“When writing an episode, I search for key things I didn’t already know, things vital to understanding the Polynesian culture or that made a massive cultural impact. I need to feel excited to share this with my fans.”
One of podcasting’s superpowers is that the medium is a vehicle for chronicling legacy. This legacy can be personal, telling tales of your own life or it can be one that records and details historic and cultural stories.
Kamuela Kaneshiro has a way of doing both by sprinkling in bits of himself as he succinctly tells larger stories centering the histories of the Pacific and Polynesian culture.
He’s a podcasting luminary, having started his foray into the medium right as it began in 2004 with “Off the Air’s: Geek Nation.” He’s part Asian Native Hawaiian, born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Kamuela spent decades working in film & television, was a professional Comic-Con panelist and wrote an MA thesis about Batman. His current podcast “Legends from the Pacific” explores Polynesian culture, combining his passion for mythology, writing, and production.
We had the opportunity to ask Kamuela some questions about some of his podcasting insights and wisdom.
Have you recently changed your mind about something as it pertains to your show?
I thought I could research my episodes, but realized I was spending more than 15 hours a week researching Polynesian culture for a 12-minute episode. So I created a research team.
I didn’t want my podcast (Legends from the Pacific) to be just another scary ghost story podcast, because many of these tales are considered historic events. So I’ve focused on respecting the Polynesian culture by using the story to explore the culture’s history, or current issue.
I also included “legends” in my title, because it gave me the chance to talk about a significant person from a culture.
With the time it takes to research one episode, I always felt my podcast was more of a history podcast rather than a typical scary ghost story podcast. And it always makes me feel good when friends, family, and fans tell me I got things right.
I’m also proud when colleges use my podcast as part of a cultural assignment. Or when my podcast is considered cultural reference material.
Helping a popular game show with their Polynesian-centered questions was also a lot of fun.
What are some of your fundamental podcasting tools?
My essential piece of hardware is my laptop, because I live a mobile lifestyle.
Also, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Rode Procaster mic. I love my Procaster mic; it’s a heavy dynamic mic that fits my voice and compensates for not having a professional sound studio.
My essential piece of software is Hindenburg Pro.
This has helped me so many times I can’t imagine doing a podcast without it. Sure, you could buy filters and other things to make you sound good, but you can’t beat this program’s interface and built-in features.
I wish I had Hindenburg when I started podcasting in 2004, with my first show. Because of my film/TV background, I edited our shows using video software, which got the job done, but the files were massive.
Do you have any rituals or workflows that help you stay positive and consistent in publishing your show?
When writing an episode, I search for key things I didn’t already know, things vital to understanding the Polynesian culture or that made a massive cultural impact. I need to feel excited to share this with my fans. If I feel like “I’m phoning it in,” or the content isn’t exciting me, I’ll shelve it and begin another episode.
This means that week’s episode will be posted late — the extra time needed to research and make a new episode. But I’d rather have a solid late episode than an unexciting, on-time one, and I hope my fans agree.
What is the biggest myth that you’ve encountered in podcasting?
“A podcast is easy and will make me rich and famous.”
This has been around since I started in 2004. But podcasting is hard work. Many don’t understand what a podcast can do for you, and it’s not always fame and fortune.
I’ve been a podcast consultant for a lot of people and companies. I’ve helped them understand how to use a podcast and to develop the right type of podcast for their goals.
What does connecting with other AAPI voices in podcasting mean to you?
Connecting with others means a lot because it offers a chance for me to hear another voice, but more importantly, another point of view.
What is another AAPI voice in podcasting that you’ve found inspiring, look up to or want to amplify?
I’d love to give a shout-out to a past and present voice:
Past – my co-host from my 2004 podcast, Kento AKA Kenneth Komoto. Many fellow podcasters consider us the OG podcasters. Unfortunately, Kento passed and never got to see how podcasting has developed.
Present – Lee Uehara, host of the House of Lee NYC podcast, for being an active voice in the Asian community and organizing the Asian American Podcasters Association.
In case you’d like to connect with Kamuela, his podcast and his work, here are some links!
- Podcast: Legends From The Pacific