What you need to know:
- A lot of podcasts are mushrooming in Kenya from different platforms.
- The Nation Media Group entered the podcasting arena with Nation Audio.
- Older episodes of podcasts dealing with sex have more streams in comparison to current episodes but the pattern reverses on lifestyle podcasts.
The Mics Are Open podcast, arguably the most commercially successful podcast in Kenya has bagged 850,000 plays since inception in April 2019.
Hosted by a trio of radio presenters G Money, Andy Young and Calvin Wanguku who cover entertainment, comedy and life, the podcasts bagged Sh250,000 from the sale of the podcast merchandise such as mugs, water bottles, flasks t-shirts and hoodies. It also handles placement advertisement from firms such as Safaricom, Adidas and Prudential Insurance.
The founder G Money attributes the success of the podcast to investing in billboards and digital campaigns, and employing an editor and camera for the visual podcast.
Such success has not been replicated widely in Kenya. Only two other podcasts − The Spread Pod and Legally Clueless − surpass The Mics Are Open play numbers on Soundcloud - an online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany.
The Spread, a sex positive podcast hosted by the musician Kaz from 2016 has had the most plays in the country on Soundcloud. A spin-off of the show airs on Deutsche Welle digital channels and that provides an income stream.
Legally Clueless, a weekly podcast on the life journey of media personality Adelle Onyango that was launched one year ago just surpassed a million streams in December 2020 making it the most listened to podcast in the country in the past year (soundcloud). Onyango, who quit her 10-year career in radio to focus on podcasting, managed to commercialise her podcast by syndicating the content with Trace FM and holding workshops in universities to help students gain podcasting skills.
Currently, a lot of podcasts are mushrooming in Kenya from different platforms led by Anchor, a free platform for podcast creation, Castbox, a podcast aggregator, Google Podcast and Apple podcast.
The Nation Media Group entered the podcasting arena with Nation Audio, a section of Nation Digital brand for creating podcasts. On November 9th 2020, Nation Audio launched the podcast series ‘Case Number Zero’, an investigation into the disappearance of journalist turned blogger Bogonko Bosire.
Other organisations have also set up podcast channels. In July 2020, Baraza Media Lab, an initiative that serves to strengthen the Kenyan media ecosystem established Sema Box, a boutique podcasting studio in partnership with StudioTISA to offer training, branding, distribution and commercialisation of podcasts. Five podcasts have rolled out of the studio and many more on the pipeline.
Afripod, a podcast distribution platform focused on African podcasters, listeners and advertisers has 50 registered Kenyan podcasts, majorly in the entertainment and lifestyle segment. The same pattern is replicated on Soundcloud where most podcasts cover the lifestyle segment. Conspicuously missing in the category are crime podcasts which are common in the western world. Nation Audio set the stage on crime related podcast with ‘Case Number Zero’.
Analysis of the listening statistics of top two categories in Kenya (sexuality and lifestyle) show that these two categories have distinct listening patterns. In the sexuality category, older podcast episodes have more streams in comparison to current episodes. This phenomenon indicates the podcasts creates a prolonged engagement with the listeners that necessitates ploughing into older episodes. Newly acquired listeners go into the library of episodes to catch up.
However, this pattern reverses on lifestyle podcasts - newer episodes get more streams than older ones. It would seem newly acquired listeners do not dig into the archives of lifestyle podcasts perhaps because most cover current events and it better to “flow” with the news.
Radio presenters have jumped on the bandwagon to tap into the providing alternative news content via podcast. One such presenter is Wanguku who has thus far co-founded three podcasts namely; The Unverified Podcast, The Mics Are Open and It's Not Just Taxes and Death.
Radio host Onyango also started Pursepective a year ago to provide a safe space for women to share their experience living in a patriarchal society.
Another such podcast is Cut the Foreplay hosted by radio presenter Nadia Favre, a 30-minute comedy on life. The top listened podcasts in Kenya are hosted by prominent personalities and covering entertainment of lifestyle issues.
A festival for podcasts
February 12 was Africa Podcast Day, a half-day virtual gathering to celebrate and appreciate African podcasters. The event, facilitated by Africa Podfest, marked its second year by showcasing developments in African podcasting, convening players in the new media ecosystem and boosting the production of podcasts in the region.
Despite the coronavirus disrupting last year’s event, Africa Podfest released a report, The State of Podcasting in Kenya 2019, detailing the listening habits and technology used to access podcasts.
Out of 73 respondents to the survey, a third had never listened to a Kenyan podcast, indicating that there is untapped potential in poadcasting.
The writer is a data scientist