BENGALURU:Radhika Dutt, a 25-year-old chartered accountant, travels between HSR Layout and Whitefield on a daily basis. During the 17 odd kilometre commute, Radhika is not listening to music or the radio. Instead, she’s brushing up on her financial knowledge by listening to podcasts.
Considering long hours of work, Bengalureans may not have adequate time to catch up on reading, which is why an increasing number of working professionals are making use of podcasts to compensate for it. ” During my daily drive, I have gotten hooked to finance-related podcasts such as Money Matters, Adventures in Finance and Paisa Vaisa. For a non-tech person like me, these podcasts have made it easy for me to grasp basic concepts,” says Radhika, who is currently obsessed with concepts of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
Among the smartphone owning millennials, spending hours commuting or finishing up everyday tasks, podcasts are changing the way they consume information. Issues range from history, pop culture, finance, political commentary, business, education, government, fitness, kids and family, religion and spirituality, sports and technology-the list is endless. More often than not, the episodes are between 20 to 30 minutes involving a conversation between two or more people or a solo host. One of them may take on the role of asking questions, while the other answers them.
“I listen to a history podcast on World War. For example, one episode spoke about Churchill’s inhumanity and role in causing the Bengal famine. They compare this to the western perception of him being a war hero. I was so caught up in the discussion that, as strange as it may sound, I found myself wishing for more traffic just so I can finish listening to the ongoing episode, before reaching office.”
Talk Radio without advertisements
Podcasts shot to fame in the west in 2014 when non-fiction investigative crime show, “Serial” was released, witnessing around 200 million downloads until now. India is not too far behind and the age of podcasting has only just reached the intellectual urban Indian youth, with iOS and android technology making it increasingly easy to subscribe to them.
An hour into listening to the radio, and many are ready to tune off thanks to advertisements dominating the shows..
As college student Mansa Prasad points out, podcasts remind her of fond childhood memories of listening to radio programmes. “Except that this is better. There are no interruptions. Radio programmes these days are filled with incessant chatter of RJs, and commercials. With podcasts, I don’t have to keep switching channels every time one of them is on an advertisement break. The episode is more or less seamless and I listen to it before sleeping or after waking up,” Mansa says.
Her current podcast favourite includes ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, a fiction podcast of a horror and fantasy genre. It is about a strange town where a radio broadcaster reads out daily news about the town.
For those who are unaware of the medium, podcasts are broken into successive episodes of an average of 20 minutes. These can include news, advice, interviews while audio books are long and winding reading out of an already existing novel or textbook.
Local Podcasters’ take: the trend is growing slow and steady
It can’t be called tech capital of India, without Bengaluru having even a podcast about the software world.. Two years ago, Subramani Jaisankar started a podcast called Bangalore Bits about product design and software development. “We cover technologies that are going to dominate the current year, upcoming global and Indian tech events. For example, we had a guest speaker who talked about the latest programming language, Ruby,” says Subramani, who is in the process of partnering with other local podcasters for a new series in July.
He admits that when they launched their show in 2016, the number of listeners were few.. “We hardly got a response from India. In fact, most of our listener base was from abroad. But from January 2017 , we suddenly observed an increasing number of local downloads. People can get a depth of understanding from listening to podcasts,” Subramani says.
For Chartered Accountant and founder of Passion People podcast, Naga Subramanya, the medium is best described as an on demand talk radio. “ My friend and I started the show in December 2016 and the trend has definitely picked up. I can be running, commuting and still absorb information. Podcasts are a non-intrusive mode while at the same time being a personal way to reach out to people,” opines Naga.
His episodes could be interviews of writers, artists, or NRIs who’ve come back to the city to take up urban farming full time. “I ask them what motivates them to take this up. I want to go beyond preconceived notions of “success” in the Indian society,” says Naga.
If one believes this a solely english medium, they must think again says Sharath Kumar, host of Kannada podcast Nallikayi (gooseberries) about the latest Kannada literature.
A former techie with an MNC, Sharath often came across those who could only speak Kannada but not read it. “I contact Kannada bloggers and ask them to narrate their written content. I review new and upcoming Kannada literature. My last episode was about a Kannada writer who narrates her experience of shifting to a foreign country,” he says.
“ While I was initially surprised about the steady pickup, I figured that emotions are better conveyed in the audio format than words. There are sufficient listeners but we need more content creators,” says the freelance web developer