Op-eds

Would a Sunday COVID podcast work?

  • Howard Feldman 2018
Sometime back in early March, when we were young, I had the idea of asking my friend, Dr Anton Meyberg, to record a podcast with me. He is a pulmonologist physician, and I could already see that he was displaying an uncomfortable obsession with this COVID-19 thing that was having an impact on countries around the world.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Jul 02, 2020

He reluctantly agreed to give an overview on what he knew back then (when we were children), and so, we met in studio one Sunday morning to get a sense if it would be any good.

Still uncertain as to whether it would work, I approached Synthesis Technologies and asked if it would have any interest in sponsoring the series. I wasn’t convinced (back then, in my youth), that it would be a good idea for any company to brand alongside a virus, but its response was that it was about information and education. Not branding. That was good enough for it, and just like that, the Sunday Podcast was born.

About 16 weeks later (or 17), close to 60 000 people have watched the podcasts. The format is simple: introduction and overview of the current status, followed by the questions that we are sent. We invite viewers to send in their COVID-19 queries the evening before, and we do what we can to answer them.

This, I believe, is part of the success, in that the interview addresses the challenges that people are facing that week. They are also a brilliant measure of where we are at in our understanding of the pandemic and the disease, as well as the social aspect and impact that it has on our lives.

It’s also interesting to note the number of times questions are repeated by different viewers, indicating when a challenge is widespread.

It’s fascinating to see how information is shared in this pandemic. A recent study in the United Kingdom showed a distinction between people who received knowledge through social media and those who relied on mainstream or conventional publications.

Those who relied on social media as their news source were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories and fantastical thinking. One of the challenges with the podcast has been to debunk the nonsense, even when someone heard it from their aunt who knows a doctor in Italy.

The Synthesis Sunday Podcast is now viewed throughout the world. We receive messages of support from all continents, and questions from a broad range of countries. The focus, however, is to provide information that’s reliable, not hysterical, and up-to-date, in an informative and palatable way.

Back in March, when I was a child, I had no idea that the Synthesis Sunday Podcast would have had the impact that it has. But I’m grateful and blessed that is has done.

See you Sunday.

  • Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.

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