Radio Spookasem: the independent podcast that will get your feet tapping


Two guys working in local radio have teamed up to create one of the more original and well-produced podcasts coming out of Cape Town today. With Riaan Cruywagen, Helen Zille, Bongani Njoli (the voice behind’s Friday Action Night) and Twakkie as guest presenters, Radio Spookasem ended its first season with a bang and is gearing up for even more surprises in season two.

“We’d sit around a braai and say ‘oh my word I like this band, I want to share it with everyone’ and that’s what we’re doing,” says the man behind the alternative music podcast, award-winning journalist Graeme Raubenheimer. Together with his Heart FM colleague Francois Nel, these guys know what they’re doing. Says Nel: “We tune into a lot of international podcasts, even Serial, but we get bored. What we do with our podcast is that it’s a package of our favourite music offered as entertainment – that’s what we sell.”

Read more: We probably won’t get a South African Serial any time soon: here’s why

Without the capital to build a proper studio, Raubenheimer was so desperate to get their idea off the ground “I wanted to do it literally in my kitchen”. But with Nel’s help in producing proper jingles and quality sound, it soon sounded like a proper piece of broadcasting. Friends who supported the dream came aboard and the outfit grew to a proper team of six: an art director (Alex van Niekerk), copywriter (Andrew MacFarlane), contributor (Robert Raubenheimer) and correspondent (Marco da Fonseca).

Next to friends and family, it has been the bands featured on their podcast getting the most value from their venture. As Nel says, “I think bands like it because they can hear their music on something that sounds like radio.” Listen to their podcast and you’ll hear them telling you exactly what you need to do to make the cut: “If you wanna win me over,” says Raubenheimer, “have keyboards in your band.”

Although they’ve never had any intention to make money from their hobby, Raubenheimer and Nel have entered the startup space of podcasting, something that all the cool kids are trying to do (even Memeburn’s doing it). Companies are springing up producing original and profitable podcasts, ranging from recaps of every Gilmore Girls episode to an episode-for-episode guide on how to build a startup.

Read more: The great podcast resurgence and the rebirth of radio

And like a startup, Spookasem is slowly seeing growth spurts and new challenges as they start to realise this side project may become a full-time gig. They are however dedicated to their day jobs at Heart FM, which supports them in their side project.

“We actually reached what we thought we would,” says Nel. “We didn’t have any long-term plans. Now we’re on some illegal Russian website. How cool is that. We’re probably like R1 000 in the red if not more — we have not made a cent. Its pretty much Facebook advertising and nothing else chowing our cash.”

Raubenheimer chips in: “But Facebook is changing a lot of settings in their advertising that might not be the best place to market it anymore. We think word of mouth and stickers could have better reach.”

Radio Spookasem has on average 200 to 300 listeners per edition on Soundcloud and YouTube since iTunes podcasts are just not “that popular” in South Africa yet. Give them a listen and look out for season 2 later this month (February 2015) — featuring some more well-known bands and celebrities.

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