much for having me. It’s a joy to be here.
CB: Yeah, we’re a big fan of the podcast. And we just would love to kind of start off the conversation with an overview of your background. I know you’ve been podcaster, journalist, content creator, you have over 15 years of experience in space and cybersecurity. So, we’d just love to hear about your background a little bit.
MV: Sure, yeah. My my professional background is in journalism and content creation. So, I have done the dance that a lot of people in our world have done where I’ve been both the in-house Comms and PR person. And then I was a journalist, and then went back to in house. Um most of my experience is in the tech world. So, cybersecurity is sort of the, the place where I’ve been for the longest in my career. Space is actually kind of newer to me. I’ve always been a space geek, but I’ve only been working in the professional space world for a little over a year now.
So, it’s been quite a transition going from uh basically either on the outside or the inside of cybersecurity comms going to space, which is, in some ways, very similar, in some ways, very different from the cybersecurity world. So, um, but yeah, I’ve been on both sides of the of the lane, so to speak. And um it’s been incredible. My career has taken some really weird twists and turns. Never thought I’d get to actually talk about the thing I love so much for a living, but it’s I’m so glad to be doing it.
CB: That’s awesome. So how did you get into the space realm after cybersecurity?
MV: It is the funniest story. I went to a NASA event, let’s say two years ago, um independently just on my own as sort of just my own self. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was sort of being scouted by the people who are now my employer. And they were thinking of starting a space podcast, but they couldn’t think of anybody who could be a good host for this show, apparently. And they didn’t know if I would be interested in space at all. Apparently, I was on their radar. But they didn’t, they were like, “Oh, Maria is not a space person. She’s all cybersecurity.” Until they saw that I was at a NASA event. I was actually at the first web images unveiling at Goddard Space Center. And it was one of the best experiences of my life.
And so, I guess those tweets let them know that I’m a giant space nerd. That indeed, I might have some opinions and some thoughts on space. So um, we started a conversation about a month after I got back. And I started working sort of pitching myself as a space correspondent on their flagship show the CyberWire where my job was sort of to come up with three stories a month that related space and cybersecurity, if I could, that was quite a challenge. But they are, there are such stories. And essentially, as I started figuring out how their internal processes worked, and they got to know me, I didn’t realize that they were thinking of offering me a host job at the time, but it was sort of hinted at. And then we started talking about what if there’s enough there for us to do a daily show and half a year later then we actually started T-Minus Space Daily, so.
CB: I love that. That’s such a cool, like organic story just based on your interest. And they probably noticed that you have a great podcast voice as well.
MV: Didn’t hurt. Yeah, it’s I’d been doing cybersecurity podcasting for oh my gosh, five or six years by that point. So, that’s how they knew me was from the shows that I had been on at that time, including the CyberWire, but other ones other ones included Smashing Security that they knew me from as well. So, that’s how I was on their radar. I didn’t know this, This was all happening without my knowledge. Yeah, so they, when they came up to me and said, “Hey, would you be interested in doing stuff about space?” I was just like, yeah, absolutely. I love space.
CB: I love that. That’s so great.
Luca Pagni (LP): Such an amazing story. And you know, really cool to hear, you know, like Christina already said, is really organic and a natural fit for you. So, as a podcast host, kind of, could you tell us a little bit more about like the premise of the show, the topics that you really like to dive into? But also, you know, curious if you’ve been doing this for almost a year now, what topic has really grabbed your attention the most in doing this so far?
MV: Oh my gosh. It’s hard to pick. So T-Minus Space Daily is the daily intelligence report for space professionals. That’s the pitch. We, the way I try to phrase it to people is the, we’re sort of like space tapas, or space meze because I’m Greek, like little bits and bites of what are things that space professionals need to know to do their jobs. So, when I use the phrase, space professionals, I don’t mean well, people just think rocket scientist, and that’s not who I’m aiming at. We’re trying to reach people who work in any capacity in the space industry or adjacent to the space industry. So, this could be your marketing person who maybe has just transitioned to a new job in a space company and is new to the field, and is trying to get up to speed on like what matters in this world. Same thing with people who’ve been working in space economy for decades. We want to be relevant to all those folks. So, we’re trying to give them little bits and bites about what they can know to help do their job better, help them feel informed, help them understand what’s going on in the ecosystem.
So that’s the first part of your question. The second part of what what interests me, oh, my gosh, what doesn’t interest me. We always want to know about, you know, financial deals, and that that information can be, you know, it can be a little dry. But it’s it’s good to know who’s making money. I mean, that’s kind of important when we’re talking about business. Tech is always interesting. But to me, the challenge with talking about tech in a space podcast is that the tech is almost always interesting. So, we have to be a little discriminating about, is this tech that’s actually going to go anywhere, or is this just pure theoretical? Which can be a very difficult thing to figure out sometimes. So we have to be a little bit careful about what we cover there. But to me, honestly, um, the intersection of space and cybersecurity is a huge one for me, personally, given my professional background. Space and geopolitics and policy right now, huge. AI, which everybody’s really interested in. But seriously, the use of AI and space is just so massive. And I mean, it’s I know, it’s almost cliche to even bring it up at this point about how AI is going to change stuff.
MV: I’m so fascinated by the different applications of AI and space already. So that’s just been so fun to cover. Workforce development’s a big one that we focus on in our show because it’s part of our mission. But and I also for me, that’s personal, because I consider myself sort of like new to space. So, I’m workforce developing myself. So that one’s kind of one for me that I’m interested in, what we can do to support bringing more people into the field and developing folks who are in it, keeping people who are want to be in space, in space. And let’s see for for tech, like optical satellite links, inter-satellite links, having satellites talk to each other, I think is super neat. And a lot of people think that satellites do that already. And they don’t. So, watching that tech take off I think is super neat. Yeah, I could go down a rabbit hole in terms of all kinds of tech that I’m interested in. But yeah, there’s broad strokes there. Like space and policy, space cybersecurity, AI. Yeah, I think that covers it.
LP: I mean, there’s definitely a lot to talk about amongst all those things, like you said, and they’re all definitely interesting topics. So definitely can understand that.
MV: It’s hard to choose.
LP: Yeah, definitely. And I know, we just kind of, you know, went in your, you know, journey of how you joined the podcast, or kind of how it found you. But could you tell us a little more about like the origin story, what inspired the team to decide, you know what? We want to start this podcast, and here we are.
MV: Yeah, yeah. So, it’s it’s to me fascinating that it’s, it was sort of a confluence of an internal discussion happening at N2K, which was before I joined. So I I’m recounting this. I was not part of this discussion. But this is as I understand it. So N2K started with cybersecurity. That is really the what a lot of people know it for, for the CyberWire especially. And I think what was going on for several years as people at N2K were hearing the conversation about space just kept coming up a lot more in conversation as sort of, hey, something’s happening there, people are, there’s a lot of investment happening there. But a lot of people also need to know what’s going on, and they can’t find the information they want. So, I think part of it was the N2K team keeping their ear to the ground and just noticing that conversation. It probably doesn’t hurt that N2K headquarters is in the DC area. So, there’s a lot of those conversations happening around DC. And people were just noticing.
And around the same time we were seeing the special, what are they, the SPACs, the special purpose acquisition company bubble burst in in the world of space. So 2022-23, a lot of those companies that got money from the special, I never remember the SPACs, a lot of companies that were getting that money, the money from the SPACs, they were starting to sort of um consolidate, or maybe they weren’t as solvent as they were hoping. And there was a lot of conversation happening about like, well, that was a huge bubble. What really matters now because we thought that that was going to be the thing that was going to really buoy the space industry, and maybe that’s not the thing. So what is it that a professional needs to know, to help keep their company on the, you know, front of mind, help them raise money, helps them stay relevant,? And I think they N2K team was realizing there was a need there. And that given what they had been doing with the CyberWire in helping provide daily intelligence for cybersecurity professionals, they thought well, is that a model that we could adapt, not just copy but just adapt to space? So that’s what we’ve been trying to do the last year, but we’re also trying to do it in our own way.
LP: That’s awesome. And I I love that you say that, instead of just replicate you’re adapting it and you know, really catering to the needs. Really love that.
CB: Yeah, know I mentioned this earlier, but we’re a big, big fans of N2K and CyberWire. And I know our team listens to all the podcasts a lot. I know, for daily podcast that takes a lot of coordination and logistics and preparation. How do you approach that piece, Maria?
MV: Oh, my goodness. Well, as cliche as it is, it’s true, it is a huge team effort. I am certainly not alone. My amazing producer, Alice Carruth is just a goddess, frankly. But she she and I work in close tandem with our executive producer, Jen Eiben. And it’s literally, we’re just on Slack all day.
MV: It’s it’s very unglamorous. But that is the reality. We have a daily stand up meeting every day at 10, usually runs at least a half an hour, where we’re going through all the press releases that we’ve received, emails that we’ve gotten for personal outreach from from potential sources. Of course, we’re going through our various news sources as well. And we’re trying to figure out, okay, what matters, what do we think is going to be relevant to our audience today? What, what do we need to put at the top of the podcast, what do we call it, the upper half of the- Sorry, I’m trying to think of like the newspaper analogy, and I’m failing.
CB: Oh, above the fold.
MV: Above the fold, thank you. Thank you. It’s been so long since I thought of a newspaper. Yeah, the above the fold kind of news for for the podcast. So, what what what’s going to be our top story for the day? Why do we think that’s our top story. We often have a friendly argument about it, which is sort of the highlight of our day. So, we’re advocating for, like, what our best story is going to be. Because if we can’t argue it to each other, how are we going to be advocating it for our listeners. So, we have to make sure we feel confident about that. And we do the same process for all the stories that we talk about, even if it’s just the two or three sentences mentioned in the show. There are, we get, we get so many stories every day, we can’t cover them all. So we do have to make sure that we feel confident somebody working in this field really needs to know this, or this will help them today. Sometimes it’s, maybe the story goes to tomorrow show because it’s not super timely. But you know, if it’s something like a launch or an anomaly or something they need to know that obviously, but you know, even if it’s a fundraise, you know, if this is a competitor or somebody in their field, would it be helpful for them to know today, like, hey, they raised this money. That’s something that we talk about a lot in our show.
So that part of the the discussion is often the skeleton of the show itself. And um from that point, basically, Alice and I started working parallel lanes. I’m usually doing interviewing during the day, she’s often working on all the produce production work that she has to do as well, getting guests writing up the scripts, we kind of do that part in tandem. And then usually mid afternoon, East Coast time we record the Daily Show, so it’s out by around five o’clock every day. So, we have to make sure we give our amazing production team time that they need, especially if they want to do some fun sound design. Or if, as sometimes happens, I mispronounce or mess up a word I have to go and rerecord it. We need to make sure that we have people listening to it and catching my flubs. So, but yeah, I have to get everything locked in usually by early afternoon East Coast time to make it to that day show.
CB: Good to know. Yeah, it’s I think it’s really important to cover topics with your audience in mind. And it sounds like you all put such an effort towards doing that. Which is really important. And I’m sure that’s why you get so many listeners and a big a big audience.
MV: It’s it’s something- Oh, thank you. It’s something that we it’s it’s really part of our shows DNA. And Alice has an amazing background professionally working at Spaceport America. She has so many contacts in the professional space world. And she also has a great mind for the stories that are have to do with infrastructure, which is something that we on our show we’re really passionate about. We know that infrastructure is not like the sexiest thing, but it’s so important. Especially we’re talking about space. So we we really want to, she has a great mind for that.
And then our VP Brandon Karpf. He is a Navy veteran. So, he has a really great military experience that he brings to bear when we talk about stories that affect military space. And I’m just a geek, so I just have sort of like a general techie perspective, but we all kind of come at it with different angles. And and and that can sometimes, we don’t, sometimes if there’s a military story, and I don’t quite understand the why this matters. That’s the question I’ll go, “Hey Brandon, can you help me parse this one?” Same thing for infrastructure or you know something about a spaceport. Alice is really great at helping me understand that. And I’m like the go to for something about Star Trek seems to be my lane.
CB: That’s awesome. I know we want to dig into some of like the current topics and things you’re covering, but I’m just curious too. What is one of the most memorable episodes that you’ve recorded so far, whether it be a guest or a topic? Every day I know there’s so many to pick from right?
MV: There’s so many. My goodness. For me, my my favorite guest was Charles F. Bolden. He was a former NASA administrator and a NASA astronaut. And I got to speak to him for half an hour, and he told me basically his life story. And he has an incredible life story. And he was very generous in sharing the the things that he’s been through, how he oh, my goodness, his whole story is is really amazing. I just encourage people to listen to it. But he was also really generous in his reflections on his career, and how he also takes his mission very seriously in helping mentor the next generations of people coming up through the space industry, especially underrepresented folks. So you know that that is just so important.
So, his conversation really stuck with me for quite a long time. There are a lot of guests that I speak to where I I honestly go into the conversation not knowing what on earth to expect, and I walk away going, “That was one of the coolest conversations I’ve had in ages.” And it’s it’s, as much as like, I love talking to engineers, sometimes it’s things like talking to an architect. I wasn’t expecting, like space architecture to be so interesting, because I didn’t know anything about it. And and that just kind of blows my mind. Goodness. The, in terms of the new stories that we’ve covered, oh, gosh, there are so many. Trying, can I pick a favorite? Can I pass on that one? I don’t want to have to pick a favorite.
CB: No, it’s fine. I like you answered the question about the guest. And I think that’s, that’s a great answer. Because I think those personal, like human stories are the ones that really resonate well with listeners, of course, right? And you’re talking about workforce development, and the importance of that, and I think connecting it to the human experience is ultimately like, really important.
MV: Yeah. And it’s it is it’s challenged when we’re talking about podcasts in general, that some guests do treat a podcast interview, like they would, you know, a phone interview for a written piece. Which is fine, and I understand that. But if you can, if you have someone who’s willing to connect on a human to human level, and if I am doing my job as a host and giving them that space, that is what makes incredible podcast audio. It does require mutual trust, and that’s, but that’s what makes a podcast really effective. And when I get a guest who’s willing to go that place with me, and trust me with their story, it just those conversations stay with me forever.
And like Charles F Bolden’s story, I’m still I’m getting a little choked up thinking about it and it was several months ago. But there were so many other guests I can think of like him where they really trusted me. And it’s like such an honor that they did. And these are the conversations and interviews that I’m talking about with my friends over dinner who have no interest in space. But I go, you really want to listen to that one because they were talking about, you know, this thing or that thing. And it’s it’s so human. And that’s where podcasts really can be just amazing.
CB: Oh, yeah. It’s that storytelling. We’ll have to go back and and listen in to that one. Now. I’m curious, you have my my interest.
MV: I’m so glad!
CB: I know we wanted to shift into some of like, the current events in the space arena. I have a question actually about about it that you brought up earlier. And it was, of course, like cringy talking about it like AI, again. I’m just curious. You mentioned like, there’s so many different applications of AI in space.
MV: I know.
CB: Yeah. I’m just curious, like, where you see that going in this year, 2024? Like, maybe it’s an open ended question. But like, what extent like do you see AI making huge waves in space, like what is one form of application in space that you’re seeing AI take?
MV: Oh, man. There’s there’s two I there’s really two areas. And if I knew all of them, I would probably be a bazillionaire. And and not podcasting so.
CB: Fair enough. Fair enough
MV: But the two areas that I’m I I am personally very interested in is seeing companies taking the reams of data from space from satellites, and sorting through it in a useful way using AI to really speed up that process and also give much more insightful information to their end user. And that, to me is where space technology can really connect, especially when we’re talking to the consumer set, which is not usually where we’re talking about space stuff. But that is where a lot of fascinating things are happening. Especially since right now there’s a lot of consolidation happening on the hardware side, so to speak of space, because it’s so capital intensive. So, a lot of software gains can be made. So, if AI can come in and take that data that’s already common from a satellite to the ground station, and and really make something useful out of that, there the gains could just be absolutely out of this world. Sorry for the cliche.
CB: Love it.
MV: Yes, the the other one is seeing, this is more theoretical, but I know it is happening at least on a demo level. AI that’s actually on satellites doing processing on the actual satellite itself before the data comes down to earth.
CB: Oh wow.
MV: Yeah, to speed up basically what’s being served back to Earth. So instead of being like here’s a satellite just dumping all this data and figure it out on the ground, the satellite itself is going, that information is not relevant, that information is not relevant. I’m just gonna send you this bit, which I know you’re gonna want. That, to me is just massive. Just having a satellite thinking at that level is just huge.
CB: That’s really cool.
CB: That’s a great example.
MV: Yeah, I’ve seen more of that. It’s just I mean, I, I, if I knew more about how that’s going to be applied, as I said, I probably wouldn’t be doing podcastomg. But every time I, something comes across the wire, so to speak, about a, you know, satellite tech company demonstrating something like that, or proving it, I just go, “That is so neat.”
CB: That’s a game changer for sure.
MV: Yeah, it sure is.
LP: You know, kind of on that topic of, you know, seeing different vendors show off these, you know, old gadgets and different technologies, you know. We’re coming up on the season of satellite and space industry conferences. There’s plenty coming up, you know, in the near term, and then plenty more coming up towards the latter half of the year. Just wanted to get your thoughts. What, what’s kind of your mentality when you go to these events? What kind of gives you the most value in attending them?
MV: Yeah, I well, I will just say it’s, the space industry has a lot of events. Way more than I realized when I first started this job. It’s kind of amazing how much a lot of space work is still very much face to face. So, the the term that I adopted from this, my cybersecurity years is “Lobby-con,” which is just it’s as much as you know, the panels are great, and you know, all that kind of stuff is nice, it’s those face to face, those face to face interactions in the hallway. If there’s a table or a booth, those are always nice. But I you know, my mics not on, I just want to talk to you, human to human, to get a sense of like, what you’re up to, what’s your story, getting hallway sound at a con, uh, usually for a podcast is very difficult. It’s doable, but tough.
And I know a lot of people at a conference are kind of in a, I’m here to do a thing, I’m not necessarily here to engage the media. And I get that. So for me, it’s just I want to meet you as a person, I want you to know that, you know, I am here and I’m here to help bring your story to my show. But I’m not here to like be the boogeyman or anything like that. So, those personal connections are really what I seek out when I’m at a a show. And if I can get an interview in a quiet room, awesome, if I you know, if we can prearrange it fantastic. That’s always, I want to come away from a show if I can, with pre-booked interviews done in a nice environment at the show. Awesome. But even if all it is, is I’m having those Lobby-con conversations, and we’re setting up a time for later. That’s fantastic. Because then when we meet, and we’re on the podcast studio, we’ve already gone through sort of the intros, we trust each other a bit, and we can have really interesting conversations.
LP: Definitely, yeah, that sounds like a great way to kind of approach conferences in general. And just kind of, you know, as we’re saying, you know, you see a bunch of vendors at these conferences, and you know, it feels like every single year, there’s more and more, we’ve seen kind of an emergence of like commercialization in the space industry over the past few years. How do you kind of see this continuing to grow? Like, what kind of journey do you think that’s going down?
MV: Oh, goodness. Yeah. The the key word I keep hearing for 2024, anyway, is consolidation, which is not not the greatest word. I don’t think anyone’s going to be too surprised to see some kind of consolidation happening or continuing to happen within the space industry. One thing that I hope on a very macro level, and on a very macro level will happen in the commercial space industry is for companies to get a little more mature in how they’re telling their story. And I don’t mean like going on podcasts talking to me. How they’re communicating on their own about what they’re doing. There are still a lot of space companies that are operating in the realm of I’ve got great tech, and that will tell its own story. Why do I need to have a professional communicator tell the world about what I’m doing, because the tech speaks for itself? Which is, I come from the tech world, I get it, I understand you only need an engineer and a sales guy, right? That’s the mentality and then you’re good. That’s that’s your company. But the if you’re still operating on that mentality of “I’ve got great tech, that’s all I need.” I mean, then you’re going to really limit not just your customer base, but you know, your long term longevity.
And I really hope to see commercial space companies taking their own narrative more seriously. So, I there are so many companies doing a great job at that, and I just want to see more of that. And I think more companies will realize that that is actually a differentiator for them. That if you can tell a really compelling story that other people can easily parse and reshare, it kind of makes your company viral. Why wouldn’t you want that? I’m always impressed when I see a space company doing that, and I just hope other companies will take note.
LP: Definitely, I think that’s yeah, very valuable advice for really any company to kind of take to heart.
CB: Mhm. Are there any, like projects or stories that you’re currently looking into? Or that you’re specifically looking to learn more about in the next coming months?
MV: Oh, goodness. Yeah, for me. So right now, we’re still very much running. You know, the the daily show that is that is our priority. I am interested in doing more long form stories, working on partnerships with companies, if they’ve got, you know, a long form story that they want to tell about the development of something, not just hey, here, we did this thing, here it is. But maybe actually following along as something is in development or about to launch, that is very interesting to me.
There, right now, for me, the intersection of space and cybersecurity is a big one. So that is honestly a big interest of mine. So that is something that I’m continuing to emphasize for what I’m looking for, as well as, again, workforce development is a massive one. Because I feel like that topic comes up in almost every conversation I have, even if has nothing to do with workforce initially, somebody will mention it by the end of that conversation. So, there are a lot of conversations happening across the space industry about, hey, we have to fix our retention problem, or, hey, we have to fix our pipeline problem. And there are a lot of proposed solutions. But I’m curious about what’s actually working, and what isn’t, and why. So there, I think the industry has a lot of knowledge that it can share, and I’m interested in helping to bring that up to bear a little more. I mean, technology conversations are always fascinating, always love to have those conversations, and they’re always going to be going on because it’s space, and space is all about like new nerdy tech. Given, but the people side is the part that I really, I think there can be a lot of really good conversations, and I want to help do my part in in raising those conversations up.
CB: Yeah, that makes sense. And that’s actually a really good segue into one of our listener questions here as we start to wrap up a bit. But how do you prefer to be pitched by organizations? I’m sure you get emails and your producer does as well trying to get on the show and get interviewed. Any best practices for organizations or PR folks looking to work with you and be on the podcast?
MV: Yeah. I mean, we read as many press releases as we can. As I said earlier, I’m very sympathetic to PR teams and comms teams, I know how busy you all are. So, I’m not one of those people who’s like, I get it because I’ve been in your shoes, so I understand. My, my best practice advice would be try to make your just, even though we are a b2b podcast, we are basically business to people. Because podcasts really are about connecting to people in a way that’s more intimate than someone just reading something on the screen.
So for me, it’s always remember the human as the cliche phrase is. You know, someone’s hearing my voice in their ears. That’s, that is just more human than just, you know, a written thing on the screen. So, I know it’s asking a lot. But if people can remember to reduce the amount of jargon and that I have to actually be able to parse what you’re saying that that goes a long way. I mean, I’m a nerd, I can figure stuff out. But the less work I have to do to figure out what your press release is about, the better.
CB: I love that. Less jargon, the better. Mhm.
MV: Yeah, truly less jargon, the better. And then if there is a human angle, something to humanize your story. I know that is not always possible. But if there is one, that’s always great. And as always, since we’re a podcast, if you have someone who’s willing to talk to me for an interview, if you can mention that, hey, we’ve got somebody who’s willing to talk to you. We are not like you have to talk to us same day. We we’re happy to schedule things out. But if you’ve got someone who’s willing to talk, that is always great. And we love to interview people. Mhm. Good to know.
LP: Yeah. And actually, this is another listener question, I think ties in really well to that. What have been some of your challenges in talking in this, you know, very technical and jargon-filled space of, you know, it’s very high, highly technical, complex area, and how are you able to, you know, parse it and make it, you know, easier to digest for your audience, like, how, what’s been your approach to that?
MV: Well, it it is tough. Especially I’m not a rocket scientist. I’m sure people will be shocked to hear that. I I I mean, my, my approach is I approach things and my guest with humility, and I will just fess up, hey, you’re gonna be talking to me about quantum cryptography. That’s a tough thing for me to understand. I need you to explain it to me, like a beginner. Even if I might know more than I let on. I will just start that conversation being like, please just go real easy on me and I’m going to ask you some really basic questions. I promise you I’m doing this for a reason. Even if, most guests especially people who are professionally media trained, they’re they they’re used to it, but sometimes you get someone who’s new and it’s like, you can see them sort of rolling their eyes like, ugh, why is she asking me this. And I will preface it. Like, I realize that this is a very basic question, but just bear with me here.
So for me, it’s humility. I am never going to know as much as my guests and I’m cool with that. I don’t expect to. My job is to be the proxy for the listener who, maybe they are rocket scientists, that is actually very possible with my show. But I if I pretend to be one, they will clock me instantly, so to speak, so I’m not going to pretend to be one. Yeah, so not being afraid to ask really basic questions. But on the flip side, the challenges that I’ve had, sometimes I will get a guest who just talks at me because like their reciting sort of a speech that they have given or a panel presentation that they’ve given, and it’s super hard to figure out where to kind of jut in. That is always a challenge, especially if someone’s like an academic and they’re just in didactic mode. It’s not a conversation then. So, I would say if you are coming to guest on the podcast, or you are prepping someone, just to remind them that it’s it’s a conversation, so make sure they pause and allow for questions, that would be ideal.
CB: Mhm. Very good advice that I think sometimes is lost. People get nervous and all that stuff, but that’s very good insight.
CB: I always like to wrap up with something a little bit more personally, personal. I know you’ve mentioned on at least on your Twitter bio, that you’re a road cyclist and artist, and we always like to hear what you’re interested in outside of work and space.
MV: Yeah, so I am an artist. I tell people all the time. I’m a cartoonist, which-
MV: Yeah, I do cartooning. So for me, narratives are really my life in all aspects. I’m fascinated by how people build narratives and tell those stories, especially with visuals and words working together. But I am also a very slow road road cyclist, I really like to ride my bike. I am not out there and like her all the time. But I’m, I’m not in the greatest of physical form, so I don’t look like your typical road cyclist. But I I do really enjoy being on my bike. It’s one of the activities my husband and I really like to do together. Yeah, so that’s I actually just signed up for a charity ride yesterday- That I’m going to be training for. So, I’m really excited about that.
Yeah, I also really liked doing really homey things like gardening and baking and weaving, like I have a, which nobody can see, except for the two of you. But I have a a textile that I wove myself a couple of years ago, sort of help. Yeah. It helps me sort of feel connected to to my ancestry. So, it’s something I like to do to sort of keep that alive. So yeah, I have like a very domestic side, which feels like the diametric of opposition of being a space tech geek. But I do like some really lofi stuff as well.
CB: Oh cool! That’s impressive
LP: I gotta say, pun fully intended, sometimes you have to come back to earth.
MV: Agreed! Yeah, no, I totally agree.
CB: I like that. That’s great. No, thanks for for sharing that. You’re a very clearly passionate person about a number of things which is, which is really admirable. And you’re you’re extremely talented podcast host and personable. So, we’re really excited that we got to talk to you more today and learn more about the podcast itself and your approach to it. So, thank you so much for coming on our show, Maria.
MV: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a joy.
CB: Great. Well, for everyone listening. Thanks for tuning into this episode of Inside the Media Minds. And be sure to follow Maria, and all of her great podcasts every day. Thank you.