I’m still learning, but I’m almost there
Writing a memoir, selling my art, and making a podcast have all been on my list of things to do in my life. I am happy to announce that I am really, really close to completing my list. I sold some of my art for the first time last semester at the Create@Brandeis Craft Market, and now this October I am releasing my very first podcast. After taking Prof. Adriana Lacy’s (JOUR) class on social journalism, my interest in different forms of journalism flourished. I grew up listening to NPR, the “Moth Radio Hour” and a variety of podcasts, but I realized that storytelling is the thread to everything I am passionate about. Film, animation, art, and now journalism all incorporate storytelling. I decided to make a podcast not only because it has been on my list, but because podcasting allows an audience to relate and listen. I learned that through a podcast, you can turn research and numbers into human stories.
My podcast, “ Almost There”, was created because of my passion for animation and my focus on how being a woman of color in the industry matters and why. I, a fan of all things podcasts, thought it would be a fun way to extend my interest in animation. For me, podcasts are little nuggets of wisdom often expressed through interviews. What better way to find inspiration than listening to amazing stories of women of color breaking stereotypes and societal molds? My closest competitor would be B‘n’A, also known as “ Black‘N’animated,” a multi-host podcast that also interviews professionals through the lens of their experience and intersectionality with race. However, my podcast aims to focus on women of color in the industry rather than solely focus on Black creatives, of which a larger majority are men.
I am pretty proud of myself for challenging myself by not doing something I might be more comfortable or familiar with, like writing a newsletter, since I have experience working on Rise Up Animation’s newsletter. I think as a first timer, I am trying to not be so judgmental of how it turned out. As far as what went well, I think the interview process and recording was much better than I anticipated. My first episode was an interview with Natalie Tseng, who is working for Netflix’s creative team for gaming and is currently the newsletter supervisor at Rise Up Animation. I really enjoyed the interview and talking with Natalie about her journey and her experience. I used the Discord voice call system and recorded it internally from my laptop. I was happy to see how clear the audio turned out. I tried to ask engaging and fun questions, balancing the weight of the conversation and inserting some humor when I thought was needed.
One of the most important things I have learned is the importance of planning and researching. During the interview, I tried to ask a variety of questions, but she answered some of the questions before I even asked. It was slightly stressful to realize that “you already answered this, but I still want to ask you the full question” while simultaneously changing the question slightly.
One of the problems I ran into was being consistent and professional. While interviewing Natalie, several “um’s” and “like’s” freckled my questions and conversation despite my attempts to prepare with a script. Moving forward I definitely plan to implement more practice and dedicate more time to work on my speaking voice generally. After Prof. Lacy gave me insight about taking pauses, such as other great podcasters, I looked into it and found that the most famous orators and best public speakers often take several pauses, no matter how awkward.
Regarding tracking the success of my podcast, I really wanted to focus on listens and starts which would be how many people started to listen compared to listening to a full episode. As my podcast is fairly new and not well known, I did not expect many listeners to engage. I was happy, however, to see through Spotify for Podcasters that my data for starts were up to 26; however, compared to full listens it was only 14, which is still impressive to me. Through Anchor, I am able to see 13 plays, and looking at the graph for the last 30 days, I gained the most support from listeners the day of my release. I gained four listeners from Oct. 5 through 11.
It should be noted that some data may be skewed because of myself or others playing an episode more than once. Something else that was interesting was that, while I was unable to find demographic breakdowns of my audience, such as gender or race, I am able to see the streaming location. It turns out, 90% of my audience is located in Waltham, MA, but a shocking 10% — what I assume is one person — is listening from Nigeria. Being a young Black woman in a space such as podcasting can be difficult, but it is amazing to have my voice heard and to use it to uplift others. I aim to inspire, educate, and create through my podcast. I often feel imposter syndrome, as a student at a predominantly white institution, but through this podcast I am able to make a change by adding to the diversity of voices in our community. When we all make changes in our community, we can make a difference.
I plan to spread the word about my podcast the good old fashioned way: through word of mouth. Kidding! I think spreading awareness, however, is increasingly important as my podcast is a new one. I’ll be updating my personal social media and letting my friends and family know. I also plan on reaching out to some programs on campus that teach or serve as after school programs for middle school students so I can reach a younger audience as well. I plan on releasing my podcast episodes biweekly with an interview style approach and possibly adding a bonus episode where I talk about my experience as a young woman of color in art with a rising passion for animation, but I am still deciding. Making a podcast as someone with no technical background in Adobe or any software may have started as a dare, but it has been a dream come true! I am happy to have checked off one more amazing thing in my life. All I really want is to make a difference in the world, whether through art, films, or books.