Storytelling, podcasting get uptick in interest among BIPOC entertainers
IDSC "BlackTechLogy" February 2023 Exclusive
Podcast streaming has made programmed radio broadcasting the cool kid in the room. It’s not like people are new to the radio industry; it’s been around (as we know it) since the 1920s. But streaming listeners can enjoy as much or as little of it on their own schedule as opposed to following a set radio format with repetitive music.
Some podcast listeners may prefer visuals, watching video podcasts versus listening on their headphones or aloud via computer or smartphone speakers. Or, they’re like me and do a mix of the too.
Although social isolation has involuntarily glued people to their homes, sitting inside has given podcasting some new faces. More specifically, BIPOC podcasters are killing it. The past two years are the first time I ever really cared about podcasts at all (including my short-lived one for “An Ode to Sugarbowl Sam: Homegrown Tales”).
Some of my favorites podcasters include the following:
Daniel “Desus Nice” Baker and Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez evolved from jokes on Twitter to discussions about politics, fatherhood and single life. From that came random funny tales on “Desus & Mero,” which first aired on Viceland and now Showtime. Then the duo jumped right on their “Bodega Boys” Apple podcast to keep the conversation going audibly in a way that “Desus & Mero” may not.
Roy Wood Jr. took “The Daily Show” fun a step further by hosting “Beyond the Scenes” to talk about how the writers and field hosts pull off their segments. Then he created a separate podcast “Roy’s Job Fair”—a mix of shenanigans and jokes, managers announcing ready-to-hire work, salary talk, and my absolute favorite part—“Rod coming to us from parts unknown.” Bless up!
While listeners have enjoyed hearing friendly banter about entertainment, politics, random funny news and interviews on these streaming platforms, there’s another lane that entertainers are taking advantage of: storytelling.
In 2017, Larenz Tate brought Chicago’s Bronzeville to life with a scripted audio drama, along with a cast full of the who’s who in voiceover actors: Laurence Fishburne, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lance Reddick, Ella Joyce and plenty more. It went over so well that Season 2 released in March 2021 after a four-year hiatus — and it delivered as well as Maxwell when he came out of hibernation to randomly release an album after more than a decade. (Larenz Tate, please don’t take that long to release Season 3.)
“The Michelle Obama Podcast” on Spotify doesn’t tell stories in the scripted way that “Bronzeville” does, but there are still plenty of storytelling moments, everything from how her parents reacted to her and her brother cutting up a box of cigarettes to a hard lesson she learned about cutting too deep in arguments with the 44th president.
Now here comes filmmaker Ava DuVernay to tell her own scripted tales through her independent arts company, ARRAY. According to an official press release from Spotify’s Newsroom, Spotify and DuVernay will produce exclusive scripted and unscripted original audio programming.
“Recognizing the undeniable power of voice and sound, I’m thrilled to extend ARRAY’s storytelling into the realm of podcasts,” DuVernay said in the release.
Everybody had their own ways to make the best of face masks, smizing, anti-vaxxers, double-duty vaxxers plus booster shots (read: me), anti-maskers, enthusiastic mask wearers who buy enough to match all her outfits (read: me). Podcasts were one of a few ways I was able to enjoy working from home exclusively over the past three years and still being able to connect to the public.
What about you? What’s your favorite BIPOC podcast? Or, a podcast episode that covers BIPOC topics?
Writer’s Note: (Note: This post was originally written for an Upwork client via GoalsTV. However, updates and tweaks have been made.)
Did you enjoy this post? You’re also welcome to check out my Substack columns “Black Girl In a Doggone World,” “Homegrown Tales,” “I Do See Color,” “One Black Woman’s Vote,” “Tickled,” “We Need To Talk” and “Window Shopping” too. Subscribe to this newsletter for the weekly posts every Wednesday.
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