Welcome to our Between Two Mics community series, The Community Interviews. In this series, Zach and Rock are sharing SquadCaster interviews that they’ve recorded. They spoke with more than 15 podcasters over the past few months who record their shows on SquadCast.fm.
Zach and Rock spoke with scientists, doctors, lawyers, artists, business execs, mental health advocates, and everyone in between, about what it’s like to be a content creator.
In this week’s episode, our last of the series AND of the year, Zach shares his conversations with podcasters who tell stories of social issues and mental health. You’ll meet Phil, Jane, Keith, JJ, Kelly, Jayde, and Manny.
Why are we sharing The Community Interviews? We want to show off our amazing SquadCast community. We asked them about their lives, their passions, their podcasts, and more. And this series is to honor them! And to tell the world about what they’re up to.
Today’s episode features
- Phil and Jane of Unhinged and Bumbled Up
- Keith Casebonne of You First: Disability Rights Florida
- JJ and Kelly of Red, Blue, and Brady
- Manny Faces of Hip Hop Can Save America and Newsbeat
- Jayde Barber of Students of Mind
Learn from Phil and Jane about using social media to grow a podcast. They share their tips for using Instagram and Tik Tok to convert followers to listeners. Meet Keith Casebonne, who runs a podcast for a non-profit that brings resources to the disability community. JJ and Kelly use their podcast to tell the stories of those affected by gun violence. Next up is Manny Faces, who believes in hip hop as a way to save America! And Jayde Barber brings it home with a powerful lesson on taking one’s mental health seriously.
Extras in today’s episode
- Time for Your Hobby podcast
- Rabiah’s More Than Work podcast
- Register for the Scavenger Hunt
- Join the SquadPod Slack Community
- SquadCast on Facebook
- SquadCast on Twitter
- SquadCast on Instagram
- SquadCast on LinkedIn
- Try SquadCast free for 7 days!
- This episode was written and edited by Arielle Nissenblatt, SquadCast’s community manager
- This episode was mixed and mastered by Vince Moreno Jr., SquadCast’s head of support and audio
- The music in this episode is from Shawn Valles, SquadCast’s support specialist
- This episode is hosted by Rock Felder, SquadCast’s co-founder of CFO
- Our logo and designs are by Alex Whedbee, SquadCast chief of design
- Our transcript is by Ian Powell
[00:00:00] Alex: Hi. I hope I didn’t catch it at a bad time. Well, who am I kidding? There’s never a bad time for a podcast. So before we get into this weeks episode, I just want to tell you about another show. I think. I’m the host of a podcast called Time For Your Hobby. And in this podcast, I interview people from all walks of life from around the world about their hobbies.
[00:00:18] Now, where can you find this show? Yeah, the cliche thing to say is you can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts, right? Well, to make things easier, you can check out linktree.com/timeforyourhobby and all the links will be there. Very easy to find. Now with that out of the way, let’s get into this week’s episode of Beetween Two Mics.
[00:00:38] Rabiah: Hi, I’m Rabiah, host of More Than Work, a podcast about finding your self worth outside of your job, recorded on SquadCast. The SquadCast scavenger hunt is still on. It ends on December 31st at 11:59 PM, which means you’ve still got time to enter, to win incredible prices. Head to contest,squadcast.fm to register and start racking up points .To the hunt!
[00:01:07] Zach: Welcome to Between Two Mics, the SquadCast podcast. It’s our third and final week of our community series: the community interviews. I’m happy to have you with us today. And I hope you enjoyed last week’s chat that Rock shared with SquadCasters, Chris Angel, Felice, Joe, Paige, Randy Arun and JoJo. And just like that, this is somehow our last episode of the year.
[00:01:34] What a year it has been. SquadCasters, check your email this week, please. For the first time we’re sending y’all a SquadCast wrapped, which is basically a recap of your year recording remotely. We’re excited to discover what 2022 has in store for us, and for you. If you’re new to the podcast, Hey, what’s up? How you doing?
[00:01:57] I’m Zach Moreno and I’m the co-founder and CEO of SquadCast.fm. The remote recording platform for content creators. In this series you’ll hear right from the SquadCasters themselves. Ever since Rock Felder and I started SquadCast five plus years ago, the community has meant everything to us. We lean on our customers to learn what’s going well
[00:02:20] and what directions we should head in when it comes to design and innovation. Over the past few months, Rock and I interviewed more than 15 SquadCasters. Those conversations have led to this series. Last week you heard from our people and stories related pod-casters. And today we’re spotlighting SquadCast creators who focus on social issues and mental health in their podcast.
[00:02:47] Usually on Between Two Mics, our episodes are pretty straightforward interviews, but in the community interview series, it’s a bit more narrative style. We’ll share our chats with JJ, Kelly, Manny, Jade, Phil, Jane, and Keith in today’s episode. And my voice will weave in and out. Rock was the host of our first two community episodes.
[00:03:08] And I’m excited to be here to close us out, both for the series and for the year.
[00:03:16] Listeners. We want to hear from you throughout this series. As always, you can let us know what you think by reaching out on social media. We’re at SquadCast FM on all platforms. We start off today’s episode hearing from Phil and Jane, cohosts of the podcast Unhinged and Bumbled Up. Unhinged and Bumbled Up is all about dating and relationships.
[00:03:40] Phil and Jane looked through the different parts of putting yourself out there and share their own experiences, all while breaking it down in an easy way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re the only one. Their end goal is to make dating more exciting and to offer diverse perspectives on the topic.
[00:03:58] I’ll let Phil start us off with his hopes and dreams for the show and how he’s spreading the word through social media. Just a quick note: Jane had some recording environment issues that were a bit out of our control, but you should still be able to hear her words, crystal clear. Here’s Phil.
[00:04:20] Phil: From the start I’ve always had the mission statement that if the podcast can change one person’s life slightly, that’s it. That does it for me. One listener. If I only have one listener, that would be it. You know, I would be happy and seeing the, all the feedback that we get from people we’ve done an episode on mental health and people have, I told my story about mental health and dating and people have messaged in like
[00:04:47] “you’ve helped me so much.” And I think the goals for us probably just continue helping people. We haven’t set out to make millions in podcasting, in monetizing or anything like that. You know, we’ve got our merch, we’ve got the stuff on the side, but it’s always about the listener. It’s always about the audience.
[00:05:04] Jane: Going back to like- the listeners is all about. what the listeners want, you know? They’re the ones that keep us going. So we often ask on our Instagram pages, what do you want to hear next? You know, what would be of interest to you? Um, we also ask our guests, everyone, if there’s anyone they could recommend for the podcast, who they think would be valuable. And other amazing guests we had on was, um, a woman called Ossa who talks about intimacy, which is quite, uh, a difficult conversation, especially in Britain because people are quite prudish here?
[00:05:38] So it was quite nice to speak to someone who was very professional about it and made people, feel relaxed, about talking about intimacy and their relationship. So, yeah, it’s all about what our listeners want. We often do polls on the Instagram as well. So yeah, our goals is just to keep giving our listeners exactly what they want.
[00:05:57] Zach: If I can unpack that a little bit more, right? Like I hear a lot of conversations in the podcast community, along the lines of, of how it can be lonely to be a podcast host. Uh, our activity a lot of times is having conversations. So how could that be lonely? But it’s really lonely in the context of, do we have a dialogue, a conversation, but with our audience, right?
[00:06:18] And that is non-trivial in podcasting, like in other formats and other mediums: that can be kind of baked in. But in podcasting, alot is left to be desired. I think we could probably all agree on with when it comes to our dialogue and feedback and exchange of information, um, with our audience, it’s like, oh, leave me a rating and review on Apple podcasts and give me a thumbs up over here and tip me over here.
[00:06:41] But like, what do they want to hear? What, what did they think of the last episode? And it seems like you’re using Instagram for that purpose. Is there anything else that you’re doing? That’s just such a beautiful example that even that on its own, I think is like a great inspiration for our listeners.
[00:06:56] Phil: Well, we’ve just delved into the realms of TikTok, uh-
[00:07:00] Jane: Phil is smashing it.
[00:07:01] Phil: So we are using TikTok
[00:07:02] Jane: You’re smashing it on TikTok.
[00:07:05] Phil: (laughing) I’m doing all right.
[00:07:08] Yeah. Yeah. We, uh, we’re creating content over on TikTok as well. Not probably necessarily connected to the podcast, but we do bring the podcast up and we’ve seen our listeners like skyrocket into that, because I didn’t think it was possible that we could transfer like 60 second videos and transfer those people into listeners of like 30, 40 minute episodes.
[00:07:31] But it seems to be working and we’re getting great feedback from there as well. So we’re trying different social medias and seeing what works.
[00:07:38] Zach: Yeah. And just kind of thinking about it as kind of a progression, like, like you said, people can discover you on all these different platforms. Right? But then you have this much deeper content and you can start to kind of structure a journey for your audience to kind of like- I think you both are, I would say experts in dating and relationships probably.
[00:07:57] Right? We don’t just like, start off with like getting married, right? Like we don’t, if getting married as the equivalent of a subscription to our podcast, I don’t know if that’s exactly a one-to-one, but like, you know, you start off dating. Right? So TikTok is how you can, um, you can kind of start that relationship and allow people to kind of dabble and choose to go deeper.
[00:08:15] That’s that’s really great to hear.
[00:08:17] Jane: Yeah. And just to add to that, Zach, regarding- I’ve got a dating Instagram page and I often get people, um, speaking to me about their feedback on my book that I published this year. But yeah, I guess when another opportunity to tell, um, people that have read my book about the podcast, cause the, the they’ll come back to me and say, are you going to bring out another book?
[00:08:37] And I say, you know, I’m currently writing the second book, but in the meantime, you can actually hear more about dating on the podcast. So, um, it’s great that me and Phil have our own Instagram pages, our own TikToks. So it’s just definitely ways to get to different listeners.
[00:08:54] Zach: I’m so glad to hear that. You’re painting a picture of a content universe that I think is inspiring and can serve as a model to, uh, to the people listening.
[00:09:02] That’s really great to hear. (interview ends)
[00:09:06] If you’re thinking about starting a TikTok account for your podcast, I definitely recommend checking out Phil’s for some inspiration. He’s at Unhinged and Bumbled Up. He does a great job, as he said of not just telling people about the podcast, but of also providing value and then ever so gingerly pointing folks back to the fact that he and Jane host a podcast about dating and relationships.
[00:09:30] Next, we’re going to pivot over to Keith Cassebonne, host of You First: the disability rights Florida podcast. The reason I’m playing a clip of my conversation with Keith right after my conversation with Phil and Jane is because both of the podcasts started in an effort to reach pretty specific audiences. In Phil and Jane’s case, single folks, people looking to date or learn more about dating.
[00:09:54] And in Keith’s case, the disability rights community in Florida, his home state. We always preach on Between Two Mics that podcasters should niche down in order to find success with their listeners. And here’s Keith doing exactly that.
[00:10:10] Keith: When we first got into the podcast, it was late 2016, uh, election year. And the organization I’m with, Disability Rights, Florida was doing an outreach related to voting.
[00:10:21] We created a website dedicated to voting information for people with disabilities, help get registered, information on how to get to the polls, and so on. One of the ideas that this firm we were working with, to sort of help us manage all this, was “oh, we could do a podcast.” I don’t think I’d listened to a podcast at that point, honestly (laughs) .
[00:10:39] And so, but we were like, oh yeah, it’s different. I don’t, you know, it sounds great. So we knocked out four episodes of what became the You First podcast pretty quickly. And they like scripted it all out. It was really unnatural and not great, but it got us started. It got our feet in the door: podcasting.
[00:10:57] And once those are up and, and you know, out there, we thought, well, we have the infrastructure now we’ve got the hosting, we’ve got the, you know, the website and so on. Why don’t we try to continue this and, you know, do something with it? So that’s where from there, it really became something, you know, that we developed ourselves and sort of I’ve, I’ve been a big part of developing the podcast over time.
[00:11:17] We kind of hit or missed a little bit there for a while, but in the last, I’d say a year and a half, we’ve been consistently releasing an episode once a month. And with the future plans, we’ll talk about later, but ultimately the podcast is about people with disabilities. We talk to different guests around the world who have a disability or work with people with disabilities and provide resources or information or different types of services.
[00:11:44] The way we kind of look at it is you may or may not have a disability, but I think you’d be interested in the show. Because around the world, like one in five people have a disability. You likely know someone with a disability, but you may not know a lot of what goes on behind the scenes or particular struggles or issues that they may have.
[00:12:01] And so this is also just sort of educational and building awareness as to what goes on in, uh, in people’s lives. That may be- you may or may not be familiar with.
[00:12:13] Zach: That’s some pretty far out recommendation and advice that you got back then to, uh, to approach a podcast. That’s really cool. And it sounds like that was embraced by, you know, your, your organization.
[00:12:25] Was there any kind of resistance there? And, and I think a lot of people think about, you know, individuals or maybe collaborators working on a podcast, but organizations and corporations and companies and groups of people,uh, are creating podcasts more and more. And I would say back then that was, that was pretty forward-leaning.
[00:12:43] So what, what was that experience like? Uh, kind of like podcasting within a larger organization?
[00:12:49] Keith: People definitely that-I think one of the most common questions I got was “what is a podcast?” (laughs) So we sort of had to first explain what it was. Like I said, I don’t even know that I’d listened to a podcast at that point.
[00:13:00] I knew what it was. So I was, I could sort of mangle through a definition and explain it. But we said, you know, it’s an audio form that, you know, a lot of other agencies like us, aren’t doing: we did look into it a little bit. And we saw that, you know, nobody was really doing this in our sector, if you will.
[00:13:14] And decided this might just be something that’s a little differentiating and-
[00:13:19] Zach: Totally.
[00:13:19] Keith: -you know, do something different that like, yeah, we had videos and things, but you know, you have to sit and stare at a screen to watch a video. And we thought this audio format, this is great. Partly also for accessibility, because if you’re an individual with blindness, well, you can enjoy a podcast just as much as the next guy.
[00:13:35] And then of course we transcribe everything. So we’ve got a version if someone can’t listen to a podcast, it’s always that alternative. But it just seemed like a good, uh, alternative and so, you know, people could like listen on the go and so on. And we didn’t get a lot of resistance. We had mostly questions.
[00:13:49] And then when we, uh, got going with it and people heard it:as rough as it was at the beginning, they liked it and they, they wanted to continue on with it.
[00:13:58] Zach: I’m really glad to hear that it was embraced. These things can be a little bit abstract to kind of talk about how we’re going to add this to our strategy.
[00:14:06] Keith: I’ve tried explain to my mom, I host a podcast and I just kind of get a blank look, but yeah, (both laugh)
[00:14:11] Zach: That’s cool. It’s getting more and more out there for people. So that’s really fantastic. And it sounds like you had a clear kind of direction and topic of conversation when you started out focusing on, on helping individuals with disability.
[00:14:25] Gain access to the political process. That’s really awesome. But I want to back up for a second and not make any assumptions. What would you say your goal is for the show and has it evolved through the years that you’ve been working on it?
[00:14:39] Keith: Yeah, it really has. I mean, the goal is essentially to bring awareness and we’re based in Florida, but we found that we have listeners all over the country and you know, the parts of the world even. And it’s, oh, I think awareness is the number one thing, but also again, We try to be a resource for people with disabilities.
[00:14:56] We’re about to release an episode specifically for veterans with disabilities on how they can access certain services they may or may not know about beyond just like, you know, VA benefits, but there’s a lot of other things. So sometimes they’re just geared like that. It’s sort of like, here’s how you can do this, this and this to better your life, but we’ve had other episodes that are a little more- I don’t know if abstract is the right word, but a little more, uh, essentially a little more. Uh thought-provoking like, so for example, one of our most popular episodes, we did last April in conjunction with earth day and it was called eco-ableism.
[00:15:27] And it talks a lot about how: yes, we need to save the planet. We need to address climate change and so on, but we’re not thinking about how that can affect a large group of people. And so if we’re going to save the planet, let’s save it truly for everyone.
[00:15:40] Zach: Otherwise what’s the point, right?
[00:15:42] Keith: Exactly. Exactly.
[00:15:44] Uh, and so there’s a lot of things that came up in that, that I, I learned a lot and it’s one of our more popular episodes because of that. So that’s kind of a long answer for what’s the goal, but it’s, it, it really varies. You asked about growth too. You know, when we first started, it was like I said, it was a scripted, very limited thing.
[00:15:59] Uh, when we first got going, I, you know, I got some guests here and there, people that kind of either knew, so I worked with or, or, or so on. And then it’s sort of just became where we were just interviewing internal staff about different topics and things, which was fine, but it kind of lost the excitement. Like one of the early, really good episodes, uh, involved a client that we helped who talked a lot about what we did for him.
[00:16:24] And that episode is still, if not our most popular episodes, still very, very close. And it seemed like we lost that connection for a little while there- numbers kind of dropped and people weren’t really listening. And then we took a break. And when we got back into it, I really started looking for guests, sort of outside of my comfort zone, if you will.
[00:16:42] And outside of the agency. And, and from there found really interesting guests like an individual with a disability that runs a travel blog. And so she goes all over the world and she documents her experiences as a person with disability in these various different countries. Little things like that, that we’d never even thought about in the beginning.
[00:17:00] But as I started kind of reaching out and seeing what was out there, finding guests like that, and you ask someone if they’ll be on your podcast, a lot of times the answer’s yes. Which is, I was surprised at first, but now it’s not a big deal. I started asking away and we’ve gotten a lot of guests. Like I say, you know, some international guests, even.
[00:17:16] It’s, it’s grown a lot. (interview ends)
[00:17:21] Zach: Next up, we’ll hear from JJ and Kelly, who, like Keith, started a podcast associated with a nonprofit organization. Theirs is called Brady United and it focuses on uniting Americans against gun violence. JJ has been the manager of Brady’s podcast, Red, Blue, and Brady since its inception. She is deeply interested in centering survivors agency in telling their stories and in sharing their activism. Kelly Sampson has a background in litigation, human capital consulting and diversity and inclusion. She works to prevent gun violence by cultivating a committed, informed, and effective pro bono attorney network. Originally from Detroit, Kelly is especially interested in addressing gun violence’s disproportionate impact on the black community.
[00:18:11] JJ and Kelly are both very committed to their cause. I’ll let them tell you about how their podcast came to be.
[00:18:19] JJ: Kelly. Should I start with it?
[00:18:21] Kelly: I was going to say, JJ is the queen. (laughs)
[00:18:24] JJ: It was my baby. And now we share custody. Yeah. So the, the podcast was actually the brain child of our president and, uh, of our organization Brady or one of the oldest gun violence prevention orgs out there.
[00:18:39] And when our head of communications, our vice president of communications, Cordy, started at Brady, she really was pushing for this idea that we needed a podcast. That non-profits need more podcasts out there. They’re such a phenomenal way if, if you run, I think, and any for any group, but I think especially for a non-profit for folks to know what it is that you’re doing, and to get engaged with your work in a way that’s really intimate, but it’s at no cost to them.
[00:19:05] And because it’s in their ears, it’s different from like getting a newsletter. And your email, it’s different from getting like a little mailer in your mailbox. Although those are great too. It’s just sort of that way to connect. So that was sort of the little nugget of how that happened at, at Brady. At the same time that they were having all of those like board meetings and planning docs for that to happen,
[00:19:25] I was working- I was in a PhD program. And miserable. (laughs) And doing- to make myself less miserable in that- I was doing a podcast with a friend of mine called Speaker for the Living. That was a human trafficking related podcast. That’s what my educational background is in. And we were doing, so we were doing this anti-trafficking podcast and the day literally that it was like, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here for me in PhD land.
[00:19:51] I was really embarrassed about that. Right? Like I’d always sort of had, I feel like Kelly’s probably nodding along. I think we were both like nerdy people (laughs) growing up with families that were like, you will go to school. Like you will be academically excellent. And I was like, I’m not a doctor. I don’t want to do with my life.
[00:20:05] I’m really embarrassed by this, but I really love my podcast. So I just started every single person I’d ever met, who remotely had been kind to me. I was like, do you know anyone who’s hiring for podcast jobs? Like, do you know anyone anywhere? I was out in Denver and a person who had been in my PhD program was now at Brady, uh, in DC and was like, we actually just had a meeting today that we should have a podcast.
[00:20:29] And I was like, let me make you a pitch deck. Uh, and then for about two months I stalked their communications department. I think I made, I made fake podcasts as samples. I came to like a meeting. I made a lot of pitches and ultimately when they open the job, I was lucky enough to get hired for it.
[00:20:51] And so that’s all kind of like I got involved and brought a lot of what I had done on the previous podcast that I worked on for, which is that we were going to be a survivor and victim centered, agency centered, research-based, but with a little bit of humor, podcast. After we had been around for about a year, Kelly, who was one of the first people I met at Brady who stopped, who stopped me on the first day, it was like, I love podcasts and had come with like her own pitches for things she wanted, uh, who had, who had like guest co-hosted a few times and done amazingly, there was an opportunity there for Kelly to come on as cohost and I jumped on it.
[00:21:25] And basically I think we sort of press ganged her into coming on to really take advantage of one, her being a great person, but then also too, like her area of expertise. Which if you’re talking about like gun violence and podcasts and podcasting, like you absolutely have to do so. I don’t know, Kelly, if you want to talk about what it is that you do so well.
[00:21:43] Beyond being awesome.
[00:21:45] Kelly: As you can see, JJ is super kind, and this is genuine. (laughs) This is JJ on and off the mic. Um, but yeah, for me, I came to Brady, um, as an attorney and had actually when we were here before, um, I remember talking to my boss is saying how much I love podcasts and how much, um, I think at the time. It was right around the time that Serial was sort of blowing up and everyone was like, oh, what is this medium?
[00:22:09] And we were talking about how gun violence really lends itself to storytelling in a way that you often don’t see in the media. So that was sort of a seed. And then when JJ came on, as JJ said I had an opportunity to do a few guests hosts or sometimes I think at one point I was a guest talking about racial justice and gun violence because that’s the intersection that I focus a lot on at Brady.
[00:22:32] And then we were doing a racial justice series at one point where it started off as sort of this three episode arc and then quickly became a juggernaut. And we have a lot of episodes about it that I highly recommend. Um, and so, yeah, as JJ said, from that time when there was an opportunity for me to come on, I gladly took it because I am obsessed with podcasts and I think they’re such a great medium, and I can’t believe that there’s so much information and storytelling that you can just have access to.
[00:23:01] Zach: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s, it’s critical work that y’all are doing, so I’m very grateful for you helping to tell these stories and have these conversations and you know, that, that we can play a role in it in some ways.
[00:23:13] It’s really awesome. And this may be a little bit obvious, but, uh, you know, you being- coming from a perspective of, you know, work as a nonprofit, there’s kind of a, the, a mission driven organization behind the stories that you’re telling. And that can communicate in some ways what the goals of your show are.
[00:23:30] But how, how would the two of you articulate, what are the goals of your podcasts?
[00:23:36] JJ: We have alot. (everyone laughs) , uh-
[00:23:37] Zach: I suspected so! Awesome!
[00:23:39] JJ: And it’s one of the nice things I think about when we have this beautiful org behind us, but ultimately we’re small. The podcast is largely Kelly myself, and then our creative director, Jamie. And I mean, we have the support of the comms team behind us and then like the whole organization as a whole,
[00:23:55] and then like all these phenomenal people who, who come on and whatnot. But like, ultimately it’s a small little circle, which I think almost makes it easier when you’re like- being like, these are our strategic goals, like our missions. So I would say that the top three for me, and I don’t know if they would be, if they’re about the same for you,
[00:24:10] Kelly is: one; that every story we’re going to tell is going to be us helping. Not necessarily the story just benefiting us. And, and I think that that’s sometimes- when we’re doing. Like these gun violence stories, sometimes it’s easy, I think for, to fall into like the pitfalls that a lot of like maybe like true crime podcasts fall, fall into and where we’re telling someone’s story as content?
[00:24:33] Not as an individual sharing their journey. Uh, and, and that matters a lot. So I think always making sure that that’s happening in, in the right way. And so we have a lot of internal controls to make sure that that happens. Um, the second thing I would say is always making sure that we’re presenting our org, um, for doing the work that they’re doing in a way that is transparent.
[00:24:55] So like always, we predominantly have experts outside of our work, come on to be like, this is where like this research is coming from. Right? And then I think the third is like showing, for me at least, showing that the work we’re doing is really hard. And in that it’s really complex and contextual. So like we don’t have one solution to every problem. But that like, these are what different people think these solutions might be? And then like, engaging with that. Kelly, what are you thinking?
[00:25:23] Kelly: I mean, first I wholeheartedly agree because you are the queen (chuckles) and, um, just in addition, the couple of things I know that JJ has in mind. And we talk about a lot about too, is one of the real benefits of having a podcast about gun violence and gun violence prevention in particular is that it’s a really polarized issue.
[00:25:42] And a lot of people for obvious reasons, because we are talking about life or death stakes. There’s a lot of emotion that comes when we’re talking about this. And so it’s an opportunity to really have an extended time to talk about things in nuance. So that’s one thing is just the opportunity to really explore the issue.
[00:25:59] Um, and sort of relatedly until what JJ was saying about the complexity. Also, when you start getting into gun violence, whether you’re talking about suicide and how it sort of intersects with community and mental health, or you’re talking about homicide and how that intersects with intersects with, um, gender issues or racial issues.
[00:26:20] There are so many intersections with gun violence and our podcast is an opportunity to really be able to talk about. Gun violence, gun violence prevention, and a lot of the root causes in a way that you might not be able to do in another medium, or you might not be able to do in another medium that people will engage with.
[00:26:38] So I think that’s another thing it’s just to kind of show the complexity of it. (interview ends)
[00:26:44] Zach: Next up is my conversation with Manny Faces, who is also deeply involved with social justice and podcasting and how the two come together. Manny is an award-winning journalist and the founding director of the center for hip hop advocacy. Manny produces the Newsbeat and Hip Hop Can Save America podcast.
[00:27:04] Manny’s work largely focuses on advocating for the ability of hip hop music and culture to uplift humanity, particularly in areas such as education, science and technology, health and wellness, social justice, journalism, entrepreneurship, fine arts, and more. Here’s Manny with more about his work. He starts by telling me about his podcast babies.
[00:27:29] Manny: Uh, so I, I produce several and edit some. Um, but the, my two babies are a Hip Hop Can Save America, and Newsbeat. These are two, uh, shows that I I’m intricately involved in. Uh, I created, and I’m the host and the editor and all the things with Hip Hop Can Save America. And I am the co-producer, the audio editor, the music liaison, the artist liaison to Newsbeat, which is a social justice journalism show that mixes high level journalism, uh, with music and very often, uh, original lyrical contributions from hip hop artists.
[00:28:06] We like to say it’s as if Democracy Now and Hamilton had a podcast, baby. So. And, uh, and Hip Hop Can Save America is a more traditional interview show. Uh, but the idea behind it is simply to, uh, highlight the work of individuals and organizations that are using hip hop music and culture in innovative ways, outside of mere entertainment, uh, to uplift, uh, humanity. Improve society through education, science, technology.
[00:28:32] There’s a lot of cool intersections happening with hip hop. I worked in journalism for many, many years, sort of by day. Uh, I was working for an alternative newspaper on long island and, uh, uh, we did, we covered alternative news, not alternative, weird news, but like stuff that the mainstream, you know, news, uh, might’ve been in bed with the politician, but we wouldn’t go after the politician. That kind of alternative weekly kind of deal.
[00:28:55] But by night I was a self-styled hip-hop journalist. I was in New York City. I started a ma uh, an online publication called Birthplace Magazine and I was out covering the going ons of independent hip hop music and culture in New York. Uh, so I was doing that on the side and I had a couple of sort of podcasty-sort of things that would extend out from that blog talk radio back in 2011, uh, the New York hip hop report, a weekly live, you know, recording phone call ins.
[00:29:23] It was like sports talk radio for New York hip hop. It was great. Uh, so I did that a bunch of years. And then when the newspaper went the way of newspapers, uh, which is to say we sold it off, uh, we turned our company into a marketing agency, uh, but we wanted to keep our feet dug in, uh, to the sort of social justice and civil liberties news that we had started covering.
[00:29:46] We had kind of outgrown our Long Island footprint. Uh, and we were very interested in these topics. Uh, so the boss man, the executive producer said, Hey, listen, I’m kind of getting rid of the newspaper, but I know what you do. I know you’re involved in this music scene, and I know that, you know, I’ve got a couple of journalists that we’re going to keep, and let’s try this thing.
[00:30:04] This Newsbeat idea- his wife used to work for Schoolhouse Rock back in a day. So there was like that synergy of let’s try to use music to tell some of these stories. And while we were doing. Uh, we’ve done that a few years now. Uh, on the side of them still the hip hop at advocacy vigilante at night, I started Hip Hop Can Save America a few years ago to again, tell the stories of some great people, doing some great things in those, in that intersection.
[00:30:27] Zach: What a great combo.
[00:30:28] Yeah, what a great intersection. I, I just, uh, had the pleasure of watching the new Kid Cudi documentary of a man named Scott and, uh, on, on Amazon prime. And yeah, the, the contribution that he’s had to, to hip hop artists, talking about, you know, emotions and, uh, is, is staggering. If you had to pick, if you had to pick an artist, a hip hop artist who you think has had the biggest contribution, uh, to your mission of saving America, who would you choose?
[00:30:56] Manny: I think Cudi’s know definitely up there. Um, there’s, you know, the introduction of the idea of being able to, uh, you know-
[00:31:03] Zach: New York, right? Like came up to New York,
[00:31:06] Manny: (both laugh) We’ll tell, you know what I mean? You know, we were, new Yorkers was so arrogant. We take credit for everything. Um, But, um, certainly that, you know, obviously the, the specific attention that someone like Logic put out there to that kind of idea, but I I’m the kind of guy that looks less at the artists, even though they’re those, those contributions are certainly important.
[00:31:28] And it’s sort of like the, the, the boots on the ground, uh, sort of thing. So Dr. Ian Levy, you know, is a, is a therapist he’s, you know, he’s actually a, he teaches therapists how to be therapists. He raps. And I mean, he’s, he’s a hip hop guy, you know, but he’s not a, you know, he’s not a superstar. But the incorporation, the blending of those things, I think makes it easier for it to be looked at as a serious- serious potential to merge those worlds. But certainly folks like Cudi and, and, uh, and Logic and, and, and just the idea that, uh, you know, as tragic as it is sometimes, you know, Mac Miller, uh, Juice World, you know, when you have these tragic figures that, you know, unfortunately lose their lives early, it does open up those conversations.
[00:32:14] The trick is to have professionals- you know, mental health, professionals, school counselors that are able to recognize that this is something that young people are tuned into and say, how can we tap into that without being, you know, enforcing our old school style of therapy or, you know, getting it, sticking our nose into their lives or telling them to leave their hip hop at the door before you come and sit in my couch.
[00:32:39] Those that are real heroes, I think of the, uh, the way to, uh, to use hip hop in a positive way.
[00:32:43] So. (Interview ends)
[00:32:46] Zach: I’m a big fan of Manny’s podcasts and their overarching missions. So much so that after our conversation, I actually went to his website and purchased a Hip Hop Can Save America hoodie. It was so great to chat with him about hip hop and mental health, which brings us to our next and last SquadCaster Jayde Barber.
[00:33:05] Jayde Barber is the creator and host of the Students of Mind podcast. She’s also a research assistant based in Los Angeles. Since she was in grade school. Jayde has been diagnosed and living with several mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, and anorexia. Although she’s not a licensed mental health professional Jayde’s experience as a patient and family member and friend of individuals with mental illness has driven her to share her experiences and insights all via her podcast.
[00:33:36] Jayde: So the podcast is really something that I was not expecting to start at all, but I have been wanting to do work in the field of mental health advocacy for a long time. I personally have dealt with multiple mental illnesses throughout my life and getting treatment with them. So I have this like firsthand experience of dealing with living with a mental illness and dealing with the mental health care system in the United States.
[00:34:11] And I also know how much people don’t like talking about mental health. So I really wanted to start to do work in de-stigmatizing the misconceptions that exist around mental health. So in 2020, when the start of the pandemic happened, I had so much time in the house (laughs) which forr me, it was scary. And I just didn’t know what to do with that time.
[00:34:43] And so I wanted to originally create a support group for the students at my college, um, to meet on Zoom, to have workshops about different mental health topics, um, and then offer resources for people who need them. Um, and just a place for people to process what was going on. Cause it was the beginning of the pandemic. We didn’t really know what was going on. And when I brought that up to my professor, she was like, you could do that, but since you’re someone without a degree and you don’t have licensing yet, it’s hard to create a space that’s safe enough to have those kinds of conversations and provide those types of resources.
[00:35:24] And so she suggested that I do a podcast and that I interview experts. So I can have their perspective as well as my perspective as someone with lived experience. So, I took that idea and ran with it. I spent probably two months planning and recording, like five episodes, um, and like learning all of the things that go into having a podcast.
[00:35:53] And I was able to release in June of 2020, and I’ve been going consistently, ever since.
[00:36:02] Zach: What a fantastic story and, you know, important work that you’re contributing during a time where it’s especially meaningful, right? To, to have these conversations. And I’m really grateful for your professor’s creative solution to that being a unique challenge, because I did not expect that.
[00:36:22] I thought you were going to go in that direction and then evolve from there, but, you know, the, the kind of credentialing associated with it and how to work within kind of that, that as a positive constraint, I’m really glad to hear that it moves you in the direction. And congratulations on the launch of your show.
[00:36:37] I how’s it been with, uh, the relationship with your audience, talking about such an important topic as this, and you just got to say also that I appreciate your candor, uh, as somebody who who’s also had some challenges with cultivating a positive, uh, relationship with, uh, my mind and mental health. I really appreciate you.
[00:36:56] Jayde: Thank you so much. It’s really been an experience that I wasn’t expecting. It’s been healing for me. And from the feedback I’m getting, it’s really helpful for people just to hear, like, I’ve just heard feedback that it’s helpful to solely hear people talking about mental health, regardless of what the topic is.
[00:37:20] It seems like my audience enjoys the fact that we’re talking about mental health, every single episode, and in such like a casual way that it feels like a normal conversation. Um, and so that’s what I try to aim for. And in the first season I only interviewed experts and I found that that kind of stunted the amount of information and insight I was getting on the topics because I was only getting the doctor’s perspective or the therapist’s perspective.
[00:37:55] Yeah. And so I could feel for myself and from the numbers that I was seeing in the episodes that, that wasn’t enough for people. And that was also just harder to understand by only having experts on the show who are using language and jargon, that may be less accessible to some people. So the second season, I decided to interview survivors as well as experts to get both of those perspectives.
[00:38:25] And I’ve seen like a huge difference in just the amount of downloads I get, the amount of emails I’ve been getting of people just saying how an episode has been helpful. So I really think having those like lived experiences and those survivors stories has been really helpful in growing the show and connecting with the audience.
[00:38:48] Zach: That’s really great to hear that you’re able to experiment with the structure and the format to make it more accessible.
[00:38:54] That’s awesome. And something that, um, yeah, I’ve seen in the shows that I really am a big fan of. So to see that that’s impacted your reach and, and, you know, audience experience is really, really awesome to hear. And the size of our audience is something people often talk about are like monetization and those are just two examples of, of goals though? Like how do you think about the goals that you set for your show? What’s kind of a meaningful metrics so that you know, that Jade’s work is succeeding here?
[00:39:22] Jayde: That’s a good question. I think, I feel like for me, it’s a little bit different because. The focus is less around podcasting and more around mental health advocacy.
[00:39:32] So success for me, looks like hearing from these people and hearing that the information has been helpful for them. And then I guess this, you know, plays to like audience growth, uh, seeing that my podcast is being listened to in different countries. For me that’s also, yeah, that’s a big like form of success for me, especially because I know stigma around mental health in the US is bad?
[00:40:03] But it’s good relative to other places in the world. (laughs) So, yeah. So I, I think it’s been so, so meaningful to me to see that it’s listened in so many other countries. And that means more to me than like how many downloads I get. It’s more like, I want to, I just want to reach as many people as I can. (interview ends)
[00:40:30] Zach: Wow. Jade’s message really resonates with me. What a way to close us out for this series and for this year at Between Two Mics: reaching people and sharing messages is super important to us at SquadCast as well. While we mostly focus on technology and remote recording on our show, this community series has allowed us to shine a light on the amazing folks in our SquadCast community, and what they’re working on.
[00:40:57] As Rock shared in last week’s episode, I’m super grateful that we’re able to help creators connect and collaborate. It is such an honor that folks use our platform to make these audio stories come to life. And that those creators come together to teach their listeners about everything from dating and relationships, to disability rights. From gun violence prevention to hip hop and mental health.
[00:41:21] Thank you to all the SquadCasters who joined me for this episode of our, Between Two Mics series, the community interviews. In order of appearance, Phil and Jane of Unhinged and Bumbled Up Keith Casebonne, of You First, Disability Rights Florida podcast. JJ and Kelly of Red, Blue, and Brady. Manny Faces of Hip Hop Can Save America and Newsbeat and Jayde Barber of Students of Mind.
[00:41:50] Of course we’ll have links to all of their podcasts and contact info in the show notes for this episode. Since Rock and I started SquadCast in 2016, we’ve had a community to rely on, but over the past few months we’ve made it official. We’ve put programs in place that have really centered and honored that community.
[00:42:09] We now have monthly workshops for podcasters at all stages of their journeys. We have a Slack channel dedicated to the community. We have our content submission page where SquadCasters can share their content with us to be blasted all over the internet. Our community efforts all hinge on the idea that we want to amplify you and the amazing work you’re doing through your podcast.
[00:42:33] You can join our community on Slack. We have all sorts of back channels stocked with helpful resources and opportunities. And we would love to have you there. There’ll be a link in the show notes for that as well. We really hope you enjoyed this Between Two Mics series: the community interviews. We’d love to hear from you about what you loved and what can be improved.
[00:42:53] Please consider leaving us a review wherever you get your podcasts. Did you know that you can now leave reviews on Spotify? It’s true. Try it out. Another note before we close out. On the date of this recording just before Christmas, we pushed a huge update. SquadCast is now available on safari browsers on desktop.
[00:43:16] We’re also available on iPhones and iPads in beta. This is a huge deal. We’re the first cloud recording studio that empowers this, and we’re very excited about it. Thank you for pushing us to put out the best product and to continue improving upon it.
[00:43:37] This episode of Between Two Mics is hosted by me, Zach Moreno. It was written and edited by Arielle Nissenblatt. It was mixed and designed by Vince Moreno Jr. Our Website and logos are designed by Alex Whedbee. My co-founder and co-host is Rock Felder. And we couldn’t do anything without the support of this community.
[00:43:58] SquadCasters. Thank you for everything. Happy New Year.
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s head of community and content. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine.