Q&A with Oscar Merry, audio expert and creator of wisewords.fm 

By   Hannah Bickerton 4 min read

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

Oscar Merry is the creator of wisewords.fm – a new audio platform that serves bite-sized wisdom from the world’s greatest minds. Oscar has worked with voice and audio technology for the past five years, having previously co-founded voice app studio Opearlo, which built top Alexa Skills such as Find My Phone, Guess My Name, Riddle of the Day, and Animal Rescue. whitefox spoke to Oscar about Wise Words, podcast popularity and the impact of audio. 

Tell us about Wise Words and your inspiration behind launching the platform and the new app.

Wise Words is a new audio platform that serves bite-sized wisdom from the world’s greatest minds. Wisdom is a fundamental human need because it helps us solve the challenges we face in life. But in a world of information overload, how do we access the right wisdom, at the right time, in a way that’s truly impactful? With the rise of podcasts, people found a new way to listen to and gain wisdom from the world’s greatest minds, but their long-form format is highly limiting when it comes to search, recall, and conversational context.

Wise Words provides a new audio format that’s searchable, shareable, and succinct, whilst maintaining the magic of the original speaker’s voice.

You have talked previously about the intimacy of podcasts. Could you elaborate on this – why do you believe podcast popularity, and audio more broadly, has increased so dramatically in the last few years?

With podcasts people found a new way to listen to and gain wisdom from the world’s greatest minds. We’ve all had incredibly intimate moments listening to a podcast with someone we admire – where we feel like they are talking directly to us – imparting their wisdom. The intimacy of podcasts, and the audio format more broadly, not only gives us a deep connection to the speaker, but also gives us a much needed respite from our screens.

Over 40,000 people a month listen to the Wise Words audio clips. Which genres are the most popular with listeners?

The most popular channel on Wise Words is called Inspire Me, which plays short inspirational audio through Amazon Alexa. People love listening to Inspire each day as part of their morning routine; they start their day feeling inspired.

Wise Words shares content in the ‘magic of the original speaker’s voice’. How do you think this impacts the listener and the content being shared?

Think about the difference between listening to an audiobook narrated by a voice actor and hearing it in the own speaker’s voice. It’s difficult to find the time to relisten to a podcast episode, let alone a whole audiobook, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from the speaker again sooner!

Wise Words gives the listener the ability to go back and listen to their favourite clips again, reminding them of the key insights, and reconnecting them with the speaker.

What benefits does sharing content in this format have for influencers and thought leaders? Do you think audio makes insight and expertise more accessible than other formats?

For an author, influencer, or thought leader who records audio content for Wise Words, the most impactful benefit is discovery and distribution on the digital assistants, including Alexa and Google Assistant. Creators can record once in the app and have their audio content instantly available on these channels. Not only is this beneficial in discovering a new audience, but also in giving your existing audience a new way to come back to the content they love again and again, just like we do with music!

Finally there’s utility. Wise Words clips are fully shareable on all other social media platforms, so you can record the audio once and repurpose it multiple times as either audio or embedded video.

You have extensive experience working in audio. Could you talk about the growth of audio technology and what this may mean for the future of how we consume content? 

With the rise of digital assistants and hearables, we’re entering a world where people will have 24-hour access to their digital assistant. This is leading to a world where you can ask your digital assistant what you need help with, and get connected with a relevant snippet of wisdom from one of the world’s greatest minds, recorded in their own voice, with all the emotion and emphasis that can really drive the point home.

Finally, what are your favourite podcasts, audiobooks or audio platforms?

Some of my favourite podcasts are:

  • The Tim Ferriss Show – for long-form interviews with some amazing guests
  • Acquired – for the stories on the development of famous companies
  • Out of Hours – for stories of people who started side projects that became much bigger

For audiobooks I love Joe Biden’s book Promise Me, Dad, a moving memoir about his time as Vice President whilst struggling with his son’s diagnosis and ultimate death of brain cancer.

If you’re an author, thought leader, or influencer and would be interested in recording content for Wise Words, please get in touch with Oscar at [email protected].

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.