🎧A podcast podcast 👀 Saint Lucy 🎁 myrrh 🛸 alien abductions 👽 black markets 💰
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, December 20. There are 169 days until I go on my next Disney cruise.
It’s my dad’s birthday, and I’d like you to do me a favor. I set him up a birthday email address: firstname.lastname@example.org—email him a happy birthday message. (He WILL respond to you.) If you don’t know what to say, feel free to pull one of these phrases:
Your family doesn’t appreciate you
I’m not sure how Lauren turned out like you, but not as good
Your Zinnias make the Zinnias in the Union Square Market look like shit
Those pasta bowls you bought for Cheri in 1998 are still perfect
You are not a broken down insurance man
Your wisdom is growing stronger
You are Gumby
You may have been born near Jesus’ birthday, but you outshine him in every way
Trust me, the less you know him/me, the better this will be. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE. Now onto the show.
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Faybeo’n Mickens, the Marketing Director as Double Elvis, home of Disgraceland and some of her favorite podcasts About A Girl, Dear Young Rocker and Here Comes the Break.
The app I use: Spotify (Judge not, lest ye be judged. LOL!)
Listening time per week: About an hour or two weekly
When I listen: I typically listen to my podcasts anytime I'm on the treadmill or doing my daily walk. And Saturday cleaning time always makes for good listening.
How I discover: This newsletter - shout out to Lauren (lol), of course. I primarily take suggestions based on word of mouth. I get to catch up with a lot of folks in the community fairly often and it's hard to keep up with what everyone is doing- so typically my listening is based on conversations that week (and email signatures! A lot of folks have great suggestions in their signature or away messages. lol).
Anything else? I believe in the Black Femme Future.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Maurice Cherry is the host of Revision Path, an award-winning podcast which is the first podcast to be added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Follow him on Twitter here.
Why is Revision Path so important?
Personally, I love that Revision Path is a platform for Black designers, developers, digital creatives, artists, etc. to really tell their own story in their own words. I really try to stay out of the way in most interviews and just let the guest talk, and I do my part to guide them towards a particular takeaway or point of view that they want the listener to have after the interview.
From what I’ve heard from listeners, they feel that Revision Path is important because it helps set a standard and an example to let others know that there are Black people doing this kind of work, they are successful, and they are thriving. I know some educators that use the podcast as a teaching tool in their courses, so it’s great that the next generation of designers and creatives get a chance to be inspired by these amazing guests.
What has helped in making your show grow?
Y’know, the fact that we have been around now for nearly nine years is a real testament to the community behind the show. I really think that’s been the secret to helping the show grow. I focus on the community and the listeners we have, and then they help spread the word to others.
On its face, Revision Path is not a podcast that gets a lot of attention. We’re not located in NYC or Los Angeles or Silicon Valley. We only have Black guests. The focus of the show isn’t about current events, pop culture, entertainment news, or politics. Mainstream media, Black media, and trade publications don’t know what to do with a show like Revision Path, so we don’t exactly get a lot of attention from those outlets. And many people will turn away from the show for any of these reasons! On the other hand, those same reasons will draw people to the show. So I suppose it evens out.
What’s your favorite podcast marketing tip?
Spend your time cultivating the audience you have. Build and strengthen those relationships, and let that audience help market your show.
What do you hope Revision Path does for people?
I hope Revision Path changes the conversation and elevates the culture of Black design to a point where the mainstream design community doesn’t just recognize us during Black History Month. We’re out here. We are part of the fabric of this community. We generate amazing work. And you should want to know who we are. Don’t embarrass yourself by not knowing any Black designers or creative talent.
Go on and tell us about the white people who pitch themselves to your show.
Surprisingly, not many white people pitch themselves to be on the show now that news is out that we’re part of the archives of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Funny how that works as a signifier! LOL!
The peak of white people wanting to colonize Revision Path happened around 2014-2015 as the show started to gain momentum. It’s interesting, because I would pitch Revision Path to a lot of design podcasts that had all white guests (and all white hosts), and would get told that they don’t handle race. But me as a Black man doing an interview podcast with all Black guests makes me racist? Make that make sense.
I’m just going to knock on wood and count my blessings that I don’t get any of that kind of attention anymore.
What shows do you love?
Here are the shows I currently have in regular rotation: Jill Scott Presents: J.ill the Podcast, Twenty Thousand Hertz, Morgan Harper Nichols, The Read, Ratchet and Respectable, and the HBR IdeaCast. I’ll often rotate new shows in and out of my base roster on a regular basis. I don’t listen to a ton of new shows, but I’m really drawn to strong narrative shows that go in on a specific topic I’m interested in, like business development or sound design. Oh, and I really like short documentary style pods, like Anime in America from Crunchyroll or Freaknik: Discourse on a Paradise Lost. It varies though! I listen to way more music than podcasts.
If you were going to start another podcast, don’t worry about the logistics or whether or not anyone would listen to it, what would it be?
I would love to do a seasonal podcast where I talk to BIPOC influencers across the Internet and social media. YouTubers, TikTokers, other podcasts, etc.
The reason I want to do this show is because I’ve been thinking about how content on the Internet these days is like water, and for many of these influencers, it can be a struggle to make that content fill the shape of a different “container”, so to speak. So for example, someone big on TikTok may struggle on YouTube -- they’re both video, but there’s different platform expectations, different social cues and mores from audience members, etc. And I see how that can take a toll on them, especially because other media outlets aren’t really talking to them, but they are profiting off of their work and their reach. I’d love to provide these creators a space to really tell the world who they are in their own words.
What’s your relationship with your voice and how would you describe it?
I love my voice. I really do. I’ve never been one of these “oh, I hate how my voice sounds” people -- I’ve always embraced how it sounds. It’s funny, because when I was younger, had a much thicker Southern accent and a stutter, I hated my voice. Speech therapy as a kid helped get me together, but also, my time as a musician helped develop my voice also. (I’m not a singer though -- only in the shower.)
I’ve heard thousands of hours of my own voice over the years, so I know how to control the timbre and pitch and tempo and resonance to achieve a certain gravity that I want to come across to either the guest or the audience. I’ve really learned to harness those affectations over the years, so I have a pretty good relationship with my voice. I’d love to do voice acting one day!
How has Revision Path changed since it began?
Honestly, not a lot has changed with Revision Path since those early days. I think I’ve gotten better as an interviewer -- thankfully -- but I still feel as though the show occupies this interesting liminal space that allows us to do whatever the fuck we want to do.
I don’t say that in some kind of braggadocious way, but moreso in a way that means we sit at the intersection -- and in some cases, the blind spot -- of the very people and communities that the podcast highlights. I mean, we have some presence in the design community, but when people think of design podcasts, Revision Path isn’t coming up in those conversations. As a host, I’m not getting invited to podcast conferences to share my expertise or to even do a live show. Revision Path isn’t in the conversation when people ask about Black podcasts either, despite how long we’ve been around and the honors we’ve gotten.
I still have to hunt down pretty much every opportunity I get because the show just isn’t there yet. Where is there? I don’t know. But we ain’t there yet.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
On today’s Secretly Incredibly Fascinating, Alex Schmidt and Jesse Thorn talked about myrrh, which ended up being a great entry point to the historical Jesus and what really “happened” the “night” “of” Jesus’” “birth” (I feel like I have to put, just like everything in quotations here) based on what we “know” from the gospels of Matthew and Luke. This is the story of the Bible I nerd out about the most, but I still didn’t technically know what myrrh was. (It’s a sap.) This is a great episode of a great show with two of the best podcasters about what I believe to be is maybe the best story of all time.
🎙️I finished my 100 days of podcast marketing tips and compiled them in an issue of Podcast Marketing Magic. Matt Medeiros featured 8 of the tips on his podcast Audience.
🎙️Thanks to Shreya Sharma for including one of my podcast predictions for 2022 in Inside Podcasting!
🎙️Someone has finally done it—made the podcast I always wanted to make. (And actually did, for awhile! I had a podcast called Podcast Podcast which is a great name but is horrible for search.) On The Pod Club, Jo Piazza (Committed, Under the Influence) recommends shows by talking to podcast people. Episodes one and two seem to be reaching out to two different ends of the podcast audience spectrum, Malcolm Gladwell and Jamie Loftus. This show is doing just what I’ve always wanted by spreading love of not just new shows, but the people behind them.
🎙️I’m still enjoying Wondery’s Business Wars series on the The Christmas Movie Wars, which really gives you the inside scoop of the cultural rise of Christmas movies on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix. But this episode of Citations Needed is the smart take you need to understand the (scary?) reason why these movies are booming. Nima, Adam, and David Roth break down the hysteria embedded within each one, noting how they stir fear in conservatives about city life, progressives, future-thinking, and any break with tradition. These movies want us to make America great again (like it was in the 50’s, amirite Black/queer people/women, lol?) and also implant in our brains nostalgia for something we may never have experienced.
🎙️Saint Podcast (a podcast about the saints) ran a final episode on my favorite saint, Saint Lucy. When I was confirmed in the Catholic Church I chose her as my saint because I had terrible eyesight and she is the patron saint of the blind, and also because she is represented in Catholic art holding her eyeballs on a platter. I was led to believe that this was because Lucy gauged her eyes out when she was told she had to find a suitor (who wasn’t God) but on Saint Podcast, Eric Huang explains that Lucy’s story didn’t guide her visual representation, it’s the other way around. I thought I knew a lot about Lucy but I learned so much, and this is juicy stuff! Especially relevant because her feast day used to fall on the Winter Solstice and through the centuries, Solstice celebrations in her honor have merged with pre-Christian rituals to influence the development of Santa Claus.
🎙️Martin Austwick has released a single/EP of Pale Bird’s The World Outside My Window, which is currently cycling through roughly a million variations of arrangements and lyrics over on the Neutrinowatch podcast feed. If you know about how Neutrinowatch works (I wrote about it for Bello Collective) you will know that this isn’t like any other EP. Neutrinowatch uses computer code to gather the day’s headlines, the positions of the planets in the solar system, and new music, and form a podcast episode that is different every single day. So this song has over a million possible versions. The first and last lines are the same, but the middle is a surprise of varying lyrics and beautiful instruments. I love this from Martin: “Podcasts don’t allow an interactive experience in the way video games do, but they do allow a certain kind of serendipity. Like turning on the radio and discovering a new song. Except in this case it’s the same song, it just sounds different, and maybe you’ll like it better today.”
🎙️You know I was refreshing the Punch up the Jam feed on Thursday until I saw the first episode, after a long hiatus, with new hosts The Gregory Brothers. I was nervous because Punch Up the Jam was such a fucking treat, I wasn’t sure if anyone should touch it. (And then there was the stuff about The Gregory Brothers detailed in Endless Thread.) The Gregorys enter cautiously, recognizing that they were longtime fans of the show and were approached by Head Gum to take the reins. That feels like a lose-lose situation to me, it’s like being asked to host The Oscars. But the guys seem up to the challenge, so bravo on their confidence. I really liked their new segment at the end, where they think of songs they’d like to walk into a room to. (For this episode, it was Christmas party.) But hearing this just made me miss Demi and Miel. The show lacks the chaotic energy (and Miel’s gorgeous bursts of laughter) that made the show pop, and the structure has changed—the Gregorys don’t introduce the history of the song in the beginning like Miel and Demi did. The guest, Weird Al, chose Wonderful Christmastime, which the three both shit on but at the same time seem afraid to shit on, in case that Paul McCartney is listening. Demi and Miel did the opposite of this. If a song was worth teasing, they did it with reckless abandon, yet there was always a feeling of appreciation for the song. It’s way harsh to judge podcasters on their first episode, so let’s see what happens.
🎙️On Getting Curious, Jonathan Van Ness talked Kelli Dunham and Mary Johnson, former congregants of the Missionaries of Charity. In Jonathan’s loveable way, he asks Kelli and Mary all the questions we’d want to ask if we were face to face with ex-nuns. What drove them to dedicate their lives to the church, and then, what made them change their minds? (And act to leave, when leaving is so difficult?) Jonathan brings a lot of laughter to this potentially somber topic. And he gets Kelli and Mary to open up about the world they left. (With details that make you realize why they left it.)
🎙️Maintenance Phase’s episode on sleep was jam packed with fact and stories outlining our obsession with sleep. Aubrey and Michael apparently talked for two hours outlining the problems of the first eight pages of Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep. (We only hear a portion of that long talk.) They talk about the skewed “research” that tells us we are killing ourselves by not getting enough sleep, and the fact that these reports ignore the real reasons why people don’t sleep. (Poverty, illness.) Per usual, there’s laughing (and debunking) all the way, hahaha!
🎙️Speaking of American Hysteria, Chelsey Weber-Smith just finished a two-part series on alien abductions. On part one Chelsey introduced us to important people in the movement, but where they think they’ll find a bunch of hoaxters, they find sincere people, which is much more interesting. Part two gets into the repressed memory movement, sleep paralysis and belief. What started as a series that had me picturing little green men running around ended up leaving me with thoughts of the human need for myth and spirituality. That’s what American Hysteria can do to you.
🎙️Megacorp is an investigative podcast series exposing some of the world's most unethical corporations. Season one focuses on Amazon, and much of it is stuff you know—the unethical treatment of Amazon workers, the pissing in bottles, the backbreaking labor. But hearing it all pulled together is making me eye the stack of Amazon boxes I have in the corner of my apartment with guilt. I wonder how many people are able to avoid Amazon all together, and if they are like ethical vegetarians, people who have made a lifestyle choice that makes a difference, and when they hear people say “I can’t give up Amazon,” they roll their eyes and think, “it’s not that hard.” (Or if they are like this is hard and I wish I didn’t have a strong conscious.)
🎙️American Radical is telling the complicated and tragic story of Rosanne Boyland, who died at the Capitol Riots on January 6th last year. MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin is retracing the last six months of Roseanne’s life by talking to her family, friends, the people who were with her in DC, and people who can talk about her autopsy report, to try to understand how a woman who didn’t like politics and hated leaving her home became radicalized in the wink of an eye, and what, exactly happened that day. Roseanne was a recovering addict and had amphetamines in her system when she died. One of the friends Ayman goes back to is someone who was in recovery with Roseanne, someone who was aware of her struggles to sober up, but her family insists she wasn’t using. Was she trampled or did she die from a drug overdose? Ayman is uncovering the grief of a family who has a lot of questions, and telling a story about the path of modern radicalization.
🎙️After listening to the first few episodes of American Radical, I turned to Robert Evans’ series on the Capital Riots, The Assault on America. It’s an 8-part series that gives you a minute-by-minute account of the January 6 riots, from the perspective of Robert, who brings on a ton of knowledge of the far right. The first seven episodes introduce some of the main characters and plotlines of the story, and the last episode is a very cathartic episode about what went into catching the rioters by pouring over footage from that day.
🎙️Jon Ronson has earned my trust when it comes to podcast storytelling—his show The Last Days Of August was one that surprised me and completely consumed me. He is maybe best known for The Butterfly Effect, a sweet, human, funny, non-salacious podcast about porn. In his new show Things Fell Apart, he is zooming in on tiny moments that have defined our culture wars. Episode one is about a teen’s documentary that had a pro-life message that ended up turning Evangelicals into anti-abortion warriors. Dirty Books tells about how one woman in West Virginia sparked a banned books movement based on completely inaccurate interpretations of her school district’s curriculum. Each of these stories will turn what you believe about America and its values on its head. It’s these teensy, seemingly random actions from the past that have defined who we are today, and much like The Butterfly Effect, you have to wonder where we’d be without them.
🎙️Rough Translation has returned for a new season, this time with two stories about tasting food at a distance. One interview is with a woman who has made it her mission to translate the international snacking experience tangibly delicious for her Unsnackable newsletter, the other about an Albanian writer who eventually tastes a food that her grandmother would never let her eat, one that connects her family story to her culture. That last one made me cry—there is something about food and grandmothers that gets me. Thinking about and making food is one way I connect with my Polish grandmother who has passed. I don’t know what heaven is, but maybe it’s Wanda’s descendants remembering the perfection she put into making paczki, wedding soup, and stuffed cabbage. Also new in the Rough translation feed: an update on one of my favorite stories, Moms in Translation.
🎙️I had completely forgotten about Trafficked, a companion podcast to National Geographic’s Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller. The first episode of season two popped up in my feed and I’m glad it did! I got completely re-lost in the first season, where Mariana takes us inside black markets and underground economies, including meth labs and a global marijuana smuggling empire built by high school surfers, each introducing us to a new world of the black market. Each story includes interviews with the people who rose and fell there. It’s excellent, jaw-dropping reporting that is an excellent way to parallel a television show. Episode one of season two is an interview with a woman behind bars who was giving trans (and cisgender) women illegal silicone injections to get the bodies they dreamed of. This is not the black market you are used to hearing about.
🎙️I binged Strangeland over the weekend, which reexamines cases in immigrant neighborhoods and is hosted by investigative journalist Ben Adair and world-renowned interpreter Sharon Choi. They focus on the 2003 execution-style slaying of a mother, her 2-year-old son, and their nanny in LA’s Koreatown, and the man who sits in jail today for doing it. Ben and Sharon take us through the case—Ben acts as the one asking Sharon the questions we are all thinking. It’s a truly confounding case with no clear answers, that keeps you changing your mind and reevaluating what you believe at every twist and turn. h/t Melissa Locker.
🎙️If you love The Holiday then boy do I have something for you. On The Holiday Season, Sam Clements and Louise Owen take a detailed look at Nancy Meyers’s 2006 Christmas movie starting Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. Starting December 22, Sam will host three episodes featuring new interviews from Jude Law, Miffy Englefield, Sarah Flind, Nicholas Downs, and an episode dedicated to Director Nancy Meyers featuring a new interview with Meyers herself.
🎙️I love you!