The team behind Brother are putting a fun spin on discussing Freemasonry and reaching an audience beyond members. We sat down for a chat with them to find out more
Neil-Thomas Allen: Hello and bonjour. I, together with my best friend Taz, Josh and Jack are Brother. The Masonic Podcast. We started it about two and a half years ago when Taz and I realised there wasn't a regular episodic masonic podcast in the UK. On one of our wine-fuelled socials, we started to discuss what we could do if we had our own podcast.
Taz Bhachoo: We were both busy at work and only saw each other at lodge meetings. We were chewing the fat after a meeting and discussed how we struggled to find time to see each other. That drove us to get the podcast up and running. It was an excuse to get together over a bottle of wine and talk about something we both really loved. The first ones were recorded in my office boardroom.
Neil: In episode one, Taz encapsulated what Brother is all about: friends in a room talking about Freemasonry- gloves off. We loved that metaphor and wanted to bring Freemasonry to people at a lodge level. Our aim is to give them something to listen to so they can catch up with the world of Freemasonry, but at a fun, lighthearted level. After Taz and I did the first episode, we realised that we needed an extra pair of hands and we began discussing the podcast with Josh, another of the younger Freemasons in our lodge.
Josh Worley: Neil edited the first episodes himself and then approached me to edit the podcast as I had experience in radio. I was honoured to be asked. None of us had any idea what it would become.
Neil: Josh has a fantastic broadcasting voice, so we instantly got him to read the news section.
Josh: I suppose that being from Norwich, it's the inherent Alan Partridge.
Neil: With Josh, we were able to do things more intelligently and started to structure the podcast. Each episode began with something non-masonic to make people feel comfortable - one of us would choose a wine and we'd talk about that for five minutes or so.
Taz: I would run to Borough Market to pick up wine while Neil and Josh were working on audio levels. I have a backlog of wine for season three.
Neil: We found the balance quite quickly. It's a lighthearted, optimistic take on Freemasonry that's heavy enough to cater for hardcore Freemasons without using too many insider terms to scare away non-Freemasons. We introduced a news section, and we had guests from UGLE and other orders like Mark Master Masons and Christine Chapman, Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Womens Freemasons (HFAF). That was one of my favourite episodes. We pride ourselves in being able to make people feel at home. When Josh moved back to Norwich, we reached out to Jack.
Jack Saunders: I was a fan of the podcast. I'd listened to the American ones, and after hearing Brother I knew I had to get involved somehow. I took it as a challenge to build the online presence and we dabbled with the idea of video. When COVID happened, we had to move to Zoom anyway and that turned out to be a really simple way for us to make the switch to video.
Josh: Our move to Zoom happened just as we started series two. We were talking to senior Freemasons across the country and it has been so much easier to ask people to jump on a Zoom call to talk about the Craft with us.
Taz: Jack helped us spring into the Provinces a bit more. People assume we are all London Freemasons, but my mother lodge is Warwickshire, Josh is in Norwich, Jack is in Essex and Neil is Kent. Zoom has let us broaden our scope and educated us on the art of the possible. At first, it was about who can get to London Bridge on the day. Now we can talk to anybody in the country or even overseas.
'We hear from people who have a family connection to Freemasonry and feel we have given them a real understanding of the Craft'
Josh: The world of Freemasonry is fascinating. There are so many really interesting and educational things to be discovered, and our audience is just as diverse as Freemasonry. We have listeners of all ages, shapes and sizes from all around the world.
Neil: We also have non-Freemason listeners. We hear from people who have a family connection to Freemasonry and feel we have given them an understanding of the Craft.
Jack: We removed the shroud a little bit about Freemasonry. Some Freemasons aren't sure what they can and can't talk about, but we are comfortable with our Freemasonry and are experienced enough to know that you can discuss 99 per cent of things. We hope that will encourage others to talk about Freemasonry.
Taz: We came into this podcast as experienced Freemasons, but we don't know everything. Over the past two seasons, our eyes have been opened to other Orders.
Jack: Our wallets have been opened as well.
Josh: Yes, in terms of equipment, we started off in a basic way, but then I went and bought the best-in-the-business podcasting kit. It was heartbreaking because we barely had a chance to use it before COVID happened. Having this new kit is one of the reasons we can't wait to start recording season three together.
Taz: Season three will be like meeting an old friend again. Wherever possible, we will be recording in person. We will have a more worldly view as we want to connect with people all over the globe and we want to keep getting major guests from the world of Freemasonry.
Neil: When we started, we were nervous we might upset some of the senior Freemasons.
Taz: There were definitely moments where we had to stop and think, did we just say that?
Josh: There was one episode where we raised an eyebrow about an issue and were nervous how that would be received. But it was taken very well and our relationship with UGLE has got stronger. We believe we are here for grassroots Freemasons, but we don't want to be difficult for the sake of it.
Neil: It's been a delight to work with UGLE and the other Orders. At the moment, everybody needs to pull together to raise peoples' spirits. One of our core principles is brotherly love and this podcast is a culmination of that. We've had guests from UGLE who might have been dubious initially but realised in 30 seconds that we were going to make them feel welcome and that we just love Freemasonry.
Jack: UGLE has a new communication strategy that has changed the outlook of the organisation, being much more open, and we have a similar outlook.
Taz: Thank you to all the people who have listened and taken the podcast to their hearts.