Katty Kay Launching First Podcast With BBC and Carlos Watson

Katty Kay and Carlos Watson are adding podcast series host to their list of media jobs.

Kay, political journalist, broadcaster and author (she’s working to finish another book) on Friday will launch a podcast for the BBC World Service, cohosted with Carlos Watson, a former broadcaster who is the cofounder of Ozy Media, the production partner for the new series. It’s Kay’s first podcast, and while she’s been thinking about doing one for a while, getting a cohost is what sealed the deal for her.

“When Carlos ticked into place, that was the right opportunity,” Kay said. “I didn’t want to do a podcast where I, alone, was just talking to people. I’ve cohosted a show for the last few years and found that I quite like having a cohost.”

Watson noted that the conversation about a podcast started with the BBC around his new eponymous YouTube show, which in about six weeks has racked up 40 million views.

“The good folks at the BBC said, ‘We love what you’re doing, but you’re not doing anything new in radio or broadcast!’” Watson, who has been an anchor for CNN and a commentator for NBC, said. “I’ve always admired Katty and her work and it’s so exciting to be doing this with the world’s biggest broadcaster. It’s an incredibly high bar.”

The show came together only in the last month, Kay said, “which is light speed for the BBC.” Dubbed “When Katty Met Carlos,” the show will have the hosts discussing big political and social issues in the U.S., of which there are almost too many to choose from, aimed at an international audience. Apparently, people abroad are clamoring for information and insight into American issues and politics.

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“This is my fifth American election, and the world, of course, is usually interested in what’s going on in America, but this time the world is really on tenterhooks,” Kay, who is British but has lived in Washington, D.C., for years, said. “I’ve never known the world to be more interested in America than right now.”

She noted that viewership of BBC World Service “matches enormously” to the news that comes out of or about the White House. 

But the podcast, set for seven weekly episodes, is not an election podcast, Kay stressed, despite its launch being only six weeks until the U.S. presidential election. Each episode will center on a theme or subject, like race, health, prosperity or technology, and Kay and Watson will discuss with each other and relevant guests.

Watson, who was just part of an Emmy win for “Black Women Own the Conversation,” a coproduction between Ozy and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, wants the podcast with Kay to be a place where listeners can hear from “a broader set of people.”

“People want more depth,” Watson said. “Smart is cool again and I know it’s a weird thing to say in the era of fake news and TikTok and short attention spans, but it’s showing up as part of an evolving society of young, hungry curious people.”

Similarly, Kay wants the podcast to be a place where people abroad can come to hear a conversation between a range of voices about big issues and “seismic shifts” in the U.S., where politicians and leaders of culture and business can have “frank conversations” on a different theme or issue each week. None of the episodes are been pretaped.

For the first episode this week, Kay and Watson are set to discuss America’s long and ongoing history of racism and joining them will be a South African journalist who made it through apartheid and has been living in the U.S. for the last couple of years.

“I want to hear his perspective, if there’s a way to get to a better place,” Kay said. “Having a thoughtful conversation that’s emotional and can be funny, too, that’s what I like. And this is not a set documentary-type format, so you never know what people are going to say.”

As for whether the show will have a future beyond the first slate of episodes, Watson said he has “a good feeling about this one.”

“I know things that start out as experiments can really work out,” Watson said.

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