In Sarawak, there aren’t many podcasts that tell the story of its people, interesting tales about the Land of the Hornbills, and culture in general. When Barry Barim decided to start his own podcast, stories unfold.
Stories to share with the world
There aren’t many podcasts in Sarawak that focus on its people, interesting Sarawak stories, and the culture as a whole.
That all changed when a 29-year-old lab assistant named Barry Barim decided to start his own podcast during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The podcast is already 11 episodes in and is currently expanding every day.
As his “Thebarryanakbarim” podcast enters its first year this November, New Sarawak Tribune sat down with Barry to find out what inspires him to do his podcast, topic or segments, dream guests, the challenges he faced when starting a podcast, and any advice for other people who want to start their own podcast.
Inspired by the pandemic … and Arnold Loh?
Barry revealed that during the pandemic, he was scrolling through his Instagram feed and found that Arnold Loh, a well-known radio announcer for hitz.fm, had started a podcast.
“I listened to his podcast and fell in love with it. It was interesting because he invited his friends and people in the industry to talk about what was going on in their lives.
“So, after watching a few episodes, including some of his interviews, I had the thought, ‘I think I want to start my own podcast’,” he said.
He also said that, given his experience handling the lighting and audio systems in his church, he believed that one day, until he has adequate means to purchase necessary equipment, he will start his own podcast.
“Then came the pandemic. Out of boredom, I decided to listen to a couple podcasts that I found really inspiring.
“I’ve considered being Kuching’s first podcaster since the city interests me; we have a lot of talented people here, as well as news that isn’t getting enough attention,” he added.
He said that he wants his podcast to serve as a medium for people to discuss their life experiences.
“The highs and lows, the things you don’t talk about on social media because the story isn’t worth telling.
“This is the platform,” he said.
Come, chill, and just tell your stories
When asked what his podcast is known for, Barry said that it is more laid back.
“I’ll invite my friends and ask them to be themselves, as we would in coffee shops or mamak stalls.
“That’s the purpose of the podcast, just come and chill and let your stories be heard,” he said.
When asked what distinguishes his podcast from others, Barry said that it focuses on Kuching people and their stories.
“I chose to highlight these stories because I am quite certain that there are many stories out there that deserve being told, especially in the mainstream media.
“But mainstream media is quite selective about whose stories they want to cover, who should and should not be on screen or in print, and so on,” he said.
He then made it clear that he wanted to do away with the restriction.
“Like, I consider my podcast to be laid-back and casual, and I like to kick off my podcast with alcohol.
“And because my podcast is self-produced, I do everything from A to Z,” he added.
The segments and invited guests
Barry said that he usually curates his segments and topics based on who his guests are.
“However, before I begin recording my podcast, I will ask my guest a series of rapid-fire questions to break the ice.
“After that, I’ll delve deeper into topics related to whatever they do. For example, I did an interview with MUAPuaka, a makeup artist. So, I’d talk about the ups and downs of being a makeup artist,” he added.
Barry then revealed that the majority of his guests are his friends, especially those with interesting stories.
“I filter my guests through my following list and what they do, and I interview people with substance.
“I’ve learned that being a podcaster is not an easy task, as in ‘I want to talk to you, man. Let’s talk.’ No, I need to get to know the person well, if they have something to offer.”
He then revealed that he had some friends who wanted to participate in his podcast but didn’t have any topics to discuss.
“But, as I previously said, the majority of my guests are friends, with a few influencers such as Nick Jansen and others,” he added.
Aside from Arnold Loh, Barry said that his dream guests would be podcasters from “OK Let’s Go,” Singapore’s number one podcast at the moment.
“They are also the ones who inspired me to start my podcast, and I want to delve deep into their lives, their ups and downs, and I’ve been saying ups and downs because I believe it is the essence of my podcast.
“Let them to pull back the curtain and be as transparent as possible,” he added.
Podcast over radio?
Though he admitted that he cannot really predict the future, Barry said that he wouldn’t be surprised if podcasts took over radio someday.
“I mean, even as we speak, and if I may ask, how many people actually listen to the radio? Not many, right?
“Like me, I probably listen to the radio once a week for about 20 to 30 minutes, and the rest of the time I listen to Spotify or YouTube Music,” he said during the interview at his home in Kota Samarahan.
He then said that there are many podcast genres available to listeners on streaming services.
“You want thriller? There is thriller. You’re looking for a horror podcast? There is a horror podcast for you.
“You want local entertainment news? There is a podcast called mamak session for you. So, there are a lot of podcasts that you may listen to without interruptions of any kind,” he added.
Barry said that when he first started his podcast, it was challenging for him to navigate the actions he needed to take to ensure its success.
“I didn’t have someone to talk to about what I should do or what I should buy at first.
“I Googled everything from A to Z, including the equipment and software that I need for this podcast,” he said.
He added that he didn’t know any other podcasters in Kuching who could help him with the process.
“It’s only me and a few other individuals out there, and I don’t have any references to look up in Kuching,” he said.
He admitted that he had made mistakes and that it had taken him some time to realise them.
“After 11 episodes, I discovered that my audio was actually awful on the eighth episode, so better late than never, right?” he said.
Getting recognition and any advice?
It wasn’t long before he was recognised by several of his listeners outside of podcast.
“I was in a bar with my friends when their friends arrived at our table; at first, I didn’t know them.
“Then they approached me and said, ‘Hey, are you Barry from the podcast?’ ‘Yeah, that’s me,’ I said, and they told me they enjoy listening to my podcast, for which I am grateful,” he added.
When asked whether he has any advice for anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps, he recalls his friends telling him they wanted to start a podcast.
“So, the first question I’ll ask them is why they wanted to start a podcast, and the majority of them said it was to make additional money.
“Let me be real with you. I didn’t make any money from my podcast because it only had a few hundred views and 200 plays on Spotify, so money was not a factor,” he said.
He said that anyone interested in starting a podcast should consider whether they want to do it in the long run.
“Sure, the thrill of starting a podcast or any other activity is always present, as if you can’t believe you’re doing it.
“But when you see the numbers and they don’t meet your expectations, you start to wonder if it’s worth the time, resources, and energy,” he shared.
He added that podcasters should figure out their niche market and the demographic group they want to target.
“For me, I consider my niche market as young working adults in Kuching, as well as urban residents,” said Barry.
Barry then said that podcasters should make plans in advance for what they want to do and how they want to do it.
“Plan ahead of time and handle your time and content effectively. Most importantly, never stop learning since you will never advance unless you improve.
“Most importantly, make sure you have the right people around you who will support you in doing what you love. Some people questioned me during the first few episodes, but look at me now, 11 episodes in and still going strong,” he said.
He then emphasised once more that everyone interested in doing a podcast should question themselves why they want to do it.
“If it’s truly a passion, I don’t think it matters how many views and likes you receive; you do it because you love it. The money will eventually come. Just trust and believe,” said Barry.
Those interested in Barry’s podcast can listen to “Thebarryanakbarim” on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Podcast.