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Talking heads: Podcasters on and off the mic

Meaningful conversations bring about a sense of enlightenment. New discoveries are made through a back and forth of opinions, as well as a sharing of personal experiences. Such a relay of knowledge has become so sought after that it has popularized podcasts. More refined than simple talking heads, podcasts are divided into episodes, where different themes are tackled and guests are invited for listeners to tune into these thought-provoking pre-recorded discussions.

There is nothing short of an abundance of podcasts on the Internet. From the storytelling signature of Dateline to the curiosity-raising duo of Anatomy of Murder, no matter how niche one’s interest is, there is a podcast for everyone. There is also a fair share of local podcasters, and The LaSallian chats with Robert “Bobby” Roslin (III, BS-CHY) of the Stercus Occurit, Tristan Tano from The Meaning of Life Podcast, and Patrick Alcantara from Click Refresh about the nitty gritty details of the podcast scene.  

Diving in

“A pseudo-academic podcast portrayed through uninhibited rambling,” Roslin vividly describes Stercus Occurit, a podcast he hosts with Kobe Arbis and Renzo Teves. “Our range of topics are mostly philosophical and psychological discussions with a sprinkle of [science and arts-related] topics,” he expounds, detailing how each episode follows these themes which they use as a springboard to talk about recent events and their daily lives. 

Talking about things they are passionate about comes naturally to the trio since their high school days. Reminiscing those times, they were inspired to revive the spirit of such conversations into the form of Stercus Occurit—along with a fourth member, Jobi Aljama, who has since stepped down. Rather than having a set script, Roslin clarifies that the group prefers more candid discussions, stating, “We like to have a feel of a deep, but casual discussion.” He adds, “Normally, ideas for an episode would come from one person starting a discussion based on the person’s expertise,” allowing featured guests to be included in the conversation.

In contrast, The Meaning of Life Podcast is more straightforward, with each episode seeking to provide a different answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?” With varied guests bringing their insight to the table, Tano reveals, “Everyone responds to that cliché question differently, and the nuance in that aspect is incredible.” To further enrich his conversation with guests, he also takes into account their background so he could have a more insightful discussion, “[Podcasts] are something between a conversation and an interview,” he adds.

With a sprinkle of humor, Patrick “Chick” Alcantara from Manila and Daryl “Deej” Villena from Los Angeles turned their love for sharing their takes on current issues and trends into hosting Click Refresh. “Our show’s intention is to refresh our perspective on ‘classic stories’ with ‘modern thoughts’ so our listeners wouldn’t get stuck,” Alcantara reveals, sharing on how the Click Refresh moniker was created.

Behind the scenes

The Internet’s many avenues for launching a podcast has also led to its popularity. Roslin himself started streaming in Soundcloud—which began to charge for podcasts lasting more than an hour—before moving to Spotify, while Chick and Deej go live on Facebook, with recorded episodes uploaded to YouTube and Spotify for others to see. 

Running a podcast is no easy feat. The editing process alone requires considerable effort and care in weaving together audio clips to create a cohesive episode. There’s also the issue of recording in the first place, a task that sometimes entails keeping a conversation going for hours on end, as well as knitting different topics and ideas seamlessly. “It’s a struggle sometimes, because these conversations are hours long, and even I’m prone to just spacing out at certain points, where I lose my train of thought and I lose track of the conversation,” Tano admits.

More than a conversation

Podcasts are a powerful medium for reaching wide audiences, with social media and streaming platforms enabling greater accessibility and thus, a larger amount of viewership. The importance of this, however, may hinge on the goals of the podcast itself. For some, podcasts are a source of income, but for Tano, this isn’t necessarily the case. “I never really had the goal to make my podcast big…I legitimately just wanted to have life conversations with people,” he shares. “Aside from monetary importance,which is not really our biggest concern, we just aim for our audience to be engaged in our podcast,” shares Roslin, sharing the sentiment.

Beyond viewership, podcasts are also an avenue through which individuals can spark discourse on certain topics. From mundane conversations to complex discussions, with a diverse set of perspectives from the hosts and guests, each podcast makes for a complex intermingling of ideas through conversation—one that may not always result in an agreement among all parties. “We won’t care if we agree [with] each other’s sentiments, but we respect and understand what we think about this topic. We keep our podcast open to our audiences and to each other,” Roslin shares. Alcantara adds, “As much as possible, the show tries to challenge the audience’s personal beliefs and drag them into a debate.”

Expanding horizons

With a relatively straightforward format and the wide reach that digital media offers, starting a podcast has become one of the most accessible types of content to produce. But just like with all ventures, it’s usually easier said than done. “Starting something like this requires a lot of passion and patience,” Roslin cautions. 

In an age where the internet provides many avenues to spark discourse and backlash,  podcasts can be an opportunity for us to connect with each in a constructive manner—to dive deeper, to better understand and comprehend, and even to educate ourselves and others. 

Tano shares insightfully, “The thing is, I think these days, people are so quick to pull the trigger on other people based solely off of what they say, lacking the empathy or the understanding in the realization that we’re all just finding our way through the world and through life…Having discourse on topics which are controversial is essential in exploring and expanding our knowledge and world view.”

By Angelo Emmanuel Fernandez

By William Ong

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