I was recently in a meeting in which I was helping a local organization build a podcast training curriculum for their employees. One of the other trainers, who is well-versed in the local media landscape said something that gave me pause.
“At this time, podcasting is still an elitist medium in Africa.”
I flinched… mostly because he was right. At this particular time, podcasting is for the middle class and higher. It is yet to become a platform for the African mass market.
This fact was obvious early on when I started building Africa Podfest in 2019. One of our early events in Nairobi was a series called the “Unconference on Podcasting,” an effort to bring together podcasters from around the city to connect and talk about their podcasting journeys.
The audience that showed up were majority middle class and higher. It was clear then that part of the work of Africa Podcast would be to bridge that gap.
How do you make podcasting accessible to all?
Here are the three reasons why podcasting remains inaccessible to the mass market.
- The Cost of Listening
Most podcasts are listened to on our phones. As a result, many either download their podcasts at home or at work where they have access to the internet. But the other option is to pay for bundles to access the internet, which can be pricey depending on your country’s options. Furthermore, telecom companies have yet to offer special podcasting bundles with platforms as they do, for example, for YouTube. Until we get more accessible bundle pricing packages for podcasts, this will continue to be an issue.
- The Cost of Making A Podcast
At this particular point in time, making a podcast in Africa could be more affordable. I talk about that in this blogpost “The 3 most Common causes of podcast death.” This is the main reason why podcasting feels like a medium for the middle class and up. Because those who get to make and sustain podcasts are from this demographic.
- Are the podcast topics accessible?
Because the cost of making a podcast can limit the people who get to make podcasts, it also limits the potential diversity in content/languages that would be of interest to a mass market. For audiences to listen, they have to feel like a podcast has been created for them and reflect their lives. This has to be reflected in the podcasts we are producing
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these three points I made for why podcasts are currently being considered a medium for a certain class of people. I’d also love to hear any particular solutions you see to help podcasts become more accessible to the mass market
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