What It Takes To Start A Podcast - A Conversation With Abdulla Al Nuaimi

There are so many mediums to approach content and reach out to an audience. Podcasts are becoming the new “it” thing for the ease of content and for being up close and personal. If you are considering diving into the podcast world, here is a case study from the UAE.

Here are some guided steps by Abdulla Al Nuaimi, founder of podcast Kursi :

The Motivation Behind Kursi: Talking to Strangers

Abdulla always loved the art of conversing: talking, watching people talk, and listening intently to them as well.

A trip to Florence inspired his podcast where alone for two days without a companion he started to initiate conversations with taxi drivers and waiters. Pondering on the fact that all the people around him, who are complete strangers to him, surely had a story.

He is generally in love with holding a microphone and presenting at various community and professional events. His love for the microphone made him explore other ways of connecting with an audience. This passion aided with studying various presenters and looking at a ton of interviews made this dream come true.


The Life of a Podcast

  • First, find a guest.
  • Preparing probing questions, in case you freeze. But always remember that the flow of the conversation will naturally lead to questions.
  • Once the guest and the timing are sorted, arrive at the studio go through your questions, prepare the atmosphere, lighting, make sure audio is good to go. It’s not just about the mic, ambiance shapes the setting of comfort.
  • Once the guest arrives, Abdulla tries his best to have a minimal conversation with the guest before recording so that the stories are genuine and the guest is comfortable.
  • After that, the recording starts! Phones are usually off and a timer is set for 25 minutes.
  • Abdulla ends the episode with the guest, after which the real work starts.
  • He goes back to the studio in which the sound engineer cleans up the track, no long pauses or long silences are kept. Then, the intro and outro are added. After which Abdulla takes the audio and listens to it repeatedly and edits it slightly just for it to sound clean and everything makes sense. Abdulla does state that he edits his own speaking time more than that of the guest, just so that the guest gets to speak during most of the podcast.
  • After making sure the episode is as perfect as could be, Abdulla goes on to upload the episode as scheduled. A tip from Abdulla is to write a very detailed description and attach it to the episode so that the listeners would know exactly what the episode entails, this excites and interests the audience as well.
  • The podcasts could be found on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.


Tips from Abdulla:

  • If you are renting a studio or have a day job that is time-consuming aim to record multiple podcasts in one day just so you have content for the coming weeks.
  • Some guests come with no interesting stories to share. It’s fine, move on to your next guest. Not all guests make it to the final cut. Since this is media and a story have to be entertaining, relative, and interesting to be featured.


It’s All About That Question

At the beginning of his podcast, Abdulla usually asked a handful of questions and waited for the conversation to flow. Now, after numerous interviews, Abdulla has built his questions to be around 90. Not all to be asked, but just to have them ready in case the conversation needed a push.

When approaching a sensitive topic with the guest, and he/she starts crying, Abdulla advises giving the guest their moment by staying quiet, then say something quick to change the tone and move on to a lighter subject. And always smile to encourage the guest to feel comfortable.

It’s important to have a good balance between heavier and lighter topics, so Abdulla suggests pairing those topics together so that a heavy subject is discussed and then move on to a happier lighter topic.

Always ask your questions with a smile and a warm tone so that a rapport is built with the guest, forming trust from their side. It’s important that the guest feels comfortable opening up and sharing with you.

Yet, not everyone knows how to start their story, that’s why they need questions to guide and lead them to say their story without interruptions or bias. This is where a good host jumps in.

It is important to note that Kursi is a conversational podcast and the tips above are meant for interviewing strangers. When it comes to conversing with known guests, Abdulla advises studying your guest very well. Then ask questions that the guest has not been asked before. The more you show interest in the guest, the more it is exciting for him/her to share with you. It’s important to ask questions that you really have an interest in and are intrigued to know the answer to.


Being a good host is all about character

Character is the most important aspect of a good host. Abdulla says that being street smart is very beneficial to becoming a host, it enables you to be courageous, outgoing, and always willing to learn in the most experimental way possible.

Abdulla also sees that you do not necessarily have to be a good writer to be a good host. What necessary is to have exciting ideas that could be structured. If you have a person who is willing to write for you, then that’s great. But if you could develop yourself how to be a good writer that would be even better since it’s an important aspect of making a podcast and the preparation phase. 

Additionally, it’s very important to be a reader and researcher to be a good host; it makes the conversations filled with culture and interest.


Like all good things, they come with a price.

Although in some countries being a Podcaster is considered as a sustainable job, Abdulla says that it’s not yet one in our region, but it’s definitely up-and-coming.

If you want good quality podcasts, momentum, and eagerness you’ll have to think of profit. The only way to do so is to have a sponsor which is very important.

The cost of a really good quality podcast that is made and edited in a studio is from 3,000-5,000 AED per episode. So, yes, it is costly, but this enables you to produce excellent content that reaches many people, which creates momentum and will expose you to sponsors and supporters.

It’s not about the money but having someone pay for your great idea gives you the sense of energy that what you are doing matters. It’s that feeling of return on investment.


Most important things to have if recording outside of a studio

You must have the tools that would enable you to have a clear and strong audio. Since podcasts are only audio, and for the listeners to focus and enjoy the podcast; the audio has to be perfect – make it as clear as possible, add sound effects, add suitable music. Caring about the small details is what makes a podcast good and worthwhile the time of your audience.


Abdulla’s top 3 podcasts: