It’s time for the Chinese calendar to declare 2015 as the (Y)Ear of the Podcast.
Case in point: the launch of Audiomatic, a new website exclusively featuring Indian podcasts, conceived of by co-founders Rajesh Tahil and Tariq Ansari, who have spent a chunk of their lives working in radio – Rajesh in programming, and Tariq in his capacity as owner of Radio One. “Long before podcasts became trendy, in our time, there was radio. And it wasn’t just about hit songs. It was also about storytelling,” Rajesh points out. “We’re bringing that back.”
Now On Heir
In its current avatar, Audiomatic hosts two podcasts and promises a third, this one about food. The first, Ask Aakar Anything, is a weekly series that features columnist and this Scouter’s ex-boss Aakar Patel answering questions about, well, anything. In his deep baritone he patiently fields questions like these: how would you career coach Rahul Gandhi? What do you think of the beef ban? Is Air India the worst airline in the world? And even ‘who is your favourite actress’ from one Ms Swati calling from Lucknow. He is like Agony Aunt and a Quora thread rolled into one. “The idea was to take a columnist who writes about serious issues like communal violence or comparisons between Modi and Caesar, and get him to answer everyday questions,” says Rajesh. The result is levity coated with a veneer of information and some perspective. And it’s gone in about 14 minutes.
Like Ask Aakar Anything, The Intersection, Audiomatic’s second show is well produced, a fortnightly offering in which stories combine science, culture and history. This podcast reminded us of the super popular Radiolab, a fact that Rajesh does not shy away from pointing out. “The Intersection is definitely a hat tip to Radiolab, one of our favourite podcasts,” says Rajesh, who is also an avid listener of Invisibilia, 99% Invisible and All Songs Considered.
Episode one of The Intersection, narrated by Padmaparna Ghosh and Samanth Subramanian, is a well-researched story about a condition called the Bombay Blood Group where relevant people are tracked down across the globe, including a researcher in San Francisco. It stays entertaining with informative bytes and interviews, not to mention the occasional world play – we heard ‘blood brothers’. The episode drags a little at the end, however, and we wish the narrators sounded a little less like they were reading directly from a script. Upcoming shows will highlight a lost language and the world of frogs. Ribbit more, please.
And finally, coming “so, so soon” – end of this month - is The Real Food Podcast by columnist Vikram Doctor, who “won’t do restaurant reviews,” but instead will focus on ingredients, ancestral kitchens, modern agriculturists and how the pushy Alphonso managed to become the star of the mango family.
More podcasts and verticals will be added along the way, plus you can produce your own and ask Audiomatic to host it (provided quality standards are met). “Eventually, the idea is to be a network that produces and hosts hundreds of podcasts. If we are the audio version of Vimeo, we’ll be happy.”
Looks like they’re on the right frequency.
Getting there: Visit Audiomatic.in for weekly and fortnightly podcasts, currently free.
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