While closed borders, isolation and restrictions have filled the past two years, connections and video calls with loved ones will no doubt define our memories. There’s nothing quite like hearing the voice of the ones you miss and long to embrace, and for Anna Frey Taylor, founder of Podcard, it’s this connection that is at the heart of her new business.
Inspired by her grandmother’s 100th birthday two years ago, audio producer Frey Taylor created her company Podcard to help people share their love and friendship in a thoroughly modern way: a personalised podcast. “The idea for Podcard came from wanting to make something special for my grandmother’s 100th birthday and my mind went straight to podcasting,” she explains. “So, I asked everyone in my extended family to record a story about her on their phone, then wove the stories together with music to create a podcast that chronicled the people and stories of my grandmother’s life.”
The result worked out so well she soon started getting orders from friends and family members, so she set up Podcard to handle the enquires. “For me, the difference between audio and video is a bit like the difference between reading a book and watching TV. When you’re reading a book, you’re actively creating the story alongside the author as your mind conjures up images. It’s the same with audio,” she says. “In fact, audio is often described as a visual medium. Audio is also the best medium I know for communicating human emotion – there’s nothing quite like hearing the voice of someone you love to break your heart wide open.”
And although the idea for Podcard was pre-pandemic in origin, it’s clear the past two years have accentuated the meaning and uniqueness of this way of connecting with others. As a result, Frey Taylor says her business now operates on a global basis; a recent podcard was made for a woman in Johannesburg, celebrating a significant birthday and it included messages submitted from across Australia, Asia, and Europe.
“Across continents and time zones her family were still able to celebrate her and mark the occasion. The guy who organised it was super grateful to have a way to bring his family together to share stories during the pandemic,” she explains. “And the recipient was thrilled to find herself surrounded by the voices of all the people she loves despite the restrictions.”
Frey Taylor’s company makes the composition of a podcard simple – individuals just need to upload their own messages via the website – so that it doesn’t just appeal to “techy types”. In fact, she says, the age of customers ranges from 25 to 50 years old, and they value “social connection” and want to honour the people they love with personalised meaningful gestures.
“Audio is naturally an intimate medium but podcasting and listening via headphones has taken that to a new level – the voices you hear are now in your head. When those voices are also the voices of people you love – your children, friends, parents, and siblings – the intimacy factor kicks up a notch,” she explains. “Podcards are basically an audio record of the people and experiences that have shaped us. That’s the reason they feel so personal.”