How To Discover and Understand Your Ideal Listener

Last week, I wrote about your podcast’s ideal listener and why it’s important to understand them.

This week, let’s talk about how to discover and create that ideal listener avatar. An avatar is representation of the characteristics that make up your ideal listener.

Understanding your ideal listener will and should drive everything to do with your podcast. Majority of your decision-making should consider how to serve your ideal listener audience.

Some data points that could make up your ideal listener avatar:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Where do they live?
  • Occupation
  • Single/Married
  • Socio-economic status
  • Education
  • What are their biggest pain points (as it pertains to your subject)?

And more.

Now, you already have a slight idea of who your ideal listener avatar is. The goal now is to confirm if this idea is infact true.

Remember: it is not your only listener avatar, just your ideal one.

So here are tactics to help find or confirm your ideal listener avatar

  • Look at your stats and data
  • Host surveys
  • Ask for direct feedback from your listeners.
  • Communicate with this ideal listener on social media
  • Meet them where they are

Doing this work is not easy. I’ve found a number of podcasters don’t like putting themselves out there beyond their podcast. I’m like you.

But this is necessary work if the growth of your podcast is important to you.

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Who Is The Ideal Listener For Your Podcast (And Why This Matters)?

To jumpstart your podcast, it is important to discover and understand your audience.

Your ideal listener is an avatar that represents the perfect listener of your podcast. This is a person who wants and needs the exact podcast that you are producing.

It is not your only listener avatar, just your ideal one.

Understanding your ideal listener is important for:

Audience Growth and Development

Your podcast growth and development is an important strategy to consider. It is hard to grow your podcast if you don’t know who your podcast is for. Understanding who the ideal listener is will allow you to target them directly.

Creating Content That Connects With Your Audience

If you know your ideal listener, creating content that they’ll want to consume hungrily will be easy. You’ll know what content to avoid and what content to chase. It makes your life easier.

Finding Advertisers And Monetizing Your Podcast

If you are able to grow and develop your audience, while also creating great connect that they connect with, you’ll be able to attract sponsorship.

Sponsors also have their ideal customers. And if your ideal listener is their ideal customer, you have gold!

Next week, I’ll share tips on how you can track down your ideal listener. Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments.

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters:  “Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed“

What Every African Podcaster Should Know About Anchor.

This article was first published on the 17th of August 2020 at Pods4Africa

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how many new African podcaster are leaning towards Anchor as their “starter” host and distributor over Soundcloud.

For a long time, Soundcloud was the first-choice for new podcasters on the continent, and the new (circa 2020) breed of podcasters are no longer turning to it for a number of reasons.

But is Anchor really the right place for the African podcaster? What’s the catch?

That’s a question that came up in the LinkedIn comments of that particular article after I’d recommended the use of Anchor to Ntshadi Mofokeng, a South African podcaster. The discussion that ensued involved the lovely Chris Mottes of Hindenburg Systems (a great audio editing software system), who brought up a… PINK FLAG… about using Anchor.

I thought it was worth sharing it here.

Was I missing something? Luckily, Chris was able to help further!

And there’s more! Ntshadi went on to actually ask Anchor (duh!) their policy on this. And the company shared a link to this blogpost.

The blog post says a lot, including the fact that they do not own your content. But ultimately we arrived at the same conclusion Chris pointed out: you can lose your RSS feed and doing so can be damaging to all the work you’ve already put in.

And so the question comes down to, do you care if you lose your RSS feed?

Perhaps, your podcast is simply for pleasure and you don’t see yourself wanting to do more with it. That’s totally fine and Anchor is the place for you.

But if you have bigger, wider goals for your podcast that might one day involve removing it from Anchor…well, buyer beware!

Thanks to Chris and Ntshadi!

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters:  “Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed“

What To Look For In A Podcast Producer.

Are you looking for a podcast producer?

In 2021, I have had a lot of enquiries from people looking for a podcast producer. The requests have come from new podcasters, established podcasters, organizations and more. But due to my schedule, I often have to say no.

Recently, I have noticed that most of the requests coming my way involve fixing whole productions that started without me, but need me to get to the finish line. When I am called to do this, it is usually because the producer before me has been fired for various reasons, including lack of delivery, lack of skill set, missing deadlines, miscommunication and more.

Fixing a production usually takes much more time and money than if you had the right producer in place from the start. So here is a list of what you should be looking for when looking to hire a podcast producer:

Are you being realistic about your expectations?
Podcast production is A LOT of work, the parameters of which are often misunderstood . Before you even consider looking for a producer, you have to be realistic about what you are asking. If you want someone to plan your episodes, do your bookings, record your podcast (audio and video), edit your podcasts (audio and video), perform the upload rites, and work on your podcast promotion (social media) as well…are you willing to hire them full time and pay them accordingly? In this description alone, I shared at least 8 different pretty specialized skill sets. It is not possible for one person to take on all these roles and do them well. Go check out the credits of your favorite podcasts. There is usually some form of a team behind the production, so be realistic about what you expect from your single producer.

Do they meet your podcast parameters and goals?
Once you have come up with specific expectations of your producer, be diligent in investigating whether or not the person you want to work with can actually do the work. A lot of the clients who come to me to clean up their projects often complain that the previous producer “said he/she could do it.” Sure, but how did you verify that fact to be true? Be diligent in verifying this because it will save you money, time and headache.

How is their professionalism?
Do they communicate well? Do they make deadlines? Is the final product what they promised? Do they take on your feedback? The technical work of your podcast is not the only thing you need to hire for. Make sure they are professional in their work and delivery. Ask for references to verify.

Does their rate fit your budget? 
Good producers are not cheap. So you often get what you pay for (although there are bad producers who are also pricey!!). But you also have to make sure that the producer you want to work with fits your budget. I talk about the need to budget for your podcast in my FREE GUIDE, so make sure you can actually afford to take on a producer. If you don’t consider this, your podcast will be short lived .

That’s my list. For those of you looking for a podcast producer, what are you looking for? And for those of you working with one, tell us what you like about working with your producer.

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters: “Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed“

“In Africa, Podcasting Is An Elitist Medium.”

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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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters:
Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed

Three New Innovations In Audio That Will Affect African Podcasters (Feat. Facebook, Apple & Twitter)

Sometimes there is news in the podcasting space that doesn’t necessarily affect African or developing market podcasters. Announcements like this are a big example.

But the month of April has been an interesting time for podcast tech announcements that actually could have an impact on the African continent. If the arrival of Spotify earlier this year was an indicator of things to come, these three innovations will do a lot more for the growth of African podcasting. Let’s jump into them.

Facebook Enters the Podcast Game
Facebook announced that their app will include a podcast player, as part of an upcoming set of “social audio experiences”  within the next few months.

As there has yet to be a podcast platform to own the podcast audience market  share on the majority Android-continent, Facebook’s introduction is big news! According Forbes , Facebook had 139 million users a month in Africa in 2018, 98% of whom connected via mobile. This was in 2018!!. The opportunity to reach new audiences through Facebook are huge! So watch this space!

Apple Podcasts Offers New Monetization Opportunity

Apple is up next. The tech giant announced the launch of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions to facilitate the discovery of “premium subscriptions.” Starting in May, listeners worldwide can pay to subscribe to podcasts and enjoy ad-free listening, additional content, and “early access to new series.

I have already written about the opportunities for podcast monetization in Africa. So this Apple announcement offers new opportunities.

Again, Africa is Android territory, but the socioeconomics around African podcasting have it that iOs users have been the earliest adopters of podcasts on the continent (I’ll write more about this soon).

Twitter Spaces Is Here And More Accessible Than Clubhouse

Clubhouse, a social networking app based on audio-chat, was all the rage in Q1 of this year. It seemed like everyone was on it. Twitter  rolled out its own version of the platform on its app in April, calling it Twitter Spaces. (I should note that part of Facebook’s answer to  Clubhouse, “Live Audio Rooms” was  also announced).

Twitter Spaces is important for the continent because Clubhouse is an iOs-only app. And with just under 80 percent of African mobile users on the Android platform, Clubhouse was leaving a lot of people out. Twitter Spaces allows for Android and iOs users, making this audio social media app accessible to all.

There  we go. Big news from Facebook, Twitter and Apple! Of course, I am taking the stance of wait-and-see to see how African podcasters and our audiences take up these platforms. If you’re an African podcaster I’d love to hear if and how you  plan to use these platforms to your advantage!

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters: “Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed“

African Journalists Should Be Podcasting. Here’s Why.

One of the African podcasting trends that I have struggled to explain is the slow uptake of podcasting by journalism entities on the continent.

Despite journalism and podcasting being extremely well-matched, African journalists have not  really been part of the growth and revolution of podcasting. As a former journalist myself, I am particularly surprised at news organizations that have yet to even consider a podcast strategy.

If you are one of these news organizations, this needs to change.

Why? Some of the best podcasts in the world are produced by journalists (think “NYTimes’ The Daily,” and “Serial” among thousands of others) because our skill set includes the things that are needed for good podcasts: great storytelling and good production.

We have also honed our (investigative) reporting and interview skills over years of work.

However, it appears that foreign news organizations like the BBC World Service and RFI, as well as independent/freelance journalists like the teams at South Africa-based Volume  and Kenya-based AfroQueer, have been the early adopters of journalism-based podcasts on the continent. We are also seeing non-journalists successfully take on the stories and work that news organizations are failing to cover.

I do understand there is a time and financial investment that many organizations are not willing to take on as explained in my post on “The 3 Most Common Causes Of Death For African Podcasts”. But for those still on the fence, here are reasons why African journalists should consider podcasting:

  • Build or show expertise in a specific area
    If you spend a whole year reporting on a specific beat, you’ll of course become an expert on that subject. Similarly, if you create 52 episodes around a specific subject matter you will be seen as an expert in that area.
  • Work on stories that are often overlooked
    Podcasting allows for depth, a luxury that is not often allowed to journalists chasing deadline. But it also allows us to work on the stories that fall to the wayside. Although our goal is to cover the life and times of our society, there is a lot of politics around the stories that get published. Podcasts give room to cover those story that are often left behind.
  • Reach new audiences
    With podcasts, there is an opportunity to reach new audiences. Podcasts are a way to connect your primary journalistic outlet (print,broadcast, digital) to these new audiences, and invite them into the larger offerings of your organization. You can read up on case studies from organizations that have been able to do this successful worldwide.

Other reasons journalists should podcast include the added value for freelance journalists expanding their portfolios and the opportunity to build your brand as a journalist.

I, myself, have had meetings with numerous news organizations continent-wide about potential podcast opportunities and strategies. It is encouraging to see those news organizations and journalists that do take the leap. 

For example, three years ago, I was invited to a board/group meeting  held by Kenya’s Nation Media Group to share my thoughts on the future of journalism in East Africa. I spent all my time talking about the future of podcasting. 

Perhaps my talk hit home, perhaps it did not. But I’m excited to see the news organization not only launch their own original podcasts, but it is also building a podcast network with some of Kenya’s most interesting podcasters.

These are the moves I like to see. 

If you are an African journalist that is or considering podcasting, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And if you are an African news organization ready to take the leap, reach out and let’s talk!

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters:
Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed

Questions From My Students: Should I Put My Podcast On YouTube?

I teach a 10-week podcasting course called Podcast From Scratch that teaches you the fundamentals, skills and strategies to launch your podcast with clarity and confidence. Every now and then I’ll share with you questions that my students ask me. 

Recently, my current cohort of students went through the Hosting & Distribution module of my course.  One student asked whether she should have her podcast on Youtube.

My answer: Yes…but.

Hear me out!

Yes, Every African podcaster should have their podcast on YouTube. 
YouTube is one of the world’s largest search engines. Africans, by far, are more likely to log-on to  YouTube than Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting platform, so YouTube is an extremely important platform to find new listeners and for new listeners to find you.

But …You Shouldn’t Get Caught Up About Appearing On Camera
Many podcasters assume that putting their podcast on YouTube means that they have to appear on camera. That’s not the case at all!

Although on-camera video is an added-value component to your podcast, I do think it should be an advanced podcast strategy. If you are a new podcaster, I am actually hesitant recommending that you start with being on-camera because this means additional time and money.

If you read my post about the 3 Most Common Causes Of Death For African Podcasts , the lack of time and the lack of money were two of the main culprits. And unless you have an abundance of time and money, I recommend waiting to add an on-camera video component to your podcast . 

Instead upload your podcast audio to YouTube with a visually-appealing cover image
This is a great starter YouTube strategy for podcasters. You can choose to either upload full podcast episodes or the most ear-catching clips. Either way, you want to reach new audiences and invite them to listen to your podcast.

So, start with the basics of putting your podcast audio on YouTube and then when you are ready, you can upgrade to providing an on-camera video component!

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Check out my new free guide for African podcasters:
Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed

The 3 Most Common Causes Of Death For African Podcasts 

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how Africans can start their podcasts. So I also wanted to talk about why they stop podcasting!

Indeed, there are many African podcasts—many of which had exciting and promising launches—that eventually came sputtering to a halt!

If these are podcasts that are lucky enough to have developed a consistent audience, it can be a shock for the listener to suddenly have a show they love stop releasing episodes—especially if the podcast ended with no warning.

But I have noticed a pattern as to why African podcasters tend to give up on their podcasts. I, myself, have run into and had to overcome them. By listing these three main culprits below, I hope it helps those of you new to podcasting to avoid these mistakes.

Let’s jump in to the three reasons African podcasters stop podcasting!

Lack of time
Every single podcaster you meet will lament at how much time it takes to put together a podcast. The amount of man-hours it takes to produce a podcast is often the biggest surprise to new podcasters, especially once you realize that creating a podcast goes way beyond just hitting record!

If you have not appropriately set aside enough time to work on your podcast, you’ll find your podcast competing— rather than complimenting— your life. 

And when your podcast competes for your time, that’s when most podcasters stop showing up!

Lack  of money 
I’ve said it before in previous posts, it is easy to get carried away with your spending when it comes to launching your podcast. And if you are shelling out money each time you have to put out an episode, then eventually your podcast will become too expensive for you to sustain.

That’s why lack of funds is also a big reason many podcasters stop.

Lack of patience
I am a culprit of this one. After I released my podcast, I was expecting immediate success!! I was confused why I didn’t have thousands of listeners and an advertiser after two episodes!

Like me, there are podcasters who are only a couple of episodes into their podcast and expecting immediate results. And when they don’t have these results, they become discouraged and stop!

That, my friend, is delusional!

Unless you already have a strong following (i.e. you are an influencer or celebrity), it’ll take some time to develop your audience. And this particular skill can take some time to establish.

Also, even if you have a big social media following, those numbers might not always translate to your podcast.

So what are the solutions to help you overcome or avoid running into these three issues? I’m glad you asked! I created a free resource that  will help with this exact thing. 

In my new FREE DOWNLOAD “Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed”, I focus specifically on solutions to overcome lack of time and lack of money. The tips I give will set you up for long term success, and make you a better podcaster.

Let me know what you think!

GRAB YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD of Podcast Tips That Won’t Leave You Broke Or Overwhelmed while it’s still available here.

‘The Comb’: An Interview with Kim Chakanetsa, Host of the BBC’s First Africa Podcast.

This week, I am knee-deep in judging the BBC World Service’s first international podcast competition, which is looking to find and create the next great African podcast. So it seemed like the right time to bring back this interview with Kim Chakanetsa, the host of BBC Africa’s flagship podcast, “The Comb.”

This interview was first published on the 23rd of July 2020 at Pods 4 Africa

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If you follow podcast launches on the continent, you won’t have missed the fact that BBC has released a new Africa-focused podcast called “The Comb.”

This is the first African “podcast-first” show from the BBC. Although “Africa Today” is their daily podcast, it is made up of repurposed content from the popular daily radio show, “Focus of Africa.” And because of the BBC’s importance on the continent, the company’s decision to invest in “The Comb” is a strong barometer for many looking at the growth of African pods.

“The Comb’s” setup allows for more longform, in-depth audio storytelling where the team will be “combing Africa for stories about the unseen forces that bind us together and tear us apart.”

I reached out to the podcast’s Zimbabwean host Kim Chakanetsa, who is also the host of BBC World Service’s “The Conversation,” to chat about the new podcast [Fun fact: we are also former classmates!]. Since its launch in early July, she has been recording “The Comb” from her makeshift studio in her home in London due to COVID-19. In this interview, we talked about the development of the show, some of the strategies BBC is undertaking, and the potential of podcasting in Africa.

[Full disclosure: I consulted briefly on the pod about Africa-wide podcasting trends and insights]

This interview has been edited for clarity and length

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Q: For those who haven’t had a chance to listen, how did “The Comb” come about?

A: So the “Focus on Africa” radio program also produced “Africa Today,” which is basically its daily news podcast. But it was very much centered on the radio program with extracts and slightly longer interviews in there. But it’s very much built around that. So there was always this idea that we should make another podcast… but these things take time. And then, in November 2019, there was this idea that now we should go ahead now. So in conjunction with the World Service podcast team — there are two teams: a BBC Africa team and the World Service podcast team — sort of came together and started thinking about it. And we piloted a couple of things. We always knew that it was definitely going to be a newsroom podcast because I think our strength is that we’re in the newsroom. It wouldn’t make sense for us to do like a roundtable or pop culture…I love those! But I think you kind of want to kind of reflect your strengths.

So, we played around with formats and we played around with what it could possibly sound like. So November, December, January… we’re doing all that. And we were thinking it would launch maybe May and June. And then obviously, the pandemic got in the way. And that really pushed things back dramatically because there was a lot that we wanted to do. We really wanted to be traveling around a little bit. We wanted, ideally, to go to universities and talk to people and get direct feedback, and just be a little bit more interactive. Because otherwise you’re just kind of recording in a hole by yourself and hoping and just putting it out there.

But obviously we put a break on those plans. We still are hoping to do that and hopefully that will work even better because we’ll have a little bit of a catalogue. Eventually, we thought instead of letting [the pandemic] force us to push things back, let’s actually move things forward and address it.

Q: And so, it was considered an accompaniment to the other daily Africa podcast, but you wanted to go more in-depth, more long form?

A: There’s been some research that was done in terms of trying to understand our audience… And there were a couple of points that came out of that. I think sometimes when you’re covering a story often you assume everyone’s been following every step of that story. But someone can just dip in for the first time and are like, “Huh?” So I think people were saying they want things told [in an accessible way]. They want to go in-depth but they don’t want to be bogged down where they just like, “What is happening?” So it’s that tricky thing of trying to find that balance of giving people who’ve been following enough new information, and giving those who don’t know anything enough for them to follow. And so we wanted to do something that’s in depth. We wanted to focus on a single story because I think it’s actually really hard to do multiple stories and give them the kind of treatment they deserve. It ends up being a little bit quick. So if we could just focus on the one story that will give us room to have maybe multiple contributors. And just let the story breathe a little bit. So that was one of the things that we wanted to do.

Q: Who is this podcast for?

A: Who we would really like to reach…you know, Paula, our continent is so young. We have this massive really young population. And based on conversations I have with my cousins, the way they consume media is completely different to the older demographic — 40 plus, 50 plus… It’s like a pick-and-mix thing of [content options]. There’s no sort of appointment listening at 7 o’clock, you know?…And I think that demographic is one that, not just the BBC, but I think everyone is chasing. And I think that you have to be quite careful in how you chase things because I don’t think it should influence the way you do journalism. Does that make sense? Like I think the onus is on us to make it interesting, so that people come. But we’re not going to do something really kind of thirsty…I guess is the word…stuff that’s trying to pander in a way that feels unnatural to us. So just try make it interesting

Q: Do you feel like you are being allowed more experimentation and more room to try new things with this podcast?

A: You’re absolutely right. One of the joys of this is that…there’s this idea of like no one quite knows how to go about things. So the road is just open… which is great. And because there’s no blueprint, there’s obviously going to be mistakes made, but hopefully there’s going to be successes. And so this gives us a lot more freedom. Because obviously as a big organization, there has to be some structure. Because we’re not small and nimble; we’re kind of big. And there are loads of people that have to weigh in on things, but we’re very lucky in the sense that we’ve been given a lot more freedom than, I think if I’m honest, people would normally be given.

Q: Nairobi is the largest BBC bureau outside of London. Why is the first African podcast being recorded in London and not Nairobi? Or in Africa?

A: That’s an excellent question. Obviously, HQ is London and the podcast belongs to the “Focus On Africa” team. The team sits in London with its network of reporters all around the continent. For logistic purposes, it makes sense that it has to be a centralized place where it’s recorded and London makes sense because that is where the majority of the team is. As strange as this may sound, it’s just really [the producers] who are here. The bulk of it, in terms of our voices and everything else, are reported elsewhere. And truly, we’re hoping that we would be out [in the field] most of the time recording. And I do see that happening once travel and stuff [opens up]. I do think that when you listen to the podcast and listen to the voices, it’ll be very clear that London plays a tiny role in the grand scheme of things.

Q: Yeah, these first few episodes have had different people from all over the continent

A:And that’s gonna be a big challenge as well, just in terms of like, trying to reflect not only Kenya, not only Nigeria…Because the temptation is to go to certain places, and we do get criticized for that, and I understand it. And this is why we do need this network of journalists and because we want to be everywhere truly. It’s actually harder than you think because one of the challenges is getting things in quality. There will definitely be episodes we will have to have a scratchy line because we need that person so badly and there’s nothing else that you could do. Because we spend a lot of time just logistically to get people to record themselves. But that mission of trying to reflect as many voices on the continent as possible, and have it truly be an African voices podcast. Our mission really is to make sure that we have those voices in the podcast.

Q: What is considered success for you as a team?

A: I think for me there’s sort of two rungs of success. So for example, after the first episode [about how COVID-19 is disrupting university life], a girl from Zimbabwe contacted me on Instagram saying, “I really felt that episode because we’re going through the same thing, but it’s much harder because the economy is really bad already in Zim.” And so then I got in contact with her and she actually features at the end of the second episode. And it sounds very basic, but the fact that someone would sit down to compose an email because it’s just easy to go about your day…But for me, that felt like this is great. And then also on social media, we put out some of the clips and there were a lot of people saying, “I’m in the same situation. I’m here in x country. This happened to me. I haven’t been able to graduate as well, Stay strong.” And it felt like a genuine conversation of people who have been through similar things. So for me, I really was happy with that. Because you don’t always get that.

In terms of numbers, I’ve always been skeptical of podcast numbers as it is because I don’t think there’s any good way of measuring. I’m trying to not be tethered to the numbers. But I guess for me, it will be more of a word of mouth thing where people organically recommend episodes. And I don’t know how to measure that, Paula. Like there’s no way to measure that. And like I said, because I’m skeptical of podcast numbers, I don’t really know how we’ll know the success. But I think you’ll get a sense that people are engaging with the work… But we will look at numbers. We definitely will look at them because you have to.

And I know the diaspora always comes [through]…And so there’s that. But I guess for us, the test is the audience in Africa specifically. Plus it’s all fractured. There’s not just one gatekeeper. It’s not just iTunes so you can’t just get iTunes figures…

Q: On that note, how are you considering distribution?

A: So we are very fortunate to have a business development team that can take on that headache for us. And we have partner stations that we work with. And letting them know and seeing if they’re interested in trying to carry it somehow…

Q: …Like syndication?

A: That’s one way. And then, the main thing also is you have your [Africa-strong audio streaming platforms like] Boom Play, and Iono.fm and trying to make sure that we are available on these platforms as well just to make ourselves as visible as possible. I think as we go along, other places will come up and we’ll try to make sure that we’re seen on those.That’s really it. There’s no kind of magic strategy apart from just trying to be everywhere where people might be able to access us.

Q: On the pod, I heard you talking about Whatsapp outreach. I like to hear what people can do with the platform. What are you doing with WhatsApp as it pertains to audience development?

A: I would love it if we could somehow be able to distribute on WhatsApp, but it’s not a distribution platform like that. Because I know everyone uses WhatsApp. We obviously will be keeping an eye on the stories, and what people are discussing. But the true mission is to get people to tell us what they want to hear. So someone from Sierra Leone is able to get in contact, and say, “Oh, there’s this story in my neck of the woods.” Or maybe it’s a completely underreported story. And then we can weave them into the program…it just depends on what the story is or how we can use them.

We’ve always said that we want to be listener-led. And that’s actually quite a difficult mission. Because you’re relying on people to get in touch with you. But in order to do that, you have to show people that when they write to you, it’s not for naught. That’s what we really want to do: to build an excellent community of people who can come to us and say oh this story and that story. And I think that’s going to take a long time to fully build in. I’m very keen for people to get in touch with us and and email us.

Q: Kim, what has surprised you about the process of creating and putting out the pod?

A: I guess I’m surprised that…I kind of understand why it might be…but I’m surprised that there aren’t more Africa news podcasts out there. Does that make sense? And maybe we’ll find out the reason why not when we fall flat on our faces (laughs)! We’ll say, “Oh this why!”

Q: You have a few episodes out now. So what are your hopes for the podcast?

A: So, what I would really love, Paula, is to look back in about six to twelve months, and look back and see that we’ve done a real rich range of stories that reflects a real range of issues. That we haven’t fallen into certain narrative traps. Ideally, flights will be available because for me as a journalist, I want to be out there. I want to go record a couple of episodes elsewhere. But obviously there are all kinds of constraints. So I’d love to be able to take us out of the studio or out from under the duvet (laughs) and go places.

Also, I’m really trying to get female voices in there as well. Genuinely, we are trying to do that. Because again, that takes time . That takes a little bit more time, more outreach. But I’d like to look back [and see] that we’ve got a lot of good female voices because I think that’s very useful not only for us but for the BBC as a whole. It’s something that should have been done a long time ago and I know it’s a mission that a lot more people are trying to get on.

Q: Why “The Comb”?

A: The verb is to comb, to tease out, to unpick, to untangle, to rake through… it’s a very kind of vivid verb. Everyone knows when you see a comb, you know what it does and what it is. We wanted something striking visually, a name that’s evocative, but also simple. It works on a number of levels. And Fred Martins, our artist, makes some beautiful combs [laughs].

Q: I think Africans all recognize that particular comb, right? That image.

A: It’s so funny because I went around with options. I was showing all my colleagues [and they picked this one]. They’d say, it reminds me of pain before school with my mum [laughs].

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