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Hello Podcasters! Central Asia Holds First Podcast Festival

IWPR has united experienced and beginning podcasters of Central Asia, Russia and United Kingdom at the online festival “Hello Podcasters!”.

Podcasts are just gathering pace in Central Asia and have a huge potential for development. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) of UK has held the first in the region online podcast festival with the financial support of the British Government in order to share experiences, talk about the future and prospects in this sector.

The festival has united nearly 200 participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, including experienced and beginner podcasters, those who are going to record their first podcast or just think about it.

From left to right: Abakhon Sultonazarov, Begaiym Adzhikeeva and Paul Robbins

“This three-day festival is designed to see the potential of podcasters in Central Asia. We have united the best podcasters in Central Asia, Russia and UK who are willing to share their experiences and expert knowledge with 200 festival participants,” said Abakhon Sultonazarov, the regional director of IWPR in Central Asia.

The “Hello podcasters!” festival became a platform not only for sharing experiences, but also for establishing contacts between regional podcasters, as well as for discussion of problems, prospects and opportunities.

“Browsing the web page of the festival I was impressed by a variety of podcasts in Central Asia. It is obvious that the podcast industry is relatively new and it can become a useful and handy way of getting information about different subjects varying from entertaining programmes to analytical podcasts,” said Paul Robbins, regional manager of the programme portfolio in Central Asia, UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund in Central Asia, speaking at the opening ceremony.

The festival was held for three days, and on the first day two parallel groups were working simultaneously.

For beginner podcasters, Marina Sharipova (Kazakhstan), the author of podcast “Sea time” and co-author of podcast “Knigometr”, explained how to develop a podcast concept, while the topic editor of the podcast studio “Meduza” Anna Chesova (Russia) told how to choose the most appropriate format. Then, when the topic was background music, the speaker was Aleksei Zelensky (Russia), the graphic designer of podcasts “Istorii russkogo seksa”, “Dengi prishli”, “Sperva rodi”, and others. And the founder of studio “Podcasterskaya”, Lev Pikalyov, held the final session of the first day regarding technical issues: what to record on if there’s no studio, and what errors to avoid during editing.

The second group held a session for those who already started their podcast and have some experience. The first day for continuing participants was opened by Kristina Vazovsky (Russia/UK), the founder of the studio “Tolk” and author of podcasts “Eto proval”, “Izvini, chto golosovym”, “K tebe ili ko mne” (co-author), “Kristina, dobry den!”. She told how to build the ecosystem of a podcast and promote it on social media and via offline events. Then Rachel Humphreys (UK), the co-presenter and producer of the daily podcast of The Guardian “Today in Focus”, shared her experience of creation of an analytical podcast. Aleksandr Polivanov (Russia), the former deputy chief editor of Meduza and co-author of the podcast “Dengi prishli”, told about monetising a podcast. And the author of podcasts “Blitz and chips”, “Boom Clap” and “Zhut”, Grigory Prorokov (Russia), told how to create a community around a podcast.

The second day of the festival was dedicated mainly to discussion of problems and prospects of the sector in Central Asia. The only theoretical session was about storytelling in podcasts from the author of podcast “Dark matter”, Evgeny Babushkin (Russia).

Evgeny Babushkin

Then, the coordinator of the IWPR “Development of new media and digital journalism in Central Asia” project, Begaiym Adzhikeeva, shared the results of survey of podcasters in the region.

According to 27 podcasts of the five Central Asian states, their aggregate number of listeners was 1,179,880. However, most of podcasts are not monetised (17 out of 27) and for many podcasters this is a hobby, not a source of income.

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The key problems, according to podcasters, are small audience and no advertisers.

The discussion of difficulties in the sector of podcasts continued during the panel discussion “The pain and future of podcasting” with the participation of podcasters based in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Then festival participants divided into working groups so that to make up a plan together to solve four main problems:

  1. Small audience: how to increase it?
  2. Monetisation and attracting businesses and partners. How to do it?
  3. How to build a community of podcasters in Central Asia?
  4. The future of podcasting in Central Asia: what awaits us?

The third day of the festival was a logical continuation of problems in the area of podcasting. One of them is the statistics of podcast listening. It is required not only to evaluate the success of a project, but also for advertisers. However, there is no single resource collecting and providing honest statistics. Eduard Tsarionov (Russia), chief editor of Podcasts.ru, told about how and where to collect podcast statistics.

As for advertisers, Mikhail Kokin (Russia), the publisher and digital director of the brand media agency “Dorogaya redaktsiya”, said why business needs podcasts and how to pitch podcasts to business.

Mikhail Kokin

The final day of the festival was dedicated to the panel discussion “The sound power: experiencing support of the podcast sphere by international organisations” with participation of international organisations working in the region and supporting podcast creators. They shared their insights of the sector and their future plans.

Feedback of participants

Almost everything was new to me! What’s most important is that I’ve decided to record a podcast! I can write the concept of the podcast based on my knowledge I acquired here. I think the materials provided to us were elaborated well. It was a cool idea to divide all into two groups and to discuss the topics that are relevant to all podcasters! I liked the speech of Lev Pikalyov so much! It was so interesting, clear and inspiring!
Well, friends, this festival is not about knowledge, it is the symbol of movement for audio content! The fact that I, to my own surprise, attended three sessions live (I prefer listening to records at *2 speed and skipping the pauses), makes me express my respect and a million of thanks.
I have learned about the classification of podcast genres, the uniqueness of each one, and recommendations for listening of every genre. I have also listened about the ways of monetisation and how to create a community around a podcast. Now I have some concepts of my future podcasts.
Absolutely every guest was speaking about the things that could be applied. Combined presentations and voice guides let me perceive the information better. Sound examples cited by Aleksei were really useful. He helped me understand the effect of jingles and inserts.
I liked the words by Marina Sharipova. She said that a podcast must be treated as a brand. Aleksei Zelensky in detail told about the sounds and sound design, why they are needed, and great examples. So, this knowledge was absolutely new. The detailed presentation by Lev Pikalyov was really interesting 🙂 Right now I can think over the concept, the purpose of my podcast, and motivation for it, who I will do it for, who’s going to be my audience.

This festival became possible under the “Development of new media and digital journalism in Central Asia” project. The project is implemented by the Institute for War&Peace Reporting (IWPR) with the financial support of the Government of the UK. The opinions expressed during the project events and/or project publications do not express those of the Government of the UK and IWPR.

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