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In the spotlight: interview with South African podcast creator Sean Loots

In the Spotlight: Interview with Podcast Creator Sean Loots

Hello and welcome to another brand new blog series here at The Podcast Digest! We recently launched our Podcasters Doing It Right series. (You can check out the first edition of that here. We focused on the podcast intro, and no one does that better than Steven Bartlett and his podcast, The Diary of a CEO!) And today, we’re launching our In The Spotlight series, where we share fascinating conversations with all kinds of amazing podcasting people. And first up is South African podcast creator, Sean Loots.

In the Spotlight: Interview with Podcast Creator Sean Loots

Sean is a podcasting powerhouse! Not only is he the host of the Something Shifted podcast, and the brains behind The Podcast Catalyst, but Sean is also the force behind This Is How We Podcast, a series of in-person events in South Africa.

During the interview, Sean shares all about the upcoming event, and he also gives great insight into the South African podcasting landscape, and so much more! Let’s dive right in and step In The Spotlight with Sean Loots.

In the Spotlight: An Interview with Sean Loots

Jennay: Firstly, Sean, thank you so much for stepping In The Spotlight! I’m really excited for all you have to share with us today.
But first. We love an origin story here at The Podcast Digest, can you tell us a little about how you came to the podcasting space?


Sean: Absolutely! My journey to podcasting started on the radio. I worked on radio from 2006 – 2022 and won a South African Radio Award during my time as the afternoon drive show host on Good Hope FM. I also created a lot of audio for on-demand listening. During my time as afternoon drive show host, my daughter was born and diagnosed with chronic health issues. 

Something Shifted podcast by Sean Loots


In 2020, I published a short podcast series relating to Zoe’s special needs called Unstoppable and found the process to be very cathartic. 
Since then I have told many of my own stories (UnstoppableSome Assembly Required) and helped others craft theirs (Life in the Psych Lane, The Expansive, Veritas Wealth, The Good Life Popup Podcast, to name a few). 

My podcast is called Something Shifted with Sean Loots and deals with change. 


Jennay: Wow, Sean, that’s quite the origin story. I found it really beautiful how sharing your story was cathartic for you – while being something that is helpful and encouraging to others. That’s truly the power of audio story-telling at play. It changes all involved. I admire you for stepping out and sharing your stories!
And now one of my favorite questions…What are your top three podcast recommendations? 


Sean: Heavyweight, The Girlfriends, and Hidden Brain.

Jennay: Great picks! The Girlfriends was one of my top picks for the best of 2023! 
Now, let’s dive a little deeper and talk about your upcoming event on April 4th, This Is How We Podcast. Can you tell us a little about what the vision behind This Is How We Podcast is?


Sean: The heart behind all of the This Is How We Podcast events is to elevate the status of podcast creators in South Africa. 

And then taking it that step further, to share the wealth of knowledge accumulated by those that have been making podcasts successfully for some time already.

Related read: Podcasts In Review: The Best Podcasts of 2023


Jennay: That’s really exciting! And I’m incredibly excited that I get to attend April’s “This Is How We Podcast” event! What are you hoping attendees will experience at and take away from the event?
Bioscope Brasse podcast: This is how we podcast event


Sean: At this upcoming event, I will be in conversation with the hosts of Bioscope Brasse, Jody Felton & Ross Solomon about how they make their show, what they find most challenging, and how they made the Apple Podcasts Shows We Love list for 2023. 


Francois Retief from IONO.fm will also deliver a presentation about podcast analytics and answer questions about how to use data to monetize a podcast.


I also hope that attendees learn something from another creator’s process and maybe tweak it to fit their own workflow. 

I firmly believe that by gaining a better understanding of how to read podcast data, attendees will be able to apply this knowledge and explore ways of monetizing their projects.


The opportunity to network and collaborate with other creators is another strong reason to attend the This Is How We Podcast event series. 



Jennay: If I was incredibly excited before, now I’m quadruple that! That all sounds pretty amazing.
Now, Sean, you’re really involved in all things podcasting taking place in South Africa.
What three words would you use to describe the podcasting landscape in South Africa? And can you expand upon these?


Sean:

1. Exploding 

As a podcaster, I often receive emails and WhatsApp messages from people wanting to know more about the medium. I have therefore developed podcast coach and consultation services. 

Find out more about all the services Sean offers here.


2. Diverse

From science to comedy, sport to finance, wellness to art and everything in between, South Africans are telling stories, sharing their culture, perspective, and their knowledge, capturing the essence of communities.  


3. Young

While podcasting is already into its second decade, many South Africans are only now discovering the medium. As they find their new favorites, it is important for them to hear themselves and not only international perspectives. 



Jennay: I love your choice of words! They’re really reflective of the vibrancy and life of the South African podcasting scene! 
What are some of the most unique trends or characteristics you’ve seen in the South African podcasting scene compared to other countries?


Sean: While there is no data to back this up, I have noticed that many SA podcast creators are well into their 30s. It’s no surprise then that most podcast listeners are also over the age of 30.  

With more ways than ever to capture and share audio, the space is cost-effective for parents and business owners to make and share content with peers. Having said that, we are also noticing that many creators are opting for video podcasts and like to use YouTube as a hosting platform. I think this is because it is widely known as a space for consuming content. 



Jennay: And then taking a more global perspective on the South African podcasting space, why should advertisers and investors look to South African podcasts when it comes to ad spots, sponsorship, and the like?


Sean: Like I said before, the space is exploding! And with diverse voices comes a wide array of choices and niche communities to tap into. 


With an upswing in content creation and listenership, the time to invest in South African podcasters is now. 

Larger audiences are currently finding particular genres (true crime, comedy, entrepreneurship) where quality meets storytelling, whereas smaller shows are developing a strong fan base. 



Jennay: That’s some sound advice! (Pun obviously intended!) And we’re so excited to hear how podcasting is expanding in South Africa. Can you speak to the production quality of South African-based podcasts? 


Sean: I served as a judge for the APVA Awards 2023* and was really encouraged by the quality of storytelling and level of production. When individual producers are emulating the quality of production teams, I think it indicates very exciting things for the future of local podcasting. 

*The APVA is Africa’s premier audio awards and event, recognizing outstanding talent across Africa


Jennay: We wholeheartedly agree! Now, who are some of your role models or influential figures within the South African podcasting community?


Sean: I find Nicole Engelbrecht’s story and the way in which she has carved out a creative career to be very inspiring. 

True crime South Africa podcast

(Nicole Engelbrecht is the creator and host of the popular True Crime South Africa and I Lived Through This podcasts. True Crime South Africa consistently charts as South Africa’s most popular true-crime podcast even among international offerings, and in 2021, Business Insider ranked the podcast as the 5th most listened to podcast overall in the country.)

I also consider Paulo Dias, Lindsay Johnson, and Spike Balletine to be audio wizards! 

Jennay: And finally, looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of podcasting in South Africa, and what opportunities do you anticipate for those looking to join this space?


Sean: I see the term ‘podcasting’ becoming a catch-all for digital storytelling. I myself am working on developing strong creator communities and developing storytelling skills as I think there is a gap in this space. 

I also think audio created specifically for children will increase exponentially over the next few months. 



Jennay: We couldn’t agree more! Particularly in reference to the need for strong creator communities. That’s something we’re really passionate about at We Edit Podcasts. And we’re also seeing that uptake in audio for children, which we love to see…and hear!
Thank you so much, Sean, for joining us In The Spotlight today! How can readers connect with you?


Sean: Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts. If any podcasters would like to attend or support the next This Is How We Podcast event, they can contact me via my website www.seanloots.com.

Who Will Be in the Spotlight Next?

Are you a podcaster? Or do you work in the podcasting space? Do you want the chance to be In The Spotlight? I’d love to connect with you! Reach out to me at jennay@weeditpodcasts.com.

Who knows! You could be In The Spotlight next!

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