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‘When I was 13’ and ‘World Wise Web’: two engaging podcasts hosted by teenagers

Whether you’re 13 or 17 or any age in between or beyond, there’s much to learn from these shows, driven as they are by curiosity, engagement, and an artless desire to know

Last week a 12-year-old came up to me after a panel discussion on podcasting to tell me he wanted to start a podcast, and asked for some tips on how to go about it. A couple of things to note about this exchange. One, that young people (some most decidedly in the category of children) see themselves as having a voice and needing to use it to say what they want. And two, the availability of the means to express themselves.

One of these means is of course the podcast. It seems fairly simple, right? All you do is record some audio using a decent instrument (a recorder and a microphone), edit it on your laptop using open-source software, mix in some music, add an introduction and conclusion, upload it to a podcast platform and share the link in any number of ways.

But more than the technology, which most young people look at without awe, it is the desire to create, to add their voice to the beautiful cacophony that is the Internet, in the hope that it will speak to someone, somewhere.

While there are a fair number of podcasts aimed at teens, there are only a handful made by teens. Two very different shows in this category caught my attention recently: When I was 13 and World Wise Web.

Time capsule

The first of these is a little over a year old, and is hosted by Delhi teenager Arushi Gupta, who asks guests to “climb into a time capsule” and relive their teens. Her guests have ranged from entrepreneurs to writers to lawyers, with the conversations meandering for about 30 minutes through the formative years of their adolescence, education, career and other milestones. Gupta confidently steers her sometimes garrulous interviewees to her central concerns: how did they choose their life paths and what advice can they give young people like her? She also gets them to talk about the popular culture of their times, and comment on what has changed.

The podcast is now in its second season, and while the host has crossed her 13th year, her focus remains on this bridge year into the teens. It would be nice to see Gupta widen her net a little to draw in more diverse guests who might introduce teens like her to new experiences.

‘When I was 13’ and ‘World Wise Web’: two engaging podcasts hosted by teenagers

World Wise Web is a new BBC show hosted by teenagers from around the world, who speak with innovators in the digital space, from a California-based developer of social robots to Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough (inventor of the lithium-ion battery).

The series is introduced by 17-year-old Anna Zanelli from London, with interviews conducted by teens around the world.

Launched in January this year, the episodes are time capsules of a different kind, balancing the story of a life with the story of science.

The conversation between 17-year-old Adam from Poland and the 97-year-old Goodenough, for instance, is a delightful account of how the scientist practically stumbled into chemistry.

Whether you’re 13 or 17 or any age in between or beyond, there’s much to learn from these shows, driven as they are by curiosity, engagement, and an artless desire to know. What they lack in technical sophistication, they more than make up for in the sharpness of the questions.

The Hyderabad-based writer, academic and neatnik blogs at www.mayanotes.blogspot.com.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 6:58:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/podcast/when-i-was-13-and-world-wise-web-two-engaging-podcasts-hosted-by-teenagers/article30701070.ece

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