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Frank Joung was born in Hannover and is a Berliner by choice with Korean roots. In his podcast „Halbe Katoffl“ he talks to Germans with a migration background about their everyday life between two cultures. For this he was even nominated for the Grimme Online Award in 2018. What is the podcaster doing in times of Corona? Is now the time for the next podcast wave? And anyway, how does one live from podcasting? A conversation about traumatic experiences, podcast millions and Markus Lanz.
CCB Magazine: Hello Frank. You are a podcaster with your soul and mind. You make nothing half-way, but your podcast nonetheless is called "Halbe Katoffl". What is it about?
Frank Joung: In my podcasts I speak with Germans who have non-German roots. It's about their everyday lifes, their anecdotes and experiences. But they are not so much question-answer interviews as casual, personal conversations.
CCB Magazine:Your parents are both from Korea, you yourself were born and raised in Hannover. Is it also a personal concern for you to bring the topic of bi-nationality or bi-culturalism to the public via a podcast?
Frank Joung:Yeah, that's right. Although the "Halbe" is only an approximation. Many even combine three cultures or more. Around a quarter of Germans have other cultural roots, but Germany still has a hard time accepting brown, black or Asian-looking people as Germans. The classic stories are then often written from a white point of view, always dealing with the same topics: the ascension-feel-good story, reports about "foreigners" or "strangers" who have become criminals, or stories about mostly very clear racist incidents. I was missing the middle part: stories about Halbe Katoffln's everyday personal experiences. How do they deal with sitting between the chairs? But it's explicitly not all the time about racism and things like that. We also laugh a lot and sometimes comedy and tragedy are close together. I'm a Halbe Katoffl myself, that helps, I guess, because I can put myself in the position of the other person pretty well.
The classic stories are often written from a white perspective. I was missing the middle part: Stories about the everyday personal experiences of Halbe Katoffln. These are exactly the stories I tell with my podcast
CCB Magazine:Which story moved you the most?
Frank Joung:Oh, there are so many. Jasmin Blümel-Hillebrand, for example, has Brazilian-Saxonian roots. When she was 15, Nazis doused her with petrol and tried to set her on fire - nobody helped her. It was a traumatic experience, but in the end she drew great strength from it. I believe that everyone has an interesting life story. The presenter Aline Abboud, for example, who suddenly finds herself on holiday in Lebanon and goes to war. Or Shugaa Nashwan, who comes from Yemen and represents the German national team as a blind judoka and gives a lecture on the Holocaust in Japan. But it is also about small details: Eritrean lasagna, crazy car rides through the Mongolian desert or failed German proverbs. For me it's about understanding what moves people. I don't want to judge them why they did this or that thing or why they didn't do it.
CCB Magazine:Right now it's a Corona crisis. Podcasts have been booming for years. According to studies every second person listens to podcasts. But podcast marketing is still in its infancy - many offers are free of charge, and only very few can make a living from them. Now that life has recently come to a standstill and half of the Federal Republic of Germany has been hit over the head is it time for the next big podcast wave where podcasters make real money?
Frank Joung:Well, especially at the beginning of the Corona pandemic I had the impression that the last ones had jumped on the podcast train - which I think is good. But that probably has less to do with earning money. Podcasts have the advantage that they are comparatively easy to do from home and with few resources. But if you are a hobby podcaster hoping for thousands of potent advertising partners, you should not be too disappointed. Because many companies are currently suffering from the crisis and have no money. You should primarily do a podcast because you are up for it. And if it's very good, you might even be able to make a living from it.
CCB Magazine:Does Corona make you lose business these days? And can you live from podcasting? How do you finance yourself?
Frank Joung:Of course, the pandemic has left me without some orders. At first I even applied for Soforthilfe II and received the money surprisingly quickly, but I have now simply paid it back. I simply did not know whether I could keep it if I was earning money on the side. Because things are already going quite well for me, it can, of course, get even better. After all, I have managed to build up Halbe Katoffl as a brand over the years and in the course of this, I have also received lectures, cooperations, workshops and other assignments. My luck was that I also bet on the crowd right from the start. Through the platform Steady I offer so-called memberships, which is ultimately like a subscription. Here you can book support packages with funny names like "Pommes", "Kartoffelpuffer" or "Gemüsekiste". With Pommes, I would then receive 2.50 euros a month, the Kartoffelpuffer "cost" 4.50 euros. So the community helps me enormously to not let the podcast as such become a minus business. I am very grateful for that. At the moment, almost 500 Euros are only collected by the listeners. Some also transfer money by bank transfer or Paypal.
CCB Magazine:One problem so far is that podcasters in this country are finding it difficult to assert themselves against large providers such as Audible, Spotify and the public broadcasters - quite unlike in the USA, where there are quite a few podcast millionaires. What do you think is the reason for this?
Frank Joung:Well, the way I see it, podcasts have long been considered more of a niche format. They were often nerds doing their thing in front of the mic. Only then did it gradually become a mass medium and larger providers discovered the market. The publicists jumped on the bandwagon. And that is good and less good at the same time. On the one hand, providers such as Spotify, Audible and the public sector are powerful donors and project supporters. On the other hand, they have completely different marketing opportunities for their own podcasts and thus push smaller in-house productions out of the market. But I think it's basically good that now many people are betting on podcasts and there is more and more money involved. This also means that the market is attractive. But it will take a while until we have pure podcast millionaires, and even in the USA not every podcaster is a millionaire.
CCB Magazine:Give me a hint, please: What makes a good podcast? What do you have to pay attention to? And how do you reach your target group?
Frank Joung:Making a podcast is basically very simple. Theoretically, you can do it with your smartphone. But making a good podcast is not that easy. Especially now, when many thematic fields are defined, you need a clear idea. You should ask yourself: How can I stand out? What do I want to convey and who is the podcast aimed at? I know it sounds like boring business talk, but it's actually very important. Sound quality is also becoming increasingly important. If I have to strain myself while listening or if it constantly cracks and hisses, then it's no fun. But that in itself is easy to solve - even with little money. The more important thing is: Above all, you should be clear about what exactly you want, what skills you have and what you enjoy doing, even in the long term. Otherwise you'll run out of breath pretty quickly.
CCB Magazine:And how does your working day look like?
Frank Joung:I'm always doing things. If you have your own podcast, you are, to put it simply, always either before, during or after the interview. That means: Either in the planning, production or follow-up. I do a lot on my own, but the interviews and website texts also have to be checked editorially. This is done by my colleague Simone, who also works for several hours. Then there is the maintenance of social media channels and external affairs such as press enquiries, giving lectures, seminars and the development of own ideas. It never gets boring.
CCB Magazine:Frank, that sounds good. What's the story with you and the Halbe Katoffl ? You were already nominated for the Grimme Online Award. When will you finally sit with Markus Lanz and talk about the post-Corona time when everything will be fine?
Frank Joung:I sincerely hope that the Corona time will pass quickly, even if it will apparently still take a while. And if I should sit with Markus Lanz one day, then hopefully not because of Corona. But yes, I hope that Halbe Katoffl can still grow. I'm looking forward to further nice conversations and I'm going more and more into podcast consulting. I also enjoy being in schools and companies and explaining how to make podcasts. I would never have thought: But even lectures are fun for me. A dream would be and there I was also already with other BiPoC Podcasts in the discussion: We want to set up a diverse BiPoC podcast festival. If that should ever be the case, Markus Lanz can invite me.
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