The “audible revolution” came in the US around 2004. Nearly everyone was starting a blog, iPods were popular, and the internet was becoming ubiquitous. Everything was in order, as The Guardian noted at the time, for “a new boom in amateur radio” on the Web – “But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?”
That was perhaps the first usage in mainstream media of the word podcasting – an industry that has since grown spectacularly. According to one estimate, advertising revenues from podcasts grew in 2017 by 86% to $314 million. In India, the form hasn’t reached tipping point yet, but independent creators, music apps and media houses have been increasingly testing the waters.
Every December, Apple announces its best-of lists, detailing what it considers is the best content on iTunes and its App Store. In keeping with this tradition, it published its picks of Indian podcasts for 2018.
Maed in India
Named after its host Mae Mariyam Thomas, this podcast focuses on indie music in India. In each episode, Thomas interviews an independent musician in her exuberant style, and in keeping with the tagline “60% music, 40% talk”, intersperses the conversation with the artist’s songs. Prateek Kuhad’s second appearance on the show, for instance, begins with a new version of his single Did You Fall Apart. Kuhad talks about a girl he had met in Pushkar who inspired one of the earliest songs he wrote – he has since lost the recording. He also discloses what the muse behind his new album cold/mess thinks about it. Started in 2015, each hour-long episode is unembellished and breezy.
A show about etymology may not grab everyone’s attention, but host Rachel Lopez adds the right amount of lightness to keep listeners engaged. In the episode on the roots of the word pomegranate, Lopez weaves stories of lust, kidnapping, fertility and bombs. Never more than four minutes long, Wordy Wordpecker was first published by IVM Podcasts in August.
NoSugarCoat with Pooja Dhingra
In this show, pastry chef Pooja Dhingra speaks to chefs, restaurateurs and food critics to bring “to light the stories behind restaurant walls and kitchen doors”. Masterchef Australia judge Gary Mehigan tells her about the time he was chastised by indignant Indians when he Instagrammed about spring onion pancakes. Kelvin Cheung, who grew up in Chicago, recounts his struggles when he opened his first restaurant, One Street Over, in Bandra six years ago. Each episode is about 40 minutes long.
Audiogyan’s raison d’être is documentation of “thoughts and ideas of people who have devoted themselves to art”. Its 100 episodes cover diverse topics, ranging from design, folk music, strains of classical music to radio production, advertisements and cartoons. The show follows a question-and-answer format and each episode usually averages around 30 minutes.
Movie Wala Podcast
Flo and Tanvi, the hosts of this Bollywood podcast, discuss a different popular Hindi movie in every episode. With their sarcastic take on the sartorial choices and evolution of the characters, the show sounds like an informal conversation between two friends. Though the premise isn’t original, the relatable banter and the hosts’ penchant for sharing trivia can make it fun.
A three-episode series, Sea Change discusses how the internet can propel social change and make it more efficient. The hosts, researchers Samyuktha Varma and Radhika Viswanathan, talk to leaders of civil society organisations and economists to understand how they are working towards their “ambitious goals”. In the second episode, for example, the hosts take the listener to a Chennai school that has incorporated QR codes in textbooks to help teachers and students access learning material.
Building it up with Bertelsmann
Claiming to be India’s first business podcast, this show features conversations with Indian start-up founders and investors. The aim: to understand the secrets of entrepreneurship. How do you build a start-up? When should you go public? How can storytelling scale up businesses? In one episode, Shradha Sharma, founder and CEO of YourStory, a platform for entrepreneurial stories, suggests that being “real” helped her build a long-term relation with consumers. “More often than not we undervalue the audience,” said Sharma. “They want to see the naked, authentic you.”
Stories by Premchand
As the title suggests, this podcast features readings of stories written by celebrated author Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, popularly known by his pen name, Munshi Premchand. Narrated by Sameer Goswami, the show sounds almost like an audio book. There are no foley sounds and Goswami’s narrative style doesn’t involve much voice modulation. Started in March 2017, with the story Jurmana, which looks at the life of a sweeper, there have been 200 episodes so far.