Kenyan graduate student documents American experience through podcasting

Prince Nesta, Reynolds School graduate student, explores podcasting in global context

Robert "Nesta" Apiyo, who is better known as Prince Nesta to his listeners, is a former radio host in Kenya and current graduate student at the Reynolds School of Journalism.


12/5/2017 | By: Alexa Solis |

A few years ago Robert "Nesta" Apiyo, a Kenyan radio host better known to his listeners as Prince Nesta, could not have imagined traveling to Reno, Nevada to pursue a graduate degree in journalism. But when economic hardship, and budget cuts led to the closing of three radio stations in Nairobi (one of which was Nesta's employer), he looked toward the future of media: digital, web and, eventually, podcasting.

While in east Africa, Nesta studied at the United States International University in the Kenyan capital, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in International Relations. He built his career in radio broadcasting doing both content production and on-air broadcasting for Easy FM, Q FM, USIU Radio, Nation FM and for BBC Radio as one of Kenya's cultural correspondents.

Today, Prince Nesta has launched his first podcast "Discovering America With Prince Nesta," as part of his graduate degree program in media innovation at the Reynolds School of Journalism. In his podcast, Nesta explores the cultural differences and similarities between his native Kenya and the United States. Topics range from his exploration of America's obsession with their pets to musical tastes, and everything in between.

While the Reynolds School's graduate program's emphasis on digital media is what initially appealed to Nesta, podcasting's proximity to radio and the opportunity to challenge himself in a new medium appealed to his sense of entrepreneurial innovation.

Nesta, along with the help of his advisor Nico Colombant, determined that he wanted his podcast to reach both American and African audiences in a broadly accessible way. Not only this, but Nesta is exploring the idea of producing the podcast in English as well as in Kiswahili. While Nesta is fleshing out whether or not the podcast in Kiswahili would overcome obstacles such as low internet connectivity, he is hopeful that it could expose a previously untapped market to podcasting.

"Listening to the radio is in our culture," Nesta said. "I remember when I was very young, tuning into to BBC, when I was just five years old. After they were done broadcasting the news, I would switch off the radio and recite the same things that were being said in the broadcast. Podcasting isn't popular yet in Kenya, but I'm hoping that I will be the one to popularize it by doing a podcast in Kiswahili."

For Colombant, lecturer of digital media, Nesta's energy and work ethic are a hallmark of his work. Not only is the vocal energy and skill that Nesta brings to his audio work at the forefront of every project, but Colombant also emphasizes Nesta's passion for telling people's stories and his ability to help people open up in interviews.

"He puts so much energy into his voice and his presence behind the mic that if you start listening to him, you just want to keep listening," Colombant said. "He has very good, grounded positive energy. He's a great interviewer. He's done very challenging stories for the Our Town Reno website which is also part of the Reynolds Media Lab. He's really able to connect with people quickly to really get to the heart and soul of who they are. He's interviewed doctors, he's interviewed runaway teenagers, and he applies the same humanity and same qualities to each person as an interviewer."

Not only is Nesta producing his podcast "Discover America" and working on completing his graduate coursework, but he has also worked on audio stories for Our Town Reno and hosts a live radio show titled "World Rhythms" on Wolf Pack Radio on Fridays from 9 to 10 p.m.

For more information about Prince Nesta and to listen to his podcast "Discover America with Prince Nesta," visit itunes.apple.com.

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