Ghost Island Media promotes views from Taiwan through English podcasts

Ghost Island Media co-founder and CEO, Emily Y. Wu.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Ghost Island Media, which has launched four podcasts since early 2019, seeks to introduce Taiwan to a wider audience through authentic local voices, including that of Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐), according to its co-founder and CEO in a recent interview with CNA.

“There are too few voices from Taiwan in English media,” said Emily Y. Wu (吳怡慈), CEO of the media company and co-host with Lim of Ghost Island Media’s recently launched “Metalhead Politics” podcast.

The name of the company, Wu said, came from a question she was asked two years ago when she returned to Taiwan after studying and working abroad — “Why did you come back to Taiwan, a ghost island?”

Wu said that made her ask whether Taiwan is really a bad place and start a media company that produces podcasts for foreign nationals and Taiwanese abroad to see Taiwan in a different light.

Currently, Wu’s company produces three regular English podcasts — “Waste Not Why Not” on environmental topics, current affairs show “The Taiwan Take” and “Metalhead Politics,” which is a mix of heavy metal music and politics.

Its only offering in Mandarin at the moment is a podcast on marijuana hosted by lawyer Zoe Lee (李菁琪), who discusses trends and legal issues surrounding what is an illegal drug in Taiwan.

According to Wu, half of the listeners of “Waste Not Why Not” are from Australia and New Zealand and about 20 percent from the United States, while half of the listeners of “The Taiwan Take” are in Taiwan, and the other half overseas.

Legislator Freddy Lim (left) and Emily Y. Wu. (Photo courtesy of ChthoniC)

“Metalhead Politics,” launched on June 1 and hosted by Wu and Lim, started because the lawmaker, who is also the lead singer of ChthoniC, had gigs canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, she said.

In its second episode released on July 1, Lim and Wu discussed news stories over the past month, such as the decriminalization of adultery in Taiwan, the successful vote to recall Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) as mayor of Kaohsiung and China’s introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong, while Wu also asked Lim how to do the “death growl” heavy metal vocal style.

The number of podcasts in Mandarin has risen from around a dozen or two at the end of 2018 to nearly 2,000 in Taiwan, according to Wu, who is confident that the format will continue to grow, given the rapid development of the sector abroad.

Speaking about the company’s future, Wu said there are still a lot of areas she wants to explore through podcasts, such as those for children and documentaries, as she hopes podcasts in Taiwan will become more diverse and richer in content.

All of the podcasts from Ghost Island Media are available free on its website, as well as online platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and several others.

While podcasts in North America mainly generate revenue from sponsorship or advertising, Wu’s company is exploring the sponsorship model through local crowd-funding platform zeczec, with a project since May to fund its only podcast in Mandarin.

According to its crowd-funding page, the sponsors’ money will help the currently bi-weekly podcast to appear content more often, while sponsors of funding packages lasting for six months receive stickers, t-shirts, or necklaces, depending on the amount paid.