An update on my podcast

Jan 17, 2017

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I’m hoping to do an episode of the podcast soon to update my diehard fans, but for now I’m going to reminisce briefly on some generalizable knowledge I’ve gained from producing Best Four Years, which is just a wee over a year old now!

Some reflections

My main takeaway: I shouldn’t jump the gun and assume I know what features are important.

Between brainstorming names and logos in the waning weeks of 2015, I bought a domain name (www.bfypod.com) and spent a lot of time building a custom Grav website with a clean, minimalist archive page and a randomly generated banner image from Unsplash each time the page was refreshed.

For the first few interviews, I made illustrations that I felt represented my guest and scanned them to edit digitally before uploading it with a blog post about the guest. If I had more time, the blog posts could have been an interesting and meaningful route to continue down to provide value for my audience. However, given my limited time as a senior at Stanford, they rarely amounted to more than a brief recap of the talking points I could recall and maybe an anecdote or two. It wasn’t a priority given everything else was juggling.

I made a Twitter account, but I realized after a while that the only real source of traffic came from my scheduled posts to Facebook and people subscribed to my podcast on their phones. My Facebook posts linked directly to iTunes and people using their phones would only see my podcast from their preferred app, so I assume literally zero people saw the website and its illustrations, blog posts, and randomly-generated splash images.

In case you were wondering, the Twitter account only amassed two followers.

So what now?

Coterming has been pretty different. It was way easier to schedule interview sessions when my guest and I were both living on-campus, within biking distance of the CCRMA studios.

I do have a lot of thoughts right now that I believe would be helpful for kids my age and younger, so I do want to keep doing this. But is it really a podcast if it’s just me talking to myself? I’d feel more like Matt Damon in The Martian but more narcissistic. Still, I’ll try it out. Subscribe and hopefully you’ll hear from me soon!

Also, as a bit of history, the following is what I published on December 31, 2015 for my first podcast episode:

When I was in high school, college just seemed like the required next step, even if I had no idea what “college” really entailed. Upon arrival, I was awash in a torrent of opportunities and adventures. College was new and exciting but also scary. I had to grapple with my own feelings on things like drinking and relationships which I never really thought about in high school. In terms of the future, I latched onto what felt like the safest and most comfortable path (majoring in computer science) while never really assessing if there were other criteria that also needed to be considered other than getting a high-paying, stable job.

The value of a higher education degree is being called into question more and more these days. I’m not saying this podcast arrives at an answer to those questions, but hopefully it can provide some insights and voices from some of the kids from this generation. As I approach my final years at Stanford, the question of what I’m going to do looms ever larger. It wasn’t until this year that I began to realize that the world outside of college was way larger than what the career fairs seemed to advertise. The podcast is meant to explore the multitude of options available that I was never aware of in high school and reassess the values that have been influenced by our upbringing and time in college.


drop me a line at blog@kevinzhai.com!