I remember having a chat with Julian in 2015 about his idea to start an online radio/ podcast platform for South African universities. Just over a year later he now releases weekly podcasts from post-graduate researchers, which focus on academic research topics ranging from research into microbiology to research conducted by computer engineers.
Each week, on varsitypodcasts.co.za, brings about an exciting new topic that gives great insights into the ground-breaking research done by post-graduates within South African academic institutes. – Tatenda Mark
Some of the topics covered by Varsity Podcasts:
- Research Report S1 E5 – Nation branding in the context of South Africa and Zimbabwe
- Research Report S1 E4 – Mobile tool to Support Deaf Adults Training in Computer Literacy Skills
- Research Report S1 E3 – Intersectionality within Rhodes Must Fall movement
- Research Report S1 E2 – Use of Stokvels
Tatenda Mark (TM): Julian, great to actually meet up and talk about Varsity Podcasts, especially since I knew of the idea from quite a while back. Do you mind sharing the story behind what led you to launching Varsity Podcasts.
Julian Kanjere (JK): Well, for as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in radio and public speaking so I found myself gravitating naturally towards any such opportunities. The first university I attended did not have a radio station during my era. However, some friends and I attempted to put together a podcast show and unfortunately the rigmarole of getting approval from the university administration stopped us dead in our tracks.
I think that the two biggest detractors for content creators are waiting until they have perfect equipment and fear of whether the content is good enough.
– Julian Kanjere
The next university that I then enrolled into did have a radio station which I auditioned for, but unfortunately the demands of my studies did not afford me the luxury of time to make a meaningful contribution thereof. However, both of these experiences did lead me down a path of questioning whether something could be done to tap into undiscovered university radio talents, bypass the formal structures and admin that are part and parcel of traditional university radio stations as well as create curated online content available on demand.
I had some chats with close friends about various talk show ideas …that is when I had an ‘aha’ moment and the idea of Varsity Podcasts was birthed…
– Julian Kanjere
In the years that followed, the seed had been planted – I had some chats with close friends about various talk show ideas and content distribution models. Most of these conversations seemed to drift towards creating a central platform that would be home to a number of curated shows. In the midst of these conversations and reflections, that is when I had an ‘aha’ moment and the idea of Varsity Podcasts was birthed – an inter-university, online talk radio (podcast) platform, home to various university focused shows.
TM: I am glad you didn’t give up on your interest in online radio/ podcasts. What’s even better is that you created your own platform, which seems to be growing considerably in terms of content and listenership. Congrats on that. But do you now face new challenges having launched Varsity Podcasts?
JK: I think the biggest challenge with creating content for people to consume is building credibility and an audience. It particularly tougher when you are starting from the ground up as compared to an established radio DJ breaking away from an established radio station to start podcasting or a celebrity starting a TV show.That is why it is great seeing our content being consumed.
Content creators will be able to relate to the feeling when you release your content, it’s like releasing it into the wild and you don’t know what to expect.
More topics by Varsity Podcasts:
- Research Report S1 E9 – Understanding the Impact of Militarized Conservation on Communities Outside the Kruger National Park
- Research Report S1 E8 – Influence of gut bacteria in infants
- Research Report S1 E7 – Urban food systems: Maputi / Puffed Maize production in Harare
TM: I definitely know that feeling! I often always hesitate by a day or two to release my own articles.
So apart from urging people to take the risk and release their content into the world, what other words of advice would you give to people who are looking to launch a platform similar to yours?
JK: I think that the two biggest detractors for content creators are waiting until they have perfect equipment and fear of whether the content is good enough.
My advice is therefore to start with what you have e.g. shoot videos with a cellphone if you have to and the only way to get over fear is to start doing, so create that content and start distributing it.
Lastly! Do not give up! It took me 5 years to finally get it. I am still learning new things even today.
Be sure to tune into Varsity Podcasts with Julian Kanjere:
YouTube: Varsity Podcasts
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