However, while podcasts are blowing up internationally, the trend doesn’t seem to have caught on with such vigour in South Africa.

By Cassy van Eeden

Podcasts are accessible, flexible and they fit neatly into pretty much every lifestyle. What makes them so attractive is that there is literally something for everyone as podcasts usually target a very specific audience.

Podcasting in South Africa

So why are things so quiet in South Africa? Francios Nel, one half of the Radio Spookasem duo, made a good point when he chatted to Media Update: “Internet isn’t that accessible to South Africans yet. So, a lot of people don’t have money to go listen to our shi*t all the time.”

It’s true. Accessing a podcast requires an Internet connection and sufficient data to download the file/s. It also means that you need a device to download the content onto, such as a smart phone, laptop or PC. It’s fair to say that the number of people in South Africa that have access to these things is marginal. But as Graeme Raubenheimer, the other half of Radio Spookasem, believes, “There is a definite space for it to grow quite big … it’s going to get awesome from here on out.”

Other South Africans are doing it, why aren’t you?

So should South Africans begin producing their own podcasts? CliffCentral’s Gareth Cliff certainly believes so. “Absolutely, but I don’t expect many will until either radio becomes unbearable or they break the habit of only listening in the car,” says Cliff. “When something is on your phone it can be accessed any time.”

Raubenheimer and Nel agree. They say that producing podcasts definitely takes hard work, but that it is worth it in the end. You could perhaps even make some money out of it, they added.

South Africa needs podcasting to become just as popular as they are internationally. The format means that you’re not forced to sit and listen to radio that is designed for the masses. “People don’t want to listen to mass-media programmes anymore because we’re all individuals and want to have our own personal playlists of bespoke content - just like you curate who you follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram,” says Cliff.

Tips from South African podcasters

So what makes a good podcast, according to South Africans who are already doing it? “The rules for podcasting are the same as the rules for broadcasting - except that your audience actively chooses you, and you don’t choose them as a ‘target market’ in the old media sense. Engage, tell the truth, be relevant, never be boring,” says Cliff.

The Radio Spookasem team recommend consistency, originality and choosing quality over quantity when it comes to content. Raubenheimer and Nel attribute a lot of their success as South African podcasters to the fact that they learned from the mistakes of other podcasters and made sure not to replicate these mistakes in their own work.

What do you think? Is South Africa embracing the podcast trend? What do we need to do better? Let us know in the comments below.