Singapore’s fight against Covid-19 comes alive in new ST podcast series

ST senior health correspondent Joyce Teo (left) with podcast producer Hadyu Rahim. ST PHOTO: ERNEST LUIS

SINGAPORE - The “sights” and sounds of Singapore’s fight against Covid-19 so far come alive in a new podcast series by The Straits Times.

Titled Singapore’s War On Covid, the series comprises six episodes, the first of which premieres today (March 7). The episode is titled 24 People Saved One Life.

A new episode will premiere every two or three weeks, till July.

The podcasts are based on selected chapters from In This Together: Singapore’s Covid-19 Story, a recently launched book by The Straits Times.

The episodes are narrated by ST executive editor Sumiko Tan, senior health correspondent Joyce Teo, and health correspondent Timothy Goh, all of whom worked on the book.

“We have told the Covid-19 story so far in the newspaper, on our website, in a book, and in videos. Doing it as a podcast was a natural next step,” said Ms Tan. “The medium allows us to bring the story even more vividly to life through real sounds and voices.”

Ms Teo, the host of a fortnightly podcast series called Health Check, is no stranger to the audio medium. But recording her chapter was a different experience for her. 

“I usually talk to my guest, we do a few edits and it’s good to go,” she said. “This series is special. It’s a narration, and I wanted to get the tone right so that people won’t fall asleep listening to it.” 

Ms Teo, who narrates the first episode about a grandmother’s brush with Covid-19 and the 24 people who helped her recover, described the podcast as an intimate experience. 

“Hearing the newsmakers come alive in a way that is not possible in print, you instantly feel closer to them,” she said.

Ms Tan, who has done voiceovers for her Lunch With Sumiko series, spent about 10 hours in the podcast studio to build up her stamina and train her voice, just to produce two 20-minute episodes.

Mr Goh, who had no prior experience with the audio medium, found the recording process surprisingly challenging. 

“I had no idea so many hours of effort went into producing a simple 20-minute episode,” he said. “But after listening to the final product, I know it was definitely worth it, and hope listeners enjoy it.”

The trio were guided by ST podcast editor Ernest Luis and podcast producer Hadyu Rahim.

Mr Hadyu said his main challenge was translating the story from a piece of text to an auditory experience. He had to put across emotions in sound so that listeners would be able to see an image in their heads.

“It wasn’t only about finding the right music to set the tone, but how the narrators articulated their emotions through their voice,” he explained. 

He added that multiple drafts had to be done for each chapter, with some sessions needing to be re-recorded entirely.

Mr Luis started The Straits Times’ and The Business Times’ podcast network about three years ago. The network hit one million downloads in the last year, and presently has about 30,000 unique listeners from more than 200 countries. It is currently the top monthly audio network in SPH Media.

Aside from the main ST Podcasts channel on Apple or Google Podcasts and Spotify, ST has 15 podcast series that produce regular episodes every other week. There are plans to ramp up more new series in the coming months.Of the Covid-19 series, Mr Luis said: “Podcasts bring our words to life, and coupled with the actual voices of patients, doctors and politicians, I learnt quite a lot about Singapore’s Covid-19 fight through producing this series. Hopefully, listeners will feel that way too.”

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In This Together: Singapore's Covid-19 Story retails for $28 (with GST) at major bookstores. It is also available on the Straits Times Press website:

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