By Laraib Qureshi and Samir Yawar
While podcasting has taken the Western countries by storm, it’s still a small niche in Pakistan. Hundreds of foreign podcasters have emerged as the mainstream media, creating podcasts in every category for millions of their listeners worldwide. Is Pakistan’s current technological advancement let it reach the stage where podcasts of the local variety and flavor can take off? We take a look.
What Is a Podcast?
For the uninitiated, a podcast is the internet’s equivalent of a radio show, and like its offline counterpart, its available in episodic series as well. Podcast creators generally roll out new installments in the form of an audio file that one can download and listen on any manner of digital devices with audio playback support.
Podcasts and Pakistanis – How Popular Are They Here?
Let’s not even go to availability of various categories. The fact is that there are only a handful of Pakistanis who have attempted to give podcasting a go and though the quality cannot be compared to those abroad, it is disappointing to note that they haven’t received any recognition from their country. Other than that, there are some Indian podcasts available in Pakistan which serve the purpose of desi podcasts.
One of the existing Pakistani podcasts is Jamaat-ul-Mausiqi aka (JUM); an audio podcast hosted and curated by Ahmer Naqvi and Shaheryar Popalzai. With a selective playlist in every episode, the podcasts showcases Pakistani artists, providing you a chance to listen to their songs. This is complemented by a discussion by the hosts and sometimes even interviews of artists. The hosts started the podcasts after being rejected by radio channels and getting tired of the dominance of Western music on radio.
Another Pakistani podcast is titled Pace is Pace Yaar (PiPY) which is hosted by a portal of Pakistani music Patari.pk. The podcast is run by Pakistani cricket fans who have a weekly discussion on everything related to Pakistani cricket. Sometimes they entertain their listeners by singing humorous cricket related songs while at other times; they invite guests for analyses on latest matches.
Then there is the Pakistani comedian and journalist Sami Shah who has now migrated to Australia and is the host of a very famous podcast: Sami Says. The weekly podcast is one of the best of its kind in the comedy genre and the comedian has made a name for himself in the podcasting society though it has not gained much popularity in Pakistan.
And recently, media personalities Mosharaf Zaidi and Fasi Zaka’s podcast How to Pakistan podcast is getting rave reviews for its in-depth focus on Pakistani culture, politics, current affairs, history and more.
Other than these, desivibe.com and RadioMirchi are two podcasts that cover the desi music industry, though their origin is not Pakistani.
Why Is There A Lack Of Podcast Culture In Pakistan?
With the increasing mobile users, 23.65 million of them on 3G/4G according to latest PTA data, and availability of broadband that’s cheaper than most countries, it is extremely surprising to witness the lack of podcast culture in Pakistan. The country is definitely advancing in terms of internet access, then why isn’t there a thriving podcast culture?
The answer to that question lies in the fact that the radio industry is flourishing in Pakistan. While the West moved from traditional radio to what they call the new generation of radio i.e. podcasting, Pakistanis remain hooked to their beloved radio channels. Even if they do go online, they listen to the online broadcasting of these channels on their respective websites.
You don’t need fancy equipment to get podcasting. Pick a topic you like to talk about or something you’d want to investigate and plan your podcast.
We don’t use any fancy equipment for Jamaat-ul-Mausiqi. Most of our episodes are recorded over Google Hangouts since we’re both in different cities.
If you’re just getting started, a smartphone is more than enough to record your first episode.
– Shaheryar Popalzai (JuM)
But with recent technological advancements, the technological barrier to entry is virtually non-existent. Given the audio compression technology evident in mp3s and other associated audio playback files, all it takes is for a few MBs to download and listen to a podcast. With services like SoundCloud, setting up your own online channel for podcasts is free.
Considering how we follow the West’s example in everything, podcasts might just end up becoming a new trend in the Pakistani social media scene.
So what do you think? Is their a space for podcasts to occupy a place in Pakistani media landscape and culture? Will you be tuning into any of the aforementioned podcasts? Have we left any local podcasts in the lurch? Do let us know in the comments below.