Weekly Recommendations – Issue 4

Shunya One featuring Pankaj Mishra, founder and CEO of FactorDaily and host of The Outliers podcast.
A brilliant conversation with veteran tech journalist Pankaj Mishra about his beginnings, how tech journalism in India has evolved over time, and the dark side of technology (yep, that’s a thing!).

Behind the bastards: Farting Hipster Hitler
Did you know that Hitler, the monster with a comical moustache was also an err.. horrible farter! Find out more such hilarious and bizarre facts about the world’s baddest guys in this intriguing podcast series!

Passion people podcast – The Emissary
Books as a leading force for change, a conversation with Ruchi. She works with non profit schools and runs the Let’s Open a Book initiative to setup libraries in government primary schools.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon II
The second episode of the history of world war 1. Just like the first one, this episode is riveting, to say the least. 

Hiring A Podcast Guy, A Sassy Chatbot, Smart Links, Podcasting In India, And More

Hello Folks, here’s the 4th edition of the weekly roundup.

Who’s your audio daddy?

Seth Resler, Digital Dot Connector at Jacobs media wrote an interesting post on why radio broadcast companies should hire a Director of Podcasts. After a fair bit of thinking, I think all media companies should hire a director of podcasts, especially publishers.

Podcasting is growing, there is no doubt about that. But the question is at what pace? I’d wager that this question won’t be answered anytime soon. But regardless, publishers are flocking to podcasts in search of potential audiences. The New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Guardian, and hundreds of other major publishers are building thriving podcasting operations. Even in a country like India where the podcasting medium is in an embryonic state, publishers such as Indian Express, Newslaundry, Moneycontrol, Bloomberg Quint, BBC India among others have started podcasting. Even platforms like Medium and Substack are getting in on the action.

The entrance of big names into the space also serves the purpose of expanding the audiences which smaller publishers can piggyback on.

The beauty of podcasts as someone described is that it is an in-between medium. Most podcasts are consumed in between things people are doing such as commuting, working out etc. I mostly consume podcasts when I commute between my home and office and I am totally tuned into the shows I listen to. That’s an incredibly valuable spot for publishers to be in. Loyalty is also a key advantage when it comes to podcasts. According to the 2018 Infinite Dial Report, 80% of the respondents listen to all or most of an episode.

Brands have also started getting in on the podcasting action. Major brands such as GE, Netflix, Tinder, Reebok, eBay, Microsoft among others have started branded podcasts. This also raises a lot of ethical question which we will grapple with in our future editions.

Now that Google is finally serious about podcasting, it can potentially double the audience size worldwide. 75.9% of all smartphones globally run on Android. This means that in the next few years podcasts are poised for exponential growth, all things considered.

To sum it all up, podcasts can potentially be a source of audience growth for media companies. Smaller audiences can also potentially be an advantage for financially stable publishers in countries such as India if they are willing to stick it out. The payoffs can be incredibly lucrative when the audiences start growing.

So yeah, it’s time for you to find an audio guy for your company.


Podcasters have a habit of making things difficult for themselves. Something as simple as the choice of the link used to share a podcast can potentially mean losing out on listeners. The sharing experience has always been broken. The question of which link to use – Apple or Google when sharing on social media has always been an enduring one. Dan Misener in this rather prescient piece explains how to use smart links to automatically redirect people to the respective platforms based on the device.

What is WordPress up to?

Automatic, the parent company of WordPress.com has made an investment in RadioPublic. Last year, WordPress had partnered with RadioPublic to make embedding podcasts on WordPress.com sites easier.

I suspect that this move may somehow tie to the companies interest in media. Automattic had acquired Longfrom and Atavist Magazine some time ago.

WordPress.com also recently released a slew of updates to make hosting podcasts easier. It will be very interesting to see what the company intends to do with podcasts. I will most definitely be keeping an eye on these folks.

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, spoke to Kara Swisher on the Recode Decode podcast recently. If you are interested in knowing more about WordPress, I highly recommend that you listen to this episode.

Hey Zo!

Comedian and actress Lauren Lapkus spoke to Microsoft’s AI chatbot Zo on her podcast, Raised by TV. It was a really funny exchange, you can check out the conversation here.

As for Zo’s ability to mimic human speech patterns, Lapkus was particularly surprised when the bot threw out a resounding “YAAAAS QUEEN” during their chat. “Hearing Zo say it really added a new level to the phrase,” says Lapkus. “She was also pretty sarcastic with me, which really, really hurt my feelings and I still haven’t gotten over it.” – Fast Company

A podcast hosted by an AI bot? Doesn’t seem all that implausible, we’ll keep our ears peeled.

Murphy Munna

Do we really need to reimagine podcasts for India? Karthik Vijayakumar, host of the Design Your Thinking podcast says, yes.

Given the strong history of radio in India, the current popularity of FM Radio and the massive changes in the technology that India has witnessed in the last 3 years, I think the answer is a Yes.

Podcasts, as they exist in the west, may not just work as it is in India.

In this sweeping article, he looks at the history of Radio in India and how that influences the podcasting habits in India.

Voices From India

iTunes, Google Podcasts and podcatchers like Castbox are not the only sources of podcasts. Here are some alternatives where you can discover good podcasts

Yes, the music streaming service is also home to a number of original audio programming under the banner of Saavn Originals. The standout among them are Trial by error, a Serial styled gripping true crime drama based on the Aarushi murder case, Kahaani Express by Neelesh Misra, and No filter Neha, hosted by Neha Dhupia among others. The podcasts are however available to subscribers only. Fun fact: Saavn is actually an acronym for, wait for it – South Asian Audio Visual Network!

The music streaming service of Bookmyshow also features podcasts. The platform has a great library of original programming on JukeBox including Sports Trippin’ – a roundup of the biggest stories from the world of sports.

A subscription-based service, that offers audiobooks, e-books, and other original programming similar to podcasts, packaged as audiobooks.


3Things – The flagship daily news show of Indian Express podcasts hosted by the brilliant Neha Mathews celebrated a hundred episodes, yay! Here’s to many more!

Simblified – The 100th episode of Simblified, IVM’s show that aims to make you smarter, hosted by the brilliant trio of Chuck, Naren, and Srikeit, is going to be recorded live on August 25th, 2018 at Doolally Taproom – Khar, Mumbai. Details here, RSVP now!

New launches

Know Your Kanoon
Hosted by lawyer AmberRana, every Wednesday, this show answers questions about laws, rights, and policies to bring in clarity about the legal justice system in India.

Kieran Read’s Bedtime Stories
Kieran Read, captain of the New Zealand national rugby team launched this podcast to help you put your kids to sleep.

The Indignities of Being a Woman
Merrill Markoe and Megan Koester in this show will explore what it is like to be a woman in the 21st century.


Express Adda
In this episode Rajkummar Rao, the critically acclaimed actor talks about his beginnings, his journey to becoming an actor from the stage to the silver screen, his role in Newton, what he thinks about brand endorsements, the problem with censorship, and the importance of secularism.

The Intersection – Our Plastic Addiction Is Destroying The Planet
Did you know, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced till today, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste and ONLY nine percent of this has been recycled? Find out more about how plastic is causing serious damage to our ecosystem and what we can do about it, in this episode of The Intersection, Audiomatic’s flagship podcast!

The Memory Palace
One of the best short podcasts out there, The Memory palace is a repository of surprising stories of the past, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, often a little bit of both. If you appreciate history, you’ll definitely love what the podcast has to offer.

Nick Quah on The Substack Podcast
Nathan Bashaw, VP of product at Substack spoke to Nick Quah, who runs Hot Pod – the newsletter of record for the podcast industry. I have been a great admirer of his writing and the clarity with which he covers the space is phenomenal. If you are a podcaster or even interested in podcasting then you should definitely listen to this episode.

Silly things investors do – The Curious Investor
Dan Villalon and Gabe Feghali talk to Nobel Prize winner, Richard Thaler and behavioural economist, Nicholas Barberis about the most common biases that afflict investors. This is thoroughly enlightening.

Saif Omar, the host of The Musafir Stories Podcast writes the Voices From India segment and shares his podcast recommendations.

You can subscribe to the Podtalk Newsletter here. Want to talk to us? Please write to us at hello@podhead.co.

Independence Day Specials By Express Audio

The Indian podcasting scene is in its infancy. The only way the medium can grow in this country is when more podcasters, both Individuals and organisations start speaking into the microphone. We were super excited when Indian Express, one of the most trusted news organizations entered the podcasting space.

Indian express kickstarted its podcasts efforts with 8 shows covering diverse topics. As India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day, the company is unveiling a special slate of programming.

New Launch

Awaaz Do: Freedom of speech is one of the most fraught topics of our times, given the intense upheaval and churning in today’s society. With the rise of populism and right-wing politics across the globe, we are being forced to have a debate about the very meaning of free speech

This show, helmed by Neha Mathews will explore what freedom of speech means in India today, who it matters to and why it should matter to everyone. I heard the first episode and it’s quite gripping. I highly recommend you listen to it.


Its flagship daily news show – 3 Things completes 100 episodes. The 100th episode features A special conversation with veteran journalist Coomi Kapoor.

Giggles and trolls

Today’s episode of Likh: The Process features well known comic, writer and filmmaker Radhika Vaz. On this episode, she talks about improv, trolls and what it’s like to be a performer today.


This one is for all you food lovers. On Thursday, Metro Food Hoppers goes as Bombay as possible, as host Simona Terron dives into the world of Irani chai, and on Friday, they’ve set you up with What to Watch this Weekend that will give you a glimpse of the real India.

The Billionaire Raj

This ought to be a really good one. On Sunday the 19th, The Sandip Roy Show will feature James Crabtree, author of the highly acclaimed The Billionaire Raj and an article in the Guardian that lay bare the stark inequality that is a part of everyday life in India.

I heard James Crabtree talk to Kara Swisher on Recode Decode and thoroughly enjoyed the enlightening conversation.

If you are curious about how the rich and the filthy rich navigate the corridors of power n India then, this conversation is a must listen.

If you want to learn more about inequality and its insidious impact then I highly recommend you listen to Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty, whose book, “Capital in the 21st Century”, started an intense debate across the world about income inequality, the likes of which we had never seen before.

All the best with all your podcasting efforts, folks. We hope that you guys keep at it and bring out more and more programming.

Weekly Roundup: Inspiration From Books, Podcast Genome Project, An Open Internet Success Story, And More

This was a pretty news-heavy week but here are some of the most important stories.

Between the pages

Steve Pratt, co-founder of Pacific Content had an interesting piece where he writes about how podcasts have more in common with books than any other medium. He says that podcasters should start flipping pages to find inspiration for their podcasts. Authors starting their podcasts, books being adapted into podcasts, and also the opposite is nothing new. But clearly, there seems to be some increased activity.

Wednesday Books and Macmillan launched a podcast – The Girls to promote the upcoming young adult novel – Sadie. Macmillan has also been in the podcasting game for quite some time now.

Kevin Allison, host of the award-winning show Risk! has written a book by the same name. The book is a collection of stories from his podcast. Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, The Big Short and liars poker among others is also set to launch a new podcast with Slate.

The post by Pratt puts all this in context. This article on WSJ has more on this trend.

Keep it open!

The debate about the virtues of an open vs a closed podcast ecosystem will rage on for a long time. But there is no denying that podcasting is one of the greatest success stories of the decentralized Internet. In this article, John Bergmayer writes about how podcasting has shown the value of an open Internet.

Desert bloom

Podcasting seems to be gaining popularity in the Arab world. Given the stifled media industry in this part of the world, this article came as a bit of a surprise

One thing is clear, the podcast scene in the Middle East, although small, is alive and well. And it is growing. Building on the passion of these pioneers, others feel emboldened to enter the fray.

dollar signs

A couple of developments in the world of membership platforms. Patreon has acquired Memberful for an undisclosed sum. Patreon is a platform that allows creators to collect money from their fans. The platform has become a vital source of revenue for a lot of podcasters. Memberful works in a similar way but it is a white-label platform which requires some effort in setting it up, unlike Patreon.

This move by Patreon may have been necessitated in part due to the latest moves by Facebook and YouTube which have added subscription options for creators. The Wired has more on this.

Anchor the podcasting platform that makes creating and publishing podcasts ridiculously easy has added a listener support feature. The feature similar to Patreon allows creators to collect recurring payments from their listeners. Anchor after the recent debacle about its terms and conditions has made moves that are sure to garner some brownie points among the podcasting community.

The company recently opened up a full-fledged studio in Manhattan where anyone can record their shows. It hopes to expand to other cities.


The Verge reports that Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project could launch by the end of the year.

“Pandora created personalized music discovery — that doesn’t exist in podcasts,” Lynch says. “You might look at a chart, you might see what your friends are [listening to]. There’s nothing personalized about that. We’re building for podcasts what we did for music, which is the podcast genome. So that we can present to you, as a Pandora listener, a personalized experience that will delight you just like we do with music.”

The Podcast Genome Project seems to be inspired by the company’s Music Genome Project. This was part of the company’s efforts to offer better music recommendations. As part of this project, a team of trained musicologists at Pandora listen to music and rate the songs based on hundreds of different musical attributes.

Pandora had announced The Podcast Genome Project earlier this year. Roger Lynch, the CEO of the company had said that it is working on integrating podcasts on its platform.

The company is working on a deep integration of podcasts that will allow users of the service to easily browse and discover new shows.

Pandora is also looking to offer podcasters monetization options that will be superior to the current state of podcast advertising. Currently, many podcasters still rely on ads that they read themselves on air, Lynch said. “It is not the most effective advertising model.”

Pandora with over 75 million subscribers, if serious, can do a lot of good for podcasts. It does seem to be betting big on podcasts. Lynch, speaking to Yahoo Finance earlier this year had said that

In the car, 80 percent of listening is music, while 20 percent is other stuff. As a service, if you don’t have that 20 percent, it doesn’t mean you capture the 80 percent, because then people will just stay on their FM Radios. But if you can create audio content for people that gets packaged with the music content in a way that doesn’t give them a reason to go back to that FM dial, then you capture much more than just the spoken word.

Although Pandora is available only in the US, this can be a mini Google Podcasts moment for podcasting.

Hey Speaker, play me a podcast

The rising popularity of smart speakers is one of the most exciting developments in podcasting. A recent study by Edison Research and NPR found that 18% of American 18+ now own a smart speaker. Tom Webster, Senior VP for Edison Research, spoke to Erica Farber of the Radio on Main Street Podcast about the developments in this space.

In The Spotlight

We had a fascinating chat with Shankar and Vishnu, the hosts of the Writer & Geek Show. You can check out the full conversation here.

Voices from India

hubhopper, a content aggregation platform, has recently added podcasts to its offering. The hubhopper app is available for both iOS or Android platforms. hubhopper has also recently started a drive for original/hubhopper branded podcasts. If you are a podcaster interested in partnering with hubhopper for new or existing shows, write to lanu@hubhopper.in. 

Past Events: The 3rd edition of The Indian Podcasters’ Virtual meetup was held recently with some great sessions from Rahul Nair of Storiyoh (a session on “Power of connected users and the next billion podcast listeners”) and Chhavi Sachdev from Sonologue (session on “using the right hardware and software to record podcasts”). You can access the full recording of the virtual meetup here.

Passion People Podcast is back with Season 2. The conversations continue with passionate people who are doing extraordinary things in their lives. This Season of the show will feature the stories of not for profits from around the globe such as  , Lets Open a Book, KnowYourStar, entrepreneurs from Royal Brothers, and Earth Loaf Chocolate. You can listen to the season 2 preview here with Musafir Stories and the Writer and Geek Show.

Resources: If you are looking to discover local content, make sure to check out the India podcast directory. Shout out to @notrueindian for building this invaluable resource beneficial to both listeners and creators.

IVM podcasts is hiring. If podcasting is your thing, and you are looking to work in Mumbai, IVM podcasts is hiring a Podcast producer. More details here.

New Launches

The Colaba Cartel, an exclusive ten-part series about setting up a restaurant in Mumbai, hosted by Gauri Devidayal of The Table, and Amit Doshi of IVM podcasts was launched this week. The podcast became the first Indian podcast to be released live from Twitter India’s #BlueRoom. You can watch the launch here.

The Kinetic Living with Urmi Kothari is a podcast about positive energy, a fit body and a balanced lifestyle. In the first Episode Urmi talks to Kubbra Sait of Sacred Games fame.

The SpotboyE podcast is all about conversations with top Bollywood actors, directors and those who bring movies to life. Listen in to catch up with cool guests like Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Rajkumar Hirani, and many more. You can listen to all nine episodes here.

Cliff Asness, Founding Principal, AQR Capital Management, launched a new podcast called “The Curious Investor“. If you are a finance geek, this podcast should high on your list.

This is a beautiful example of how podcasts are being used to create societal impact. Andrew Reed, a filmmaker based in Chattanooga has started a new podcast called “My Own Two“. The podcast shines the light on the homeless in the city and their stories.


Slow Burn, Season 2: The Clinton Impeachment Saga – Leon Neyfakh is back with season 2.  The season of the Slate production was a runaway success. The first season covered the Watergate Scandal. In Season 2, he delves deeper into the plots and subplots of the Clinton impeachment saga.

Freakonomics Radio featuring Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo – As Indra Nooyi prepares to step down in the fall of this year, Freakonomics look back at this episode where she shares how she saw the company through a global financial meltdown, tackling activist investors, working 20-hr days, seven days a week, being a female CEO of the global behemoth and more. The end of an era!

Indian Noir Season 1, His Night Begins – A gripping and slick serialized crime thriller about India’s criminal underbelly and sex-trafficking syndicates. Written, narrated, and produced by Commonwealth Short Story Prize and DWL Story Prize-winning writer Nikesh Murali, this one’s a must-have on your playlist.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – If you are a history buff then this podcast is a must listen. This is a narrative longform show about some of the most important historical events. Intense and gripping.

The Express Adda Podcast – This conversation veteran journalist Mark Tully with Seema Chishti, The Indian Express’s Deputy Editor is incredibly insightful. Mark talks about journalism – past and present, his experiences during some of India’s most pivotal moments, which I found to be thoroughly educational.

Saif Omar, the host of the Musafir Stories Podcast, contributes actively to these roundups and this wouldn’t have been possible without him. Thank you, Saif!

As always, we would love to hear from you. If you want to talk to us about anything even remotely connected to podcasts, write to us at hello@podhead.co.

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In The Spotlight: Shankar And Vishnu Of The Writer And Geek Show

When we started Podhead, one of our most important objectives was to shine on the spotlight on the creators through a series of interviews. We’ve aptly titled the series “In The Spotlight”, and we are psyched to kick off the series.

The first interview of the series is with Shankar and Vishnu, hosts of the Writer & Geek show – a science and tech podcast.

To give you a brief of these two geeks, Vishnu quit his job at an MNC to be part of a startup which did not really work out. Shankar got fired from his HR job which led to him pursuing music. But they did not consider those endeavours to be failures. Rather, they believe those experiences have helped them lay the foundation for what they are right now; as a person and as a professional. Vishnu took the managerial skills he acquired from the startup and applied it to his current job with Dell Technologies and Shankar took the writing skills he acquired through music to start his own career in the field of media.

1. What are you guys doing in life currently and what’s with the bizarre career arcs? 

Shankar: I am a full-time Writer (mostly scriptwriting). Also, trying to grow a moustache. I’d say, the bizarre career arc is because I was confused and not following my heart till 2015.

Vishnu: I am a Software Engineer working as a Program Manager. Career arc is a result of following my heart, which I try to do every day.

2. How and when did you guys discover podcasting?

Shankar: Vishnu introduced me to podcasting in 2015. He started a podcast (Utter failure :p) back then and wanted to have me as the guest in one of the episodes. That’s when I got to know such a thing exists.

Vishnu: First time I listened to a podcast called The Shop Talk Show which is on web development and stuff because I was into web development. I liked the audio way of listening and learning stuff. Then discovered a whole lot of new ones out there.

3. When did you guys start Writer and Geek and what was the idea behind the podcast? One thing I always wanted to ask podcasters is – how does it feel when you launch a show, publish your first episode, and see that only a few people have listened to your show?

Shankar: We started prepping for Writer & Geek since the beginning of 2017 and the first episode aired on June 1st, 2017. The idea behind the show was (and still is) to put out the geeky livingroom conversations we have.

To be honest, I expected Writer & Geek to sustain for not more than three months. So, the number of listeners were never in my mind. I am actually surprised Writer & Geek still exists.

Vishnu: We launched in June 2017. The idea behind the show was to extend the geeky conversations we had casually in the comfort of our armchairs to an extended audience. The plan is not to give an expert opinion, but to make our listeners excited about stuff like the toothbrush and delve into the how things work or what really happened kind of stuff.

Initially, it is just your friends, relative and yourself listening. But we had a realistic expectation, so slow growth wasn’t a surprise.

4. You guys have explored topics such as phantom time hypothesis, Sherlock Holmes, AI and Pizza among others. What’s behind this eclectic choice of topics?

Shankar: It has never been a conscious decision. It boils down to our interests. The idea has always been to choose a topic which one of us finds interesting and talk about it. And we have never tried to limit ourselves to any particular genre.

Vishnu: We were good in general knowledge since we were kids, so naturally, we are curious about a wide variety of stuff. Mostly history, science, tech, etc. Also helps that we have a wide coverage in choosing topics for episodes, which can come back to bite us at times too!

5. Writer and Geek, seems like a passion project but long how can the passion last because the show has to be monetized sometime?

Shankar: It depends on what your definition of success is. Monetisation has never been a measure of success for me as of now. Yes, it would be wonderful to make a career out of Writer & Geek. But right now, success for me is when the listeners reach out back to us and tell how we have been able to add some value to their lives.

Everything takes time. If you expect things to happen in a short span of time, you are screwed. As Sean McCabe said, the idea is to show up every day for at least two years and put in the hard work without expecting any results. Have short-term goals and make it a reality while gliding towards the ‘Big Mac’ goal.

Vishnu: It is a passion project and might stay the same way. If we could monetize, it would be icing on the cake. We are using our podcast as a way to better our skills in another business area which might make us money and help in creating a new career in the future. I sincerely believe that the moment you bring money into the equation early in, you lose motivation to hit record. We still consider ourselves to be in the early stages.

6. How would you guys sum up the Indian podcasting scene?

Shankar: Back in February, I thought we are alone in this. But a lot has changed. Leave the Indian scene, Bangalore itself has a podcasting community comprising of 10-12 podcasts/podcasters. Amazing individuals with a helping mentality. That’s what I love the most.

Vishnu: Nascent, but actively growing.

7. Given the explosion in the number of podcasts being created, what would your advice be to wannabe podcasters?

Shankar: Concentrate on the Three C’s. Consistency, Curation, and Content.

Vishnu: Hit record and publish and be patient, very very patient.

8. This is one question I intend to ask everybody. How would you describe a podcast to a layperson?

Shankar: A podcast is a radio minus the time constraint.

Vishnu: Radio that can be listened to anytime on the internet.

9. What are your favourite podcasts?

Shankar: The Ground Up Show by Matt D’Avella (hooked), Audiogyaan, Be The Experience by The Shan Man, The Musafir Stories (A regular fixture), The Passion People Podcast, The Right Room by Rupen Paul, Work-At-Home Heroes by Caitlin Pyle, and many more.

Vishnu: Stuff you should know, The Ground up show, Hanselminutes, Seanwes, Art of Manliness to name a few (I listen to a lot of them.) and of course from India, Musafir Stories, Seen and Unseen, Passion People, etc.

If you are naturally curious, then you’re gonna love the show. If you aren’t, then get curious and start listening to the show here.

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The Weekly Podcasting Roundup

There’s a lot said and written about podcasts, but reality, most often than not is stranger than fiction. In this manifesto – Tom Webster, SVP, Edison Research, talks about what it takes to hit 100 million weekly podcast listeners. He takes a data-driven approach to dispel a lot of misconceived but pernicious notions about podcasting. – Tom Webster

Some exciting news about Android Auto. Users reported seeing the Google Podcasts app on Android Auto. The app doesn’t seem to be fully functional but it looks like an official announcement is imminent. – GSM Arena

Broadcaster E.W. Scripps announced its results and reported that the combined revenues from Sticher and Midroll grew by 50 percent. Scripps betting big on podcasts and had acquired both Sticher and Midroll at couple of years ago. – [a]list

Interesting piece on how journalists are using podcasts. – LA Times

Abhinandan Sekhri from Newslaundry moderated a panel at Media Rumble 2018 titled ‘Will Audio kill the Video star?’ with Amit Doshi (IVM podcasts), Christopher Lydon (father of the podcast) and Geeta Pandey (BBC India). You can watch the full session here.

Building a successful podcast is incredibly hard. Takes years of toil and a whole lot of luck to build a self-sustaining show. But curiously, podcasters tend to ignore some rather crucial things which end up being detrimental to their success. Here’s my piece on the six greatest sins of podcasters.

Voices from India

Storiyoh – the social podcast app, made in India, is now live! Storiyoh is a new way to discover, listen, curate, and share your favourite shows. You can now create your own community around podcast discovery and consumption. This is the first such platform in India. The app is available both for Android and iOS platforms. Learn more about Storiyoh here.

New launches

BBC World service makes its debut in India with the popular Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin’s My Indian life. In this series, Kalki follows real stories of the life of young Indian adults growing up in the 21st century. The first episode covers the life of Ehsan Hilal, a young male belly dancer who grew up in a conservative Muslim family, his challenges and his fight against all odds to follow his calling.

India’s premier podcast network, IVM podcasts is set to launch five new shows this August. You can check them out here.

The team behind In the field, a podcast about development, progress and social change, is creating a new podcast. The show titled Sea Change – explores societal change in the digital age and how to make an impact on the world we live in. This show is being created in association with Societal platform and Vakku.

What are we listening to?

Business Wars explores the fascinating rivalries of some of the biggest companies on the planet. I binged on the episodes chronicling the Nike vs. Adidas rivalry and gotta say, it’s was hard to stop listening.

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg was on Recode Decode with Kara Swisher. Matt spoke about the origins and the success of WordPress, the current state of news and more. Thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.

Order 9066 – A brilliant serialized, first-person account of stories of the infamous incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.

History of India podcast – This wonderful take on Indian history, starting from the 6th century by the ‘bumbling’ historian, Kit Patrick is a fun way of learning Indian history.

Armchair expert featuring John Favreau – lot of great insights on what it is to be the speech writer of former President Barrack Obama! The host Dax Sheperd has an in-depth conversation with John Favreau, host of “Pod Save America” about his life, left leaning stand, his big break writing speeches for President Obama and his latest podcast about the Democratic party – The Wilderness.

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The Six Greatest Sins Of Podcasting

Every time I read an article that says “Starting a podcast is easy”, a part of my soul dies. All you aspiring podcasters out there, podcasting is incredibly hard! If you think that you have a good idea and a sonorous voice, then think again, because you are not the only one out there. 

Starting a podcast and building it up is an arduous task. Calling it difficult would be an understatement. I’ve never built a podcast, but I’ve had the privilege of talking to them. Creating and building up a podcast is much like starting a company. You need to have the right product, know the market, your competition, and most importantly, your customers. You also need to be at the right place at the right time and also need to be lucky.

Working hard to build anything isn’t in itself a guarantee of success. A series of factors need to align for your labour of love to truly succeed.

When I was working on building Podhead, I had to visit hundreds of different websites to link to their respective sites and also listen to them. While I was doing this, I noticed a lot of things, both big and small, which are detrimental to the success of podcasters.

You voice, front and center

I’ve spent countless hours looking at the websites of hundreds of podcasts and I can count the number of good ones on one hand. Folks, your podcast is your product. If it is not front and center then you are missing out on hundreds of potential listeners. Don’t bury your episodes, put them from and center. This is the thing that matters the most. All the other pages and fancy things come next. Platforms like WordPress and Squarespace have made the process of building a good-looking website a breeze. You can build a minimal and functional site in a matter of a few hours.

Talk to me

Your job doesn’t end with you recording and publishing an episode. You will have to talk to your listeners to solicit feedback. Search for and engage potential listeners. Scroll through Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and where ever your audience is. Look for discussions relevant to your podcast and join the conversations. This is one of the best forms of advertisement you can get and for free.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to build a community of hardcore listeners of your podcast. It’s not easy and it takes time, but it’s worth the effort. There are a lot of simple things you can do to build a loyal community around your show. Newsletters are one of the best tools you probably aren’t leveraging. Create a newsletter to communicate with your listeners. Talk to them as human and not someone stringing words together. Offer them a sneak peek into your life as a podcaster, the creative process, and the frustrations.

The hit podcast “In the Dark”, successfully demonstrated how podcasters can leverage Facebook groups to engage loyal audiences as well as monetize. NPR has a Facebook group called, “Your Money and Your Life, which has over 45,000 members. A captive audience of this size is invaluable. 

It’s not just newsletters and groups, podcasters are leveraging WhatsApp, Telegram, and a whole host of other platforms, big and small, to build communities.

There’s a whole wide world outside iTunes

There is no doubt that iTunes is the mothership of all podcasts but there are other important platforms. I, for one, am very hopeful about the potential impact of Google Podcasts on the medium. Today, there are growing audiences in India, South Africa, Philippines among developing countries and countries such as the UK, Canada, and Australia among the developed countries. In India, South Africa, and Australia, Android commands a market share of over 80%. Android has a market share of 44% in the UK, 46% in Canada and Australia.

That’s a substantial audience. Make it easier for people to find your show on both the platforms. Add Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts buttons on your website and leave it at that. Don’t go overboard and clutter your page with 100 different buttons confusing potential first-time listeners.

Not just your show!

I was reading this post by Tom Webster of Edison Research. In the post, he wrote about the findings of a recent survey they did. Here are some really depressing numbers:

48% of people weren’t sure how to listen to a podcast.
37% don’t really understand what a podcast is.
65% don’t know where to start.
80% think that they don’t have a podcast app.

This was just in the US. Who knows how bad the numbers are in other markets. Your job as a podcaster doesn’t end with your show. You will have to be a cheerleader of podcasts, not just yours, and figure out ways to get people new to podcasts to listen to them. Think of yourself as a salesman of podcasts. You will have to sell the concept of podcasts, communicate why they should listen to a podcast, get them to install a podcatcher, and start listening. Not so easy right? Well, this is what you signed up for.

Respect the listener and his time!

This is the worst sin podcasters can commit. A couple of months ago, I discovered a podcast that seemed interesting. Due to various reasons, I am not going to disclose the name of the podcast. The show had marquee names as guests but the sound and production quality were terrible. It felt like an insult to the listener as well as the guests. The medium of podcasting has a lot of problems, but one thing we cannot afford is for good shows with potential fucking up. When a listener discovers and listens to your show, it’s your responsibility to deliver the best listening experience. The catalogue of shows in any given genre is ever-growing and if you snooze, you lose!

Good content first

Podcasters tend to focus on a lot of things which distract them from the main goal – make a good show. I bookmarked these tweets by Aaron Mahnke, creator of the hit show Lore because they just about sum up what a podcaster has to focus on.

Put yourself in the shoes of a listener and think for a second. Would you forgive these sins? Your entire world should revolve around making things easy for listeners. This singular focus will definitely yeild rich dividends.

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Weekly roundup of the top stories in podcasting

Hey folks, we finally went live with Podhead on Monday, July 23rd and the response so far has been heartening. Thank you, for all the amazing feedback and words of encouragement. Our missions of spreading awareness about podcasting is a daunting one, but we’re game.

With that being said, here’s the first edition of the weekly podcast roundup.

Podcast Movement 2018

This year’s edition of Podcast movement conference was held this week and there were exciting announcements and stories. Here’s a roundup:

  1. Allaccess had a running coverage of the movement and here are some snippets from their coverage and some interesting stats. According to Rob Walch of Libsyn, Apple is the number one source from which users access podcasts and Spotify is a distant second.
  2. Todd Cochrane of Blubrry urged users to focus on Android which he said represents 12% of the audience.
  3. Monday’s panel also has a discussion about forming a professional podcasting association. This would be a really good idea given the infancy of the podcasting medium. An organization solely dedicated towards the promotion of podcasts would do wonders in increasing listenership.
  4. Tom Webster, SVP of Edison presented the “Podcasting’s Next Frontier: 100 Million Listeners” report. The study threw up a couple of depressing numbers. 37% of listeners admitted to not knowing what a podcast while 48% of the respondents said they don’t know how to listen to a podcast. I haven’t seen the full report and don’t know the methodology used but, will keep my eyes peeled.
  5. All eyes were on Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Google’s product manager who told that the Google Podcasts app would be preloaded on Android phones. This would open up the app to billions of Android users.
  6. On a panel by James Cridland on audience acquisition, Dan Misener of Pacific Content said: “It’s still way too hard… there’s way too much friction”. He advised podcasters to look at things from a perspective of what it would be like for first time podcast listener.
  7. You can read the updates from the final day here.

In a chat on The NZ Tech Podcast, Rob Walch of Libysn says that they are seeing a 5:1 ratio in terms of Apple vs Android. Another statistic which still shocks me in spite of being reported a bazillion times is that Apple is responsible 79% for all the podcasts downloads if you consider all the other apps such as Castbox, Podcast Addict etc which scrape off data from the iTunes directory.

A lesson for podcasters here, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. With the entry of Google podcasts, your show can be exposed to thousands of new listeners across the world. Make it easier for people to find your show on Google podcasts. Start by displaying the Google Podcasts (not Google Play Music) badge on your site.

Rob also shared his view on the entry of Google Podcasts, Spotify being the number 2 after Apple, and more. Interestingly, he said that Libsyn is seeing a lot of new podcast listeners from India. Lots of other useful insights including the growing use of private podcasts, smart speakers, the ideal length of a podcast episode, and more.
– NZ Tech Podcast.

What makes a podcast great? Here’s what Jarl Mohn, CEO of NPR had to say. – Radioink

The Knight Center for Journalism is launching a free MOOC course on “How to launch and grow a hit podcast”. The course will be taught by Caitlin Thompson, podcast consultant and co-founder of Racquet magazine; Tobin Low, co-host and co-managing editor of the podcast Nancy; Rose Eveleth, creator and host of the Flash Forward podcast; Jacob Kramer-Duffield, a podcast analytics and audience consultant; and Jennifer Barish, manager of content acquisition at Stitcher Premium. – Knight Center

Anna Bager, EVP of Industry Initiatives for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) spoke to TechHQ about the changing perception of advertisers towards podcast advertising. – TechHQ

Nielsen Marketer’s Guide to Podcasting – 3Q18 by Nielsen. Has a lot of interesting data about the consumption patterns of podcast listeners. You can check out the full report here. We’ll do a post on the report soon.

Email newsletters are one of the most effective tools you have in your arsenal as a podcaster but many don’t leverage them properly. It is an incredibly effective medium to build enduring connections with your audience and solicit active feedback. You might already know Dave Pell, who runs the awesome Next Draft newsletter. He shares some awesome tips on building a successful newsletter in this blog post. – Dave Pell.

New podcast launches

Business Insider has launched a new podcast in association with Sticher called Household Name. The show features surprising stories about some of the biggest and the most well-known brands in the world.

CNBC International has launched a new show called Beyond The Valley. The shows aims to showcase tech stories outside the silicon valley.

Axios, the news publication started by Politico Co-founder Jim Vandehei, is getting into the podcast game. It launched a show titled Pro Rata which covers stories at the intersection of tech, business, and politics in 10 minutes.

Redbull launched a new podcast tilted Nightclubbing. The podcast tells the “Story of nightclubs that have transcended their four walls, through the voices of the owners, DJs, doormen and regulars who spent countless nights inside of them.”

IVM Podcasts has launched a new show called The Colaba Cartel. The series documents what it takes to build a successful restaurant. You can catch the first three episodes here.

Voices from India

The third edition of the Indian podcasters’ virtual meetup has been planned for August 5, 2018 at 5pm IST. Details are in the image attached.

This is on the back of a successful offline meet up of podcasters from Bangalore in July. Here’s a summary of the meetup.

Some great news from The Whickers Radio and Audio funding awards – The Indian motorcycling podcast – Biker Radio Rodcast has made it to the list of five finalists selected for RAFA 2018! Read more here.  

What are we listening to

Rukmini Callimachi of Caliphate on the Longform podcast.
Crowd violence in India – Seen and the Unseen.
Vitalik Buterin on Cryptoeconomics and Markets in Everything on Conversations Tyler Cowen.
John Carreyrou on Breaking Open the Theranos Scandal on Masters In Business with Barry Ritholtz.

Recommendations by Saif Omar, host of the Musafir Stories and I.

From next week, this update will also be published as a newsletter. If you would like us to cover something in the weekly update, please write to us at hello@podhead.co.

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