Broadcasting where anyone becomes star: I Am Normal
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Broadcasting where anyone becomes star: I Am Normal
  • Lee Min-jeong
  • 승인 2012.12.07 21:03
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A Podcast I Am Normal provides ordinary people the chance to talk about their life stories and share them with the others. Anyone can be a guest of I Am Normal. Photo provided by I Am Normal.

Even the most ordinary people have memorable and special moments throughout their life. For those ordinary people, “I Am Normal,” a Podcast, provides a rare chance for them to talk about their own experiences, and share it with the public under the motto “I exist in Korea, too.”
The five members who started I Am Normal describe themselves as extremely ordinary university students; they include Hong Yu-na (’12, Chinese), Kim Jae-yong (Korea University, 4), Roh Hyung-min (Hanyang University, 4), Heo Woong (Korea Aerospace University, 4), and Kim Dae-won (Korea University, 4). They launched the Podcast as they had confidence that ordinary people’s stories can also be fascinating. The start-up members were highly motivated to start the broadcast focusing on ordinary people’s honest life stories, just like the MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation)’s TV show “The Knee-Drop Guru,” a variety-talk show that invites celebrities to share their honest stories.
“I used to work as an application developer but it seemed that the work did not fit my aptitude,” said Kim Jae-yong, one of the MCs. “After pondering about my aptitudes, I came to the conclusion that listening to, talking with, and making peope laugh were what I was good at. Then I gathered Hong and three of my high school classmates to start broadcasting in November of 2011.”
The first season of I Am Normal started its first episode on Dec. 1, 2011. Each week they invited people as guests who live an ordinary life and want to share their own private stories with others. When a guest participates in the show, they are pre-interviewed before the recording so they can be well understood and the MCs can prepare the scripts and questions. The MCs grasp the guest’s entire life from birth, current situation, and future, talking about their joys, goals, and worries, with which everyone can easily sympathize. Some of the listeners compared I Am Normal to a humanities book, which allows the listeners to indirectly empathize with the guest’s experiences in life.
I Am Normal’s total download number hit 1.5 million and reached the first place in the comedy section of Podcasts after only three days since its first launch, and continuing for six months. Currently, each broadcast of I Am Normal is downloaded approximately 40,000 times. Thirty-three ordinary people, including a high school math teacher, a job seeker, a Taiwanese living in Seoul, a hip-hopper, a great land owner’s son, and even an eel wholesaler have participated thus far.
“Our relationships with the guests are not a one-off event,” Hong said. “We become friends who sometimes hang out and drink together even after the broadcast.”
Among numerous guests, Kim Jae-yong picked the story of a blind undergraduate student as the most memorable episode.
“He said he wanted to shatter the biases against the disabled,” Kim Jae-yong said. “Since the radio only conveyed his voice, it was a precious opportunity to listen to one’s true story, away from the appearance or the handicap the person has.”
The MCs invested their own capital to rent the recording studio, edit the broadcast, and maintain the server. At first, I Am Normal did not accept any advertisements or make a profit since the main goal of the broadcast is to purely share ordinary people’s stories.
“Though it seemed to work at first, it gradually became a burden for us, since our status was as university students,” Kim Jae-yong said.
As a result, I Am Normal started receiving advertisements costing 50 won per downloads, which are specially produced by them in order to afford the working expenses and at the same time, suggest the proper profit structure for Podcasts.
I Am Normal is planning to continue the broadcast with more diverse projects and events. Kim Jae-yong founded General Radio, a broadcasting station highlighting and distributing the lives of ordinary people based on social network services. The second season of I Am Normal started as one of the programs of General Radio in November, which introduces new broadcasting members every other week. Other programs such as The Dreamtalk, a new type of talk show discussing people’s dreams and seeking advice from the hosts and listeners, are also prepared.
“Thanks to the support from listeners, we were able to publish two books of I Am Normal including guests’ behind stories.” Kim Jae-yong said. “We will continue broadcasting until we reach 1,000, 10,000 episodes or even more. Since 99 percent of ordinary people have their own stories, we still have a plenty of materials to deal with.”
Anyone can be their guest by simply applying via I Am Normal’s official facebook page (http://facebook.com/Iamnormal2011/). For further information, visit the Web site.


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