Locals Take Podcasting to the Next Level

Harley Sagrera

On Feb. 10, 2018, Ben Powers, the founder and owner of Developing Lafayette, sat down with his phone and an iPad to record his first podcast, “The Tea Podcast.”

Sitting next to a representative from La Pizzeria, Powers expressed his vision for the podcast to become a place where he can sit down with someone and talk about why they love Lafayette, Louisiana. Two years later, Powers has released 66 episodes with topics ranging from local current events to what new developments are coming to Lafayette.

In Lafayette, people and businesses have started using podcasts for a variety of reasons. Some people have created podcasts as a hobby or because they are interested in a topic. Local businesses have started using podcasts as another means to broadcast what they are creating.

Powers’ company Developing Lafayette was created to inform people about new businesses that are moving to Lafayette. By creating a podcast, Powers was able to take this one step further and not only educate people about what new businesses are being built but also about the people who are making all of the changes happen. Through his podcast, Powers has been able to learn about his guest background and see what they are planning to do to make Lafayette better, Powers said.

Local churches have started to use podcasts as another platform to publish their weekly sermons. Bob Zannini, the pastor at Life Church of Lafayette, uses podcasts to publish their church services. He said that the church has been using podcasts for a few years as a way to reach more people.

“I did it simply as a way of making the church service teachings available for those that used podcasts. I figured it was simply another way of reaching an audience that used that medium,” Zannini said.

While churches, such as Zannini’s church, may not have created different content that is exclusive to their podcast, they have seen the benefit of reaching people who may not interact directly with their church. Since people have started gaining interest in podcasts, churches have begun expanding to the platform.

Local individuals have started to create podcasts as well. Jan Swift is a local attorney who began her podcast “Discover Lafayette” in April 2017. Through this podcast, she hoped to show off the people and culture that makeup Lafayette, Swift said.

Swift said that she loved podcasts for years before she created her own. She would listen to podcasts all the time when she was walking and exercising. The podcasts that she listened to inspired her to start her own, and she modeled “Discovering Lafayette” after what she enjoyed. She also felt like creating a podcast of her own would be an exciting way to learn a new broadcast skill, she said.

“‘Fresh Air’ on NPR was my inspiration. Intelligent, relaxed talk that allows the host to let the guest dig deep into their story. I also really liked Alec Baldwin’s ‘Here’s the Thing,’” Swift said.

In almost three years, Swift has produced 142 episodes, and she has interviewed a variety of people. She has interviewed multiple business owners, attorneys and even a local Grammy winner. She has loved almost all of the guests she has had on her podcast and she feels like they have all offered something remarkable to her show, she said.

Swift with Ben Berthelot, Executive Director of Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission

Since the creation of “Discover Lafayette,” Swift has had 28,438 downloads of her podcast, and some episodes have had up to 650 views, Swift said. “The Tea Podcast” has received an average of 1500 views per episode, Powers said. These podcasts have gained popularity as more people in Lafayette have started to become interested in podcasts.

Podcasts have been gaining popularity for the past few years. More people have started listening to podcasts during their daily lives, and because of this, more podcasts have been created.

“A factor that made starting the podcast easier was the fact that podcasts as a whole started to increase in popularity, making it easier to gain listeners,” Powers said.

Podcasts have become a place where people can talk about their interest to an audience of listeners who care about what they have to say.

“What made me want to start the podcast was a desire to talk to others about things happening around the city and parish. At my former job, I would often have long conversations with my IT friends about happenings around town. And after starting Developing Lafayette full-time, I missed that,” Powers said.

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