Students in Scotland have given us our hardest task of the year so far.
The response to the invitation to pitch podcast ideas for this year's Scottish Podcast Scholarship has been incredible. We received podcast proposals from no fewer than 18 different academic institutions around the country.
The pitches were of an extremely high quality, too, and whittling them down to a list of only six finalists will be a bittersweet job.
The main purpose of this competition is to give someone the perfect start in their podcasting journey.
The eventual winner will receive multiple prizes, including £400 in cash, pro-level recording equipment, and a year's free media hosting from our sponsor, Spreaker.
However, another aim of the scholarship is to raise the profile of podcasting. We want to help demonstrate the flexibility of the medium, and the fact that you can use podcasting to share any kind of information, message, or story, regardless of the subject matter.
Around the Country
Although we'll be creating a shortlist of finalists and choosing an eventual winner, that doesn't tell the whole story. Here's an example of some of the great ideas that have come in from around Scotland over the past two months.
The Examined Life, by Kenny Primrose, seeks to interview notable thinkers (academics, activists, writers, artists, politicians, religious leaders) about the question that they think we should be asking ourselves.
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It currently exists as a website, where it has been gathering a following for the last couple of months. The podcast would have a similar audience appeal to Onbeing.org, a podcast which describes itself as an ‘inquiry into the art and mystery of living'.
Sports Psychology: What’s it all about?, by Ross McDonald, is a podcast for athletes, sport coaches, aspiring sport psychologists, and aspiring sport scientists.
The show aims to take a deep dive into the whys, hows, and whats of sports psychology, through a series of interviews with thought leaders and practitioners in the field.
The podcast is designed to educate the listeners on how they can apply key principles to their own life, or for coaches to their athletes’.
On top of that, case studies will be analysed, listener questions answered, and popular myths regarding sports psychology will be debunked.
Stranded: A Story Of Survival, by Crawford Evans, is a serialised audio drama.
The story's protagonist has been thrown into one of the most challenging survival situations on the planet. He's stranded, alone and in the middle of the Sahara desert. He has only one goal: to get the medical supplies he has been tasked with to the rebel base situated in Libya… in the middle of an ongoing war.
Does he have what it takes to tip the scales of war back into the rebels' favour?
Chub Club, by Elizabeth Allan, is a health, food, and weight loss podcast.
‘Do you want to diet? Let us try it – before you buy it.'
The show's co-hosts will act as guinea pigs, trying and comparing new diets and techniques throughout the series, while in competition to see who can lose the most weight. The hosts will also attend different types of exercise class or events and offer a review of their experience.
Dundee University were the star performers in this year's scholarship, providing more entries to the competition than any other institution.
It Approaches, by Ari Brin, is a comedy sketch podcast presented as a weekly variety show set in a near-future world. The show opens as a new decade approaches, and with it many political and technological changes that will forever transform the world. Will the world be cast into turmoil, or persevere through the absurdities of this new modern era?
It is essentially a journalistic mockumentary podcast. The style is intended to attract fans of story-based, immersive-world podcasts, as well as fans of versatile sketch shows such as Superego.
Genius loci, by Addison Galagan, is an educational, documentary-style podcast. The series is aimed at those interested in: North American stories and mythologies; the connections between mythology, history, culture, and geography; the natural world; and our human connection to it.
The North American landscape is a vast environment, riddled with stories that connect people to animals, and they to the land. Through the host's research and study into the mythology, history, culture, and geography of the North American continent, he aims to inform and inspire people about the deep ecologies and histories of these places.
Each episode will tell a story concerning a significant place in the North American landscape.
Monzievaird Radio FM, by Peter Carson, is a comedy podcast starring multiple characters hosting radio programmes on the fictional ‘Monzievaird' radio station in the Scottish Borders.
It will feature fake adverts, ridiculous original songs, intense callers complaining about how the station has gone downhill in recent years, and sketch comedy between two hosts in an improvisational tone.
It's a podcast for people that like to laugh, but it isn't restricted to only ‘Scottish comedy'; it's enjoyable regardless of your nationality. Being set in the borders it will address aspects of life in the north of England, as well as the alleged recent Americanisation of local radio in the UK.
What Happens, by Mark Borthwick, is a podcast aimed at people who enjoy myth, urban folklore, and the bisection of ancient and modern histories.
The series plans to explore how our mythic heritage affects the physical and epistemic landscape of today. The hosts will investigate deep into the soil of where we stand, to find truths about ourselves that cannot be googled.
The first series of six episodes will focus on Edinburgh, kicking things off with the story of Robert Scott exploring the tunnels under the castle. This will be paired with an interview with historian Calum MacUsdein about the discovery, by students in the 1980s, of catacombs under Edinburgh's old town.
Details, Details, by Lauren Thomson, is an audio drama about six young adults trying to figure out themselves and how to live life to its fullest.
The target audience will be the LGBT community.
As it's common for gay characters in fiction to have storylines explicitly revolving around them being gay, this series aims to show LGBT people going through issues which aren’t directly related to their sexuality.
Ghouls of Scotland, by Myrhan Stephen, is a documentary-style show, combined with atmospheric narrated stories about Scotland's vibrant and often violent history.
What happens to those souls who succumb to a violent death? What are the hidden myths and legends of this historic country?
The podcast is primarily aimed at young adults who have an interest in the myths, legends and ghost stories of Scotland.
Our Scotland, Your Scotland, by Jack Aitchison, aims to tell the stories of the country's refugees. The podcast will seek to learn about their past, how well they are fitting in to life in Scotland, and any difficulties they may be facing.
Through a series of interviews, with the help of an interpreter if necessary, (each family/individual being a different podcast episode), the podcast not only aims to help the refugees in showing their story to help them engaging with our society, but also to help locals in Scotland to better understand what the refugees have gone through and their life before coming to this country.
Macabre Hour, by Jacob Smith, is an improvised murder mystery show.
Each episode involves several people acting as characters within the story. One person is the killer and gradually offs the other podcast hosts one by one. After each death it is the remaining hosts' job to figure out the killer among them.
Everyone can direct suspicions and vote on who they think is the killer. The killer must seek to win the episode by being the only podcast host left standing.
The Cutting Edge, by Alex Harwood, is a documentary/sketch comedy series.
This podcast is a surreal comedy documentary series that breaches the vanguard of scientific discovery, going native to answer the most burning scientific questions of today.
Stones such as The Human Brain, Climate Change, Extraterrestrial Life and the Mysteries of The Universe are turned and turned again through interviews with the world's very best, definitely real, scientists and experts.
Confident & Informed, by Antonia Palmer, is a series about welfare issues and what it takes to progress in our world.
The podcast will seek to provide a range of initiatives that hone people’s life-skills literacy.
One Foot In This Space, by Victoria Chen, is a series that seeks to let the invisible be heard, so they can find each other and make themselves seen.
The general style of each podcast will be a narrative, either in the form of a short story, an autobiographical recount, a monologue, a poem, or a short script.
One Foot In This Space gives those with protected characteristics a platform to share their stories and a chance to speak out in a creative and accessible format, and inform anyone of alternate experiences.
Fit, Filters and Fasting, by Louisa Smillie, is an investigative health and diet series.
With ‘famous’ online superstars showing off their incredible figures and telling us that we should now be vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-, dairy- and cooked-food-free, the health industry is ever-changing and ever-confusing. This podcast would be an exposé on how online bloggers have changed our perceptions of healthy and the new huge pressures they are creating.
The main target audience would be those who have found it difficult to know what information on diet and health is proven and reliable. It would also appeal to new mums, as there is also huge pressure on what you should be feeding your kids and how healthy your household should be.
Look Left, Look Right, by Tom Bird, is an interview show aimed at anyone who is politically engaged or seeks to understand opposing views.
The purpose of the podcast is to help spread awareness of and create a healthier political discourse, in which both sides can share ideas constructively. Discussions will be fair and balanced to motivate others to attempt the same thing in their lives.
21st Century Mixtape, by Amanda Park, aims to give people an opportunity for self-help and be entertained.
It is a show that incorporates real-life human experiences with the music that helped them get through it all. Each episode will contain an interview with an individual who will share their life's experiences, spliced with the music that reminds of that experience.
At the end of each episode, the interviewee's mixtape will be compiled onto a Spotify playlist for listeners to download.
Creative Haggis, by Iaian Sands, is a podcast about creatives who live and/or work in Scotland.
Featuring creatives from a variety of disciplines – from writers to photographers to movie editors – and a wide and varied skill set.
Each episode will feature two or three guests individually discussing their discipline, career path and future goals in order to inform and inspire the audience.
From time to time the show will feature a special guest who might not work in the creative industry but is able to offer an alternative point of view which would be of use to creatives, such as social media experts, business experts, etc. Overall, the show will serve to inform and motivate people through the advice and knowledge of the people who make up the Scottish creative industry.
The Finalists Shortlist
These are just a few of the fantastic entries that came in this year.
We'll now need to filter it down to only six finalists to interview for the scholarship's main prize.
However, we also want to offer help and assistance to everyone who has pitched their ideas to us. In order to do that, we'll be giving them free and unlimited access to our training courses on editing, equipment, and launching a podcast series.
On top of that we'll also be setting up a live training and Q&A session for every entrant. We're hopeful that each of the ideas listed above will be available to download and subscribe to in podcast form by this time next year.