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MIA FREEDMAN: 'The type of burnout I didn't realise I had.'

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For more than a year, I stealthily tried to quit my podcast.

I started hosting No Filter, like, eight years ago which means I’ve done more than 500 interviews. This is in addition to co-hosting Mamamia Out Loud over that same period which has gone from a weekly show to a daily one.

So much talking into a microphone.

Like all jobs, there have been exhilarating highs and tedious lows. Times when I’ve sat in the studio feeling lucky and in flow and capable and confident and mentally stimulated and times when it’s felt like Ground Hog Day.

The Ground Hog days were the minority over those eight years and I could always flick them off until a year or two ago when I couldn’t.

Hosting No Filter felt like trudging through wet sand. It wasn’t the time I spent with my guests in the studio I had begun to dread but everything around it — the organisation, the prep, the mental load, the scheduling and re-scheduling and the emotional toll it took on me to take care of our guests and our listeners and navigate some incredibly heavy and personal conversations with people who were vulnerable and sometimes traumatised.

Listen: In the new season of No Filter, Mia Freedman interviews 'Australia’s most sexually active woman'.

A good interviewer needs to meet their guest wherever they’re at and because No Filter is a very personal story-telling show, that place varied wildly, often within the same interview. Calling the studio a sacred space sounds pretentiously cringe but honestly, that’s how I feel about it. A good interview for me, for this show, is not sensationalist or distressing, it’s not simplistic or one-note. No matter the topic, even when it’s grim, there must be lightness, humour. Especially when it’s grim.

It’s an enormous privilege when someone agrees to tell me their story and I take that responsibility seriously. It weighs on me heavily.

So after six years, the emotional and mental load of the show was taking a toll and burning me out but what I didn’t understand for a long time was the role creative burnout played in tipping me over the edge.

Burnout is something I’d always understood to be about physical exhaustion from working too hard. And there was definitely that but I have a big bandwidth for work and the necessity of running a business has meant I’ve always been able to dig deep to push through fatigue. Stupid but necessary.

Creative burnout though, is when you become exhausted by doing the same thing over and over. It’s about repetition and boredom and a lack of creative challenge.

When work is a grind for me it’s almost always because I’m bored, creatively.

Of course, the tension that’s always there when you’re building a brand is that consistency is key. If I had my way, I’d change all our pod logos — and even the Mamamia logo — most weeks. The dopamine hit of change energises me.

Fortunately, I work with people far smarter and more disciplined than me.

That’s why over eight years, I’ve only been allowed to change the No Filter logo three times.

Interesting that the new logo (far right) is closer to a version of the OG logo (far left). Image: No Filter.

That wasn’t enough change to sate me; I also wanted to change the music and shake up the format a bit. Before I could do anything, though, I needed to step away and have a break from hosting.

I’d tried to step away once before when The Quicky host Claire Murphy did some episodes in 2023. Claire is one of the best interviewers in broadcast media. She is curious, empathetic and non-judgemental. The trifecta. But she also has a day job here hosting a daily podcast for which she gets up at 3am so that wasn’t a long-term option.

Enter Kate Langbroek.

Kate shares all those same qualities and, like Claire and I, she knows how to use humour to lighten a mood. Better than anyone I know. Her instincts are uncanny. When she agreed to host a season of No Filter, I finally got the chance to step away from the mic for two months and it was a tonic.

Mia Freedman with Kate Langbroek. Image: Supplied.

So anyway. Today marks a new season of No Filter. I’m excited. And besides the fact we had to scramble over the weekend to pull this week’s episode forward because the ep we had scheduled was an interview with a royal reporter which is a reminder to me that No Filter should never chase the news cycle... it feels great to be back.

Feature image: Supplied.

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