Are you a podcast listener interested in learning more about the women who influence this growing industry? Perhaps you aspire to start a podcast and want an inside look into how other Women of Color began. Every week, we feature a Woman of Color in podcasting, from producers to editors and hosts, to get their backstories and insights on things to consider. We can’t wait for you to read about their challenges, wins, and the things they wish they knew. Today, we are featuring Sherley Joseph, a podcaster and community builder.
Community Builder Sherley Joseph
“Always stay on top of your craft.” – Sherley Joseph
How did you get started in podcasting?
Back in 2008, I won an iPod Nano that changed my creative life.
My educational background is in radio broadcasting, and I LOVE the production side of what I was learning. I never got into radio because of two things: a) it was all about who you knew back in the 90s, and b) when I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t willing to move out of a small town up north to make my way back to the city for a radio gig. That’s how you got your start back then. It was really gated.
As I tried to figure out how to use my new gadget, I discovered the podcast option in the menu. That’s how I found the amazing show Keith and The Girl (KATG – the King and Queen of podcasts, look them up). I thought to myself, “Oh my god.” Podcasting was an entirely new medium of communication. It is like radio broadcasting on steroids, more open, has no structure, and you have the freedom to say whatever you want!
Fast forward to 2010, my husband and I were still avid listeners of KATG. We would talk about the hosts like they were our friends every night, what we enjoyed listening to during our commute to work, and the tea. This show not only introduced us to comedians in New York City, but the hosts would also share so much about their relationship (while they are no longer together, they have still been co-hosts of the podcast for the past 15 years).
Around that time, my husband and I discussed starting a blog about being an interracial couple who discuss topics that aren’t usually talked about at work, such as race, religion, politics, society, and culture. Inspired by KATG, we decided to start ChoNilla in 2010.
Every week for the past five years, we’ve hosted the show. We ran a live show on Spreecast during our third year, where people could watch and interact with us while we recorded the podcast, and we did that for another two years. However, when we first started, our children were young and in desperate need of their parents, so we took a four-year hiatus due to our own life and relationship challenges.
I missed the community of Black podcasters we met when we hosted ChoNilla during our hiatus. Podcast shows such as The Black Guy Who Tips, Where’s My 40 Acres, Black Astronauts Podcast, The Spann Report, Hey You Know It, Single Simulcast, Interracial Jawn, and a slew of others were among them.
When we moved to Montreal and began preparing to get back to the show, we made some amazing traction. Getting the show on the radio was wild and a surprise to us. We got to expand our Canadian audience as the majority of our listeners were and still are Americans. But it was a CHALLENGE to find or book Black Canadian guests.
It was a long and frustrating process. I decided to fill the void by starting a Facebook group called Black Canadian Creators, along with a podcast version of this community to highlight Black, African-American, Caribbean-Canadian, AfroMétis, Mixed, and ex-pat creators in Canada and abroad.
What’s something you wished you knew before you started?
Plan out your show by starting to create your listener’s avatar. Think about the demographic of your target market. Consider who will be listening to you. I can attest we attracted listeners for our shows this way because I did it myself.
Consider who they are and what they’ve done in the past. Is your podcast aimed at solving a problem, providing entertainment, or a combination of the two?
What are they looking for, and how will you help them with that? It can take many forms, from factual how-to information to having content that makes them laugh.
Be realistic in your consistency. One of the biggest ping pongs with my shows is consistency, and I wish someone would have told me to consider my lifestyle. For example, we have three kids, and doing the show every week required sacrifice because having a podcast is like having a child.
I wish someone would have told me to look at my life and see if we can realistically create a show every week, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Especially while having a job or business. In my case, a career, business, and multiple podcasts. So, if you’re not going to have a weekly show, inform your audience in two ways: in the show description and at the beginning of your show.
What do you wish people knew about your profession?
I’m a social media manager by trade for a popular influencer in Canada, and many people think it’s glitzy or cool to be paid to create social media content. However, it takes a great deal of research, copywriting, and some business savvy to implement concrete strategies because it’s all about the KPIs (key performance indicators) and bottom line.
What advice would you give to newcomers to the industry?
Don’t overthink it; just do it.
I’ve talked to many people who want to start a podcast – the only thing that matters is that you have a plan for who your audience is and what you’re going to talk about. Or if you think, “There’s already a show like this, what’s the point of starting one?” I tell people, “Yeah, but no one else is you, and no one else can do a show like you except you, so find that special something that sets you apart from the rest and get it done.” And if you don’t know how to do it, it’s fine to ask other podcasters, such as myself, or members of podcasting communities like WOC Podcasters.
In my case, reaching out to my favorite podcasters like KATG and Chemda was instrumental when people were not monetizing and even challenged the idea of earning with your podcast. Reach out and be surprised: the podcast community is the most generous community I’ve ever encountered.
What products or services do you currently offer?
Nothing at the moment because The Sherley and Clove Podcast is still in comeback mode. We started over with Season 1 Episode 1 when we returned in 2021. However, many people are unaware that we have over 500 episodes from our ChoNilla days (same show, different name). So, as we continue to grow #TSACP, we’re getting interns to set up our subscription for our listeners to have access to our archives.
We also provide podcast teaching and production (editing and show notes). We run The ChoNilla Network with mostly our pod friends. Shows such as Uncolonized, Interracial Jawn, and Creatives to Creatives.Listen to “The Black Canadian Creator Directory #WeRightHere w/Casey Palmer and Kaya Marriot” on Spreaker.
Share the tools or resources that helped you navigate the audio world.
Microphones – Rode PodMic Cardioid Dynamic (because we face each other)
Mixers – Reaper (DAW)
Do you have a podcast? Tell us about an episode of your podcast that you’d love for people to check out!
You can hear our progression from one of my FAVE episodes: 118-NO, NO, WE GET $5 A YEAR with Wab Kinew regarding indigenous lives in Canada (way before Idle No More was popularized).Listen to “118-No, no, we get $5 a year. (Wab Kinew) 1of2” on Spreaker.
Another favourite with our new branded podcast name (TSACP) is called #CancelCanadaDay:Listen to “#CancelCanadaDay” on Spreaker.
My favourite Black Canadian Creators Podcast episode is: Conversation with White People About Race w/ IC Bailey:Listen to “Conversation with White People About Race w/ IC Bailey” on Spreaker.
Where can people connect with you?
On our website, The ChoNilla Network, you can find our shows, the Black Canadian Creator Directory, plus our production services. You can also find me on the major social platforms, @sherleyjos on Instagram and @sherasaurus on Twitter and Facebook.
Plus, to help spotlight Black Canadian Creators IG: @blackcanadiancreators.
How To Connect With Our Community
Thank you so much, Sherley Joseph! We are happy you are a part of our community!
If you are looking for a supportive and encouraging podcasting community throughout your podcasting journey, join us over at WOC Podcasters Community.
We also have a growing directory of Women of Color service providers. Introduce your services, connect with our diverse and talented community, and let’s show the audio industry what fair rates look like. From podcast coaches to cover art designers, this is a place where you can point your friends, family, and colleagues to Women of Color working in audio.
Read Next: Meet Maribel Quezada Smith, a media producer and co-founder of BIPOC Podcast Creators.
Brittany Ngo is the Opportunities Coordinator of WOC Podcasters (Women of Color), an organization dedicated to the growth and representation of Women of Color in the podcasting industry. In 2021, Brittany relaunched the WOC Podcasters Job Board with improved search functionality and shared over 200 paid jobs. These include a wide range of positions from producers to editors and hosts at award-winning organizations across the globe. Brittany also supports the community by coordinating events and connecting members to a variety of grants and unique opportunities in audio.