Taking Nepali podcasts forward

Asmita Manandhar, The Kathmandu Post.

Ben Hammersley coined the term ‘podcast’ in his 2004 article published in The Guardian. But it was more an afterthought than a deliberate and conscious naming—his editor needed him to add one more sentence to fill out the page, so he put the question to the readers. “What to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?”

After 15 years since the term was coined—even if a fluke or treated as an afterthought—the ’s popularity has certainly seen it become entrenched in media. It started as a means for alternative digital content, a closer relative to personal blogs, in audio format, but its prominence has seen a significant upsurge, drawing audiences as well as moneyed interests. Although internationally, podcasts have transcended their value from independent creators to established media houses, the trend is still taking baby steps in Nepal, say, local podcast creators.

“Many creators are just into podcasts as a hobby for now,” says Madhu Acharya, co-founder and CEO of Sharecast Initiative, an organisation catering to varied interests, from and audience insights, media content innovation, training and capacity building in radio sector to digital content distribution and marketing. “And that takes away any chances for sustainability.”

Acharya has been working in media, specifically in radio, for the last 23 years and views the new podcasting trend as a renewed and repackaged version of classic radio production. With his rich experience in content production, distribution and generation, he and his team have been supporting new creators to find various platforms for their content to engage and create their own audiences. One podcast they are supporting is The False Nine, a podcast mainly focusing on European football leagues—it has been gaining considerable momentum among aficionados.

“According to our data, there are 4,000 regular listeners for The False Nine podcast,” says Acharya.

But it is a challenge to gather such data for independent creators, says Itisha Giri, one half of the duo who hosts BojuBajai podcast. BojuBajai is regarded as one of the most popular podcasts in the Nepali sphere; it is not just appreciated for its content but also for its consistent and regular production.

“Our primary platform is SoundCloud but it is also featured on Hamro Patro and Nepali podcast apps,” says Giri. “So the number of our plays is scattered, but we can say that approximately we have 1,000 plays per episode.” BojuBajai has released 30 episodes since it started three years ago.

Giri admits they did not think the podcast would come this far when recording their first episode—under a table at her podcast partner’s workplace during after work hours. “But we received amazing audience engagement and feedback, which pushed us to produce more episodes,” she says.

The BojuBajai duo met when they were both auditioning for Vagina Monologues, an episodic play in Kathmandu. After realising they shared a common interest in critically reviewing broader Nepali popular culture, they hit it off. But soon, they had to work in a long-distance set up as Giri had to leave for Spain. Although they put in a lot of effort, pitching ideas and concepts through shared documents and Skype calls before recording an episode, it is still a side gig for both.

Read the full article on The Kathmandu Post

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