Events of the last few weeks have left a Black citizen of Minneapolis dead after a police officer knelt on his neck for over 9 minutes, a Black jogger shot by two armed vigilantes who thought he was a criminal, and a Black man in New York City reported to the police for telling a white woman to put her dog on a leash as the law dictates. Over the next days, Vurbl will turn the spotlight on the death of George Floyd and the protests it sparked, racism in America, Black Lives Matter, and protests expressed by Antifa and other groups. To start with, here are a few podcasts by Black voices that make for great listening for all.
Podcasts for, about, and by Blacks form an important segment of the nearly 1 million podcasts in existence according to recent statistics. While the topics run the gamut of news and politics, society and culture, health, comedy, and business common to all podcasting, the content and presentation recognize and address the reality that being Black in America has its challenges.
Some podcasts address these issues head-on, at a time frequent news reports show horrendous incidents of violence toward Black citizens; a persistent pay gap between whites and black (and Hispanic) workers; and unequal access to education, mortgage loans, and other resources. Many other podcasts fall into the general areas that interest podcast listeners, but the perspectives and experiences of the host shapes and flavors the podcast.
#1. Black Talk Radio Network™ | New Black Media for the New Millennium
Ranked as the Top Black Podcast in the world and also the top African Diaspora Podcast in the world by Feedspot, the Black Talk Radio Network Podcast states that its mission is to curate, cultivate, and review content especially for African-American, African, and African Diaspora audiences. Founded in 2008, the Black Talk Media Project was born out of concern that their target population was underserved by media; the podcast was also intended as a safe digital space where people can get a Black perspective on important news and dialogue without white supremacist overtones. The platform is invitation-only.
While radio listening is popular among Blacks, many urban radio stations are owned by conglomerates – which are white it all but two cases. The network also helps communities without locally-owned stations have a voice.
The Host: Founder of the non-profit media organization Black Talk Media Project and creator of the Black Talk Radio Network, Scotty T. Reid is both host of the BTR Podcast and the New Abolitionists Radio Podcast. He brings to the broadcasts over 13 years of experience in the production of news-talk programming, interviewing guests on crucial topics, and answering technical questions on creating podcasts and digital radio shows.
The Guests: While some shows feature just Reid talking or playing a video without commentary, many feature guests.
Why You Have to Listen: BTR is not always comfortable to listen to; however, host Scotty Reid speaks the truth about how many Black people have been treated historically and recently. Even if you think the facts he presents support a different conclusion, he captures the sentiments of an often unheard part of the population. Often the show features relevant videos with no attention text, just as a recent video about the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
#2. Fck Work But Ima Go
If we want to eat and afford our lives, we all have to go to work, right? True enough, but going to work poses many challenges for workers, who bristle under micromanagement, unreasonable work rules, improper drug tests, pressures of working with coworkers, and more. To some extent, virtually everyone must learn to develop a more restrained, more professional version of themselves on the job and in certain other circumstances, but for minority workers, the expectations go way deeper.
Black workers have the pressure of needing to “code-switch” and present a version of themselves in line with what their white bosses might expect so that they walk, talk, dress, style their hair, emote, and act differently than they might in a group of their peers. As employees, they may be expected to make more compromises than others do and may be more harshly judged for perceived infractions as well,
Fck Work but Ima Go addresses work from both the perspective of the employee and that of HR professionals. The first part of the show has the hosts engaged in a no-holds-barred, profanity-laced discussion of workplace culture among friends. The broadcast moves to a discussion of HR policies regarding certain aspects of work, where the team of hosts approach the subject with a more professional, informative voice and tone. The result is a very interesting and enjoyable mix.
The Hosts: Two HR professionals Natasha and Jenna share the mike with comedian Jeremy Anderson. The ladies have deep backgrounds in human resources and career development which have also given them years of experience in code-switching. The blend of humor and hardcore information is intended: they end each broadcast with a work prayer and a reminder that “It’s not their fault if you lose your job laughing out loud at our vent sessions and drug test stories!”
The Guests: The hosting team occasionally bolsters their own HR expertise with HR/Compliance professionals such as employment law specialist Linda Truka.
Why You Have to Listen: Aside from having an interesting vibe, the show offers examples of employment laws covering such topics as drug testing, holiday pay, working on-call, pay reductions, unpaid intern protections, and much more. The point is that while anyone can complain about their job, but knowing the laws that pertain to certain aspects of employment be can be empowering in giving teeth to a real complaint.
#3. 3 Black Geeks Podcast
Started six years ago, 3 Black Geeks present a series of shows that overturn any white stereotypes about what might interest Blacks as the show proves being a geek is not constrained by race! With the popularity of the show increased after an appearance at ComicCon in 2015, the show now produces seven podcasts centering around movies, TV, anime, wrestling, martial arts, and video games. Their film interests include action, Blaxploitation, superheroes, science fiction, and other types of movies old and new, especially Black films, but few subjects are off the table in any of their shows.
The Hosts: Three best friends from the DC area – Dee, Christopher (CJ), and Arris (DJ Tsu)– began their podcast six years ago to discuss movies, TV, anime, wrestling, video games. and a whole lot more. Today, they not only host the 3 Black Geeks podcast but also work with The Culture, a blog that spotlights black content creators, highlights their work, and inspires future creators through interviews, articles, lists, DIYs, video content, and our creator wiki.
The Guests: While the format of their regular shows does not usually include guests, the hosts do interviews aside from that show that are reported on the website and that may filter into podcasts. Those interviewed include Ruth E. Carter, costume designer and Nate Moore, Executive Producer for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films to discuss Black Panther; Steven Universe show creator Rebecca Gurar and actors and directors from the show; and Executive Producer Joaquim Dos Santos and other cast and crew members form Volton Legendary Defender.
Why You Have to Listen: If you love any of the subjects they cover and enjoy them being discussed in an intelligent but often facetious manner, this podcast is for you.
#4. Therapy for Black Girls
The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast started in 2014 is a weekly chat about mental health, personal development, and becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. The weekly broadcast is especially for Black women.
The Host: Dr. Joy Harden- Bradford is a Licensed Psychologist who offers practical tips and strategies for improving your mental health. She makes it clear that her sessions are not a replacement for personal therapy sessions, but along with sharing her insight, she discusses how one-on-one therapy sessions work. As there is a bias against seeking help for mental health issues the black community, her podcast is a valiant effort to help listeners realize that going to therapy is as normal and necessary as getting your hair done,
The Guests: Dr. Harden-Bradford routinely has guests on the program, such as Dr. Donna Oriowo, Dr. Marisa G. Franco, Melissa Douglas, and a host of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers who add even more depth to the program than the host offers.
Why You Have to Listen: The topics covered in the show are relevant to any listener as Dr. Harden-Bradford discusses loneliness, friendship, relationships, self -worth, depression, careers, racism – a whole spectrum of issues pertinent to her audience,
#5. 2 Dope Queens
Airing from 2016-2018, 2 Dope Queens is a popular podcast that featured a diverse mix of comedians who were female, of color, and/or LBGTQ+. The comedians starred in their own story on each episode as they got to show off their standup skills as they delivered hilarious but thought-provoking takes on race, gender, sex, and other topics. The show spawned the also chart-busting spinoff Sooo Many White Guys plus a four-part HBO special starring Tig Notaro.
The Hosts: Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson are the hosts of 2 Dope Queens, which had its origins in Robinson’s blog and later monthly stand-up show called Biara LIVE. Described by Elle Magazine as “socially conscious, bawdy-BFF humor,” the show was wildly popular during is run of 49 regular and 20 bonus episodes. The show, the first comedy podcast by WNYC Studios, ended because the hosts were too busy with other projects.
The Guests: The featured comedian in each episode was surrounded by many guests who included Keegan-Michael Key, Jon Hamm, Nick Kroll, LeVar Burton, Naomi Ekperigin, Nore Davis, Aparna Nancherla, Marc Maron and Michelle Buteau, and ended with Michelle Obama.
Why You Have to Listen: Considered a phenomenon in the podcasting world for both its diversity, its mainly female cast, and crew, and its intense, edgy humor, it intrigued white audiences will not selling out the interests of black audiences,
Listen to 2 Dope Queens
When the mainstream media does not tell the whole story, the Reveal Podcast tells you what is really going on, especially as pertains to minorities. Started in 2013 by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a non-profit started in 1977, Reveal speaks out for accountability, equality, and sustainability in all matters.
Recent topics have shed light on inequalities brought to light by coronavirus and raised questions such as: How can out-of-school kids take advantage of online learning without computers or fast reliable internet? Why is the virus affecting Blacks and other minorities in greater percentages than the rest of the population? How can measures intended to stop the spread of the virus such as handwashing going to work out in immigrant detentions? How are workers – often minority – in essential occupations ranging from grocery store clerks to Amazon warehouse personnel to health care workers being protected when enough PPE was unavailable?
The Host: Reveal is hosted by Al Letson who is an American poet, playwright, performer, journalist, and radio, and podcast host. His current ventures include PRX and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting; previously he hosted the State of the Re:Union. a show that emphasizes how we are different and how differences are celebrated.
The Guests: Since Reveal has an interview format, the guests are people involved in the show’s topic. For example, an episode on digital learning included a segment with Michelle Sandoval, an award-winning teacher in El Paso Texas, Ginger Cook, a third-grade teacher from the San Francisco Bay area, and high school junior Sarah Alli-Brown from Chicago who has increased home responsibilities in addition to managing her schoolwork.
Why You Have to Listen: Reveal proves that uncovering the truth does not have to be done with a strident tone and voice; the injustices discussed are apparent when presented as part of an engaging narrative.
#7. The Black Guy Who Tips
News, video games, entertainment news, and crazy stories are all on the agenda of The Black Guy Who Tips as Rod and Karen present their daily podcast. The humorous name is a carry-over from a MySpace blog that Rodney once had, and it was retained because it still strikes him as funny. The pair covers serious topics like racism and other atrocities but as Rod says, “we’re never gonna let it break us.”
The Host: Rodney and Karen Morrow are a 40-something-year-old married couple from Charlotte, NC who have produced over 1,900 episodes of their award-winning podcast that is in the top 100 comedy podcasts on Stitcher and is the number one comedy show on Podomatic. They started doing the podcast as a full-time gig after Rod lost a job; they credit to their long-term success to hard work and frequency. Each episode can exceed two hours in length.
In addition to their busy podcasting schedule, they are frequent guests on other podcasts and internet shows such Where’s My 40 Acres, Making Podcast Great Again, The Evening Jones, Insanity Check, and Three Guys On. contribute to podcasting panels, and have even held their own podcasting event.
The Guests: Rod and Karen are joined by frequent guests who add to the discussion. Some of the past guests have included Nic and Reggie of the What’s The Tea Podcast, Jemele Hill, podcasters Keith and Chemda from Keith and the Girl, Journalist comedian/activist Elon James White, comedian Roy Wood Jr, Adult Film Star Sara Jay, ESPN contributor Bomani Jones, rapper/singer Phonte Coleman, comedian/writer Rae Sanni, comedian Janelle James, poet/author Bassey Ikpi and NBA Shooting Guard Anthony Morrow among others.
Why You Have To Listen: Rod and Karen, together since they were 16, genuinely love and care for each other, which makes their conversation real, lively, and engaging. They don’t spend much time talking about “their relationship” but it is clear that have are best friends who respect and enjoy each other. They are Christian but don’t preach as they deliver an amusing presentation laced with profanity and racial epithets that emphasizes the importance of finding joy in life. Their conversations are loaded with Black cultural references that make their broadcasts relevant to an ethnic audience and interesting to anyone receptive to hearing great comedy and differing perspectives.
Listen to The Black Guy Who Tips
These six podcasts reviewed by Vurbl just skim the surface of the fine broadcasting that captures Black voices speaking on current affairs, race, history, jobs, popular culture, comedy, arts, and many other fields. Whether you want hard, unvarnished news delivered in a way that makes you think or want it in softer but no less compelling context of comedy or other venues, there are plenty of great Black podcasts to listen to.
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