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This 19-year-old started his own podcast while staying home

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Mass communication student Erwin Shah produces his own weekly 'LetsBeReal' podcast while juggling school.

Like many others, 19-year-old Erwin Shah spent his circuit breaker doing home workouts, gaming and looking for other activities to fill his time. 

But having stayed home since the end of his poly semester (Feb 14), Erwin was quickly growing bored. He decided to work on an idea he had been toying with since December 2019: to produce his own podcast

After months of planning and editing, Erwin's brainchild, the LetsBeReal podcast, finally made its debut on Spotify on Jun 12 this year.  

Youth.SG spoke to Erwin at his home in Woodlands to find out more about his experience creating and producing a podcast, all by himself. 

Creating a podcast for youths 

Since Jun 12, Erwin has produced a total of five podcast episodes, each 30 minutes to an hour long. They cover a range of youth-related topics like freelancing as a student and dealing with difficult friends. 

The mass communication student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic said: "I started off my podcast with light-hearted topics, but I will be diving into topics that are more sensitive. In my upcoming episodes, I will be talking about being in interracial relationships and more. 

"I want the podcast to talk about touchier topics as well as the fun stuff. I want youths to know that I'm open to talking about topics people don't really talk about and we can help one another out."   

LetsBeReal-first-episode-cover
His first episode, in which he talks about dealing with a difficult friend, had about 100 listeners.
PHOTO CREDIT: ERWIN SHAH

To get different youth perspectives on his show, Erwin typically invites guests through his circle of friends.  

"I mainly find guests through those around me. Sometimes, my guest and I are not on the best terms, but we mend the friendship through working on the podcast," said Erwin. 

Wearing different hats in production 

Besides hosting the podcast, Erwin is responsible for editing, creating the thumbnails and even writing the episode synopsis.  

He shared that handling the podcast production came naturally due to his experience as a radio DJ in his campus radio station and the skills he has learnt from his mass communication course.    

"I think it's easier since the technical aspect comes easy to me. I know how to use softwares like Pro Tools, Adobe Audition and Premiere Pro. I'm not the best podcaster but I have found my voice and I know my style," said Erwin, who enjoys listening to locally-produced podcasts. 

Erwin-hosting-his-radio-show
Erwin hosting his two-hour radio show for Radio Heatwave last December.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH 

Although Erwin enjoys having full creative control over his podcast, he admits that it has been a challenge to produce his podcast alone, even so far as sacrificing sleep just to finish editing an episode in time for its release. 

He said: "I sometimes wish that I have my own designer because my own designs look like they're meant for a children's book. They're not the best.  

"Hopefully in the future I'll hire a designer, if I can pay for one!" 

computer-microphone-and-laptop
To accommodate the production process, Erwin has turned his bedroom into a makeshift recording booth and editing suite.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH  

Another challenge that came with working alone was that Erwin would need to deal with any potential backlash by himself. When asked about his fears about releasing his first podcast, he said: "Like any other person who releases anything, I was very scared because I didn't know what was going to happen. 

"If people love and support me, great, but if people have problems with what I have to say, I would be getting the brunt of the backlash because it boils down to me." 

Erwin-with-headphones-on-editing
After Erwin and his guests record their podcast session through Skype or Discord, he edits and refines the audio clips using Adobe Audition.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH 

Keeping busy and creative while staying home 

Currently, Erwin is working from home for his six-month internship, but actively puts out new podcast episodes. Although it can get stressful being cooped up at home all the time, he finds that staying in has pushed him to be more creative. 

"When you're at home, sometimes you just get inspiration out of the blue. [Staying home] forces me to be creative because I can only see so much and I have to churn content out of that," said Erwin, who made it into the top 10 of Lazada's livestream talent search, LazTalent

Erwin-doing-yoga-on-a-mat
Erwin does yoga to keep himself calm and centred through all the chaos.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH 

Ultimately, Erwin hopes the hard work he puts into his podcast can empower youths to talk more openly about their thoughts, even if he only impacts one person. 

"I just want to reach out to people because I love human connection. As long as I can reach one person, it's good enough," he said. 

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: ERWIN SHAH AND YOUTH.SG/ANIS NABILAH 

Feeling bored at home? Hop on to Cr8studiosg to watch chat shows, stand-up comedy and music performances! Or visit MehGoWhere.SG for more resources or things to do!

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