Men, and mental health

I’ve read a few books, many more articles, listened to a ton of podcasts. I knew what I was in for starting up a business. But I never really knew just how hard it would be.

Little ‘could have done betters’ hovering on the fringes of your mind while you discuss what’s for dinner; the pervasive, abrasive chase of the next job, the next payday. The buck, stopping, yes, with you.

A doorway opens when you strike out on your own, but there’s a force 10 gale rushing back through and trying to slam it shut. As portals I’ve peered through go, it’s second only to the rush of sudden appreciation and endless examination of becoming a parent.

So I’m very glad I’ve had some support - family and friends to bounce ideas off, get a bit of work with to keep things ticking over, just put up with things (like not being much of a family or friend in return).

Yet still doubts creep, voices nag inside. Mental health suffers.

This month, in between the doubts, Fairly has been busy as ever making audio. We’re lucky to sit in to honest conversations from business founders while producing the Conversations of Inspiration podcast for Holly & Co. As entrepreneurs share tales of their own journey, many reveal they had their doubts and hard times. Not surprising, perhaps, when so many startups are so inextricably linked to the lives and fortunes of those behind the brand.

It’s the inherent beauty of podcasts that they bring conversation, and reflection. Even a monologue, listened to quietly through headphones or while doing the washing up, creates a tangible emotional connection. the looser format (compared with radio) often gives time to get into the weeds and root out sources of problems. They can sit with a topic and connect with their audience. Conversations can flow.

In the latest episode of Fairly’s own Fatherhood podcast, we hear a conversation on mental health with Jamie Madge. He was made for to be a dad - gregarious, funny, caring. Yet soon after his daughter was born he knew he felt ‘a bit off’. Which quickly became ‘a lot off’.

Listen to the episode above to hear Jamie and presenter Robin Leeburn (that’s me) discuss male post-partum depression (one in ten dads suffer), mental health (38% of new dads report suffering according to the parenting charity NCT), social media and support networks.

Jamie’s route to recovery is inspiring and it’s great to see him feeling good about his experience. It shows the power of sharing, reaching out for help. Which can be so hard to do. Jamie shared his thoughts not only with his wife Sarah and his GP, but later on Facebook, with a torrent of love and support returning his way.

However, here in the UK the Office of National Statistics released data this year suggesting young adults, raised with social media, are the loneliest demographic. As services continue to fall away with austerity, this is a huge concern.

As someone starting out I have come to realise the feelings of isolation which can snatch at the heels - hours toiling at a computer, working it our for yourself. I’ve mad that choice, I’m ready for it, so it can only be imagined what the truly isolated, the bullied and forgotten can feel.

There is of course hope. Twitter, for an afternoon last week, seemed to shed a skin of aggressive trolling to revel a softer side to masculinity, when writer Caitlin Moran quietly asked men ‘what’s up?’.

Perhaps one of the benefits then, of our connected, digital age, is the opportunity for wider sense of auteurship along with the entrepreneurship. A hunger to connect with makers who not only create a product but aim to help shape a new way of doing business, friendly to the environment, workers and customers - people. It’s certainly a world I’m encountering in the audio industry as I make my way.

But in the end, we all need support. So here’s hoping that all these stories, this reaching out, will receive some love in return. Yes from family, friends, colleagues and customers, but also from structures, organisations and governments too.

Fatherhood podcast

Fatherhood podcast

Jamie and daughter Olivia

Jamie and daughter Olivia

Conversations of Inspiration

Back in the swing of things as silly season draws to a close and we're delighted we have a new show to talk about!

We've been working hard on a producer gig for the awesome Holly Tucker MBE and her team at Holly & Co on the new - and iTunes business #1!! - show Conversations of Inspiration.

With her wealth of experience (and success) as co-founder of, Holly's show aims to inspire the 'dreamers, dabblers and doers' to be bold and creative and start a business doing what they love. 'The good life' as the team at Holly & Co put it.

Episode one dropped on September 3, featuring the seriously impressive (and no less hilarious) Julie Deane, who founded Cambridge Satchel Company. It's been a pleasure working on this whole series - there's weekly chats with founders of iconic brands and creative small businesses to come - and for a starter this was quite the experience.

Fairly Media recorded all the shows on location, going for a relaxed setting and a warm sound to match the heartfelt, soulful nature of the conversations. So we arrived in Cambridge, sat down for a cup of tea and spent the next hour in awe of the business know-how and determination of a woman who started with £600 and a goal to get her kids into her choice of school.

There was also a fair bit of stifling laughter as Julie told stories of facing down fools boss, frauds and career-threatening moments in business. There'll be more to come each week, and having sat in on the chats I know it's all gold.

It's also been an eye-opener watching the team pull together the support which helped propel the show up the charts. Securing their own sponsorship with NatWest; Instagram posts and stories to tease the coming show; reaching out to a community of like-minded small business supporters and owners. Even landing an interview on Sky News on the day of release.

And what an opportunity for this company - not yet a year in, and with a goal to do what we love (making great audio) and supporting a young family. Cheers Holly!


Summer '18

Summertime and the weather is... amazing, yet concerning considering global climate change??

Fairly Media has taken a short break in Cornwall, which has been frankly great as its been a non-stop year getting this thing off the ground, getting the head around family life vs non-linear work and other such new biz excitement.

The break also came he end of the second series of KERB Life, our series for London street food trailblazers KERB. It's been a true pleasure and great to see it hit the iTunes 'Business' charts on release once more.

We told six stories in this series, and I was once again thankful to get the opportunity to record the vibrations on the streets of the capital among the hundred or so independent food business which are part of KERB. It is frankly a bit of a busman's holiday, strolling the baking streets of London to interview the great and good of the food game. It's a joy to speak to people with a passion to cook, to transform a space, and you can't help but learn. Values such as patience, calm, determination, plus that essential driver of any new business - purpose.

Without the drive to bring their creativity to the KERB roster it's unlikely London's streets would be so vibrant right now, six years after the company's launch.

Of course food brings us together, we share our stories over dinner - and it's no surprise KERB Life not only reflects the London food scene but the way we live and work.

In our episode on the KERB pop-up stall from Michelin starred street food legend Hawker Chan, we documented the incredible buzz food can generate - as thousands of visitors queued. And a global culture where urban spaces become shared places with a common purpose, an idea which can travel thousands of miles in seconds online, then manifest itself in real life, with enough drive and determination.

Hawker Chan is a leading example of how this series highlighted the tropes of new, young businesses. Those taking their claim in in the city, on their own terms. Looking to overturn some of the old guard, or in particular, outdated values.

We met an amazing duo, Janet Boston and her protégé Danny at Liberty Kitchen. Danny is embarking on his food journey after serving time at Pentonville prison, life on the stall stoking his entrepreneurial passions and helping him back into the routine.

In our episode on the rise of veganism I was inspired by how the likes of Club Mexicana - KERB's first vegan trader - have helped kickstart a vegan movement which has seen exponential growth in the past couple of years. Watching Club Mex's boss Meriel Armitage is a real inspiration. Her new venture - the much talked about, fully booked Spread Eagle in Homerton - is a focal point for London's vegan movement, and watching her and Club Mex's growth, and her confidence and conviction in marching forward is an inspiration.

Meriel also joined us for the series' closer, where five of KERB's leading female founders set the world straight on how it for women in business in 2018. 

And as its a food show as much as a business one, I of course couldn't turn down the chance  to sample London's finest while helping KERB break down the costs of serving well-sourced, professionally prepared, creatively dazzling menus which represent the care and attention our stomachs deserve in our episode 'Breaking Down the Bun'. While one of my staple loves - that taken for granted ingredient, bread, got a little deserved attention in 'The Bread Network', where Franco Manca co-founder gave me a true expert's guide to glutinous goodies eaten across London, and the world.

Here's to good eating, and good listening.

You can find the show at, so dive in! Fairly Media will back in the autumn with a brand new show we've been working on, and more from the Fatherhood series.

When you're waiting for a new show...

Not one but two new shows from Fairly Media!

First up, we joined KERB once more to explore the street food landscape of London. In this episode, we cast a hungry eye over the doughy delights which often make an under-rated part of our dinner, bread glorious bread.

When you've a topic as broad as that to cover, you need some expert help and we couldn't have hoped for better than co-founder of the famed Franco Manca restaurants and queen bee at Bread Bread Bakery, Bridget Hugo.

Bridget joined Fairly on the streets of London to eat our way through the best breads in the capital, all accompanying menus from across the world. We also met some of the capital's finest artisanal producers to find out what makes the best product, and what the best product can provide. As Bridget says, bread is "the ultimate bedrock of sociability and nutrition."

Find out more by listening above and at, where you'll hear from the likes of burger dons Mother Flipper, Sally Clarke Bakery, hidden treats at Ridley Road market and a true example of bread's connective powers, Luminary Bakery. There, bakery meets social enterprise as London women train for a new opportunity after tough experiences, often experiencing homelessness too.

Bridget Hugo

Bridget Hugo

And we bring you episode of twelve of Fatherhood, on shared parental leave. Just 2% of eligible dads applied for government's new scheme giving them the right to split a year of parental leave with their partner. 

I tracked down one of them, Londoner Dan Southern, to talk about his experiences taking three months off with his young son Freddy. We talked about the benefits it can bring, in bonding, understanding, family unity and helping women in the workforce. 

So why are so few taking the chance? Well, the scheme only enables couples to split 39 weeks of statutory pay at a maximimum of £145 a week, for starters. Contrast this situation with that of the star of episode eleven, Johan Bavman. He's the photographer behind the award-winning photo series Swedish Dads. In his country, a now 40 year-old scheme lets parents share 480 days, when it suits them, and at 80% pay. That's how to do it. Over to you Theresa / Jezza / whom it may be...

If you'd like to know more, hit the scheme site at

Dan Southern with Freddy

Dan Southern with Freddy

We hope you enjoy the shows, as always delivered with heart and soul - through some very different show styles, from documentary to straight interview. We're pleased to say we even fit a montage into the KERB Life episode this time. Do have a listen, and hit the HIRE US button if you would like Fairly to help you tell your own story.

KERB Life is back - London food stories from Fairly Media

Yes! KERB Life series two is now out!

Take a listen to episode one – InKERBating ain’t easy – as we dig in to the startup stories of London’s freshest food businesses, all fuelled by street food trailblazers KERB.

KERB’s been making London taste better since 2012, and it’s InKERBator programme for new traders provides the support, advice and trading locations for the capital’s hottest new food startups to tantalise taste buds at central London lunch markets and scores of events.

We were delighted to get the commission for a new KERB series – it’s over food that we come together, share stories, right problems. Fairly wanted to reflect that in the shows. And it’s been a blast. We get so much inspiration from the way KERB does things, looking to unite people at a market, nurture the best talent in food, community at the forefront along the way.

In this episode, it’s all about how startups can thrive, backed by the transformative power of food. It was a huge pleasure to spend an afternoon with Liberty Kitchen, our final guests on the show. Founded by Janet Boston and backed by a board full of expertise chaired by Lord Falconer, Liberty Kitchen gives former and current inmates at Pentonville prison the chance to start their own journey to employment and new opportunity via street food.

We’re sure you’ll find the stories of Janet and her colleague Danny inspiring – he’s building his life on the outside, firing his passion for food and helping Liberty redefine the way we expect ex-offenders to fit back into society. He’s out there feeding London, contributing to the life of a space such as their pitch at the regenerated Granary Square in Kings Cross. And at a KERB market it’s all on a level, literally and figuratively – the chefs hand their food over fresh made right there on the streets, you can talk about the dish, making eye-contact, making a connection. Even in the digital era, its proves new business can transform space and emotions as well as economics.

That’s the vibe we wanted to capture in KERB Life. It’s backed up in this show with the sounds of day one on the KERB for three of London’s finest and newest traders, Truffle, Zephyr and Oishii Yatai, with powerful stories of what drove their desire to join KERB’s merry band.

Listen to the show above and at as we peel back the layers to show just how much hard work and commitment it takes to make it on the ultra-competitive food scene. Alongside Liberty Kitchen, we talk to Huw Gott – co-founder of steakhouse success story Hawksmoor - and Hanoi Kitchen’s Nigel Matthews pull no punches in detailing the graft they put into to establishing their businesses. Plus we meet the next generation of must-eat market goods at the KERB Workshop, an event which helped the likes of Bleecker Burger and Bian Dang on their way, as we talk food dreams with those crazy enough to give up their jobs and upend their life in the name of great food and entrepreneurial freedom.

And if you’re still hungry after all that, treat yourselves to more of the sounds of London’s streets and markets, with music recorded live in the capital from saxophonist Guy Stewart, crazy brass fiends Dat Brass and the soulful London Joy Singers.

Thanks and watch this space for more from Fairly Media.




Fatherhood episode eleven - Swedish Dads

Soothing news - the Fatherhood podcast from Fairly Media is back for 2018. And we're bang on point with a miniseries on shared parenting.

It's with great pleasure we present the story of Johan Bavman, award-winning Swedish photographer and the pappa behind the lens of the Swedish Dads photoseries.  Forty-five beautifully framed, naturalistic shots document friends and dads from his hometown of Malmo, each engaged in all the grit and glory of day-to-day childcare duties.

In Sweden parents have the enviable opportunity to take shared leave of some 480 days to be with their kids - any time between birth and eight years old. The government, who launched the scheme four decades ago in a bid encourage women in the workforce, support families with 80% of their wages, which are often made up to the full amount by supportive companies.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, the government announced last week has been forced to drum up a £1.5m ad campaign to drive adoption of our own version of the scheme, with only 2% of families taking the opportunity to split a year off between mum and dad. And UK parents can only claim statutory pay up to a weekly £140, available for 37 weeks out of the 50 they can take off. No wonder it ain't working, right?

But before anyone gets snooty about Swedish privilege, Johan admits it was fear of his new responsibility, made more acute by laid back coffee-slurping 'Latte Pappas' around him, which prompted him to grab his camera, connect with his peers and the parenting experience. And it seems to have helped - just listen to hear how progressive the gender balance has become in homes like Johan's.

In Johan's words: "I have understood taking these pictures, this question is so important to having a better future in coming years. I have two sons and I want to be that dad that they could come to. Show them even though I am a man I can express emotions and be crying or scared, and that is ok."

Johan's Swedish Dads exhibition has toured the world (sadly not the UK, quite yet) and the photos are available in a book which you can purchase here. So go look, listen, and takk, Johan!

Episode eleven of Fatherhood is the first in a new format of Fatherhood Stories; less interview, more soundscaping. In coming weeks the shared parenting miniseries 'Who is your Daddy, and What Does He Do?' will feature an interview from one of the few UK dads to take up the new shared scheme (well the only one we knew, anyway), plus an episode on the life of one tired but committed stay at home dad.


Johan Bavman

Shared Parental Leave UK


Fatherhood is back!

It’s been a while – buy I’ve been fairly busy – setting up my audio production co Fairly Media, launching the KERB Life podcast for street food major lasers KERB, recording new shows for this podcast, and of course, parenting.

But as the dad show has been a little while getting back up and running I wanted to make sure there’s some good vibes for fathers looking for a connection, and 2018 will bring a wide range of points of view and strides to focus on some important topics.

First up, I’ll be looking at shared parental leave in a miniseries I’ve taken some Schwarzenegger liberties in calling ‘who is your daddy, and what does he do?’ (for the uninitiated, it’s from Kindergarten Cop.) We’ll be kicking that off real soon so stayed tuned. The first episode of this series will also be the first of a new format I’m calling Fatherhood Stories – playing with the edit to create first person narratives, dads telling their story direct, outside the standard interview theme.

But for now I’m rolling back the dial to Fatherhood’s first episode, entitled ‘How It Feels to be a Father.’ I may not have a massive back catalogue but it seems right to set out my stall once again, which is something I feel this show achieves.

It was pretty much my first effort at producing a podcast, and it took a long while to assemble the right interviews, record the leading UK poets Richard Price (with ‘An old drawer up beyond the children’ and ‘The world is busy, Katie’) and Luke Wright (‘Dad Reins’) reading their own work, and putting together a mix to background the intense emotions of becoming a dad – props to my pal Keir Livock for helping put that together.

I spent a long time wanting to start making this podcast, carving out the time then editing and editing until I was happy I’d made it. To geek out – all recording went through a Zoom H4n, some in person and some over a hodge-podge iPhone mono wiring set-up, before the music was mixed on Ableton and the show edited and vocals dropped in using Logic Pro. Hosting and all that RSS trickery is via Libsyn.

So if you’ve heard it before – have another go. I listen back occasionally as I find it inspiring to hear men, boys ( and one special mum) speak honestly and passionately about their experiences, hopes and fears. And if you’re new, welcome to Fatherhood.

I’ll leave you with a few pics of fatherhood for me in the past couple of months, and a tracklisting after.


Music featured:

Snow Palms – Index of Rivers -

Four Tet – Smile Around the Face -

Thundercat – Lone Wolf and Cub -

Bon Iver – Holocene -

Snow Palms – Motion Capture -

Mount Kimbie - Made to Stray -

How To Dress Well – Words I Don’t Remember -

Nils Frahm – Ode -

Sufjan Stevens – Blue Bucket of Gold -

Phosphorescent – Wolves -

From side-hustle to the big gamble... a new podcast studio is born.

Welcome to Fairly Media - we create great podcasts.

We write, edit, present and produce compelling audio for individuals and brands and we're delighted to be up and running.

So that's it, that's the pitch. Here's the company, and here's our blog.

So where to start? Right here, right now I guess. This has been a long time coming. I've been a journalist for more than a decade now, from cub reporter to new-fangled digital consultant and a fair bit of this-and-that in between.

And the this-and-that was a problem. I was reacting, working on behalf of, toeing some lines I guess. And probably a little scared to boot. All along I'd had this feeling I wanted to do the things your stereotypical journo does - stand up for something, dig deep to find understanding. Yet its tough when you've got 300 words on a new trend to write up by 11.15.

Then I dipped out of the game altogether, feeling a little unfulfilled. But all the while consuming news and media like I was addicted to information. And in particular my new job gave me a new commute and time to think. It was then that I stumbled into the ever-expanding podcast universe.

This was where it was at. In-depth, incredibly well researched long-form treatments such as Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. One, two, three-hour interviews with Marc Maron or Joe Rogan. Programmes about just one tiny little word. Programmes about, well, everything.  A half-hour about a day-off, with nothing to do... an entire series dedicated to pens... I was hooked. And I'd found a goal. This was a place within which I could explore a theme, find time to tease out the kind of truths which don't necessarily emerge within 300 words and by 11.15.

So my side-hustle was born. Months dreaming and countless hours tweaking and eventually out popped the first episode of Fatherhood. And boy did it feel good (I still love that episode - take a listen, it pretty well encapsulates my goal with that show).

Yet of course a side-hustle remains just that - on the side. Even to create a podcast which isn't merely a weekly round-table with sketchy sound takes a fair bit of time. Especially if your 9-5 is more like 7-6, with no computer access.

A friend pointed out a flurry of recent articles on the side-hustle (GoDaddy-inspired it seems, as they try to own the space through pet-project web hosting). They suggest a tough business climate, in the main. And I can certainly identify with that. Bursting at the seams with ideas, yet the stitching holding firm. 

However, on the positive side, this toughness leads to innovation, creativity. So I knew I had to scale up - and very luckily I got the break I needed with a commission, and Fairly was born. So keep your ears pinned as that commission is due to become a reality this October...

So here's to going your own way - here's to betting big, betting on yourself. Here's to telling the stories you want to hear. Here's to the side-hustle. Now, on to the main event...

Robin Leeburn