The Podcast Manifesto

This week’s mission is to finally lay down at once the concept of my Japan podcast. My podcast friend’s advice from last week, while sitting across a tiny table in a tiny cafe in Shimokitazawa, was to start here– with a clearly defined mission statement. She told me that even now she often refers back to this document to check it against her ideas and see if she’s staying true to the original concept.

I think I’ve probably been mulling over my own podcast’s theme and concept for almost a year at this point, and it’s gone through many mutations without ever being firmly formed around one cohesive idea. One thing that’s clear, though, is that I’m going to leverage this strange and interesting country that I’ve been living in for almost 4 years now. Of course, that alone presents its own difficulties before I even attempt to focus that aim down into a more practicable theme. And that’s the language issue. My Japanese kind of comes in waves– sometimes strong and fluid and natural, at other times totally inadequate, choppy, frail, confused. But even if I could work my Japanese up to a point where I could comfortably interview in Japanese, recording the audio without any embarrassment, it wouldn’t really be that helpful for my English-language podcast…

Before I get too lost along the thread of my anxieties, though, let me try to pull this back to the matter at hand. I’m trying to slowly chisel out the shape of my podcast from the heavy clump of marble that it is right now. So let me start with these swings:

The series should focus on Japan, especially Tokyo.

The content isn’t limited to expats/foreigners living in Japan, but can include Japanese voices and stories too.

Interviews should be primarily in English, with limited voice-over-translated Japanese when necessary.

The concept should be focused enough to drive content ideas for each episode.

The content needs to avoids cliches like “What you love about Tokyo/Japan” “What brings you to Japan” “What makes Japan unique” etc.

The interviews should have an intimate vibe to them, as much like a conversation as possible.

Without being the professed purpose of the story/episode, each episode should nonetheless reveal something special about and unique to Japan.

The podcasts I like best unravel a single theme or story over the course of the episode. It should have that same format.

It has to be more than a Q&A about the interview subject in general — there needs to be a specific purpose, and therefore a story that unwinds, and the purpose needs to be tied to Japan in some way.

I want to uncover little-known, unusual and compelling things through the voices of various “experts.”

Sort of in the style of Stuff You Should Know, except it’s more like Stuff You Almost Definitely Don’t Know But Would Probably Find Interesting¬† (Japan Edition) (SYADDKBWPFI). And instead of delivering the info via the host or hosts’ extensive research, it’ll be done by the interview subject– the “expert.”

And with that last swing–

CONCEPT: Each episode will be a deep dive into one person’s Japan corner of expertise — it could be something in Japanese culture or history that they’re particularly knowledgable about and fascinated with, or it could be something they’ve managed to do in Japan, like singing, starting an indie band, becoming a videographer, or starting a business.

The more specific the expert’s corner, the better.


Well there you have it. I guess my next step here, in the next few days, is brainstorming my first story ideas.


One thought on “The Podcast Manifesto

  1. Keep them coming. We enjoy your adventures in that faraway land. We have wonderful memories of our Japanese friends who visited us as members of the Friendship Force, an international exchange program. Larry was in Japan during the Korean War while serving on an aircraft carrier based out of Yokusaka . On one occasion he received a week long rest and relaxation leave to beautiful Nikko. At other times when the ship was in port, the aircraft were sent to Atsugi Naval Station in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. We are planning to see Arlene in a few weeks during a getaway at Cape Cod. You are a remarkable writer and we look forward to continuing Tokyoilluminations. Love and hugs from Uncle Larry and Aunt Carol


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