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More Than A Podcast: Building A Community Of Black Creators

Often, famous Canadians only gain recognition after becoming famous in the United States.

This didn’t sit well with Sherley Joseph, thinking, why are talented Canadians only being recognized once they leave the country? She also felt there needed to be more representation of individuals who looked like her in creative spaces. That’s where the Black Canadian Creators podcast was born to spotlight amazing creators as they’re growing and not have to wait until they are US famous.

Joseph has been hosting podcasts for the past decade, and that passion first started by winning an iPod.

“One day, I won an iPod, I’m going to age myself, Nano. I discovered an amazing thing called podcasting when it was mostly saturated with comedians, and it wasn’t like what it is today. I fell in love with it right away.”

With a background in radio broadcasting, podcasting was a natural progression. Fascinated by the stories and lives of others and inspired by the interview styles of Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, and Christiane Amanpour, Joseph found podcasting meshed well with what she had learned without being bogged down by time or structure. Podcasting also helped spark a love for social media and marketing, and now she does that for a day job while running community creators.

The show was initially called ‘ChoNilla’ and were very intentionally elusive to the fact that they were Canadian. Joseph says American voices dominated the market in those early years, and many listeners said that if they had known the show was Canadian, they might not have checked it out.

Being a Black podcaster ten years ago, Joseph was incredibly fortunate to find a show called ‘Keith and The Girl,’ modelling their show after the style of conversation, honesty, and of course, comedy into something new and special. Joseph also became a part of their community, connecting with other podcasters and creators. This predominantly Black community continued to grow, built around this myriad of shows, supported each other, were on each other’s shows, and shared each other’s audience.

Joseph would focus on the podcast for five years, going from once a week, then Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable with three kids and a job, and burning out, right only a few years after they decided to let their audience know they were Canadian and let more Canadians know about the show. Taking a four-year hiatus, Joseph wanted to create a show initially titled ‘Black Canadian Content Creators,’ but first, it was essential to build the community.

“I had such a hard time when I was thinking about this idea. It was extremely difficult to find other Black content creators in this country, in Canada,” a situation which was incredibly annoying for Joseph. “So I was like, how about I create a Facebook group to motivate me to start the podcast and see how it goes?”

The group erupted online, and Joseph meticulously vetted whether everyone was a content creator, either online or traditionally, which led to the popular podcast ‘Black Canadian Creators’ and the podcast and livestream collective, ‘The Chonilla Network.’

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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