Podcasts are having a moment. The beauty is that anyone with a microphone and editing software can tell stories and share their opinions. There are even apps to help set up a podcast. But to produce and present a high-quality audio series where the stories keep winning listeners, that takes more work.
Thomson Foundation radio and journalism trainer, Derek Ivens, has been working with “Widening Wavelengths”, a scheme backed by the German government to develop the media in Ukraine. “You can see why this has come about,” says Derek. “The revolution almost five years ago unleashed insurgency, annexation of territory and ongoing political struggles. The media needs to be part of the debate about the future – to inform, investigate and give people a voice”.
The programme consists of two activities. The first, a workshop in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, took place from 26-29 September and included freelance podcasters who had established a podcast, as well as journalists from traditional and internet radio stations from around the country. The group were selected by Thomson Foundation and representatives from the Federal Foreign Office in Germany and the German Embassy in Kiev.
“They have no shortage of things to talk about – but for their work to cut through the mass of bland music stations and the dominance of TV channels owned by oligarchs, they have to be more creative,” explains Derek.
"It’s heartening to see them wanting to work hard to keep audio at the heart of the media landscape."
Participants were trained in how to tell stories better – through the voices and experiences of the people concerned – and shown new digital production methods and techniques that could be applied to a format idea.
Subjects ranged from fraud to bullying and from starting a business to high-end cultural shows about music and books, with concepts borrowed from theatre, electro-pop and even economics to see what would work best.
“I’m hugely impressed by the commitment the group are showing,” says Derek. “There’s more to be done, but it’s heartening to see them wanting to work hard to keep audio at the heart of the media landscape.
In November, participants will spend five days with selected German radio producers and podcasters to get an insight into their working structures and to prepare programme ideas for publication. The exchange will help participants build an international network and learn about the German radio system.