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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

What’s the word: Check out the hottest campus podcasts

Students are taking to SoundCloud to talk about films, music and sport, discuss what they’re studying, review tech, mythology, design.

education Updated: Apr 04, 2019 16:19 IST
Aishwarya Iyer
Aishwarya Iyer
Hindustan Times
Students at the St Paul's institute in Bandra  take turns to act as presenters, producers and editors of the campus podcast.
Students at the St Paul's institute in Bandra take turns to act as presenters, producers and editors of the campus podcast.(Satish Bate / HT Photo)
         

Film reviews, mythology, photography and tech reviews — campus podcasts are branching out, as students reach out to discuss issues of interest while fine-tuning their skills as an anchor, script writer or audio editor.

Podcasts are cost-effective and do not need an elaborate setup to operate. This is one of the major reasons that is making students have their own podcasts. Secondly, students are finding this medium easy to navigate through their varied interests. Also, with the trend of audio books and several organisations such as the TED and the New York Times coming up with their podcasts that are engaging and short, students feel it is now crucial to try and explore the medium.

“Podcasts are one of the most efficient ways to explore an issue, as well as showcase ability to think and communicate,” says Saurabh Kanwar, who lectures on digital marketing at St Xavier’s College and JBIMS, and is founder of ATKT.in, a website that allows students to showcase their skills. “In a time when a candidate’s creativity plays a key role during job selection, a podcast is a way to demonstrate actual creation.”

Among the campuses with the most vibrant podcast offerings are St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education (SPICE) in Mumbai, the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. These podcasts are address topics such as history, sports, design and do not follow one particular theme.

While the institutes are still working out to launch a website exclusively to release these podcasts, students upload their work on the Sound Cloud and share them on their personal social media pages and the institute’s as well.

Radio Manipal, the podcast  run by students of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, covers a wide range of subjects.
Radio Manipal, the podcast run by students of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, covers a wide range of subjects. ( Satish Bate / HT Photo )

Inside the lab

SPICE has a podcast studio where students learn to handle sound control systems, while others review films, discuss Bollywood and popular music; another podcast discusses mythology; still others discuss sport, or invite experts on for interviews.

Each show has students stepping into the shoes of presenter, co-presenter, scriptwriter or producer. “We recently invited sports writer Ayaz Memon onto our podcast, Caught Between 22 Yards, which is on cricket,” says student Sudharshanan S. “It’s not always possible to get the guests we want, but there are lessons to be learnt even in coordinating with guests and dealing with availability issues.”

Editing is apparently the most enjoyable part. “When we say podcast, the content is the focus. But as we started pitching in for audio controls, and were taught to edit sound on software, the process of adjusting frequencies, voice-overs and syncing became the fun part,” says Manasvi Narwani, who is pursuing a post-graduate diploma in journalism.

Today, media organisations like the BBC and even startups like Newslaundry have their own podcasts to address current issues and is something that’s gathering more attention than the text.

“When the NPR podcasts recorded over 80,000 downloads from India, we started working on setting up a module for training students in podcasts. Thought the concept is very new, the growth is immense,” says Carol Andrade, dean of the institute. “Our students should not lag behind in any media concept and hence, we opened a podcast studio for this purpose,” she adds.

“Our students must enter the work place armed with industry practises. Our podcast studio will equip them to work on podcasts with professionals as they will already have the basic training required,” says Andrade.

“We are making them create and develop content on par with industry needs. The podcast practise will make them good content creators as well as they will develop an ear for quality scripts.”

When tech meets art

At the Srishti institute, students of human-computer design are creating ‘inter-disciplinary’ podcasts that merge themes such as sociology and coding, cognitive psychology and visual design.

“Our batch is a mix of engineering, Commerce and Arts graduates,” says student Pranjal Jain. “So our first podcast was on how our subject uses computer science, psychology, sociology, cognitive psychology, visual design and interruptive art. We wanted to spread awareness about the subject, which is essentially about understanding how a particular technology reacts and behaves.”

When he shared the details about his course, Jain felt that many of his friends did not know about the inter-disciplinary curriculum. And there are many MNCs now looking to recruit students who have user graphic and interface experience, which the course provides.

The second episode was about women who code. A team of 15 is now scripting their third episode, on using art to understand complex computer systems.

Most of their podcasts are recorded on an iPhone. “It would be nice to have professional equipment and a soundproof room, but all that is expensive, and we are managing with what we have,” says Jain.

Students at the Srishti Institute record their podcasts on an iPhone.
Students at the Srishti Institute record their podcasts on an iPhone. ( Satish Bate / HT Photo )

Changing with time

Talking to drama club directors at various universities about theatre and literature, discussing mental health, inviting faculty to educate their audience on finance management – you get to listen about these topics on college podcast of Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Manipal’s School of Communication students have Radio Manipal, their podcast, as a product of their passion.

There is limitation on technology with other medium like the radio, says Padma Rani, director of School of Communication at Manipal. “Today everyone has a mobile. All they need is a few software. Hence, the smartphones are convenient for students to make a podcasts and for the faculty to help them out,” says Rani. Also, through this platform, students give voice to problems faced by their peers, brainstorming on solutions, sometimes. “The soft skills are refined as they proceed. Even non-media students get better in talking crisp and to the point, they interact with people and learn the soft skills,” she adds.

Tania Mukhopadhyay, studying second year of bachelors in media and communication at Manipal School of Communication, had been on an internship at one of Qatar’s radio station. Since then, she wanted to have her own radio station. “I assisted the radio jockey and learnt the tasks of a show producer. After returning to college, I met a few seniors who were planning to begin a community radio. “Setting up a radio station needs lot of investment and hence, we took to the podcast medium,” she adds.

The team of 24 tries to address as diverse a range of subjects as possible. “We had Adnan Ahmed, a contestant on reality TV show Voice of India, on our podcast to talk about music and perform his favourite songs. We don’t restrict content to counselling or advice from teachers. We want it to be a platform to where we can talk about anything we like and explore,” says Mukhopadhyay.

The team gets guidance from their radio professor. “Professor Padmakumar sir gives us tips, steps to follow and ideas on how to start a show , how to sound different from RJs since ours is a podcast and also helps us with recording and providing feedback,” says Harishankar Menon, pursuing BBA.