Seven students in the JMSC’s Bachelor of Journalism programme have launched a weekly podcast covering Hong Kong from unusual points of view.
Hillary Kong (BJ, 2013), Nicholas Leung (BJ, 2013), Raymond Yeung (BJ, 2014), Quiteria Leung (BJ, 2014), Priscilla Chung (BJ, 2013), Yannie Chan (BJ, 2013) and Jasmine Siu (BJ, 2013) are fulfilling an independent study course this semester by producing Bonham Wednesdays, a radio show that documents the people, events and stories that make up the life of “Asia’s world city”.
The show is named after the road that passes in front of HKU’s Main Building and the day of the week the podcast airs. It can be listened to on the podcast’s SoundCloud.
A new episode will be added every Wednesday at 5PM through May 8, and most will be in Cantonese. (Click here for a full schedule.)
“Basically, we report on anything and everything about Hong Kong”, said Hillary Kong, the founder and editor-in-chief of Bonham Wednesdays. “But from a different perspective in every show”.
For example, for the first episode of Bonham Wednesdays, which aired on Valentine’s Day, Yannie Chan interviewed the founders of the HKU Bachelor’s Club (港大寡佬聯誼會), an association of students who are proud to be single.
“They spoke mostly about how problematic it is for single people to go out to eat on Valentine’s day because all of the restaurants have raised their prices and it’s difficult to find a seat because the restaurants are full”, Chan said. “So they recommended to anyone…who was single to either stay home or to go to get fast food”. (The full episode in Cantonese can be heard below.)
Another episode highlighted the Chinese New Year by finding out what people in Hong Kong were doing to celebrate the holiday in an environmentally friendly way. One of the episode’s segments followed the path of some of the flowers that were purchased for Chinese New Year to a factory that recycles them, turning the flowers into fertilizer that is distributed to schools around the city. (The full episode can be heard below.)
“I wanted to do something memorable before I graduate”, said Kong. “I thought about doing a website or magazine or newspaper, but thought that would be too typical for a journalism student. Since there weren’t a lot of clubs or societies on campus doing podcasts, I got interested and liked the idea of how instant radio was, and how the journalist’s voice made it more personal somehow, and how many people could possibly hear it on the Internet”.
Kong said most podcasts will fall into one of three categories, which will alternate each week: The Wire, The Hood, and The Buzz.
“The Wire talks about what’s happening in Hong Kong, current events and goings-on around town”, she said. “The Hood explores the history and culture of Hong Kong. And The Buzz talks about controversial issues, like protests and panhandling and gay rights, offering us a chance to investigate more deeply and find out about things that are not on the surface”.
She said that every once in a while there will also be a Full House episode, combining all three approaches to discuss a single topic.
Masato Kajimoto, a Teaching Consultant at the JMSC who is supervising the project, said that unlike the radio courses the JMSC offers, which are pure journalism, “we wanted to try something different. So what we ended up with is a talk show that’s based on real life experiences. It’s still a nonfiction, documentary style broadcast, but more relaxed and creative, along the lines of National Public Radio‘s This American Life“.
Kong says that while the podcast is only scheduled to run until the end of April, when the semester ends, she hopes that new JMSC students will continue the broadcast. “We’re graduating after this semester, but we really hope that it will continue in one form or another after we graduate”, she said.
Kong credited the JMSC with giving her the tools and the confidence to explore new kinds of media and methods of storytelling.
“The JMSC is really open to student ideas and letting us try a lot of things according to what we like”, Kong said. “It helps us be creative and push our limits in ways we don’t normally do”.