‘Proud, humbled’ to be named finalist in podcast awards

Dunedin wildlife podcaster and film-maker Karthic SS at Tomahawk Beach on Friday. PHOTO: GREGOR...
Dunedin wildlife podcaster and film-maker Karthic SS at Tomahawk Beach on Friday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Homesick New Zealanders are flocking to an award-winning podcast about Dunedin’s special wildlife.

The podcast Tune into Nature, created by podcast producer and film-maker Karthic SS, was selected as a finalist in the Best Independent Podcast category at the New Zealand Radio and Podcast Awards in Auckland earlier this month.

"I feel proud and humbled at the same time," Karthic said.

"I was representing nature and conservation and a bit of Dunedin there."

The multi-season podcast explored Dunedin’s unique wildlife, specifically "underdog species" and the conservation stories behind them.

He submitted the podcast with little to no expectation of receiving an award.

"I was definitely surprised, pleasantly surprised.

"I didn’t expect much because I was focused on other things, like making episodes for the next season."

He received positive feedback on social media from listeners who found the podcast relaxing and were excited to learn about Dunedin’s wildlife.

"I had Kiwis who live abroad ... saying, ‘I got really homesick and when I listen to this it was really nice. I felt like I was back home with the sounds of the bellbird and the tui’."

Episodes for the second season of his podcast were released late last year and this year, he said.

Each episode focused on a lesser-known native species such as rare lizards, velvet worms, fairy prions and cryptic birds.

"It’s been a really enjoyable experience, but going out into the wild with all my gear can be a bit taxing," he said.

Karthic travelled to various areas around Dunedin to record his own soundscapes for the podcast and interviewed conservationists in their respective areas.

He was grateful for the conservationists who contributed to the podcast, he said.

"I think I’ll be sharing [the award] with them."

Before moving to Dunedin, Karthic worked as an automobile engineer in South India.

"When I first came here I would get lost in Dunedin.

"Now I’ve lived here for seven years.

"I think that’s special."

His family back home enjoyed listening to his podcasts and even felt encouraged to visit New Zealand.

He was already working on a third season, which would be released late July to early August.

"Season 3 will follow a similar pattern.

"We’ve got some stories lined up now.

"One will be about the yellowhead songbird."

He felt like a messenger sharing the stories of people working to preserve the environment.

Karthic credited OAR FM Dunedin, the University of Otago science communication department and the Lottery and Environment and Heritage Fund, which have supported and funded his project.