Why Content Creators Turn to Podcasts as a Form of Expression
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Why Content Creators Turn to Podcasts as a Form of Expression

#GrowthGoals: One content creator’s forage into the podcasting space. A blog series exploring the well-intentioned attempt of a content creative to learn about a new trade.

When developing a new podcast, it’s important to make clear the meaningful reasons why creatives chose podcasting as a form of expression.

What I’ve heard from podcast creators about why they started their podcast often falls into these main reasons:

  • They wanted to give voice to the underrepresented, and podcasts gave them an immediate community for candor and discussion. A few badass females felt they had things to say and podcasts became their platform. (Check out, ‘Disability Visibility,’ hosted by the courageous Alice Wong.)
  • Some wanted social justice and community-driven issues to be heard. (Check out ‘70 million,’ a podcast about folks incarcerated created by a team of amazing women.)
  • Some were hitting walls with legacy media and other institutions who didn’t find their story was “right” for general audiences.

Tonya Somanader, chief content officer for Crooked Media, says when her team looks for new content they are: “Looking for a compelling story. We want creators who take on heavy issues with humor and hope. And [we want creators who] have a dedication to figure out what people can do about it.”

The challenge of developing a podcast with a compelling story will plague all creators.

The challenge of developing a podcast with a compelling story

One such story that caught Crooked Media’s attention, Somanader says, was one pitched by journalist and Cherokee Nation member, Rebecca Nagale.

According to Somanader, Nagale kept going to different media proposing stories, hoping someone would pick up on what was happening to tribal sovereignty in Oklahoma, but no one would listen.

Somanader says after meeting and talking to Nagale, Crooked Media helped Nagale develop her ‘This Land‘ podcast which became her platform.

The podcast description reads: “an 1839 assassination of a Cherokee leader and a 1999 murder case — two crimes nearly two centuries apart provide the backbone to an upcoming 2019 Supreme Court decision that will determine the fate of five tribes and nearly half the land in Oklahoma.”

Sound complicated?

Yeah, it is.

But Nagale flips the script on decades of misinformation about Native life. She overcomes centuries of Native stereotypes by translating her experiences for her audiences in skillful ways.

“When people don’t have reference points for your experience,” Nagale says, “you have to apply strategies that will bring your audience along with you.”

Nagale takes complex perspectives on historical events, laws and policies affecting Native communities, and makes them relatable to a wider audience.

Here are some of her strategies to help audiences feel they have a stake in the story:

  • When delving in-depth into complex policies and laws with a lot of terse information, her advice is to use stories to teach facts and history.
  • To make laws and policies resonate with listeners, develop your characters. Listeners want to connect with a person. They want to hear how the person struggles with a change in law or policy. Listeners want to feel the impact that policy has on real people. It’s important to make it clear why laws and policies matter.
  • Tie these individual stories to thicken the plot without making it too complicated. Nagale suggestions breaking down the structure of a podcast into segments, with each segment linking people to a process of a lawsuit, case, or policy change. Giving listeners information bit-by-bit makes the segments stronger, connects cases to policy, and allows for space to understand the complexity. Podcast segments let people work with opposing views, perspectives and pieces of information, so as to allow listeners to take in one main issue and idea at a time.
  • For complex issues and policies, use metaphor. An analogy Nagale uses to describe the complex nature of land rights in some tribal sovereignty treaties is that of a sheet cake. In Oklahoma, land was divided into small plots rather than held communally to divide and conquer burgeoning native economies. And yet mineral rights remain with the tribe. Using one metaphor of a sheet cake she was able to break down several complex concepts and laws affecting tribal lands. Her advice is that analogies and metaphors for complex ideas help listeners understand.
  • In developing her podcast, Nagale acknowledged how non-Native, “outsider” perspectives helped her figure out what she assumed was common knowledge or not. So have people on your team that bring in different perspectives.
  • For cultural, historical or esoteric information that may be common knowledge within an “in” group, it’s best to name and explain what might be unknown, unseen, and unexperienced by the audience. “Just Name It,” she says.
When developing a #podcast, have people on your team bring in different perspectives. #podcasting Click To Tweet

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Elizabeth Chey

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Chey consults international, community-based, and small nonprofits on communications, advocacy, strategic planning and capacity building. Her passion for arts, peace building and development compels her to tell complex, intimate stories about people working for social justice. She earned her MFA from New York University and a Journalism degree from Northwestern.

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