OK, here goes. Adjusts mic, pats headphones, clears throat. “Hello and welcome to Series Three of If Glasgow’s Walls Could Talk”.   Is that really me?  It seems my work has taken an unexpected new direction and despite the stomach full of fluttering butterflies it’s a great thrill. How did it happen?

My diary marks the date – 27 June – when Glasgow City Heritage Trust (GCHT) launches the third series of  If Glasgow’s Walls Could Talk. And I’m delighted to be joining the team as co-host with GCHT director Niall Murphy.

The podcast first emerged during lockdown when Heritage Officer Silvia Scopa came up with a beautifully simple idea: exploring city heritage and history through the human stories tucked away up every street and stair.

From the first episode in October 2021 – Are You Dancing with Norrie Wilson of Lost Glasgow – the podcast has ventured into city corners of all kinds. Listening to Series One I marvelled at the seemingly boundless knowledge of host Niall Murphy, an architect and award-winning tour guide who became GCHT director in 2023.  Wherever the story lead he could add his own disarming blend of architectural geekery and local insight and he obviously enjoyed every detail.

It wasn’t a surprise. I had first met Niall before he joined GCHT when we were collaborating on an audio walking tour in 2015.

I remember sitting with the  Walking Heads/Inner Ear Team in a café discussing the exciting potential for Glasgow Corners, a lovely quirky audio walking tour sponsored by Scottish Opera to celebrate the grand new corner entrance to the Theatre Royal.  Niall was to be the guide meeting experts on a trail of corner buildings mapped out on the Guidigo App platform. We were captivated then and  Glasgow Corners is still an engrossing journey even though Stop 8 by the Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane now tugs at the heart. Yet, Stop 9 reveals the origin of the Full Monty in a laugh-aloud moment at Burton’s in Buchanan Street.

A mix of old and new

Storytelling. That’s what it’s all about.  Podcasting offers a new direction for old school journalism. I began my working life in print media, interviewing people with notepad and pen (or pencil for faster shorthand). Face to face. Occasionally on a landline. Then typewriters gave way to computers, floppy discs to USB.  By 2010, when Dougal Perman and I co-founded Walking Heads audio tours, smart technology was hurtling towards a world of cloud bursting AI.

Fay Young preparing to co-host If Glasgow's Walls Could Talk

Behind the scenes. With photogenic WidgetB mic, co-host Fay Young connects with Inner Ear’s Anny Deery co-ordinating the recording of each episode.

One thing always leads to another.  In 2021, when the pandemic had disrupted several other projects, I joined the Inner Ear production team of If Glasgow’s Walls Could Talk, Series Two. Undertaking background research for each episode brought the great treat of speaking (via mobile phone or Zoom) with guests in preparation for the recording sessions.

Ironically, during the making of Series Two I just happened to be moving house, moving home after almost half a century in the same old Edinburgh building. Full of family stories, and stuff (lots of old notebooks, even a floppy disc or two). I was just temporarily displaced.  It was our choice, no-one knocked down our door demanding our eviction in the middle of the night. No wrecking ball demolished our house or swept away our street. No-one set fire to our belongings. Even so, the wrench of leaving a family home added to the empathic impact of powerful stories of displacement told by many gifted and passionate people.

Each of the ten guests had extraordinary heartwarming stories to share that reached across time, space and social boundaries: from tenements to trailer parks, from tower blocks to operating theatres, from Alasdair Gray’s Lanark to Glasgow Women’s Library, from ghosts to glasshouses, from archives to activists. Buildings hold human lives.

Listen (if you haven’t already done so) to Series One and Two. And just wait for Series Three which gives voice to people many of whose stories are being told for the first time.

It begins with Niall and I meeting up with the production team one fairly chillly May morning to record a live, on-location conversation with Jaqqui Ogilvie, an absolutely spellbinding guide of Central Station tours.  ‘It is the stories,” she says leading us to the warmer underground,  “it’s the stories that we need to keep telling’

What is podcasting but a wonderful mix of old and new media? A great and growing way to tell stories. To listen and learn from the lives of others.

Brief explanation:  I am co-founder of Walking Heads with Dougal Perman, Alan Gibson and Sharon McLaughlin. Dougal Perman is also  director and co-founder of Inner Ear, producers of If Glasgow’s Walls Could Talk (and, full disclosure, my son). Read more about the making of the series HERE.