Sabrina Shiraz is a host at Randomly Relatable SG, where she talks about topics youths can relate to.
Long talks and deep conversations are usually not what most people envision when mapping out their dream career.
For 23-year-old Sabrina Shiraz, it wasn’t quite that either, although a large part of her work revolves around it.
As one of the co-founders and hosts of Randomly Relatable SG, a podcast aimed at Singaporean youths, Sabrina and her co-hosts talk about personal topics that youth can relate to. These topics include relationship problems, salaries, body image issues and more.
Before starting work at Randomly Relatable SG, Sabrina had never been into podcasts, nor did she see herself becoming a podcaster.
Her childhood dream was to be a radio DJ, but her voice got more hoarse as she grew older and she decided to give up on her dream.
In junior college, Sabrina met her current friends and co-hosts Uwais Hatta and Shuraim Basir, who invited her to join their podcast. Remembering her previous ambition, Sabrina decided to try it out.
“From then on, I decided I actually really really like this, and it was one of the best decisions of my life,” says Sabrina.
Uwais and Shuraim, both 25, had already started the podcast six months before Sabrina joined. They were about 30 episodes in and were looking for a female voice to diversify the team. Sabrina enjoyed the work and was able to fall into comfortable banter with her friends in the studio.
“I thought this is not far off from what I initially wanted to do. So I jumped the gun, I left JC and then I just became a podcaster,” she shares.
As a full-time podcaster, Sabrina is involved in content ideation, business partnerships and ensures that projects run smoothly on weekdays. The podcast episodes are recorded weekly on Saturdays.
As every career goes, podcasting comes with its own challenges. For one, being a small Internet-based company, the trio have to be very careful not to unknowingly infringe copyright laws.
“Because we were very small, we thought it would be okay to just use a photo from somebody else for our poster, but obviously not,” recounts Sabrina about a minor copyright issue she encountered early into her career.
“The person whose photo we used actually messaged us to take it down. We were lucky he was super cool about it,” she adds.
On the other hand, podcasting on its own is not especially lucrative. In the early days, each podcast episode went for $1.
“Money wasn’t in the picture when the podcast started. We started it purely with the intention of creating content,” Sabrina says. She reveals that none of the three rely on the podcast for income even though it earns more now, as they re-invest the money into the company.
She also tells Youthopia that she only became a full-time podcaster recently, as Randomly Relatable SG used to be more of a passion project than a career.
“For the past three years, we were all juggling school, work, family and everything on top of podcasting. But I would say only last month I started getting into podcasting full-time,” she shares with Youthopia.
Sabrina hopes that by working full-time at Randomly Relatable SG, she will be able to expand its scope of content and increase its stream of income faster. Randomly Relatable is now on YouTube and there are plans to expand its content into areas like video production and editorial content.
Currently, the podcast has gathered a loyal audience of youths, who also communicate with the hosts through Randomly Relatable SG’s Telegram group chat.
For Sabrina, the open communication and close bond with the audience are what makes Randomly Relatable SG unique.
“As much as I’ve never met most of these people before, I really feel like they and I see each other as friends, and we can come to each other for advice. This is how we stand out, I feel. Instead of being a source of entertainment, someone you just listen to, you can literally talk to us,” Sabrina says.
Sabrina’s podcasting journey was especially tough in the beginning, as podcasts were generally unpopular in Singapore at the time. For Sabrina, support from those close to her was “pretty much absent”, as family and friends disapproved of her investment in a venture that did not seem promising.
“They couldn’t understand what I was doing, and they couldn’t understand why I was putting in so much time and effort into it,” she shares. “There was a point in time where I really thought, is everything I’m doing for the podcast worth it?”
When Sabrina’s family and friends invited her to events and meet-ups, she was unable to make it, as she had to record podcast episodes every Saturday without fail. This resulted in her sacrificing a lot of time with her loved ones, which took a great toll on her.
“Having to give up friends and family for this was very difficult. And constantly hearing ‘You’re wasting your time, putting too much effort into something that’s not going to do anything beneficial to your life,’ all that really took a toll on me and the others,” she shares with Youthopia.
Due to the difficulties Sabrina, Uwais and Shuraim faced from pursuing podcasting in a time when it was virtually unheard of, the three grew very close and now share a “special bond”. To Sabrina, their relationship is like that of a family.
However, maintaining a positive team dynamic has not been all sunshine and rainbows for Sabrina, Uwais and Shuraim, who are as much friends as co-workers. Initially, Sabrina held back from speaking her mind and disagreeing openly with the others, as she did not want to upset the friendly dynamic. But things did not work out.
“I started feeling uncomfortable coming to work. Then Uwais and Shuraim could sense that and there was tension. So every Saturday when we came here, it wasn’t fun anymore.”
It got to the point where Sabrina left the team in mid-2020. However, they got back on track in the end.
“Eventually we spoke things out and realised communication is extremely important. It’s basically like a relationship, I literally have two boyfriends here,” chuckles Sabrina.
Overall, podcasting taught Sabrina how to remain true to herself and stand up for what she wanted, as she knew that if no one supported her through something she believed in, she would need to give herself a shoulder to rely on.
“My advice for you guys is: as much as you should care what other people think, sometimes you have to prioritise your opinions over theirs, because if you feel like it’s worth your time and effort then you should stick to it.” she shares.
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