Developing Podcasts To Share Science

Shun Sakai takes us behind the scenes of the making of his podcast, "Fireside Huang Chats"

I’ve never really been into podcasts. Though I’m not necessarily a visual learner, the thought of watching something, even if it’s just two people sitting in chairs, intrigues me much more than listening to plain audio on its own. So when I learned that one of our projects during the Huang summer was to record our own podcasts, I didn’t really know where to start.

There was a part of me that wanted to take the easy route talking about myself and my partner Dev’s research. It didn’t require many visual cues and was something that none of the other fellows knew about. But given the many other opportunities to share what we were doing, it seemed too simple and straightforward. There wasn’t much creativity.

“…Dev and I settled on what had truly shaped our summer this year: the Huang Fellow cohort.”

After much deliberation and scrapped ideas, Dev and I settled on what had truly shaped our summer this year: the Huang Fellow cohort. At first thought, it also seems straightforward. We are all Huang Fellows, and we talk formally and informally all the time. It didn’t seem like there was much to learn or gain from the podcast itself. Yet coming into the program, that wasn’t necessarily the case. We both felt that it was easy to see on a formal level what a Huang Fellow was and what the program had to offer. But when it came to the day-to-day down-to-earth vibe, we felt it was hard to explain. We wanted to share with the Duke community, prospective Huang Fellows, and prospective Duke students who the fellows were and what it was like to be part of the program.

Flash forward a few weeks, and it was time to present. Sitting down in the Bullpen with all the other fellows, I, for the first time, was excited to listen to a podcast. Going through the process of brainstorming, interviewing, recording, and editing, I finally understood how much went into sharing the voices of those who presented themselves on such platforms. This new perspective made listening to these podcasts a very different experience.

There was a lot of variety in the podcasts. Some focused on technical aspects of science, including interviews with professors and medical professionals, while others focused on more fun aspects of science like ASMR. Some focused entirely on personal interests like mental health, while others, like ours, pertained more to the Huang Fellows themselves. Not only was it interesting to delve deep into topics that I wouldn’t necessarily learn about on my own, but hearing stories about the process, recording interviews in the closet, and going over to a professor’s house to talk to them made the entire experience engaging and personal.

Though I don’t necessarily feel like I will find myself listening to podcasts more than watching videos or reading articles in the future, I think I learned that different forms of media exist for various reasons. Though a podcast might not be the most engaging form of media for me, I know the process behind developing an episode: brainstorming ideas, conducting interviews, and editing is part of a unique process to share something that someone loves in a fun and exciting way.

“I learned that different forms of media exist for various reasons.”

Shun Sakai, Huang Fellow ’25

Shun SakaiShun is from Greenwich, Connecticut and intends to double major in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science with a certification in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.