Hearing a Different Voice

When the News Meets Podcasting

2020 / November

Tina Xie /photos courtesy of Kent Chuang /tr. by Scott Williams

You could say that 2020 has been “Year 1” for podcasting in Taiwan, with amateur podcasters exploding in popularity and podcasts such as Bai­ling­guo News, Gooaye, and Commute for Me attracting tens of thousands of listeners.

As a result, some larger Taiwanese media organ­iza­tions have begun experimenting with this new form of broadcasting, using audio to spotlight issues and reach an audience that doesn’t do much reading.

Taiwan Panorama recently invited Mario Yang, host of the Drink with Mario podcast at pioneering digital media startup The News Lens, and Jason C.H. Liu, who hosts a podcast for independent non-profit media outlet The Reporter, to talk about this new approach to narrative and how they produce their podcasts.

Grabbing ears

“Hello! This is Drink with Mario, and I am Mario. One, two! One, two, three!” Jazz music plays for a moment and then a substantial but free-flowing con­versa­tion begins. For Mario Yang, the podcast is both an aspect of his broadcasting ambition and an experiment.

Yang, a cofounder of The News Lens and its chief content editor, had long dreamed of becoming a DJ and having his own program. When he began listening to and researching podcasts in 2016, he learned that while it is hard to hold people’s visual attention, podcasts can hold their auditory attention for extended periods. Furthermore, he recognized that the format of the live­streamed online program Talk to Taiwan, for which he was a producer, was well suited to listening. These factors, together with the relatively low cost of producing audio content, encouraged him to try his hand at podcasting.

At the advice of veteran radio host Wang Wenhua, Yang began his first season of podcasts under the title Drink with Mario. The show is structured around an interview, with Yang inviting well-known creators and professionals from a variety of fields to share their thoughts and stories. For the second season, he focused on Taiwan’s bars and ventured out of his recording studio, traveling to Kaohsiung to interview locals on Qi­xian 3rd Road, which is known for its shopping and entertainment. His goal was to better understand the bar culture that emerged in the city in the 1950s, when it was a destina­tion for US soldiers on R&R. Season 2’s oral documentary format is similar to one used by the US podcast Serial, which spent its first season taking an in-depth look at a 1999 murder.

An extended experiment

Yang’s podcast is now more than three years old and airing its fourth season. His interview subjects have run the gamut from business owners and the minister of culture to singer‡songwriters, psychological counselors, and investigative journalists. At the end of Season 3, he invited eight ordinary listeners into his recording space to share their unusual life stories. His program is kind of the “celebrity studio” of the Taiwan podcasting community, orally documenting guests’ achievements with a degree of feeling that is hard to match in print.

In 2019, Yang established the Podcast Club on Facebook, inviting fellow podcasting enthusiasts and founders of the Bailingguo podcast Ken and Kylie to join in hopes of encouraging the club’s rapid development. The group currently has around 9000 members. Some ask about recording devices and editing software, while others share their own new podcasts. In addition to these online discussions, the club also holds in-person activities every six to eight weeks, at which well-known podcasters share their experience and five group members take turns talking about their own programs.

With the podcasting trend taking hold and recording technology improving, Taiwan has seen a rise in the number of podcasters, which has in turn created business opportunities in recording devices and advertising. Yang is often asked where the Taiwan podcasting market is in its development. His answer is that no one really knows. “Right now, Taiwan has left the ‘innovator’ stage, and is already in the latter part of the ‘early adopter’ stage. But we haven’t entered the ‘early majority’ stage yet. To do so, we need even more new program genres to attract audiences that haven’t started listening to podcasts.”

Finding listeners

The Reporter launched its The Real Story podcast in August 2020. Hosted by Jason Liu, The Reporter’s deputy editor in chief, it features journalists offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of news gathering, experts answering listeners’ questions, and guests telling their own stories relevant to social issues. The podcast aims to reach audiences who don’t usually read long-form journalism and engage them in dialogue. 

The podcast’s first two episodes talked about Taiwan’s role in the transnational amphetamine production chain. The first season also included an interview with Hong Kong democracy activist Gwyneth Ho and healthcare reporters answering questions about SARS and Covid-19 collected from listeners via Instagram. Though the subject matter of the podcast is serious, it has succeeded in attracting a number of listeners who have never read The Reporter.

“After hearing the episode on amphetamines, a listener shared it with a friend who was the kind of jobless, unmarried middle-aged man it mentioned. The man had been thinking of becoming a drug mule, but was persuaded by the episode that this would likely be a bad choice. He thanked us for understanding the reasons why he would consider that path.” Liu says that a person in that kind of situation isn’t likely to read a 10,000 word article, but he or she might listen.

From story to understanding

Liu used to be a print journalist, and eight years ago wrote an article about the Taitung Miramar Resort pro­ject. He recently spoke to the article’s interview subjects again for a podcast. When asked what was different between the two rounds of interviews, he says, “Their voices are finally being heard.”

Liu believes that in print articles, journalists act as interpreters. They can place interviewees’ statements wherever they like in their articles, and readers never get a chance to hear the person speak in their own voice. Podcasts are different in that the audience hears the con­versa­tion and has context for each statement.

“The written word and podcasts convey very different things.” Liu explains that print reporting can use graphics, photographs and layout to present news in a structured way, whereas podcasts use emotional connections to tell a story in a linear way.

As an example, he cites an episode of the New York Times’ podcast The Daily entitled “Tilly Remembers Her Grandfather.” The episode looks at the collective harm caused by Covid-19 via an interview with a young girl comparing her life and mood before and after her grandfather passed away from the disease. Her responses offer listeners insight into how one might face such a situation. The host refrained from explaining the economic decline caused by Covid, or interjecting any other information. Instead, he simply allowed listeners to hear about this particular case from someone directly affected and interpret it however they liked.

On the day we interview Liu, he is recording the last episode of The Real Story’s first season. When we ask about the impact of his podcast experiment on The Reporter, he says that in addition to the positive responses he’s gotten from listeners, there has also been a show of support through increased donations and messages. He sees The Reporter’s next step as retaining the listeners that the podcast has attracted.

Asked how profound an impact podcasts will have on the news, Liu says, “I don’t have an answer to that. The only thing I can do is ask even more questions. For me, podcasting is tossing questions to the audience to see what kind of response I get.”


What’s a podcast?
Podcast = ipod + broadcast
The word is a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast.”
Ben Hammersley, a columnist for The Guardian, coined the term in a 2004 piece for the paper entitled “Audible Revolution.” In it, he noted that the format gave listeners tremendous freedom to choose when and where to listen to programs of interest to them, and also provided for greater inter-activity by enabling them to post their responses to those programs.

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文‧謝宜婷 圖‧莊坤儒

2020年,可以說是台灣podcast的元年。素人podcast節目爆紅,「百靈果」、「股癌」與「台灣通勤第一品牌」,吸引數萬粉絲收聽;再加上本土podcast公司Sound On提供一條龍服務:內容製作、後台服務與廣告媒合,並推出自己的播放平台與節目,帶動社會製作podcast節目的風潮。


《光華》邀請台灣podcast界的先鋒《關鍵評論網》旗下節目「馬力歐陪你喝一杯」主持人楊士範,以及台灣非營利調查新聞網路媒體《報導者》旗下節目「The Real Story」主持人劉致昕來談他們製作podcast的過程與這種新敘事手法的特色。


「哈囉,大家好!這裡是馬力歐陪你喝一杯,我是馬力歐。One, two!One, two, three!」簡潔的開場白,接著一段輕快的爵士音樂,開始一場深入又隨性的對談。podcast是楊士範廣播夢的另一種形式,也是一場沒有設限的實驗。






2019年,楊士範在臉書成立Podcast Club,邀請同樣對推廣podcast有熱情的百靈果主持人Ken與凱莉加入,希望這個圈子能蓬勃發展。目前社團內有一萬位成員,有人針對錄音器材、剪輯軟體提問,也有人分享自己的新節目。除了線上討論,每六~八周也會舉行實體活動,邀請知名podcaster分享經驗,再由五位社團成員輪流進行快講。

隨著這股風潮與錄音技術提升,台灣出現越來越多podcaster,帶動錄音器材與廣告的商機。楊士範常常被問:「台灣podcast市場到底在哪裡?」,他表示:「沒有人說的準。現在台灣已經離開創新者(Innovators)的階段,進到早期採用者(Early Adopters)尾端,但還沒進入早期大眾(Early Majority)。要進到下一個階段,需要更多新類型的節目加入,吸引原本沒有在聽podcast的群眾。」



2020年8月,《報導者》推出podcast節目「The Real Story」,由副總編輯劉致昕擔任主持人,請社內記者回顧採訪幕後,專家回答聽眾問題,也針對社會議題,請受訪者上節目說他們的故事,希望透過這個媒介去接觸不習慣閱讀長文的群眾,並與他們對話。











他以《紐約時報》「The Daily」節目中的一集「Tilly Remembers Her Grandfather」為例,該集講述新冠肺炎下的集體創傷,以訪問小女孩的形式,對比爺爺去世前後,對她生活與心情的影響。從小女孩的回答,聽眾可以去思考如何面對這個議題。節目中,主持人並沒有說明新冠肺炎造成的經濟低落或引用其他數據,而是透過故事,讓聽眾自己去感受、認識一件事情。





2004年,《衛報》記者Ben Hammersley在「可聽見的突破」(Audible revolution)一文中提到此字。他認為podcast給了聽眾很大的自由,能夠不受時空限制,透過手機與網路收聽有興趣的節目,還可以透過留言給予節目回饋,增加雙方互動。



文・謝宜婷 写真・莊坤儒 翻訳・山口 雪菜

2020年は台湾のポッドキャスト元年と言える。アマチュアのパーソナリティが人気となり「百霊果」「股癌」「台湾通勤第一品牌」といった番組を数万人が聴取するようになった。さらに台湾のSound On社は、コンテンツ制作から広告マッチングまでのサービスを提供している。


『光華』ではポッドキャスト界の先鋒である『関鍵評論網(ニュース・レンズ)』の番組「馬力欧陪你喝一杯(マリオと一杯)」のパーソナリティである楊士範と、台湾の非営利ネットメディア『報道者(The Reporter)』のパーソナリティ劉致昕に、ポッドキャスト番組制作のプロセスや新たな手法について語っていただいた。


「ハロー!マリオと一杯。私はマリオです。One, two ! One, two, three !」と、番組は軽快に始まり、ジャズが流れた後に自由な対談が始まる。ポッドキャストは楊士範のラジオの夢の一つの形で、制限のない実験の場でもある。








2020年8月、『報道者(The Reporter)』のポッドキャスト番組「The Real Story」がスタートした。副編集長の劉致昕がパーソナリティを務め、社内の記者が取材の裏話をした後、専門家がリスナーの疑問に答えるという内容だ。また社会的テーマについて、文字媒体の取材対象者を番組に招いて経験を語ってもらい、長文を読み慣れない人々に音声を通して情報に触れてもらう。







彼はニューヨーク・タイムズのポッドキャスト番組「The Daily」の特集「Tilly Remembers Her Grandfather」を例に挙げる。新型コロナウイルス流行で多くの人の心が傷ついていることを考える内容で、コロナで祖父を亡くした幼い少女に、生活や心への影響をたずねる。その言葉からリスナーは、この課題にどう向き合うべきか考えさせられる。番組の中で、司会者はコロナによる経済の低迷や他のデータを説明することはなく、ひとつの物語を淡々と伝える。



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