Spotlight: Hamburger Generation

Isra (L) and Jamil (R) Image Credit: Hamburger Generation

Since 2018, Hamburger Generation has been delighting fans and listeners with their splice of life, conversational humour as well as the diverse guest stars from the UAE’s indie community.

According to the hosts, Jamil Adas and Isra Abu Zayed, the podcast’s name is derived from a term coined by Arab elders to playfully describe today’s westernized Arab youth.

Their hard work has paid off, leading them to land on several Podcasts to listen to lists in publications including The National, Scene Arabia, and Campaign Middle East.

Creativity Undefined spoke with Jamil – one half of the dynamic duo – about the podcast, how the pandemic has affected them, and what’s in store for the future.

How did all this start?

It all started when Isra began listening to podcasts in 2016. She noticed that there weren’t any options of casual laid-back podcast content coming from our region. When she brought that to my attention we started brainstorming for the podcast idea of a laid-back conversational storytelling podcast and that’s when Hamburger Generation جيل الهمبرجر kicked-off!

Did you know each other prior to Hamburger Generation?

Isra and I have been best buds since 2002.

What were initial reactions when you told people that you wanted to start a podcast? And once things got rolling?

Everyone around us was very supportive! Starting from Moe, Isra’s brother and my close friend, who has come on the show many times. All our friends, each of whom has one or two GOLDEN stories, have also been gracious enough to join us. Hamburger Generation wouldn’t be where it is today without them. Another important supporter is my girlfriend, Malda Smadi, who generously creates all of our graphic designs (including our awesome logo!)

That’s great! Was it easy setting up the podcast?

Setting up a podcast is very simple. However, if you want to optimize the quality of a podcast then you definitely need to do your research. Apart from learning about the hardware that we’d need, we thought it was important for us to feel like we’re in our element with the mics while recording so Isra and I did many mock recordings together before we started having guests. Also, we wanted to feel more confident about hearing our own voices. Personally, I started recording myself and listening to my own voice until I got used to it.

Did you face any challenges when you first started out? How did you overcome them?

Our main challenge, and something that we face until now, is uncovering these golden stories. It takes a lot of networking and keeping your ears & mind open so that we’re able to find worthwhile stories. It’s also a great motivator to go out and meet new people.

How has the podcast evolved since you first began?

There were two major evolutionary milestones for Hamburger Generation:
1) Making the podcast available in video format on YouTube.
2) Starting the Patreon page and creating exclusive content on there.

Also, when we first started, we kept everything open and allowed the show to naturally become more defined. For example, at the beginning we didn’t set a time for what should be the length of each episode. While we still don’t have an answer set in stone, we now know that it’s naturally around 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Do you have any favourite episodes or guests?

I really like having my personal friends on the podcast because these recordings tend to be the most natural. Everyone is comfortable and not holding back at all and you tend to forget that you’ve got mics and a camera recording.

Those sound like they’re a lot of fun. Is there someone who you’d love to have? Who and why?

Yes, his name is Omar. He has a fantastic story! I’m not going to share his last name but Omar if you’re reading this.. its about time. Come on, man.

Intriguing. And on that note, what do you think about the podcast community in the UAE? And the wider Middle East?

You can sense the communal unity of podcasters in the region because you can easily notice how everyone is so collaborative and excited about the industry. I recommend people to join the annual Podcast Forum event that happens in UAE and you would see what I’m talking about.

Has the pandemic affected Hamburger Generation? Why?

Yes, we record the podcast in Isra’s amazingly echo-free living room and she has a young girl and baby girl so we decided not to have strangers over to record until the COVID cases settled down a bit.

That makes sense. What about podcasts in general? Why?

Yes, podcast listening rates have gone down. Not considerably down but by a noticeable margin. I’d say the reason is because people mostly tend to listen to podcasts in the car as they’re driving. Although, I will take this time to recommend trying to listen to podcasts while showering, it’s my personal favourite podcast listening time.

Sure, why not! What more do you think can be done to raise awareness of home-grown talent?

We need big media outlets putting the spotlight on the region’s local initiatives. There are cool things coming out from here, we just need people to be introduced to them.

You’re doing your part with your new Patreon account. How did that come about?

Starting a Patreon page simply came up because we had extra recorded stories that never made it on the podcast because they didn’t fit the episode and so we wanted to offer these stories as exclusive content for our top fans on Patreon. Creating the Patreon page is also helping us to keep Hamburger Generation sustainable and with a decent monthly income, we have bigger plans for the podcast!

Sounds exciting! But do you think this may impact your relationship with your fans? Why?

Nothing changes between us and our fans, we love them and appreciate them for listening to our stories as much as we always have. However, we want to present everyone with a chance to earn our Triple Patty Burger lovin’ through Patreon and to be a fundamental part of the development of Hamburger Generation. Not to mention that we offer some amazing benefits too!

Good luck with that! What’s next for you and Hamburger Generation?

We’re going to keep on recording and keep on digging for these amazing stories in our region. Also, given the right financial support, we plan on creating animations of the best stories that have been shared on the podcast. We also have an idea of going around and reviewing the best burger joints.

To learn more about Hamburger Generation, please visit www.hamburgergeneration.com

You can also follow them on Instagram ,YouTube, and Facebook

Their podcast is available on their website and all major podcast streaming platforms

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