Call for Volunteers

As well as your generous support during the Kickstarter, I’m grateful to the many who have given practical help to put the project together – from translation of a Hindi-speaking guest and French-language documents to the extremely evocative theme music.

If you have relevant skills or time, there are a number of ways in which you could become part of this project and make a real difference to its success and impact. Specifically, I am looking for help with transcription, music sourcing, design, animation, and acting.

I believe that skilled work deserves to be paid, and I decry the expectation that people will work for free for “exposure”. I believe this request is somewhat different, though – it’s working for free for the same reason I am: because we want our story to be told.

One of the most important ways of helping isn’t listed. Sharing the episodes and the project with others you think might be interested and reviewing on your podcast provider is always very much appreciated. It really helps get the word out!


A few people have asked if the show could have episode transcripts. I know that some other shows (e.g. On The Media and Our Hen House) create them, and they do make a big difference to a show’s reach and accessibility.

The skills a transcriber needs are an attention to detail, and good spelling and grammar. A basic understanding of HTML tags would help with loading it into WordPress. I could give you my script (though it is often tweaked during recording) and the correct spelling of proper names.

This would be is something with your name on it that wouldn’t happen without your help – so it’s a very visible contribution to the project.

Music Sourcing

It really helps bring the story to life to have appropriate atmospheric music for the time and place being described. But the budget doesn’t stretch to spending the usual fees for stock music on a piece of background mood that would last for a few seconds.

I have sometimes used music available under an open license or by direct permission from the creator. For example, that’s how some historic ancient Greek music performed by Michael Levy and others was used in Episode 3: Pythagoreans.

But other people know more about music than I do, and it would be great to have some help with this.

This task needs a knowledge of music and basic copyright. It would be useful to know about sources which are affordable or open (which for VegHist means PD, CC-BY, or CC-BY-NC), and/or have contacts with people who might allow use. It also involves checking out the interesting questions of what music is apt for each period. (An example of this kind of issue might whether an Indian Raga is appropriate for the Gupta period.)

Judging by my own work on episode 3, this is probably around eight hours work an episode, and you could volunteer for just one show or a couple of related shows. This is especially true if you happen to know one specific historical genre really well. (It breaks down into Indian music; classical Rome; 13th century France; and Europe from the 16th century onwards. The closer it gets to the present, the less time it takes for me to find something apt on MusOpen or the Free Music Archive).

This would help get the project completed more quickly and make a positive creative contribution to improving the show. You’ll get my thanks on the credits page, and the knowledge that you’ve helped tell our story.


There are a number of design projects coming up. I’m planning a Timeline that will improve the way the website presents the episodes; an considering a change to a magazine layout that would help people find things on the site.

These particular projects will involve some image sourcing and resizing. I’m not going to lie and pretend that that’s creatively interesting, but it will really help me to get the whole project done. It needs a basic knowledge of the free image editor GIMP. (Sorry, that’s really what it’s called.)

When I get to the point of a redesign, some advice from a WordPress guru would be greatly appreciated.


Another long-term project would be to turn some of the shows into short animations. At the moment, I put static “listening posts” on YouTube. It would be better to produce shorter animated versions, perhaps with filmed narration. I’d be very happy to collaborate with an animator interested in doing that. It’s a project that either happens as a collaboration, or not at all.


There is a budget for acting, but the budget obviously goes further when dedicated actors offer their services for free. I wasn’t expecting any volunteers, but thus far I have reason to be grateful to Orna Klement and Jeremy Hancock.

This needs professional-level voice acting skills, and (unless you’re in London) your own recording booth. I will hold auditions just as I would for paid actors.

The patriarchy being what it is over the millennia of history, male voices dominate.

I haven’t scripted all episodes, but the future shows need a young to middle-aged female voice with this unsurprising accent:

  • RP

And it needs middle-aged male voices in the following accents:

  • UK/Salford
  • UK/Scottish
  • Portuguese
  • North African / Middle East
  • USA


Many thanks for reading. If you’re interested in helping out, please email me at ian <at> the website name.

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Avatar for Ian McD

About Ian McD

I'm a British new media person with a passion for radio, and interested in the kind of stories best told when we see humans as part of the world of animal minds. I blogged about why I'm producing The Vegan Option.

One response to “Call for Volunteers”

  1. Avatar for Ian McD
    Dr Jo. George says :

    I run JOOT, a theatre Company in Dundee, so could supply you with actors.

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