This training took place on March 18, 2021. You can find the recording of the session here, or watch it below.
Saying that “podcasting has a diversity problem” isn’t exactly a novel idea.
Having worked on all sides of this industry — at an ad agency, in show development and production, and now in podcast strategy at Acast — I’ve seen how the power dynamics of privilege and systemic oppression create a culture where lack of visibility and sensitivity towards diverse people in the workplace runs rampant.
For years, the pipeline into the podcasting industry was a straight line — but only for those with the right access and the right resources. Those who were “lucky” enough to go to the right college, find the right mentor, and land the right internship, often in the public radio space.
And that’s coming from me, a cisgender white woman. It’s not lost on me that many of the resources that have often been implied in my career journey are optional (at best) for many others.
When talking about my path in podcasting, I often say how I fell into this industry — and, indeed, how lucky I was. I was hired for an internship at a small podcast network in college, at a time when I wasn’t sure what a podcast even was.
I have a film degree, but was able to learn Pro Tools from a college professor in a class on Automated Dialogue Replacement (in other words, dubbing audio). I have good connections who trusted me, even when I didn’t always have the concrete experience to back it up.
I recognize that a huge contributor to my career in podcasting is my whiteness, my access to college, and my access to financial support that allowed me to take low-paying internships and jobs. I’ve also been lucky to have worked almost exclusively on teams of all women, and every boss in my career has been a woman.
It’s a reflection of my privilege that I now get to call myself a podcast “expert” when I talk to my partners — and that privilege exists regardless of title or position.
It took me a long time to recognize that. I used to think that, because I was a low-level employee, without hiring power, I couldn’t make a difference. I didn’t know how I could effect change. My voice and platform felt so small.
It wasn’t until around 2019 when something shifted for me. While producing at Macmillan Podcasts, I worked on a project that later became the stellar Driving the Green Book (shoutout to that entire team). While sorting tape, I heard a clip of an older man recalling the Civil Rights Movement.
In his warm, southern drawl, he recited the Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
That piece of tape planted a seed in my mind. So, when I read an article in The Verge about “Pro Tools proficiency” being a gatekeeping tactic in this industry, I knew I had something to offer.
I have a lot of experience with Pro Tools from my time as a producer. I started to notice trainings popping up for other audio platforms, like the one Brendan Baker ran for Reaper, and figured it was time to do what I can, with what I have, where I am.
With support from Acast, and a shared interest in diversifying this industry, Aclass: Pro Tools First was born. This event isn’t the first, or the last, of our efforts to collaborate and share resources with podcasters from underrepresented communities.
I believe that seeing oneself represented can encourage potential podcasters to start shows that have lasting impact in the industry. But it’s only the first step.
Workshops on a wide variety of industry standard programs and practices, using platforms that are free and accessible to all, and ready access to mentorship where questions can be addressed — that’s the other half of how we create a more diverse podcasting community.
This event is my small contribution to closing the knowledge gap, and to demystifying the things that white, cis, straight men have historically had the easiest access to. If you can’t attend, the session will be recorded and available in perpetuity.
I encourage you to share what you know, however small, and to do what you can, where you are, as well. And I hope to cross paths with you in the industry soon — perhaps even at Aclass: Pro Tools First this Thursday.
On sharing knowledge, here are some resources I found helpful when I was learning to produce — I hope they’ll be useful to you too. This information was previously shared after our Aclass: Queer Voices event in the US but feels relevant here, too.
*If you’d like to be added to any of the listservs — which are email communities that allow you to receive information and updates to your inbox, and help you get to know other group members — please feel free to contact email@example.com
The Gaydio Listserv is a group for LGBTQ radio producers and audio creatives to use to support each other’s work and get to know one another.
The LADIO Listserv is a community of women who work in radio and audio in NYC.
The NY Public Radio Listserv is a community of people who work in public radio in New York, and the group also runs a monthly meetup called “Radio Club” where other audio professionals offer feedback on work-in-progress projects.
Women in Sound isn’t podcast focused but general audio production. If you’re interested in sound as art, both from a music perspective as well as from a sound design perspective, this community runs amazing workshops to help you learn.
The She Podcasts Facebook Group is a public group that provides a safe place where women and non-binary people can ask questions, share resources, and advocate for each other.
The Podcasts Editors Club Facebook Group is a place for indie and professional podcast editors to share tips, ideas, and find help with editing podcasts.
Podcasts In Color is a resource, website, and directory created to elevate PoC podcasts. (On social media, you can also search the hashtag #PodsInColor to find PoC podcasts and news.)
Women in Sound is a print and online magazine dedicated to women and non-binary people in all areas of live and recorded sound.
UK Audio Network is a UK-based community of audio producers, commissioners and creators, distributing work opportunities via a shared email list.
Podcast Brunch Club is like a book club, but for podcasts. They have 78 chapters in cities around the world that each meet monthly (in person or online) to discuss that month’s podcast list.
Resources for producing:
NPR Training: Everyone knows NPR podcasts. But did you know they tell all their secrets on this training section of their website? There’s a 101 on almost everything you’d need to get yourself moving in the right direction.
NY Media Center Podcast Certificate Program: A free (yes, FREE) certificate program that teaches you the basics of podcasting. Submit an application through the website to be considered.