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  • Watch: “Passing the Mic: Black in Podcasting”
  • Feb 28, 2022
Watch: “Passing the Mic: Black in Podcasting”

In celebration of Black History Month, Sony Music’s Global Podcast Division hosted a virtual panel about the importance of Black Representation in audio.

This week, Sony Music’s Global Podcast Division hosted a conversation about the significance of Black representation in the growing podcasting industry.

The virtual panel,Passing the Mic: Black in Podcasting,” was developed and moderated by Janicia Francis, Creator/Producer, “Tea with Queen and J.” and Producer for season two of “Good Words with Kirk Franklin,” and featured a cross section of Black creatives working in audio, both in front of and behind the mic.

Panelists included Rob Dozier, Producer, Somethin’ Else; Sam Riddell, Lead Producer, “In Those Genes”; Catherine Saint Louis, Executive Editor, Neon Hum Media; Alzo Slade, Host, “Cheat!” and Vice News Correspondent; and Moses Soyoola, President of OTHERtone (Pharrell William’s podcast company).

There are inspiring moments and pieces of wisdom dropped throughout the conversation—here are just a few:

Janicia Francis: Moses, you are a podcast executive… I think a lot of us as creatives are often navigating how to make sure the ‘suits’ are happy, while still doing our creative work. Where does that merge with the creative side?

Moses Soyoola (8:31): If you have that core thing that people are in love with, then the audience will come, the revenue will come, all the other things will come. For me it’s been exciting—it’s a different muscle to flex instead of trying to think of it from scratch as a money-making machine because when you do that, you almost end up at the place where everything sounds the same and that’s obviously what’s not going to benefit diversity in the space.

JF: Have you ever felt the need or temptation to code switch and not show up as your fullest self?

Catherine Saint Louis (17:49): I’ve always known who I am, I’m just becoming less afraid of speaking my mind…I think now, when I talk to some colleagues from NYT, they say something along the lines of “You used to be so nice, now you’re just so forward.” And it’s just so amazing to me because I guess I was hiding—there was some code switching going on. Or just some muting of myself. Now, at Neon Hum, I feel like I’m definitely bringing my full self. (19:00)

JF:Alzo, you wear so many different hats, from comedian to reporter to television. What would you say is something unique that you bring to podcasting—or a muscle—that you have to work when you are specifically creating audio?

Alzo Slade (35:48): I come to the podcast space from visual medium and performative medium; from stand up and even as a professor. One of the things that I really had to adjust: As a host, I didn’t realize I was so insecure about reading out loud—a full script. […] When I’m in the booth and I’m reading 16 to 20 pages, one of the challenges I recognized was you have to bring just as much juice at page 18 as you do to page five. When you’re reading for an hour or two, you can easily fall into this monotonal trap. […] What I bring to podcasting is that performative component but the challenge of transitioning that skillset to an audio medium is bringing the energy myself.

Replay the full conversation here:

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