LISTEN UP: The Power of Podcasting

Podcasting has been exploding in popularity worldwide for quite a while now. In Central and Eastern Europe, podcasts are playing catch-up, allowing for media in this region – where press freedom is under threat – to experiment with the format and expand its audience reach.


The Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria, AEJ-Bulgaria, is moving ahead with its plan to hold Sofia’s first podcast festival this month. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the format would be different. What was meant to be a one-day, in-person event will now be a five-day-long online celebration of podcasting and storytelling.


Thе festival, which includes talks, discussions, and workshops, will take place from November 18 to 22 and give you a chance to meet some of your favorite international podcast creators.


Each evening, the audience will have a chance to attend webinars and panel discussions with prominent international podcast hosts and producers. Over the weekend, participants can join workshops and gain hands-on tips and tricks about how to create their own podcast or, if they already have one, get better at it.


Let’s experience the power of podcasting together.


Festival attendance is free (except for the two workshops) but participants need to register in advance.

17:30-18:30 (CET) The Other Latif: In Conversation with Latif Nasser
In this Q&A session, Latif Nasser – co-host of Radiolab – will take us behind the scenes of reporting the incredible story of Abdul Latif Nasser, a Mоroccan man who ended up as a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay for almost two decades.
18:30-18:40 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
18:40-19:40 (CET) Panel Discussion: How to Tell Captivating Audio Stories
A compelling story can keep you on edge for hours on end. Not surprisingly, story-driven podcasts are captivating millions of listeners around the world. The panelists will share some of their secrets and tips for enthralling audio storytelling. Panelists: Gregory Warner, Rough Translation Tracie Hunte, Radiolab Ana Blagova, The Urban Detective
17:30-18:30 (CET) How to Tell Stories From Far-off Places That Hit Close to Home
The Atlantic said about NPR’s Rough Translation: “The best podcasts find a way to combine entertainment with hard-core learning, and Rough Translation is one of the magnificent few that pulls it off.” In this talk, host Gregory Warner breaks down his cinematic approach to international storytelling and how his team make stories around the globe feel relevant and resonate with audiences.
18:30-18:40 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
18:40-19:40 (CET) Panel Discussion: The Unlikely Rise of News Podcasts
Podcasting is changing the way we consume news. The speakers will discuss the successes and challenges news podcasts face today and explore different approaches newsrooms can take to better serve their audiences. Panelists: Katy Lee, The Europeans Andrew Gray, EU Confidential Zornitsa Stoilova, Capital Weekly
17:30-18:30 (CET) Podcasts, a New Home For Investigative Journalism
Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist, was assassinated in a car bombing in 2017. Her son Paul talks about the journey of investigating her death for the four-part Tortoise podcast 'My Mother's Murder'. 
18:30-18:40 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
18:40-19:40 (CET) The Tip Off: Behind the Scenes of Big Investigative Stories
Maeve McClenaghan – creator of The Tip Off – explores how to tell big, complicated stories in podcast form. We'll discuss ways to structure an investigation, story-telling methods, and pitfalls to watch out for. 
14:00-16:00 (CET) Workshop: Podcasting 101
Katy Lee – host of the award-winning politics and culture show The Europeans – will lead a crash course on how to get a new podcast off the ground: everything from developing a format and getting the best sound quality to choosing a hosting platform and growing your audience.
16:00-16:10 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
16:10-17:10 (CET) Speed Talks: Podcasting in Central and Eastern Europe
Sarajevo Calling, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Aleksandar Brezar Dennik SME, Slovakia: Nikola Bajanova Victoria, Bulgaria: Peter Georgiev NARA, Lithuania: Karolis Vysniauskas
17:10-17:20 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
17:20-18:20 (CET) The Power of Narrative Audio Storytelling
When Radio Ambulante aired its first episode in 2012, very few people in Latin America knew what a narrative podcast was. Almost a decade later, the program is an award-winning audio show and the only Spanish-language podcast distributed by NPR. Jorge Caraballo Cordovez, growth editor of Radio Ambulante, will tell us what lies behind its amazing success and how the power of audio storytelling won the hearts of millions of listeners.
18:20-18:30 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
18:30-19:30 (CET) Panel Discussion: Bold Female Voices
Taboo topics, feminism, and groundbreaking investigative reporting on topics of public interest: these three podcasters don’t shy away from difficult subject matter. They will talk about the importance of female voices and women's issues in podcasting. Panelists: Nikola Bajanova, Dennik SME Maeve McClenaghan, The Tip Off Amira al Madami, Oh, Yes!
14:00-15:00 (CET) Monetizing Strategies
Katy Lee: How to Monetize a Podcast In this talk, Katy Lee – host of the award-winning politics and culture show The Europeans – discusses how to turn a shoestring-budget podcast into a financially sustainable operation. Is it really possible to produce a news podcast without backing from an established media organization? Katy discusses the various monetization options available for independent podcasts, from grant funding and listener support to corporate advertising. Karolis Vysniauskas: What We Have Learned Raising 50,000 Euros on Patreon In this talk, Karolis Vysniauskas – host and producer of pioneering Lithuanian podcast NARA – will share what he has learned trying to convince his Lithuanian audience to invest in local journalism. Are Patreon and similar crowdfunding platforms the future of journalism? How does your relationship with your listeners change when they start to pay for your work? And why is listeners’ support the single best way to keep your organisation fully independent?
15:00-15:10 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
15:10-17:10 (CET) Workshop: How to Build and Keep Your Community of Listeners Engaged
Back in 2012, Radio Ambulante was the first podcast to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign. Eight years after that initial vote of confidence, they have produced almost 200 episodes of award-winning narrative journalism and have cultivated a large and exceptional community of listeners. Many of their engagement tactics have become international case studies and have been replicated by other media outlets. In this workshop, Radio Ambulante’s growth editor Jorge Caraballo Cordovez will present the different approaches they have used to build a loyal listenership –from creating Listening Clubs, hosting Zoom parties, and using WhatsApp to collectively report and distribute new stories to designing a compelling narrative for their membership program. After this master class, you will have a toolkit of innovative ideas to implement in your own podcast and grow your community.
17:10-17:20 (CET) Take a break and stretch your legs
17:20-18:20 (CET) Panel Discussion: What’s Next for Podcasting in Bulgaria? (In Bulgarian)
Until recently, podcasting was a little-known genre in Bulgaria. Bitten by the podcasting bug, however, many in the creative industries are increasingly looking at audio as a way to reach untapped audiences. What’s next for podcasting in Bulgaria? Panelists: Elenko Elenkov, Govori Internet Polina Paunova, Radio Free Europe Georgi Nenov, The Superhuman


We have invited a number of podcast hosts, producers, journalists, and audio storytellers from around the world.

Latif Nasser

Latif Nasser is co-host of the award-winning WNYC Studios show Radiolab, where he has reported stories on everything from snowflake photography to medieval robots to a polar bear who liked to have sex with grizzly bears. Earlier this year, he hosted the miniseries The Other Latif, about his Moroccan namesake who happens to be Detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay.

Gregory Warner

Gregory Warner is the host of NPR’s Rough Translation, and the former East Africa correspondent for NPR. His work has won a Peabody, Overseas Press Club awards and others. He is a 2019/20 Yale Poynter Fellow in Journalism and has taken his accordion to unlikely places, like Afghanistan.

Tracie Hunte

Tracie Hunte is a reporter for Radiolab. She was born in Barbados, grew up in Miami and got her Masters in Media Studies at the New School in New York City. Before Radiolab, she worked in WNYC’s newsroom as a local producer for All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She also worked for ABC’s 20/20 and Primetime news magazines – where she (kinda, by accident) won an Emmy.

Ana Blagova

Ana Blagova is one of the creators and hosts of The Urban Detectivе – a Bulgarian narrative podcast investigating urban myths and how the visual and cultural identities of cities come into being. Formerly she worked as a reporter at Dnevnik, a news website. She’s an alumna of Sofia University.

Katy Lee

Katy Lee is a reporter based in Paris and co-host of The Europeans, an award-winning podcast about politics and culture around the continent. She has written for publications including The Guardian, Politico and Foreign Policy, and teaches podcasting at French university Sciences-Po.

Andrew Gray

Andrew Gray is EU Editor at POLITICO Europe and host of their weekly podcast, EU Confidential. Based in Brussels, Andrew commissions, edits and occasionally writes stories from around the continent. Andrew worked at Reuters as a correspondent and bureau chief for 15 years. In recent years, Andrew has contributed to outlets including the British Journalism Review and BBC radio’s From Our Own Correspondent.

Zornitsa Stoilova

Zornitsa Stoilova is an editor and podcast producer at Capital Weekly, a leading newspaper in Bulgaria. She also hosts the weekly podcast The Voice of Capital. Her prior experience is in the fields of social issues and human and civil rights journalism. She was granted an award by the Balkan Network for Investigative Reporting in 2015.

Paul Caruana Galizia

Paul Caruana Galizia is a reporter at London-based Tortoise, a slow journalism publication, and the host of My Mother’s Murder, a four-part podcast investigating the death of his. He won New Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2019. He is from Malta and is Daphne Caruana Galizia’s youngest son.

Maeve McClenaghan

Maeve McClenaghan is a journalist, writer and podcaster. She works for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and is the creator and host of The Tip Off podcast. A multi-award winning journalist, Maeve has produced investigations for BBC radio, UnEarthed, the Guardian and Buzzfeed UK.

Aleksandar Brezar

Aleksandar Brezar is a journalist currently serving as Southeast Europe/Western Balkans Network Lead at Democratic Society. He is also co-host of Sarajevo Calling, a podcast about Southeast European affairs, focusing in particular on the contemporary politics of the Western Balkans.

Nikola Bajanova

Nikola Bajanova is a podcast host and producer in the audio department of Slovak daily newspaper Dennik SME. Her podcasting career started in 2018 when she began hosting Index, a podcast which covers economic and business-related topics. She also joined the team of the most popular news podcast in Slovakia, Dobre rano (Good Morning). Previously, Bajanova worked as a radio journalist for Slovakian public broadcaster.

Peter Georgiev

Peter Georgiev is a freelance journalist covering sports, technology and international politics. With his documentary podcast Victoria, Georgiev explores social issues and the relationships between diverse communities through the lens of football. He previously worked for Bulgarian National Television where he hosted a weekly program about the European Union.

Karolis Vysniauskas

Karolis Vysniauskas is a journalist based in Vilnius, Lithuania. He hosts and produces NARA, a pioneering podcast in Lithuania which focuses on the topics of social inequality, politics and cultural issues. In three years of running that podcast, Karolis and his team raised 50,000 euros on Patreon for their journalistic work. Karolis’ work has been published at DW and Lithuania’s National broadcaster LRT.

Jorge Caraballo Cordovez

Jorge Caraballo Cordovez is a journalist and currently growth editor at Radio Ambulante, where he leads online and offline engagement initiatives. He holds a master’s degree in Media Innovation from Northeastern University. He’s a Fulbright Scholar and a Google News Initiative Fellow.

Amira al Madami

Amira al Madami is co-producer and co-host of Oh, Yes! – a podcast for sex ed and pleasure. She works in the area of digital education and, when she isn’t talking about sex, she works with health startups as a UX advisor and accessibility advocate. Her gang of indoor plants is ever growing.

Elenko Elenkov

Elenko Elenkov is a co-host of Govori Internet, one of the first and most popular podcasts in Bulgaria. In 2017 along with Vladimir “Kaladan” Petkov, a prominent Bulgarian blogger, he created the first podcasting platform in the country. They also produce podcasts together. He has 10 years of experience as a project manager in an international software company and pretty much knows the difference between Java and JavaScript. Prior to that, he also worked as a journalist.

Polina Paunova

Polina Paunova is an award-winning political reporter based in Sofia, Bulgaria. She has worked for a number of Bulgarian publications, including news site Mediapool.bg and the Bulgarian Service of Deutsche Welle. She currently works at the Radio Free Europe bureau in Sofia, which resumed operations in 2019 as a digital platform. There, Paunova hosts a weekly podcast about politics and writes a column on current affairs.

Georgi Nenov

Georgi Nenov is the founder and host of one of Bulgaria’s most popular podcasts, The Superhuman. He tells the stories of inspiring people from all walks of life  – entrepreneurs, business leaders, activists, artists, athletes, etc.