Peace in a Pod | Podcast

IVM Podcasts: A listening smörgåsbord

Cyrus Broacha hosts IVM’s flagship show  

Searching for podcasts on a dull day can be quite frustrating. On some apps, a list of recommendations pops up, usually based on your listening history or on entering a search term. Another way is to go to a search engine like Listennotes and rifle through the thousands of podcasts, sorted by category. But in most cases, you have to know what you’re looking for — or have some sense of direction.

The IVM Podcasts app, on the other hand, opens up a tiled screen with over 60 options to choose from, all made in India, all featuring desi voices and desi concerns, speaking an idiom that feels a lot like home. There’s the lighthearted conversation show Cyrus Says, featuring the irrepressible Cyrus Broacha, or Ronnie Screwvala’s entrepreneurial journey on Dreaming with Your Eyes Open. For children, there’s Kini aur Nani ki Kahaaniya and, for those with a taste for the ghoulish, Zara Khauff se Suno. Add to this plenty of conversation shows around business, entertainment, food, politics, policy, and sports, plus a healthy dose of self-help and well-being.

“We want to be a big tent in terms of content,” says Amit Doshi, who launched IVM Podcasts in March 2015 after surveying the Indian audio market and finding that there was a large opportunity to “create a destination, a place where people could come and consume all kinds of podcasts.”

Audio-first country

If there’s one thing that binds the shows under the IVM banner, it is a focus on talk. Apart from the couple of storytelling podcasts mentioned above, all the shows are based on that staple of radio — either straight out single-voice talk, or two or more people engaged in animated conversation. “I’ve always enjoyed talk content, and having listened to a lot of talk radio in the US, I missed that format,” says Doshi. For Kavita Rajwade, IVM co-founder, a four-year stint in radio reinforced the idea that India was “an audio-first country” and podcasting “filled a big content category that was missing on radio…what we’re doing is like Radio 10.0.”

The truly wide range of topics and the number of shows leads to the IVM portfolio being something of a mixed bag in terms of quality. At one end of the spectrum is Cyrus Says, which Rajwade calls IVM’s “flagship show”, where Broacha engages with a variety of guests, from (most recently, in episode 387) filmmaker Jaydeep Sarkar to nutritionist and physician Vishakha Shivdasani (episode 357) in exchanges that are fluid, sometimes serious, but always laced with humour.

At the other end, you have amateurish banter between twentysomethings in Dating is Garbage, a show about twists in the age of Tinder.

In the zone of what Rajwade describes as “edutainment” are several policy podcasts, among which are Ganatantra, hosted by political scientist Sarayu Natarajan, and States of Anarchy with foreign policy analyst Hamsini Hariharan. “Policy podcasts are our second most popular category, after comedy,” she says. The group is actively exploring Indian language podcasting, with small steps into the Tamil, Kannada and Marathi markets, apart from a few shows in Hindi.

“We’ve made some deliberate choices,” says Doshi. “The most popular podcasts in the world are conversation shows…and when there is a lot of choice, there is a lot of room for differentiation…right now, [the Indian market] isn’t there.”

The Hyderabad-based writer and academic is a neatnik fighting a losing battle with the clutter in her head.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 1:37:33 AM |

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