How did you both meet?
Lauren: We met through a newspaper ad! Samantha responded to my advert in the Jewish Chronicle for a travelling partner, reluctantly posted at the behest of my parents who didn’t like the idea of me travelling solo to Asia at 26.
I said I’d post it to keep them happy but I never imagined a travelling partner would actually transpire.
We met, we talked and she didn’t really seem my type – she was all fur, high heels and glossy lipstick – but I begrudgingly agreed she could meet me in Vietnam and perhaps we’d go onto Thailand together.
We did end up travelling through Thailand together and I soon discovered how wrong first impressions could be – she was great fun, adventurous and got totally stuck into travelling.
How has your working relationship changed throughout your 20 years of friendship?
Samantha: Lauren and I haven’t really worked together before. Our careers have run in parallel as she has focused on her writing and I’ve focused on my broadcasting. We would often discuss work and give each other advice though.
In recent years I have started writing more about my family life and the trials and tribulations that many of us face as working mums, and Lauren has often proof-read and advised me on some of my pieces which have appeared in the national press. She’s a great sounding-board for ideas!
Why did you decide to set up a podcast looking at mid-life?
Samantha: At this age, women are caught in the guts of midlife: working, earning, parenting, trying to be good daughters, partners, sisters, friends and, as journalists, a germ of an idea began to take hold.
We kept thinking, what if we could do a podcast for women like us? Something to make us laugh, give us ideas, interviewing women in midlife who could inspire us.
And so, It’s a Grown Up Life was born, our first episode launched last month – 20 years after our friendship started – and there’ll be one coming every two weeks. I certainly couldn’t have a better friend to do it with. The podcast is about us, the people we know, the chats we already have, only now we’re recording them.
What sort of segments and ideas feature in the podcast?
Samantha: We discuss news stories that have piqued our interest which are relevant to midlife women, recommend TV and books in different genres and we also have a guest spot with a high profile woman about her ‘grown up life’.
So far, we’ve talked to BBC presenter Louise Minchin, author Erin Kelly, actress and impressionist Francine Lewis and we also have Samantha Cameron and S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens lined up. We have a “grown up” talking point each episode too where we tackle some of the big midlife issues with experts who really know their stuff.
We’ve already covered parenting style conflicts, the health checks we should be getting in midlife and how to tackle the midlife crisis and there are so many more interesting topics to come. We also have a ‘grown ups gone mad’ section featuring funny stories in the news that make us laugh.
Lauren, how does your freelance work help you in thinking of topics and guests for the podcast?
I’m always scouring the papers and everything online for ideas anyway and have lots of contacts through the stories I write for the nationals – the problem is I have too many ideas and too many guest possibilities!
Samantha, how different is hosting the podcast compared with your “more traditional” broadcasting role at the BBC?
Obviously reading the news is a totally different beast. When I go into work I’m telling the audience and reacting to the big events of the day – interviewing high profile politicians and experts on usually pretty serious issues and obviously remaining impartial at all times.
Doing this podcast gives me the freedom to bring in my own thoughts, views, interests and passions and also more of my own personality. What people are telling us they love about our podcast is listening to two genuinely good friends have a chat about our lives and what’s going on in the world that’s relevant to us and other midlife women.
What is your relationship like with PRs? How can they best work with you?
Lauren: I have a great relationship with PRs and have always worked well with them in order to get their clients’ stories out there in a way that services them and the paper or magazine I am writing for.
But you can’t beat a PR who understands exactly what you’re doing and targets your audience accurately – in this case, by listening to our podcast and knowing the types of guests/features that could really fit well and enhance the content.
Finally, what is the best thing about midlife?
Lauren: It has to be knowing myself better, being more confident and not being afraid to try something new! Life is so short and I don’t want to have any regrets.
- Pictured: Lauren Libbert (left) and Samantha Simmonds