It took me a month to fully decompress from Third Coast International Audio Festival in Chicago and I still feel like things are unfolding…
I attended Third Coast as an AIR New Voices Scholar, which is a scholarship opportunity for audio producers from different walks of life to attend and gain mentorship.
These are a few of my takeaways.
Diversity in media was a topic that was repeatedly referenced over the three days, especially in the aftermath of the Trump election. We talked about the need for more reporters of color, how news shouldn’t be racial news- it should just be “news”, and who are the POC reporters that are going to spend the next 4 years following the President-Elect?
While the numbers of POC personnel in public media are increasing, one thing that is super real is that we need more POC in management and hiring. We need to be in decision making spaces, who understand the cultural nuance of other radio people of color. Folks that know what/how/when to code switch and why we do it.
Folks like my New Voices mentor, Andrew Ramsammy. Andrew is dope. He’s an award winning radio guy and he spends his days calling people/companies/news orgs out on their non-diverse, non-inclusive sh*t. My kind of guy. ::insert heart emoji::
If you imagine a public radio conference, you think it’s gonna be a ton of white dudes everywhere, that you won’t have anything in common with anyone, and that you won’t have a voice. My talks with Andrew were really empowering and motivating and helped me go into the weekend really confident in my mission and who I am as a broadcaster.
Introducing yourself over and over really gets to the core of understanding what you want for yourself. If you feel confident every single time you give your elevator speech, that’s a great sign.
My mission is about normalizing the voices, tones, dialects, and language of POC. On my morning show to talk to different sounding people 3 times a week and aim to expand by creating independent and freelance audio stories that feature the lives of different (sounding) people.
Turns out people are into that sort of thing. Check out my day one thoughts…
IV. Stand out by being a useful loner. I made some great friends at Third Coast, many of them were fellow scholars that I foresee having life long relationships with. But, during the weekend I traveled from panel to panel alone and sat with new people every time I went to any meal. This forces you to say hello and meet someone new every single time. Little did I know that my penchant for oversharing was a useful tool for some of the conference go-ers. I live tweeted every single panel I went to. Sharing is caring. Here they are again compiled for your reading pleasure:
V. Find the void. Fill the void.
If you have a skill that you’re absolutely sure of and there is an opportunity to use it, use it. Don’t intrude. Figure out if the ship is sinking and offer your help. For instance, I know I can cold rock a party. It’s part of the TK package. I love it and I live it. The DJ at one of the conference after parties was… struggling. So, after talking myself into it- I introduced myself to him and asked he would mind me being his “hype-man” or MC. From then we were a team. I tried to bring some cohesiveness to his playlist and crowd interaction to an event with several hundred of my industry peers. It was really fun and another great way to offer up another one of my skill sets to my peers.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even gotten into how my life has changed in the one month since Third Coast. That’s a whole other post.
Until then, I say thank you AIR, especially Karen and Emily for supporting all of us New Voice Scholars.