askST@NLB: ST shows how podcasts can be fun and interactive

Mr Ernest Luis (far left), head of SPH podcast productions, recording a podcast on stage with Mr R. Jayakumar, a management consultant, and Ms Kamilah Mohamed Anverdeen, a hotel employee, both members of the audience.
Mr Ernest Luis (left), head of SPH podcast productions, recording a podcast on stage with Mr R. Jayakumar, a management consultant, and Ms Kamilah Mohamed Anverdeen, a hotel employee, both members of the audience.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Audience members spent their time tapping away on their smart-phones during the 1½-hour talk at Central Library in Victoria Street.

While this might have appeared rude, the 160 attendees were following step-by-step instructions on the ins and outs of podcasts given by content strategist Ernest Luis, head of podcast productions at English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at Singapore Press Holdings.

For most of the audience, who were middle-aged or older, it was their first time listening to a podcast and some had a go at recording one on stage last Friday at the askST@NLB event, a series of free talks.

One of those who took part in the impromptu recording was management consultant R. Jayakumar, 65, who had not heard a podcast before.

"I was sceptical at first, but you could say that I'm now a convert," said Mr Jayakumar, who was a freelance radio broadcaster in New Delhi more than 30 years ago.

Mr Luis, 48, hosts podcasts produced by The Straits Times and The Business Times which have seen a 300 per cent growth in downloads since they were launched in March last year.

At the talk, Podcasts: What Are They? How To listen On The Go?, he described the online medium and talked about its rise in popularity in Singapore and Asia.

 
 

Podcasts are a form of audio-on-demand that can be downloaded, he said, adding that this made it different from listening to the radio.

He said: "A podcast is something that gets you thinking, like a summary or a discussion on an issue... It's more intimate, like listening in on a conversation."

Mr Luis said one of the key considerations of making a podcast is to keep it short, adding: "You can listen to it while on the go and the duration can be just nice for your 10-minute train ride on the MRT."

ST and BT have podcasts covering various topics from health to money matters, which are released in weekly, fortnightly or monthly formats.

While most listeners are from Singapore, the podcasts also attract listeners in Malaysia, the United States, Australia and Japan.

Said another audience member, Miss Serene Tan, 60, a freelance secretary: "I thought podcasts would be boring but I realised they're quite interactive and not just a one-way conversation."

AskST@NLB is a monthly collaboration between The Straits Times and the National Library Board.

The sessions are streamed live on The Straits Times' Facebook page.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline 'ST shows how podcasts can be fun and interactive'. Print Edition | Subscribe