The former health minister shares his perspective and experience of the local podcast scene, and the impact of audio narratives on society.
PETALING JAYA: Podcasts are exploding in popularity in Malaysia, offering diverse voices, raw perspectives, and insightful conversations that capture the pulse of our nation.
Whether it is a lively discussion about politics or the latest tech trend, it seems there’s a podcast for everyone. But what makes this audio revolution truly unique?
“It’s a new medium that cuts out mainstream intermediaries like radio and television stations. And the best part about podcasts in Malaysia is that there is no regulation; we are all self-regulated,” Khairy Jamaluddin told a media conference yesterday.
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From helming the health ministry during a global pandemic to co-hosting “Keluar Sekejap”, one of the nation’s most popular political podcasts, the 48-year-old embodies the intersection of traditional media and digital innovation. He’s also a radio presenter for Hot FM’s “Bekpes Hot” segment.
Indeed, Khairy’s venture into podcasting transcends mere trend-hopping: it reflects a deeper understanding of the power of audio storytelling in bridging the gap between established popular figures and the public.
“People say we are the source of news for a lot of people, apart from what they read every day online. When they want to listen to somebody explain the news, they come to us,” Khairy said.
The former Rembau MP is the curator of KL PodFest 2024, which runs this weekend at the Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre in 1Utama Shopping Centre. The aim of the inaugural two-day festival is to bring various podcasters together, create more interest in the field, and inspire more Malaysians to dabble in this long-form medium.
The sold-out ticketed festival, which includes close to 30 podcasts including one from Singapore, features live recording sessions, hands-on workshops, and a chance for new podcasters to pitch their ideas.
According to festival director Adrian Yap, it was Khairy himself who mooted the idea for the festival after seeing the amount of interest in his own show, and witnessing the amount of potential for the medium in Malaysia.
“I feel that podcasts have a very important role to play because of our tendency to want to listen and watch rather than read in Malaysia. That’s also one of the reasons why Shahril and I got into podcasting – because we felt it was an important marker and record of history,” Khairy said, referring to his “Keluar Sekejap” co-host, fellow politician Shahril Hamdan.
Launched in March last year, “Keluar Sekejap” quickly became a political podcasting phenomenon. The show, with 81 episodes, tackles diverse topics from current affairs to personal anecdotes – many of which challenge listeners’ preconceived notions.
The list of guests has included the likes of former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad, former minister Rafidah Aziz, and even the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
While “Keluar Sekejap” showcases the potential of podcasts to engage with political discourse, the wider podcasting scene offers much more. From journeys of personal development and historical deep dives to comedy shows and niche hobby discussions, there’s a podcast for every interest.
As Khairy put it: “It is an emerging media platform. If you look at some of the other countries, especially during election cycles, podcasts are becoming very popular. If people take their eyes off the podcast ball, then they will be missing a lot on emerging trends and emerging discussions.”
And as the Malaysian podcast scene matures, the impact of these audio narratives becomes increasingly evident: they offer alternative viewpoints, challenge narratives, and inspire critical thinking.
“In a world of social media, people are polarised. They just want to forward things that are quick and that agree with their personal biases. But we are finding that we can fight back through a long form, present both sides of an argument, and leave it to people to decide.
“We are trying to claim back the space where people can think, rather than spread very bite-sized content suited for an algotrim,” Khairy concluded.
Check out ‘Keluar Sekejap’ by clicking here.