Credit: Image by luctheo from Pixabay

Around 340,000 souls live in the small French department of Yonne, situated some 60 miles southeast of Paris. With more than half of the inhabitants involved in agriculture, Yonne is one of the poorest and most rural French departments.

One journalist went on an unlikely mission to connect the local newspaper, L’Yonne Republicaine, to the community through audio storytelling, creating a a small-scale, local podcast.

"Topics that have an educational aspect but that are kept conversational work the best," said Grégoire Molle at the Festival de l’info locale (28 June 2019), noting that audiences like to learn while they listen.

For instance, given the importance of agriculture in the regional economy, Molle has produced a series of short podcasts during one of France’s most important annual events, Paris International Agricultural Show. Five-minute long episodes feature views of the local inhabitants, enriched with expert views.

Molle found audiences showed a surprising interest in the European Union, but although it may seem like a distant institution, it has a very concrete, local impact.

"We launched the podcast covering a live event, which was closure of a local A&E night service," said Molle, discussing the beginning of his podcast venture.

To succeed in launching a local or hyperlocal podcast, Molle advises journalists to do research first and make sure they are upfront with their audience about why they are doing it and in what format – whether a one-off episode or a series, you intend to pursue.

Every local podcasting hopeful also needs to invest some time and money in acquiring basic equipment, such as a recorder, a microphone and headphones, and appropriate editing software.

However, Molle warned not to underestimate the time needed to learn and produce a podcast as this format requires marketing and promotional efforts. Access is still the main barrier – before the listeners can delve into your audio piece, they need to download an app, search for your podcast and download the episode, all of which requires an internet connection that may be unreliable in rural areas.

"The best way to promote your podcast is to organise events for the local community of listeners. Not only you can spread the word, you can also connect with your listeners and know what bothers them," concluded Molle.

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