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NWZ builds its audio offerings with Ukraine podcast Vdoma

By Max Holscher

Nordwest-Zeitung

Oldenburg, Germany

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Podcasts are fun and they help reach new, younger audiences, ensure longevity, and create new revenue streams — whether through advertising or as paid products.

Regional news companies currently are experimenting a lot with podcasts; some do this in addition to current coverage using existing staff, as it allows some colleagues to pursue their passion.

However, at Nordwest-Zeitung, we consciously want to focus more on this and invest accordingly. Two colleagues have been exclusively dedicated to the podcast domain this year. Currently, the focus is on building reach and creating benefits for our customers; hence, we recently added a podcast player to the e-Paper app.

We set a goal of 1.2 million streams for this year — a 50% increase compared to last year. One highlight in our steadily growing podcast portfolio — from crime to an automatically generated daily podcast to a soccer podcast — is the Ukraine podcast Vdoma, presented by our trainee Lina Safronova.

Trainee Lina Safronova, who fled Ukraine for Germany during the war, hosts the Vdoma podcast.
Trainee Lina Safronova, who fled Ukraine for Germany during the war, hosts the Vdoma podcast.

She hosts episodes that cover various topics surrounding the war in Ukraine, fleeing to Germany, and starting over in a new country. The episodes always appear as a double feature, in Ukrainian and in German.

Like many Ukrainians, 26-year-old Lina Safronova has endured difficult times. The radio presenter fled shortly after the start of the war, leaving her previous life behind. Since May 2023, she has been working for the Nordwest-Zeitung and is completing an internship.

Who is Vdoma’s audience? 

It is important to understand the goal of the podcast and who we aim to reach.

The German episodes illustrate to people in the northwest, as well as nationwide, what it’s like to start anew in another country while simultaneously living in a kind of limbo between their home in Ukraine and a potential new home in Germany. Lina speaks both Ukrainian and German, which is, of course, advantageous for both production and the audience.

The podcast is recorded in both Ukrainian and German, which is beneficial for both production and the audience.
The podcast is recorded in both Ukrainian and German, which is beneficial for both production and the audience.

This podcast represents a significant challenge and opportunity for our media group. We aim to take a topic of national importance and break it down to a local level, making it tangible and relatable through our moderator and regional stories.

Simultaneously, we put extra effort into producing the episodes overall. We take more time to craft the stories in a compelling narrative and tell them with empathy. We haven’t undertaken a project of this nature before. The feedback from the audience across various channels has been very positive.

In the first episode, Lina Safronova shares the story of how she left Odessa, found shelter with friends in a village, and ultimately had to make a difficult decision: Do I stay here with my family or do I flee alone?

In the subsequent five episodes, topics include a Ukrainian doctor talking about life, aid, and dying on the front during the Christmas season; there are stories of fleeing with children through Russian territory, of newfound love in Germany, and the difficulties of finding new work in Germany.

Attracting new listeners

Six episodes have been released, and more than 5,300 people have listened to them. The story of Lina’s escape garnered the most listeners, with nearly 1,000 German listeners and nearly 300 Ukrainian listeners.

Julian Reusch, podcast coordinator, and Max Holscher, member of the Chief Editors Board, are part of the editorial team for this podcast. They support and produce the episodes together with Lina. Colleagues, including other interns who appear as speakers in the podcast, also support the work.

We are excited to further professionalise ourselves in terms of quality with this project and, at the same time, provide space in the region for an important issue, making it tangible and understandable.

About Max Holscher

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