July 21-22, 2021 / Online

Keep Your Altar Updated

Written by Keep Your Altar Updated

August 17, 2017


Thank you for coming. Thank you for having me. This is my first time in Canada it's so cute. I mean that like literally, it's just like so, so cute, I wasn't being shady.

Again, Stevie, thank you for the introduction. My name is Tracy Clayton, I am one-half of the hosting team of Another Round with Heben and Tracy. It makes me very happy that at least some people here have heard of it and listened to it, because when I got this invitation I was like I don't do tech stuff. What am I gonna talk about designing, like designing what?

So, this will be fun, we'll see where we go, but this is all you're gonna see. I have no visual slides since I work in the audio field we are now officially in audio, you just have to deal with my voice, that's all you get. My talk is called Keep Your Altar Updated. What that essentially means is these are tips for how to make content that is not terrible and boring, and what everybody else is doing, basically. I know that since I'm talking about like podcasts and podcasting and not the super, super smart computer stuff that you all do, I hope you don't get bored. I don't think you will. I think that there are a lot of tips, and lessons that you can apply to whatever your particular field is, both on the clock and off, maybe I'll enrich your life a little bit, we'll see, I'll try.

So, once more, can I see a show of hands? Who here has not heard of the podcast before today? Awesome. Just for my ego could I hear who has? Thank you for humoring me. Just a little bit more about the podcast Another Round what it is and what we do. It's usually described as happy hour with friends that you haven't met yet, and it was very, very intentional. We chose the name Another Round because we thought we were very, very clever and we were like, "Oh, if we call it Another Round we can drink, and BuzzFeed has to pay for it." Turns out that's very true, so we do drink in the studio with our guests.

We talk about pop culture, race, class, gender, literally everything under the sun, you know, the same thing that you would talk about at a bar with your girlfriends. I assume everybody talks about race at bars, because that's what I do, and that's essentially it. We're very careful to center ourselves, and our experiences. We don't explain our cultural references, you know, if we're talking about a hairstyle and I start talking about a Twist n' Go we won't explain that part to our audience because we shouldn't have to do that.

It gets tiring being somebody who has to teach somebody about who you are, and the things that you do and Google exists, everybody can Google. Like if you hear words you don't know, do some work, look it up. We really, really lean into that when we make the show. Also, I also want to mention that our entire team of producers, it's called the Pod Squad, shout out to the Pod Squad. They are all women, and I just love saying that, so shout out to the Pod Squad. Yes, clap for women, women are great. This idea of keeping your altar updated was brought into my life in our eighth episode of Another Round. I think we're approaching nearly 100 episodes now -ish, so this was like years ago, it was last year, it wasn't that long ago. We interviewed an amazing, amazing essayist named Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah. She's profiled greats like Tony Morrison, Dave Chappelle, Jay-Z. She made a little time to come and sit with us, and she told us about some great life advice that she got from a singer named Erykah Badu. This is what she said. Oh, they will also be audio clips, since I don't have anything for y'all to look at.

[Rachel] So we're hanging out, and she goes, finally, I said, Erykah, I need life advice. People have been dying in my life, things have been crazy. I'm at a place that, you know, that I'm grateful to be, I'm very grateful, but also it's very new to me, and she said, "You know, just keep your altar updated. So anything you don't want in your life put it on your altar, and all the things you do want in your life put it on your altar, just keep that altar updated." And I said, "That's it?"

[Tracy] I feel like a new woman.

[Rachel] I know.

I was clearly very moved by that life advice from Erykah Badu. It's oddly enough something that comes back to me at the oddest moments in my life, and it's not always about work. It's not always about like love and relationships, but just like happiness, like how do you stay afloat? How do you keep whatever you're involved in fresh and new, so that you don't get bored with it. You don't feel like you're getting stuck in a rut, and that is what the idea of keeping your altar updated means to me. I guess it's kind of like a vision board, which I've never actually used, but just to literally keep your eye on the things that you want, and when it comes to content creation it's so corny to say, but I say it so much, and it's be the content that you want to see in the world because if it's not in the world already it's probably because nobody else is thinking about how it needs to be in the world, so you see where the gaps are. Go for those gaps try to fill them, and keep your eyes on your mission. Be intentional, be in-thoughtful. In-thoughtful is not a word. Be intentional, be thoughtful, and be focused.

To me like I envision like an actual altar. If I'm having like a tough day I'm like, okay, stress and negativity I don't want it in my life anymore, so like I envision like this very dark, sad, depressed looking box, and I like mentally like put it on my altar. It just like keeps me like focused and centered, and it always reminds me of what my goal, of what my point, and what my purpose is.

Content that is offensive usually is not very thoughtful, so that's one benefit to being thoughtful. Content that is not intentional is not usually very nourishing or fortifying. It can be big and cute, and flashy and sexy, but what does it do? Does it feed you? Does it sustain you? Thinking about what you want people to feel when they consume your content can really help its impact. Content that is not focused it just doesn't do well.

Have you ever like read an article, or seen just like someone on the Internet they're just like this person is all over the place. What am I supposed to take from this? What am I supposed to do with this? So the answer is get an altar in your brain. Put everything on the altar, and that's how that happens. I thought that a good way of illustrating how we keep our own altars updated as we're making the show is to walk you through the process of how an episode of Another Round is made. How we design an episode. See, I am supposed to be here to design.

Before I get into how we make the show I thought I would spend a little bit of time talking about our origin story, Another Round's origin story, which honestly is not that interesting if you ask me, but I think there's a lot in it that really speaks to how and why we make the content that we make, and why we make it in the way that we do.

I met my co-host Heben Nigatu when I was interviewing for my current BuzzFeed job four years ago, almost four years, five years, I don't know. Internet years are weird I can never keep up, but around four to five years ago I met Heben at BuzzFeed. She was already a writer there. Heben was BuzzFeed's first full-time black employee. Again, this was four years ago, so shout out to progress.

When we met I mean we gravitated to each other, of course, because she's great, she's just like magnetic, she's a light. We were also two of the only black people around so it's like, hey girl, who you eating lunch with later because. We started pretty much instantly making content together. Now a this point podcasting was not a thing that BuzzFeed was into. They only had one audio person who is now a Pod Squad member. Her name is Julia Furland. Bless her heart she was there making little forts for people to record into because we didn't have a studio. She literally just like stole pillows and blankets from around the BuzzFeed office. I had to crawl into this weird little tent cave thing, it was a lot, but this is before the days of BuzzFeed podcasts, so everything that we did was written for the website.

BuzzFeed then, especially, was really white. Again, like a lot of progress has been made, and BuzzFeed is known for being one of the most diverse newsrooms in online media. Oh, now I lost my place. How embarrassing. Wait, I was just here. Oh, okay, okay, okay, I got it. So we would write things together, and a lot of times they're about race, class, gender, things that BuzzFeed didn't really have the audience for because BuzzFeed's audience was like 14 years old and a white girl, and she wanted cat jokes, and we were like, but race, though. What do you mean, what do you mean? We tried a lot of different formats. We tried quizzes. We tried fun little lists. Sometimes, things would go okay, and like we could see them like circulating and being very popular in communities of people who are used to thinking about race, so black people. Black people liked it, but we could just never like, we couldn't get the rest of BuzzFeed's audience to listen, or at least to listen, and not be awful about it because talking about race and gender, talking about tough things is hard.

It's especially hard on the Internet where anonymity is a thing, and it's so easy to read the title of an article and be like, oh, this is is racist trash I hate it, and you haven't even read the article. We got trolled, I mean, the comments were always just like a wasteland, a barren wasteland. Beyond that there are also challenges when you are a person of color, a person whose living in the margins, working at a media company where you are one of the only ones in the room because then you have to convince a lot of people that your ideas and that your story is worth listening to and investing in.

Oftentimes, creators of color have to choose between being successful, and making the content that they really, really, really, really want to make. For example, back at old BuzzFeed four years ago if I wanted to write an article about let's say, I Love New York, which is one of my favorite trash reality shows VH1, loved it. I know there are a lot of people who loved I Love New York because I was in the community that it was aimed at, you know, I was one of the watchers. Me and my friends still talk about it all the time, so I know that there's an audience for it, but if my editor is a white dude from who knows where who has never seen or heard about I Love New York he's like, "What's the purpose of this? Who is it for? It's for black people? Black people don't read BuzzFeed, so find something else to write about."

It was very stressful, and it was stressful because it was another way in which privilege works when it comes to media, when it comes to content and creation, and just being alive really. I couldn't just sit down and write an article about something that I liked the same way that somebody whose audience was 14-year-old white girls, basically. I couldn't just sit down, and write an article and put it out, and it gets a million hits. I could do some awesome GIF posts, or Vine posts which I really love to do I love Vine, used to love Vine RIP Vine.

We essentially had to choose between getting numbers and clicks, which in the world of media is something that marks you as successful, or writing content and making these we really, really, really cared about. Thankfully, BuzzFeed turned its attention to audio, and its attention to podcasts. I actually did not listen to a podcast before I started making this one. I still kind of don't love podcasts like I just don't have the particular attention span for them, and a lot of them aren't great, which is a thing, but Heben has been listening to podcasts since she was in high school, which I didn't even know what a podcast was when I was in high school, so she had a pretty good idea like she had a good vision, and a plan of what she wanted, whereas, me I didn't really engage with, or consume podcasts, so I didn't know what I did want, but I knew what I did not want. What I did not want was to sound like everybody else.

All the podcasts that I knew of were like really white and dudish, and I didn't want that. That's the thing that kept me away from listening to podcasts. There was just not enough representation in stories and voices of people that looked like me, sound like me, have been through the same things that I've been through, so I was just like what's the point of listening to a podcast, and I did not want this podcasting space to be like all the other podcasting spaces that are out there. I was rambling. She knew what she wanted to make. I knew what I did not want to make.

We didn't want anything that sounded the same. We didn't want anything that felt the same. We wanted to play with the format. We wanted to be a little subversive. We wanted to be a little revolutionary, and we wanted to center ourselves, which is the most important thing because I was saying earlier we don't explain our references. We don't explain what's a perm, what's natural hair. We don't explain like any of our references because when you grow up in the margins you have to become a consumer of the popular culture's content. Nobody explained to me what friends was it was just in my face all the time. You know what I mean? I could not escape that culture, so for you to like sort of walk into our living rooms we expect you to sit and listen, and don't make us explain. Don't make us do the work.

This was always something that was easy for us to do for two reasons. One, and I cannot stress enough that I know that we are very, very privileged to have a huge company with a lot of money, and young folks like BuzzFeed behind us. Indie podcasts have a much harder road to go because they don't have just like the flashy name of BuzzFeed being behind them. BuzzFeed was essentially like I don't care do it, do something try it. If it doesn't work do something else, which is a big benefit, but also we know and have always known that leaving white people out of stuff is not racist, and leaving them in out of stuff is not sexist, so we were fine with that.

We were like great let's round up all of the women, and the people of color that we can find. When it came time to have our first white dude on the podcast we thought about it for like months. Our first white guy was either David, jeez, what's the guy who wrote the Wire? Yes, David Simon, I think he was our first white guy, or Chris Hayes from MSNBC. We thought about it. We were very intentional about it because we were like, okay, the market is over saturated with white dudes right now, so this white dude that we pick to be on this show that caters to black people has to be someone exceptional, has to be someone who speaks to our particular audience like we didn't want to have somebody on the show just to have a big name on. We didn't want to have somebody like a white dude on just because he was famous. We wanted him to have something to say. We wanted hin to be substantial. We wanted him to be impressive.

It turns out that when you're a white dude you don't always have to be impressive to succeed, but we were like you need to be impressive to get on this show, so we always just think and focus really, really hard how is like this voice in our space gonna make our listeners feel, how is it gonna make us feel? Is it gonna be enjoyable? Are we pandering? Like is this a conversation that we genuinely want to have? Will we talk to this person at a bar or just in the studio? When the answer is just in the studio we usually pass on that guest.

Again, we're in a place of privilege to just say screw it, and do whatever we wanted to do, which is very, very rare, but even then, and especially when you're a creator living in the margins, especially at a white media company there's always that pressure to be like or sound like the person whose the most successful in your field because what you want is success, too, and a lot of times the implication is that so and so did this thing and blew up. I want to blow up. I should do what so and so did. When that happens you get a really boring market. Everybody sounds the same. Everything looks the same, but we try really hard to sidestep that.

One of our earliest episodes was episode number four we talked to Gene Demby who is the host of NPR's Code Switch. This is the conversation that we had about the whiteness of the public radio voice, which was a great episode, everybody should listen. Something I do notice, though, is my accent modulates without me doing it on purpose, and I really hate that because I feel like, especially, since doing the podcast like I'm very conscious of my accent, and when I'm trying to like to tone it down.

[Gene] That's the thing that sort of really, that was the basic, that is right there that is the thrust of the pop radio voice conversation was like how much people feel this pressure to sort of fit into this sort of I don't want to be all like critical, but this normative idea of like what it sounds like to be professional, right? Professional it is classed, it is raced, it is gendered. I mean even NPR like when you talk about NPR's whiteness like there aren't that many people on the radio with Southern accents, or like drawls you know what I mean? Like when we say whiteness you're talking about a very specific sort of social location that people are having, and it's not like people who sound like people from where I'm from in the South white people in the South we don't sound like NPR reporters and announcers, you know what I mean?

[Heben] You sure as hell don't.

I really like that clip because Gene touched on something that is near and dear to my heart, and that is the issue of accents because I have one. One of the things that I really worried about before when making a podcast was just an idea that we were kind of kicking around in a bar I was just like if I have to tone down my account I can try, but I don't want to have to do that, you know, like it's such a big part of me and who I am, and it shows you where I come from, and it lets you know that I'm gonna speak when I pass you on the street because that's what we do in the South, thank you.

I was really worried about just losing so much of myself, you know, because like this is the thing that you have to engage with is my voice, and if I'm refusing to change that, you know, the risk of people being like it's too ... I don't know how people don't like Southern accents, but apparently there are people out there who don't, but even though I knew better I still had that fear like are people gonna want to listen to my voice, and that goes beyond just not liking the way that your voice sounds. I know of the bias that comes when you sound different, especially, in America. It turns out I was like, no, I'm good. I'll just keep the accent it's fine.

Even beyond like voice, and issues of voice, and like your voice being a marker extends to the kind of words that you use, and the language that you use. We use adult words on our podcast, and we use them in the studio because we use them outside of the studio. Again, like we really just wanted to make a space for us to be our whole entire flawed whatever selves, so we interviewed Hillary Clinton. I had an internal conversation, you know, do we cuss with Hillary Clinton? She's one of the most powerful women in the world, or she's one of the ... Sure, the most powerful women in the world I don't know politics.

She was running for president that much I do know, but you know she's a big deal, and we knew that a lot of ears were gonna be on this episode, so we really had to think about, and be very intentional and purposeful in the way that we framed our questions, and the questions that we asked her because as two black women who were interviewing a politician who was seeking a lot of power, and a politician that a lot of black people didn't trust we felt a responsibility to ask her certain questions and really take her to task on certain things. We had to remember our altars, see that call-back, and we had to say you know what this is who we are.

We are committed to having the conversations that people like us, and women like us want to hear, so here's some audio of us cussing at Hillary Clinton. We talk a lot about being a woman in the workplace. I was really interested in the story Senator Gillibrand talked about last year. She said I want to read the quote because it's a great quote. She talked about some of the comments congressmen have made about her body, and just the harassment she's experienced from other male senators. She talked about how she wanted to cry or disappear, but I didn't hear where he said I wasn't in a place where I could tell him to go fuck himself. Are you in a place to tell your man colleagues to go fuck themselves?

[Heben] And have you ever?

[Hillary] Yes, I have.

[Heben] Tell me more, tell me more.

She wouldn't tell us who, but, honestly, I feel like if we were like off the clock, and it was just the three of us with a bottle of bourbon she would have named some names I really think so. So my mother was scandalized. She was like, "I can't believe "you cussed at Hillary Clinton." but everybody else was like, "Wow, this is like the best that "we've ever heard Hillary Clinton sound "like this is one of "the best interviews." I'm not just saying that to brag, but. I really think that that comes partially from us just being ourselves, and not wavering on who we are, and the standards that we have set for other people.

In that room we were in her house, but we were still peers, we were still on equal footing, and we were basically like, you know, we'll be a little more respectful, obviously, because you're Hillary Clinton, but this is another interview for us, and I think she responded to that very, very well. People still ask me about the interview very often, and I think this is a direct result of us just knowing who we are, and realizing that the reason that her camp came to us is because of who we are. I think that is the end of the very long story of how the podcast became a thing after the idea.

Just to recap the things that we put on our altar were unapologetic blackness which means, see, now this is something we wouldn't do on the podcast, and say which means blah, blah, blah, but that means just being our own black ass self even as white folks who appropriate pieces of our culture are praised for things like huge earrings, and cornrows and we get punished for it we have to cast that aside when we're in the studio, when we're in our own house because we're allowed to be ourselves, and we're not gonna apologize for liking fried chicken, which I happen to do.

Also, on that altar body positivity. Irreverence we are huge fans of black girls just being goofy, and funny and weird for the sake of being goofy and funny and weird because we're never allowed to when it comes to media there's always just like trauma. There's always just like heaviness and sorrow and sadness, and we're the mules of the world, and we've been through so much, and we're just like we like to laugh, too, you know, so that's something that we intentionally built into our episodes is like, okay, this conversation is really heavy let's laugh somehow, you know, like they keep murdering black people in the street let's have a fun, funny episode so that people can like have a break from the anxiety of just being alive for a little bit.

Also, on that altar bad jokes related. Sometimes, you just need a bad joke, and really, really big things, and tenets of the show are self-care and mental health awareness. Both Heben and I deal with diagnosed anxiety and depression. We're both back in therapy now which is great. It's tough and I think that one of the benefits of us sharing our own journeys and experiences with these mood disorders, and letting people hear that happen is to take down and tear down a lot of the stigma that surrounds it. So many people have these issues, and these problems, but nobody talks about it. We were just like there's literally a microphone in front of our faces what if we talked about it? What if we could inspire other people to talk about it?

Thankfully, that's happened, which is awesome, so that's also a very intentional part of the show. Black girl validation. We just like to make black girls feel good, and everybody else, too, we want y'all to feel good as well, but. So that's how the podcast came to be. That's the very, very long drawn out version of how the podcast came to be. Now I thought I would walk y'all, my new friends, through how an idea becomes a podcast episode. I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons. One, is that what better way to experience the design of a podcast, and to be walked through it. For two, a lot of people think that making podcasts is really simple like you sit down and you talk, and then you leave, and then you push a button, and there's a podcast that's not. I wish that's how it works, I wish, so here's how an idea becomes an episode of Another Round. I've had to burp for a long time y'all I'm sorry.

Okay, first we live life. We go out and we consume. We consume so much pop culture mostly because we just like to, and also because we know that that's what's gonna keep the ideas flowing, and that's what's gonna keep the show fresh. We go to a lot of events. We go to brunch, which I consider a work event. We read a lot of books. Heben listens to a lot of podcasts, I do not. I watch a lot of trashy reality TV, Heben does not. We mind our own personal interests for content, and the best way to gain more interests is to go out and just see something new. Read something new. Read somebody new. A good example of this one of my favorite episodes, my favorite early episodes was one that we did with the comic that I had never heard of myself. Her name is Janelle James. She performs in New York City. She's hilarious.

Heben came into a production meeting one day and she was like, "Oh, man, I just saw this great comic. "We should have her on the show." Instantly, we were like, yeah, if you believe that she's funny enough, if you're interested enough then, yeah, of course, let's do it. We found out in the first three minutes of that conversation, I think, that she used to be a dominatrix. Right? I was like, oh, my gosh, had you not gone out to this comedy show last night we never would have seen Janelle James, and we never would have had this amazing discussion, so live, get outside of the studio, and do different things because if all you read is I don't know Robert Frost, and you're making a podcast, and somebody is like can you talk about Robert Frost a little less. If you don't read anybody else then, no, you can't, you just got to talk about Robert Frost, so diversify your pop culture diet. That was a journey with that metaphor.

Okay, so we live, we get ideas. A lot of my ideas come in the shower. Heben actually bought me a waterproof pad and pencil to put in the shower so I don't forget my ideas, so we bring our ideas to our once a week what's it's called, oh, my gosh, production meeting. Hard words to remember. We have a weekly production meeting where we talk about pictures that we've been sent, ideas that we have. We update each other on where we are in different tasks that we've been assigned, and we are very, very discerning with the guest pictures that we get. I learned the hard way that Tracy is in love with this celebrity is not the best.

There should be more criteria for who gets to be on the show rather than Tracy's in love with him, and wants to meet him. We once interviewed one of my favorite singers I love her so much. Her name is Lianne La Havas. Yes, yes, I was a mess. I just did this the entire time, and I wasn't present because I was so starstruck, and I was just giggling and annoying, and I was just like, okay, we should be a little more discerning, so celebrity is not enough. We also think about interest.

Just because everybody is talking about this thing or this person it doesn't mean that we have to. We're actually not that topical a show for that reason. We don't want to just showcase, and have the same discussions that everybody else is talking about. We do, of course, you know, the election happened, so we talked about the election, but another thing that we do is if there is a news story that's just like so heavy, and so depressed, and we don't have the energy, and it's really bumming us out, but it's big and it's important, and people are expecting us to talk about it if we don't have the energy we still won't do it because we never want to have a conversation that doesn't add anything to an existing national conversation.

In the discussion of the police killings that have been happening we were just like first of all we were tired, we were numb, we were angry, and we weren't in any position to help other people process their feelings, and I think that as hosts that's a big responsibility for us is that we help we don't tell people what to feel, but we help them work through, and process big events. Sometimes that happens because when we're just like we're sad and we're angry and we're mad, and that's all we got, but if we can't really, really, really deliver on something, or if it would be hard on us to do then we won't do it because we really believe that, and again this is the intentionality, you know, you don't want to just do something because it's happening.

You don't want to just do something because everybody else is doing it. You want to do something, or talk to somebody, or have a conversation when you know that there's gonna be something new, some new nuggets of something in there for everybody else because everybody else is also consuming all of these same stories, right? Everybody else has already seen this person interviewed on seven different news outlets, and we don't need to do the same thing. That is not to say that we do not engage with big, heavy stories, we often do. We always try to find a new way to do it, and when we can we'll find a fun way to do it because fun is nice to have, especially, when you're dealing with something very, very heavy, and that's what we did at our last live show, which was in Chicago. Shout out to Chicago, yeah, Chicago. Our guest was the amazing Eve Ewing. I'm gonna play this clip, and see what is is really quickly, but cover your ears don't listen.

[Woman] Well, I'm excited for this week's episode.

Nope, not it, okay, so what was supposed to happen just then, oh, it was such a good clip. I guess you'll just have to go find the episode and listen to the whole thing. We created a game for Eve Yewing who has so many accolades I know I'm gonna screw up her actual title, but she is an educational just like whiz kid. She lives and works in Chicago. She has so much smart stuff to say about the Chicago education system that's kind of her thing. She works in education in Chicago, so we wanted to talk about just like the state of Chicago right now because it's been going through it, especially, since y'all's president, or their president. I forget I wasn't in America. Since that guy took office down there it's been really stressful, and we were doing a show in Chicago. We wanted that show to be, basically, a love letter to Chicago. We wanted to have a stage full of Chicagoans telling us what Chicago is actually like because you can't trust the media on it anymore, or the president of the United States, so we engineered a game called Six Degrees of Education Policy.

[Woman] Nice.

It was so fun, I wanted to play some for you. It was so good, but we basically took six, it wasn't that many. We took some headlines from just like the past week like pop culture headlines. She had to link each headline to an issue of education policy, and it was just masterful. It was a great way to have fun, and also learn and to also be subversive and give the president the finger. I'm really sorry I don't have that clip for y'all. So we decide on a person. We decide on a guest. We don't always have guests. Sometimes we're just like we're tired let's just go in the studio and have fun, so we'll like invite friends who are like doing really cool stuff, and just drink and talk and that's it, but when we do decide on a guest to interview we do a lot of prep.

Again, I really want to belabor the point here making podcasts is hard. Making good podcasts is hard. A lot of effort goes into making something sound effortless, so with our interview prep we will follow you on Snapchat. We'll go through all of your Tweets. We'll try, I will try to read a lot of the past interviews that you've done because it's really, really, really important, again, that we're adding something to existing conversations. We always live for the moment where our guest says, "Oh, that's a great question," or "No one's ever asked me that before." That's when you know you've got a good interview, so we take a lot of time to try to find out what those questions will actually be, so we're very intentional in the way that we structure our interviews. We don't want to just ask the same old questions.

It's not fun for listeners, and it's also not fun for the interviewer, or for the interviewee, excuse me, at that point they're on autopilot, especially, if they're somebody who does a lot of different interviews. They're getting asked the same questions five, six times a day, and we want to stand out. We want them to remember us, so we try really, really, really hard to do that. One of my favorite parts of our interviews is the last 10 minutes or so, we try to end every interview with the segment that we call Pew, Pew, Pew! That is our Rapid Fire question segment where it's just a free-for-all of interesting questions like what did your childhood smell like? I like to ask like really weird questions like would you rather have eyelashes for fingers, or fingers for eyelashes, you know, just like really weird stuff.

We just try to have fun because a lot of times we interview people, and we're having like really, really heavy conversations like we interviewed an amazing musician named Tunde Olaniran who is from Flint, Michigan, and we talked to him a couple of times about the Flint water crisis, which is heavy, especially, if you're a black person, especially if you're in Flint, or if you have relatives in Flint. We had a conversation with Dr. Carl Hart about unfair drug laws, and the mass incarceration of black men. That's a very, very, heavy, heavy topic, so something that we also do, and think about is what else does the episode need? We plan to use our show segments to help us sort of direct the mood of the conversation, and of the whole episode because we don't want anybody to turn off an episode of Another Round.

It would be like, man, we're kind of bummed out, so even if we do have heavy conversations we'll try to like buffer them with some fun segments such as Tracy's Joke Time. Yes, that's when Tracy tells a bad joke, and makes Heben mad because she had to listen to it. Another segment we do is What Had Happened Was, where someone, usually me, tells a ridiculous story because I live a very ridiculous life where ridiculous things happen. One of my favorites is a newer segment called Y'all's Parents Was Nasty, and that's the segment where I go, and I find just like raunchy, horrible songs from like the '20's, '30's, '40's because everybody wants to say, well, kids these days you listen to filth and music and blah, blah, blah, and we're just uh-uh, your granny was out here doing the same thing.

Then another favorite is Is This a Real White Man's Name or Just Some Syllables That Are Mashed Together? That is where Heben quizzes me on ridiculous white dude names, again, so many, so many. We also try to decide which segments have we not done in a while just to keep it fresh. I would love to tell a joke every single episode, but I don't think that the rest of the team would like that. We try to jumble things up, and just keep things new and fresh. Then we say what else can we do to help this episode travel because audio it's very tough to make audio go viral on the Internet. Nobody is just Retweeting podcasts like that, I guess, I don't know, but we think about is there anything that we can do to help this episode travel further when it's released. It goes out every Wednesday, by the way, that's tomorrow.

You know, can we make a quick little video? Can we make a Twitter Card? Can we trim part of an episode, and release it as a teaser? We're always thinking about other ways to get people to pay attention when they see it on their timelines, so we do all the planning, and then we make the thing. Making the thing is fun because we get to drink in the studio. I don't wear shoes ever in the office, so I'm very comfortable and relaxed. Once the recording is done then comes the editing. Editing is so important. If you make a podcast please edit it. Please, I'm begging you, please edit your podcast, please. The quality of the thing that you're putting into the world really affects whether or not it will be consumed, and if it is consumed whether or not it will be enjoyed.

I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but I love, love true crime podcasts, and there are so many that I just can't listen to because I'm always editing the episode as I'm listening, like, why, take that out nobody needs to hear your cat in the background. What is this? Stop hitting the table, you know, like try to make it good. Again, I realize that BuzzFeed we've got the benefit of having an entire team of people who gets paid to make all of the BuzzFeed podcasts sound good. I'm not insisting, you know, go out, get a bunch of money, hire somebody. Do what you can to make your finished product whatever it is sound good, look good, feel good because it will travel so much further. It gets edited, goes out into the world.

On Wednesdays which is publish day I'm aways on Twitter seeing what people are saying about it looking for criticism if there is any, not that there's never criticism we're not that perfect, and just really seeing what people say about the podcast because even though we make the show for us, even though we make the show based on us we never lose sight, or never want to lose sight of who we're making the show for, and if somebody is hearing something in the show that they don't like we want to know about it. A good example of this.

Our sign off is drink some water, take your meds, call your person, but it used to be drink some water, take your meds, call your mom, and we changed it after we got an email from someone who had either recently lost her mother, or just didn't have a mom in her life. She was like, you know, when you say this it's kind of triggering, and it just sort of makes it hard to listen to, so we changed it based on that email to call your person, and so many other people out there were like thank you, thank you so much. We couldn't have done that, we couldn't have performed that service for our listeners if we hadn't listened to that one person, and her criticism. Very constructive criticism, she was very nice. So the episode gets made, it goes out into the world then the world's a better place, and that's that.

If you're still wondering how this is relevant to you as creators of content that is not audio here are some quick takeaways, and I'm doing pretty good on time very proud of myself. The first takeaway is that there is so much merit to being yourself. Again, I'm saying this from the vantage point of a black woman, a black American woman who lives in a white supremacist society, but I mean that goes for anyone.

At Wake Forest when I was there as the Ida B. Wells Fellow I met a bunch of amazing, amazing people, but one young lady named Ashley she really stood out to me. She has a very thick Southern accent. She's either from Texas, or North Carolina, and we were talking about podcasts. She's was like, "Yeah, you know, I'm really interested, but, you know, I don't want to make anybody listen to my voice, and my accent. I don't think anybody would like it." I was like, "How many states are in the South?" She gave me a number.

I don't know how many states there are in the South, and I was like, "How many people do you think are there?" Again, very smart young lady gave me a number. I was like, "How many of those people do you think have accents? Why wouldn't they want to listen "to your accent?" Why wouldn't it excite them to hear somebody who sounds like them? Like that's what's gonna draw people to you is your being yourself, and leaning into who you are. I mean, we're all unique, but we're not the only one of anything. If there's like a thing, or something about you, or your personality, or who you are that you're like nobody wants that you are so many other people.

There are so many other people like you who are not seeing themselves reflected in the content that they see, and you just being yourself, your black self, your left-handed self, your blue-eyed, two elbowed self I don't know. You being that, you being you will speak to other left-handed people, and other red-headed people, and other Southern people. It's a great way to build an audience that will always be hungry for the content that you give them, so that's one. Another takeaway is keep your life fresh. Live, men read more women. Poets read more sci-fi.

Everybody read more brown people. Step outside of yourself, and outside of your boxes because we create from what we know, and from where we live, and from our bubbles, so once you really get out of that then you can start creating for other people, your audience grows, and then the market just gets flooded with more amazing, fantastic content that is not the norm, and everybody is happier the world's a better place. I have a minute and 14 seconds left. Two more really quick tips. Custom tailor your goal posts, so it's really easy to measure our own success and efficacy by someone else's success as content creators, and that's just not a thing like you'll drive yourself crazy doing that, and I'm sure that's not a thing I have to tell anybody else, but when you're doing something different, and your clicks and your listens are down because you are doing something different, and nobody is really latching onto it you have to find other ways to measure your success because it doesn't mean that you're not being impactful.

It doesn't mean that nobody's listening. It doesn't mean that you're not moving anybody. My favorite piece of feedback that we've ever gotten, and the thing that reminds me always that we're doing a good job in what we're doing. We got an email once from a young lady. It was just one line. It's got a potty word in it. I apologize child in the front, but all it said was "Thank you for validating "the fuck out of me as a black girl." I was like this is how I know that we're doing a good job. No matter what the numbers look like as long as this sort of feedback is coming through I'm okay. I'm fit, I'm nourished. I'm happy and satisfied that I'm providing a service that is helping somebody else.

Another really good piece of feedback that we get is because of your show I found a therapist, or I finally got the courage to talk to my therapist about getting the medicine an antidepressant. Those are the things that move me more than downloads and numbers. I don't know what our numbers are anyway, but I don't need them. I don't need the numbers to know that we're being successful in this particular lane, and this is the lane empowering people, validating people who don't get to see themselves represented elsewhere that's the thing that makes me feel good and successful.

Also, put other people on, especially, if you're a creator who is in those margins. Once you get on, and once you find success be like, hey, here's some other awesome podcasts who are just like ours. Here are some other amazing black people, women, red-headed people, people with two elbows. Here are other people like if you like this content you'll love this content. We're still trying to find a good way to do this effectively. We used to have a little section our newsletter, but the more that you can share your spotlight and your microphone, literally, in my case your microphone than the more that the industry changes, the market changes, the culture changes, and eventually the world will change just by keeping your altar updated, so in conclusion keeping your altar updated in any industry no matter what you do simply means be thoughtful, be intentional, and be focused. So go forth and update your altars.

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