Sravya Tallapragada

Staff Reporter

3 December 2020

It’s one minute before showtime. She’s ready to go and goes over everything one last time. Then all of a sudden, the lights are not working, the camera is falling, and the computer is crashing. But that doesn’t stop her. She gets more lights, uprights her camera, and fixes the computer– all parts of starting and running a successful podcast.  

Yara Ayache, a senior at Atholton High School, released her first episode of her new podcast, “The Spirit of Success,” on October 19, 2020 that focuses on the success of different professionals’ careers in the Baha’i community of Howard County.

For those who don’t know, Baha’i faith is a fairly new religion created by Baháʼu’lláh, a Persian religious leader and founder, that advocates for peace and unity among all people. As Yara interviewed these professionals in her podcast, the faith was mentioned a lot and all tied into the spirituality portion of the show.

Yara brought up the fact that with the pandemic, the podcast could’ve gone either way so it was a bit challenging. However, she made it work and decided to use this as an opportunity to plan better and reach out to larger audiences, such as those who have gotten hurt in this pandemic and those in need of inspiration. 

“During this time I was like, you know, I want to pursue this project and what better time than when I am at home and am not running off to school or another activity or something like that,” Yara said.

As per the planning process, Yara began planning the podcast a couple months prior to the pandemic. She got the idea as she was running the Baha’is of Howard County Instagram account. She would share facts about different celebrities and their unexpected view of the Baha’i faith which Yara thought was cool to talk about. She herself was interested in this series which is called “Brilliant Star” and with her dedication, it has brought out other lovers in the series.

A problem that Yara found with this series was that “the word limit is too little and there’s a lot more that I want to go in depth with and I want to interview these people rather than just research them.” Creating a podcast would let her talk to these professionals and learn about their view of success in the midst of just connecting with them. 

Although without the lockdown, she stated that she would’ve still continued because she had already come up with the idea before the pandemic. At the same time, it immensely helped because it gave her another angle at the whole idea. She hoped that “the pandemic would offer a perspective of it reaching a wider audience and adding to the uplifting content that we are seeing more in social media. As well as trying to bring out the best for each other and help one another.”

Due to quarantine, podcasts have been slowly starting to get more and more popular. As reported by The Verge, Spotify has announced that due to COVID-19, “the overall podcast consumption has doubled.” Medium, a news site, also mentioned that since a lot of people are staying at home, podcasts have been something people have listened to more and gained interest in. 

With the help of the sudden growth in podcasts, Yara thought that it was a great way to reach out to the youth in a way that is ”trendy” is what she called it. 

Onto the physical and technical aspects of the podcast, Yara originally didn’t know how to start a podcast and everything that went into making one. Watching other people’s podcasts and really seeing what it looks like has, as she said, helped her to get most of her inspiration.

In addition, one of her own family members had their own interview show called, the Idea Lounge, that is based in Austin, Texas. They were very successful and they ran it for 10 years. Yara was extremely grateful that she had this wonderful help and got advice about good interviewing skills, good questions to ask, and other tips. Yara’s mom and sister also played some big roles in helping her, such as with the logo of the show.

The hardest part of the podcast was with the graphic design (i.e. the logo) because she had already come up with the idea and for her, “the questions are more natural because they are questions that I have as well.” She assumed that the whole thought process for the idea would be the hardest, due to the fact that it takes a lot of time to think about a topic that would genuinely be interesting to both the creator and the audience.

“If it’s something you don’t have a passion for, people aren’t going to have a passion for it for you,” Yara said.

Reflecting back on the podcast, Yara thought she definitely learned a lot. She learned good speaking skills, how to ask questions that are “engaging and interactive and meaningful,” and received inspiration from the professionals she learns about. Furthermore, she has learned how to make a successful podcast and all the steps that go into creating one.

One of Yara’s close friends and senior at Atholton high School, Charvika Minna, has added that “she inspired me a lot last year and because of that I like grew as a person.” 

Her friend showed that Yara has already affected one’s life positively with the mindset she’s always had: to help others. And in this podcast, she wants to achieve the goal of inspiring success in the youth.  

Yara pointed out that she can improve in learning more about social media and getting better at it so it can help later in the future with outreach. Along with better ways to promote and advertise her content, technical issues like lighting in her bedroom which is her studio and having a better set up for the interviews. 

For all the lost or soon to be podcast creators, Yara gave some advice that helped her when she created her podcast. She said that it’s highly important to do research about the topic first so the creator knows all the information, and to target audiences that would seem to be interested in the podcast. But, that doesn’t mean to change the podcast “so it suits all of that criteria.” It’s there to help as a baseline for successful ideas. Finally, ask for help and it’s always good to “bounce ideas off of people” and to not be nervous while contacting a potential interviewee who may be hard to reach out to.

Nonetheless, “If you’re so worried about that, you’re not gonna be able to continue forward with it,” said Yara.

On the bright side, some future plans everyone should be on the lookout for are a lot more episodes that will be out coming soon and Yara revealed that some of them will be with interviewees that people will most likely enjoy watching!

Posted by Mia Hargrett

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