CHENNAI: Who doesn’t love stories? Be it the oral narration by our grandmothers, the entertaining tales on screen or engaging plot lines weaved with words. While in the past 18 months many of us took comfort from soothing stories in conventional ways, podcasts too found a loyal listener base, especially the regional vertical. Take Spotify for instance. Boasting over 2.9 million titles, this popular audio streaming platform surprisingly witnessed strong consumption among listeners for regional languages. Among them, the takers for Tamil content were aplenty. “Comprising eight per cent, Tamil is the third biggest language in terms of number of shows on Anchor in India and the second biggest in terms of consumption hours in the country,” says Spotify’s spokesperson. As the popularity of Tamil podcasts continue to increase even as we slowly limp back to normal, seven Tamil podcasters, who’ve been engaging their listeners with promising content, discuss the immense growth potential of the medium and scope for improvement.
The best thing about having conversations with friends is that you know it makes for a fun listen. Upon recording phone conversations with a close friend, I realised that it also made for quality audio content,” share the podcasters who run the show with pseudonyms Kick Buttowski and Tyler Durden (inspired by fictional characters). Kicked off in August 2020, the podcast has over 20 film-related episodes. “Unlike other audio platforms like Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse, this is intimate. And keeping ourselves anonymous, we have the liberty to discuss things without thinking twice,” they say. To keep the sessions engaging and different from other cinema content, they pick topics like underrated films, supporting actors and unsung heroes. Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
In his crisp 30-minute episodes, Shyam Siddarth, founder, interviews enterprising people from all walks of life and offers discussions around entrepreneurship and start-up business in Tamil Nadu. Started in 2019, the podcast has completed five seasons with 12-14 episodes each. “The episodes help you stay updated about the latest events in the field. We launched a TamilPrenuer club in July 2021 that has alumni from reputed institutions, start-up founders and aspiring entrepreneurs,” shares Shyam.
The podcast has educated over a lakh listeners about entrepreneurship and startups. “We cover interviews of entrepreneurs, courseware on how to run a start-up and present business case studies. It has given motivation and awareness to people in tier-2 and 3 cities. Language should never be a barrier when it comes to spreading information.” Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
Little did Singapore-based friends Bharath, Jawahar, Sharif and Yuva know that their light-hearted telephonic conversations during the lockdown would develop into a full-fledged podcast series. Vada Poche came into being around May 20 and has around 68 episodes on a range of topics like politics, personal development, general awareness and philosophy. “Sometimes, spontaneity brings out the best content and that’s when we realised this had the potential to be turned into serious content. The trick lies in editing two to three hours of content into a 30-minute episode,” says Yuva. Their episodes, often peppered with childhood anecdotes, colloquial slang and humour, have been well-received among gen Z. Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
Kadhaippoma with Karthik
Reading verses from Kurunthogai and posting IGTV videos of them on Instagram brought Karthik Sambanthan Palaniappan under the spotlight. One well-wisher suggested he try out podcast. Thus began his journey.Kadhaippoma with Karthik has over 43 episodes and he tries to bring in equal representation. You get to hear stories of folk artists, Dalit activits, LGBTQIA members and a lot more. “With dedicated reviews of podcasts in newspapers, we can reach great heights. People need to know that such content exists and it takes months of research. Success in this medium comes very slow. With monetisation, we can turn it into a sustainable profession for people,” he suggests. Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
How much of our sex education reaches younger generation in the rural areas?” This question prompted social workers Tamil and Janu to create a podcast for sexual education in Tamil. Started on August 5, 2020, the podcast has over 25 episodes, 30-60 minutes each. From menstruation to masturbation, the duo breaks down the topics into simpler chunks that are easier to consume. “I have a diploma in sexual abuse counselling. After listening to the episodes, so many reached out to us privately on Instagram, seeking for help and counselling. There’s so much stigma and shame associated that nobody wants to discuss their views openly. If we cannot help a particular person then we refer them to a psychiatrist or psychologist,” explains Tamil.
The duo believes that it’s the anonymity that has given them the freedom to explore a taboo topic of this kind. “It’s so sensitive that sometimes even the smallest of content gets blown out of proportion, we are called out and trolled. So we are very careful with research and presentation,” he says. With an average age group of listeners from 20 - 26 and 32 - 40, the duo hopes to reach more youngsters and even have online classes on sexual education to sensitise the crowd.
Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
Cinema and conspiracy theories, digital dictatorship and death, fashion and feminism...when friends Rahul Kannapiran and Chathrein Rajan come together, it calls for endless conversations and entertainment. Perhaps, it’s their decades of friendship and like-mindedness that lends a personal touch to their podcast Om Creem. Started in June 2020, the Tamil podcast has over 73 episodes, spread across nine seasons. “We have listeners from the Tamil diaspora in over 32 countries. The main age group is 18-27. Sometimes, we’ve even had middle-aged listeners reaching out to us and sharing positive feedback,” shares Rahul.
Their perspective, personal flavour and overall presentation of a topic resonates with the listeners on various levels. “Podcasts can be good companions to people in distressing times. More so when it’s local content. Next to radio, this is one medium that connects our Tamil population around the globe and we would never shy away from discussing any topic if it brings about a change.”
Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
If you’re a film buff then Naange Pesuvom could be a valuable addition to your podcast list. Malaysia-based Kathiravan Thanabalan started this podcast at the end of 2019. Currently, there are over 1,000 listeners from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Tamil Nadu. Kathiravan attributes this growth to extensive groundwork and quality content. “Keeping someone hooked with just your voice is not easy. It’s nice to see a positive response from the global audience for local content. With recognition through awards and monetisation, more people will explore the medium,” he says. Available on all popular audio streaming platforms.
As Spotify ramps up its regional language podcasts, some of its Tamil exclusives are Yours Positively, Love Guru (Radio City), Crime & City (Radio City) and BIG Heroes.
Three of its originals are Naallanaa Murukku - The RJ Balaji Podcast, Lifetime: Aayirathil Oruvan MGR and Talking Tales from Tulika. Anchor, Spotify’s podcast creation tool, has generated a range of Tamil podcasts such as Schumy Vanna Kaviyangal, Vocal Oli, RANDOM Talks, Korangu Oodhi, The Book Show & Rough Note by RJ Ananthi, Dravidian Talks and Idhayathin Kural - A Feel Good Podcast and more. Source: Spotify