Top of the pods

Listen up GEMSters, podcasts are booming in the Middle East!

If your colleague has their earphones in, there’s a good chance that they’re listening to a podcast. According to 2020 data from Talkwalker social media analysts, there are 1.3 million regular podcast listeners in the UAE, and 91% of regular podcast listeners in the UAE trust podcasts more than other traditional forms of media.

Producing a podcast is relatively quick and low-tech, if you have a smartphone you can get started. And since the start of the pandemic more GEMSters have been jumping on board the trend, and using the platform to share their views, engage with parents and enjoy their hobbies and passions.

Read on to find out how these GEMSters set up their podcasts.

Podcast title: Sporting Jibberish
Topic: All things sport
Jack LuffmanHead of Post-16: Stuart Booth PE Teacher, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis

  • Why did you decide to create a podcast?

We are both avid sports fans, and having played sport to a high level in the UK, we just love sports and talk about them constantly. During lock down we decided to record our chats and start the venture to see if anyone else was interested in what we had to say.

  • Tell us what your podcast is all about?

Sporting Jibberish (SJ) is simply all about sport. It is a weekly show that is published every Friday morning, in which we talk and share our opinions about the main issues in sport of that week, from Premier League football to Test match cricket. But we also take a look at our personal performances that week; what’s happening at grass roots level here in the UAE and in the UK, and we share any stories. We don’t always agree, so at times it gets heated as we disagree on who is the best striker in the Premier League or whether cricket is better than football.

We have also done a number of special longer interviews with a range of sports stars from around the world, always with an eye on them giving advice to students looking to launch their sporting career. We have interviewed former Manchester United player and Go Pro Academy owner Kirk Hilton; current Lincoln City Director of Football Gez George; former world number one squash player Laura Massarro; GB Ultra Marathon runner Meryl Cooper; Dual code rugby player Apollo Perilini; and former Birmingham City striker Chris Ward, to name a few.

  • Who’s your audience?

Sports fans from around the world, young and old. From our podcasting hosting site, Buzzsprout, we can see we have regular listeners from the UAE, UK, Australia, Europe, America and even as far afield as New Zealand.

  • How do you create it – what technology do you use?

We use Stu’s spare room as a ‘studio’, with a Yeti microphone leading straight into the software, Audacity. For editing, we simply ‘top and tail it’ with our theme tune so the listeners get an original, natural and raw version. We usually try to record every Thursday evening straight after school, and it takes around an hour to record, edit and get the episode ready for publishing on Friday morning. We are hosted on Buzzsprout, but the podcast is available on all major podcast sites such as Apple Podcast, Spotify, Amazon and Deezer. Our regular podcasts have been going since May 2020, and then in the summer of last year, we decided to add the interviews to a YouTube channel so you can also ‘watch ’ the weekly podcast if you wish.

  • What’s the benefit of a podcast?

Podcasts are a great platform for people to share their ideas, opinions and expertise on any subject they’re passionate about. Podcasts are great for listeners, as once published they are available on the go and any time of the day or night, so the audience is able to fit them around their own schedule.

  • What has been your personal highlight/ achievement/learning through hosting the podcast?

It has been really enjoyable just sitting down weekly and sharing sporting opinions, dreams, ideas with a close friend and knowing the fact that people actually enjoy what we do. we’ve had a few highlights: interviewing with the current Director of Football at Lincoln City prior to this last season. The interview got a lot of hits on all platforms; celebrating our one year anniversary with a live show by the pool at the Raddison Red was a great accomplishment; and interviewing Chris Ward and Kirk Hilton.

  • What advice do you have for any colleagues that are considering starting a podcast?

Just go for it. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have thousands of listeners straight away, stay committed to it and enjoy it. Don’t spend loads on equipment, plenty of good cheap options that will do the job.

Where can we listen to your podcast?

Sporting Jibberish is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Prime. Follow us on social media @SportingJibberish


Podcast title: The Get In Podcast
Topic: Inclusion at GEMS FirstPoint
Host: Mark Ellis, SENCO, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa

Why did you decide to create a podcast?
It was something I had been interested in for a long time and, during the pandemic, podcasts seem to have exploded in popularity. Obviously, it’s an easily accessible platform which many people access every day, so I just thought that it might be another helpful way to promote the message of inclusion.

  • Tell us what your podcast is all about?

I’ve had a variety of guests who all bring a slightly different take on the central theme of inclusion. Some of them are internationally-renowned experts in their chosen fields, so I’ve been pretty lucky to get them. You will hardly hear my voice at all in the podcast. For me, it’s all about giving a platform to an expert to share their knowledge with the audience.

Who’s your audience?
I could say that the audience is anybody with an interest in inclusion but, in truth, I passionately believe that inclusion is something that we all have a responsibility to be aware of.

How do you create it – what technology do you use?
It’s surprisingly easy. I use Audacity for the editing, and most of the interviews are conducted via Zoom which works really well. I did buy a microphone which wasn’t expensive but really improved the quality. I do the whole thing myself and it probably takes between two and three hours to produce each podcast.

Why create a podcast as opposed to other platforms such as YouTube? What’s the benefit of a podcast?
It’s easy to make, and easy to access. People have told me they have downloaded the podcast to listen to whilst driving to work. It’s not a good idea to watch YouTube videos whilst driving to work!

What has been your personal highlight/ achievement/learning through hosting the podcast?
The fact that people who are global leaders in their field, and incredibly busy individuals, are so willing to give up their precious time to help me out with a pretty humble little podcast. It’s so impressive how committed people are to spreading the message of inclusion.

What advice do you have for any colleagues that are considering starting a podcast?
My advice is to make something for yourself. Forget about trying to impress anyone. Think about what you are curious about. What you would like to know. You’ll be surprised how many other people are asking the same questions.

Where can we listen to your podcast? There’s a link on our school website

Podcast title: Counsellor’s Corner
Topic: Parent and student wellbeing
Hosts: Rubiena Zahoor and Rajone Karmarkar, Student Counsellors at GEMS Metropol School

  • Why did you decide to create a podcast?

We started this podcast when we were under lockdown at the start of the pandemic in 2020. As working from home was introduced, we wanted to continue providing support to our parents and students, offering them support to look after their wellbeing even if they were not able to access it in person because of the newly introduced online learning system. That’s how Counsellor’s Corner for parents was born as a new support system for parents at MTS. We have addressed many areas of wellbeing, parenting, mindfulness, health, routines, sleep, etc. in our various episodes until now.

  • Tell us what your podcast is all about?

So far it has been Rajone and myself who keep introducing new topics every month to build awareness in the parent community on various aspects of mental health and wellbeing.

  • Who’s your audience?

MTS Parents and students.

  • How do you create it – what technology do you use?
    We use GarageBand as a recording device on our smartphones, and we use Audacity to add the final touches to enhance the quality, adding background music to give it a professional touch. We have continuously enhanced the audio-visual effects of the podcast since we started out. And yes, the editing and production is completely taken care of by both of us.

  • Why create a podcast as opposed to other platforms such as YouTube channel?

We wanted to create content and an exclusive space for the parents of the MTS community. We do use various social media platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook as well to share the content for our parents, staff and students to access.

  • What has been your personal highlight/ achievement/learning through hosting a podcast?

We realised that parents are grateful for the valuable information shared through our podcasts, which are easily available and assessable for them in the convenience of their homes. Unlike when you miss a meeting and don’t have access to its content as a result, the podcasts are saved on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, where parents can listen at a time and in a place that’s convenient to them.

  • What do you enjoy about podcasting?

To be able to communicate important information to a large number of parents in one shot, versus meeting them one-on-one to share the same crucial information. It feels like social media has made spreading awareness easier. I guess every challenge has its silver lining. It’s a delightful feeling at the end of the day when we are able to reach out to parents and continue supporting them with their mental health and wellbeing needs.

  • What advice do you have for any colleagues that are considering starting a podcast?

It is a very rewarding journey you can embark on. While recording several meaningful messages for the community we become aware of ourselves, our true potential as mental health professionals to continuously assess the needs of people around us and deliver in a format that our recent times have redefined.

Podcast title: Millennial Musings with Anurag
Topic: Millennial life
Host: Anurag Ram Chandran, Our Own English High School – Al Warqa’a alumni (2012)

  • Why did you decide to create a podcast?
    I have always been a massive fan of radio and the ability of the audio format to tell stories in powerful ways. In fact, I’ve always valued it more than television or any kind of visual media primarily because I feel like it is the purest form of storytelling there is. When podcasts started gaining in popularity, naturally I jumped on the bandwagon, listening to a wide breadth of shows from some of the early creators, and I absolutely fell in love with it. At my first full-time job, I pitched the idea of running a podcast to my employers, Asia Society, and they readily agreed and they gave me an opportunity to interview some of the stalwarts in India’s political and business space, including Member of Parliament Dr. Shashi Tharoor and journalist Suhasini Haider.

  • Tell us what your podcast is all about?
    Millennial Musings with Anurag is a show by and for the youth of today where I cover everything from climate change, current affairs, philosophy and politics, to mental health, love, Michael Jackson, and Mixed Martial Arts. Basically, as eclectic as a millennial mind today. The format is long-form, each episode lasts a little over an hour, and my guests include fellow millennials from all walks of life, from all around the world.|

  • Who’s your audience?
    My audience is from around the world, though the two dominant regions would be the United States and India, followed by the UAE and South Africa. In fact, the show is growing rapidly in India, which is where I am based currently. The usual age range of my listeners is between 20 and 35, though some episodes such as the one on finding love and combating alcoholism have garnered audiences in the 50-plus age range.

  • How do you create it – what technology do you use?
    In pre-COVID times, I largely preferred recording the shows in person. I use a standard two-mic + mixer set-up and record on the wonderful (and FREE) software Audacity. I also edit on this software. I have to admit that I’m a little ‘old school’ and prefer the comfort of Audacity because I’ve used it for editing music since I was in school  – most would agree that there are far faster and more intuitive softwares out there currently.
    Since COVID lockdowns began, I have been recording remotely on Zoom.
    I usually record for about two hours and edit it down to about an hour – editing time varies.

  • Why create a podcast as opposed to other platforms such as YouTube channel? What’s the benefit of a podcast?
    In most visual media content, you probably have to pause from whatever you are doing to watch what is going on. With podcasts, you can listen while doing other tasks, while driving, working out and more.

  • What has been your personal highlight/ achievement/learning through hosting a podcast?
    My biggest learnings are that everyone has a story to tell and that it can have a major impact on the lives of others. Secondly, that the youth are the future and if we don’t start incorporating our thoughts, needs, desires and wants in our current world, we will get to a point where the systems in place don’t make sense for the majority of people; and finally, that being present and intentional in any conversation (not just in a podcast recording session) can go miles in building strong relationships and friendships which can last a lifetime.

  • What advice do you have for any colleagues that are considering starting a podcast?
    There is no better time than now to get started. Unlike many other formats, there is no gatekeeper in podcasting. Everyone can get their shows distributed to the biggest platforms for free including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. All you need is a simple mic and free recording/editing software. Put your ideas out there, there is nothing stopping you.

  • Where can we listen to your podcast?
    It is available on all major podcast platforms including Spotify and Apple Podcasts, among others.