Last week, our Introduction to Podcasting facilitator Des Latham’s very own podcast series History of South Africa made it into the Spotify Top 10 for 2022. 

We sat down with Latham to find out what the benefits of podcasting are, and how one can get started.

What are the benefits of podcasting? 

The form of communication is personal and unfiltered. It allows those who have the energy and something to say to broadcast their ideas to a wide audience globally. You can also monetise your own material rather than through a third party publisher who may place restrictions on your editorial freedom. In today’s world with the proliferation of platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasting, Google Pods and so on, it’s a perfect moment to launch podcasts.

How did you get into podcasting? 

I have been a broadcaster for many years. Being able to use this experience in scripting, reading and producing my own audio material was very important because there is a steep learning curve for folks. I also ran a mobile phone app company and know how digital systems work. The third reason to start was because I helped launch podcasting on radio in the early 2000s, so by the time it came to start my own in 2017, I knew how to target an audience and what material would likely work best.  I have also worked as a professional musician on and off since my teens and have recorded bands for years using digital recording studio software. Lastly, I spotted a gap in historical storytelling from Africa – there’s a lot of panel discussions and subjective opinion, a lot of Americans talking about African history and the diaspora, but not a lot of proper scripted storytelling about my homeland. Chronology matters, and most podcasts on African history are not chronological, they follow themes which immediately is a problem because of tautology. That was my gap. Telling it like it was.

Can anyone be a podcaster?

Yes and no. I’ve found that everyone technically could be a podcaster, but it requires personal discipline regarding production cycles that most people find difficult. For example, podcasts should be weekly at a minimum. Most podcast beginners come into this bright eyed and bushy tailed but then discover that most of the time they’re spending doing production and not just ‘casting and the positive energy dries up. So if you’re determined to say something, be ready to say it for 10-20 minutes minimum a week for six months. Only then will you increase traction and audience. So many people give up after about three months – 12 episodes.

How does one get started? 

First you must have complete and utter passion for the topic. You must feel it in your bones, and know that whatever happens, this topic is always there on your mind. Then research the existing podcasts to see if anyone else is doing what you’re planning. If they are, then think about the gaps in the material and fit what you’re doing into gaps. Market research is fundamental. Think about doing some training to write scripts and on voice/mic technique. You need some kind of device to record, microphone, computer, software. Try find a cost effective combination but don’t skimp on the mic. 

What are your words of wisdom as a seasoned podcaster? 

My listeners are phenomenal. They help spread podcasts virally by talking to their friends about it. Think edutainment – not like an academic on a lecture circuit, don’t be stentorian and self-aware. Too many podcasters are fixated on spreading bad news, they’re social justice proselytisers who appear sanctimonious and out of touch with the rest of the audience. Focus on stories of hope that are unique, don’t bludgeon, beguile.

fraycollege offers an Introduction to Podcasting course that can be taken online via our eLearning platform, facilitated in-person, or online via Zoom or Teams. You can sign up for our podcasting course, here.


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