In 2019, Amped — a Denver-based nonprofit committed to diversifying media through compelling audio storytelling — launched “From the Margins to the Center,” the first women of color podcast incubator of its kind in the Mile High City. This year’s installment is back with a new tribe of eight participants selected out of nearly 100 applicants. Among those chosen is Karen Bailey, a Boulder-based postdoctoral research associate in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, who will start as assistant professor in the fall.
The six-week program, which kicked off in June, would normally take place entirely at Denver’s House of Pod — a thriving hub for creators, co-founded in coordination with Amped — set within a building that once functioned as an Olympic boxing arena, a sign-painting factory and a shared space for musicians.
With the pandemic, many offerings have gone virtual, but will include a few in-person classes where the women will learn the ins and outs of recording equipment within the state-of-the-art studio.
Aspiring podcasters get to attend keynote sessions with Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, who founded an independent production company and with Jennifer White, a veteran of public radio who now hosts NPR talk show, “1A.”
Participants receive mentorship from women who have built successful careers, fostered change and sparked insightful dialogue by going on air and speaking their truths.
All eight participants receive a one-year membership to the House of Pod recording studio and have access to drop-in sessions. When the incubator program wraps, members of the Amped Board will select promising producers that will be eligible to receive sponsorship to help fund their podcast’s first season.
We caught up with Bailey to find out what prompted her to apply, what she hopes to explore when she steps up to the mic and how the medium of podcasting is quickly providing much-needed connection and fostering inclusivity.
Daily Camera: What prompted you to want to participate in the podcast incubator for women of color? Had you always had ambitions of having your own show?
Karen Bailey: I had an idea for a show in my head for the last few years but hadn’t taken the steps to actually pursue it, in part because of a very limited sense of what it takes to create a successful podcast. When I saw “From the Margins to the Center,” it seemed like an amazing opportunity to learn what it takes to make a podcast in a really safe and supportive environment. The idea of having a mentor and a community to depend on was really appealing and made the massive undertaking that is podcast creation seem much more feasible.
DC: I know you are in the early stage of the program, but what has the experience been like so far?
KB: Oh my goodness. It’s been wonderful. I am already so impressed, inspired and motivated by the participants, mentors and staff at House of Pod and Amped. They have such a wealth of knowledge and are so thoughtful and authentic with what they share. I’ve already been given a ton to think about and really creative advice to put into action. Importantly, I struggle with impostor syndrome and often doubt my capabilities. They’ve been supportive, understanding and open in providing feedback, reflecting on their own experiences and encouraging me to embrace my awesomeness.
DC: I read that after the program wraps, some will be chosen for a sponsorship to support the first season of their podcast. So exciting. I know you are a fan of science fiction and anime. Can we expect to hear you explore these topics in a future podcast? What do you wish to dive into?
KB: Yes, absolutely. My podcast combines my love of ecology and the environment with my love of science fiction, fantasy and anime. I’ll explore fictional creatures from some of my favorite movies, TV shows and books and imagine what things would be like if they were real. It’ll be a fun and engaging show for nerds of all kinds.
DC: Are there any current podcasts that you can’t get enough of that should be on our radar? Ones that uplift, inspire or just fuel conversations that are needed?
KB: Most of the podcasts I listen to are fairly well known but the two that come to mind are “The Truth” and “The Fall Line.” I think they’re important for different reasons. “The Truth” is an amazing escape. It’s entirely fictional stories that are well acted and well produced and transport you to a different place in time. “The Fall Line” is an incredible podcast that is needed. It’s a true crime podcast that covers murders and disappearances in Georgia, primarily focused on communities of color and other marginalized communities. It tackles issues related to systemic racism and bias that are prevalent in our criminal justice system while actively advocating to have cases reopened and reengaging the broader community to get involved.
DC: Lastly, why do you think this particular form of broadcasting is so popular right now?
KB: I think part of it has to do with availability and accessibility. Spotify and iTunes are on our phones and we can listen anywhere and anytime. I think that has also made the medium more inclusive and encouraged lots of people to start to create, bringing in broader and more diverse audiences. I also think social media and the ability to connect with podcast hosts, creators and other fans beyond the podcast has enabled meaningful communities to grow and allowed listeners to create relationships that extend beyond the medium.