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Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

“We will see equally resourced, meticulously researched and well-produced podcasts from minority storytellers who will offer deep reportage about their own communities.”

As humans we are drawn to stories. This year we were introduced to complex stories rich in character and subject matter diversity on one of the most adored and fastest-growing formats: podcasts. Arguably two of the year’s standouts (season three of Serial and season two of In the Dark) are in a league of their own because they interrogate the lived experience of underrepresented people and communities.

2019 is the year when we will see equally resourced, meticulously researched and well-produced podcasts from minority storytellers who will offer deep reportage about their own communities.

The need for stories from diverse voices is particularly important on platforms where audiences are growing. What this requires is a toolkit some untapped voices find as an insurmountable barrier to entry: Money, expertise, training and mentorship. While monthly podcast listenership continues to grow year-over-year, not all groups are part of the upward trend. An AudioBoom and YouGov study found that 60 percent of minority Americans are not listening to podcasts. More research is needed to reveal the underlying cause of the dearth of minority listeners, but when people don’t see themselves or their communities reflected, it is easy to disengage.

Spotify’s Soundup Bootcamps for Women of Color have provided resources for women of color, and Google and PRX are taking a step to support marginalized groups via its Podcasts Creator program. Communities who are underrepresented in the podcast landscape — particularly from the creator lens — have a voice and stories to tell. 2019 is the year we make sure those voices are heard.

LaToya Drake is a founding member of the News Lab at Google.

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