by Madeline Wright
What’d You Miss, Sis? Highlights from Werk It
Thanks to the Annenberg Foundation, Werk It, and Second Home in Hollywood, CA, dozens of budding podcasters enjoyed a full day of mentorship at the Werk It Bootcamp. This program aimed to address the lack of podcaster inclusion, specifically for women and POC (people of color). This event provided mentorship and much-needed learning opportunities for new podcasters. It also allowed for informal networking with industry power players in an audio media landscape that skews mostly male (and mostly white).
In the two days that followed, hundreds of people gathered at DTLA’s Theatre at the Ace Hotel to engage in panel-style discussions, workshops, and live podcast events. The Werk It Festival focused on addressing current podcast industry challenges and provided unique inclusion opportunities for women. It was refreshing to see speakers and attendees of all colors and abilities learning from each other.
Several of the podcast industry’s best and brightest shared their stories and advice. From accessibility issues to the current state of the whole industry, each session showed how having more women in this space will improve the future of podcasting.
No surprise that Werk It had something for everyone to take away, but if you missed out, don’t worry. We got you! Here are some powerful insights and resources that will aid in your podcast development process. Plus, a few more tips for boosting your network.
Werk It Bootcamp
At the Werk It Bootcamp, we workshopped ideas and learned about growth strategies. We posed insightful questions to the teachers and the group. Mapping out how to apply the framework to our own podcast ideas, we gained a newfound level of confidence. And armed with monetization know-how, marketing tools and understanding the equipment used for field and studio production, our eventful day ended. Each person left fully-equipped to produce their next great idea. We were ready for maximum info absorption at Werk It Festival.
Werk It Festival Day 1
Delpesha McGruder, COO of New York Public Radio, gave the keynote where she introduced a question that was well reflected throughout the entire event: How are we thinking about representation for people in decision-making positions?
She also moderated a panel featuring ten powerful women in media who were focused on that question. The responses they gave were key to ensuring podcaster inclusion for all.
They were in agreement on this: We are at a critical point right now where we have an opportunity to effectively improve podcaster inclusion.
Tanya Somanader, Chief Content Officer of Crooked Media, noted the importance of having diverse representation among people working behind-the-scenes. From the top all the way down. “Unless you put the people in power who understand what that means it’s not going to happen. The gap is too wide.”
Werk It Festival Day 2
“Your greatest success lives behind your greatest fear.” —Ahyiana Angel, Founder/ CEO Mayzie Media
Ahyiana Angel, Founder/ CEO of Mayzie Media and host of the Switch, Pivot or Quit podcast advised the audience to “Quit Playing Small” and “Plot Your S.H.I.N.E.” To her point, she lit up the Q&A period with her energy and encouragement as she expertly addressed a few audience questions about that podcast life and business. Crowds also packed breakout rooms for a number of sessions not scheduled on the main stage.
Bri M. (@powernotpity) made the entire room aware of disability invisibility and other barriers in her talk on “Podcasting for Disability Justice: How to Make Your Podcast More Accessible“. Ze called for podcasters to include real representation for the 25% of the population who might identify as having a disability.
Bri also advised podcasters to “Create more dynamic authentic stories about disabled people of color. We are not inspirational trash made to make you feel better. Center disabled people in your stories. And use creative image descriptions. Those of us who are unable to see deserve to visualize what’s happening too!”
Podcaster Inclusion is a Process
In the “Who Are You Making This For?” panel, Berry Syk (@podcastsincolor), creator of the Podcasts In Color Directory said that she created the directory as a solution to a problem she had. It helps listeners easily find and enjoy podcasts made by POC podcasters. A destination to those seeking shows centering POC listeners or experiences. Not only that, but the directory also increases POC podcasters’ visibility for other opportunities.
Berry continues to call out the lack of POC visibility on apps and other sites. “I pay attention to things, so I know gaps that aren’t being filled. When I see screenshots of feature pages that don’t have any POC, I contact them. They don’t always respond to me. But a week later I will see that the app will change to include POC.”
5 Tips to Take Up Space Beyond the Event
Knowing that representation is critical in the podcasting space, here are five simple ways to show up and let others know that you are out here.
1. Attend event-adjacent podcaster meet-ups. If you don’t know of any, ask around. Or create one!
2. Offer to share a meal or grab coffee or tea with fellow attendees. A big part of the value of attending events is the opportunity to get to know others in a casual environment.
3. Document your experience with a selfie, groupfie, or an audio or video clip. That will give you something to share later on your favorite social media channel. Even a few lines jotted down on paper is a good way to preserve your memories.
4. Use the event social media hashtags to connect with other attendees. This lets others find and amplify your podcast event experience. It also allows them to engage with you during and after the conference.
5. Grow your network by reaching out to recent connections. Be sure to mention how you met so you have a starting point to continue the conversation. You may end up as guests on each other’s show. Or, one of you may end up in a position to recommend the other for a business opportunity.
Read Next: How to Network at Conferences
An archive of the main stage’s live video streams is also available on the Werk It Festival website. Listen to the live audio stream from both stages, plus you can subscribe and listen to the podcast.
Follow these Hashtags:
- on Twitter: #werkitfestival, #werkitfest, #werkit2019, #WNYCStudios, #wocpodcasters, #podsincolor
- on Instagram: #werkitfestival, #werkit2019, #WNYCStudios, #wocpodcasters, #podsincolor
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Madeline Wright is a writer, musician, hiker, and an avid reader based in Los Angeles. She enjoys injecting humor into her stories and learning new things to keep her brain happy. She produces A Mad Vox, a podcast that explores the art of tackling ambitious challenges, and encourages you to try amazing things to make your inner kid proud.