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It is a challenge to debunk the nonsense

Podcast Awards

By Howard Feldman, Head of Marketing & People

Sometime back in early March, when we were young, I had the idea to ask my friend Dr Anton Meyberg to record a podcast with me. He is a pulmonologist physician, and I could already see that he was displaying an uncomfortable obsession with this COVID thing that was impacting on countries around the world. He reluctantly agreed to give an overview on what he knew back then (when we were children), and so we met in studio one Sunday morning to get a sense if it would be any good.

Still uncertain as to where it would go, I approached Synthesis Technologies and asked them if they would have any interest in sponsoring the series. I wasn’t convinced (back then, in my youth), that it would be a good idea for any company to brand alongside a virus, but their response was that it was about information and education. Not branding. That was good enough for them, and just like that the Sunday Podcast was borne.

About 16 weeks later (or 17), close to 60,000 people have watched the podcasts. The format is simple: Introduction and overview of the current status, followed by the questions that we are sent. We invite viewers to send in their COVID queries the evening before and we do what we can to answer them. This, I believe has part of the success, in that the interview addresses the challenges that people are facing that week. They are also a brilliant measure of where we are in our understanding of the pandemic and the disease, as well as the social aspects and impact that it has on our lives.

It is further interesting to note the number of times that questions are repeated by different viewers, indicating when a challenge is widespread.

A fascinating observation around this pandemic is how information is shared. A recent study in the UK indicated a distinction between people who received knowledge through social media and those who relied on mainstream, or conventional publications. Those who relied on social media as their news source were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories and fantastical thinking. One of the challenges with the podcast has been to debunk the nonsense, even when someone heard it from their aunt who knows a doctor in Italy.

The Synthesis Sunday Podcast is now viewed throughout the world. We receive messages of support from all continents and questions from broad range of countries. It’s focus, however, is to provide reliable, un-hysterical and up to date information in an informative and palatable way.

Back in March, when I was a child, I had no idea that the Synthesis Sunday Podcast would have had the impact that is has. But I am grateful and blessed that is has done.

See you Sunday.