Times of India’s Podcast Challenge creates a connection with students

By Debadyuti Karan

BCCL (The Times of India)

Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Saraswati Puja is a traditional celebration in West Bengal, India, where people of all ages worship the Goddess of Knowledge. Devotees are seen offering prayers and sweets to the goddess in hopes of getting blessed with knowledge and wisdom. It is an auspicious occasion for students, who are seen praying enthusiastically.

For this festival in January, The Times of India introduced the student community of West Bengal to an innovative new method of learning — using podcasts.

Launched under Phirey Esho Kolkata, its umbrella branding for cultural campaigns, the Times Podcast Challenge’s objective was to help TOI connect with younger audiences, establish itself as a thought leader in the city, and promote education through technology.

“Poda shona” is a colloquial term in Bangla which translates to “reading and listening.” With podcasts, TOI invited students to explore and learn in an unconventional manner — by creating and listening.

Sharing knowledge

Through the Ei Samay Gold platform, students of classes eight through 12 in West Bengal shared their podcasts across various topics (financial education, poetry, storytelling, space facts, etc.) for two or three minutes in English and Bangla. This leveraged a print-first digital interaction with the students.

An editorial story in the Times of India highlighted the podcast challenge.
An editorial story in the Times of India highlighted the podcast challenge.

 With this challenge, the brand also wanted to create an imagery of a brand for the youth using brand ambassadors who are role models for this audience — Riddhi Sen, winner of the National Award for acting, and the musician and actor Rwitobroto.

In an online workshop, the icons shared their insights and experience on the art of podcast creation. They offered various ways to get creative with its elements, including topic selection, modulation, music, and tonality. It was a huge success, with over 2,000 people tuning in to join the conversation, further emphasising the growing popularity of podcasting.

With a combined digital reach of 9.31 million people, the challenge successfully sparked a love for podcasting and technology among the youth, as evidenced by the high engagement it generated, with 4.56 million video views and 2.14 million interactions.

Extending the reach

To advance the cause of the challenge, an interactive stall was also set up at the largest book fair in Asia, the International Kolkata Book Fair. The event attracted many student registrations, with 900 students signing up to demonstrate podcasts’ potential as a creative medium. The impressive response to the challenge, with over 350 podcast submissions, further proves this trend.

The interactive Times Podcast Challenge stall at the International Kolkata Book Fair.
The interactive Times Podcast Challenge stall at the International Kolkata Book Fair.

The results of the campaign, combined with the high level of student engagement and the success of the online workshop, highlight the importance of promoting podcasting and encouraging young people to explore this medium. The campaign resonated deeply with students, and its strength grew with each piece of editorial coverage. Topics such as new methods of learning and innovation in education were emphasised.

Podcasts can foster creativity and innovation, and the impact of events like the Times Podcast Challenge highlights this potential.

About Debadyuti Karan

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