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.