A couple of months ago I consulted on a project that would see me meet and work with a group of interesting and interested young people from Katlehong on an experimental podcast project.
In collaboration with the African Centre for Migration at Wits University and Frame45, the project used podcast training and production as a means to achieve authentic storytelling. From start to finish we only had about three weeks to fit in the training, pre and post-production – not helped by the daily load-shedding schedule we had to work around throughout.
As an educator, it was a challenging and exciting exercise, as I was teaching a group that had to be taught the basics of storytelling and writing from scratch, introduced to podcasting as a form and then a few days later produce one of their own. In some instances this made for much more robust engagement and I appreciated that. The stories ideas and themes that came out of our sessions were really interesting, although not all of our participants managed to produce a full episode by the end of it, I am still very chuffed with what this group was able to produce in a very short space of time.
Read and listen to the work produced on Frame45 or simply use the QR code below.
One of the coolest things I had the opportunity to do in 2021 was produce and sound engineer podcasts for actual money.
Podcasting was one of my elective subjects while reading for my masters in digital documentary. I chose it because I had never had the opportunity to work in radio at that point in my journalism career and figured if I was going to focus on working on more longform multimedia work, podcasts may be the best way to upskill on the audio side of things. From studying podcasts back in 2019, I now teach it to postgraduate students at Wits University and produce/edit for private clients.
I was lucky enough to work on two independent projects last year, which helped me put my newly minted skills to the test as I helped the podcast host’s launch the first season of their respective shows. It was a real treat to work with people who first and foremost where friends. The trust that already existed between us, helped in fostering working relations that were respectful, vulnerable and enriching. Having clients who truly trust your creative vision is unmatched.
The shows were very different in their subject matter, but the post-production processes were very similar. From coaching the hosts on how to record clear audio, set up interviews and create promos; it was an educational experience all around. The content of both shows also made for easy listening when I had to listen to hours and hours of ‘tape’ while editing and re-editing.
We laughed, we cried, we were enlightened and we were simply enthralled when four vastly different people told us stories in a basement at Bean Republic, over wine last week Thursday.
Come on down
Vutomi Mushwana and Anele Mdoda
Melo B. Jones
Music is in her.
It was the first Imbawula event jointly hosted by Random Window and Quarphix Foundation, under the stewardship of Siphiwe Mpye. He got the ball rolling by telling us a tale of how the idea for what will now become a monthly event came about. He remembered always being curious about the time shift that happened as the sun set and he had to run home to when the dark settled leading to older boys taking over street corners to talk sex and politics next to informal fireplaces.
I imagined that people would read something short that they had written – but it was really just four people telling us stories about themselves, which was really something. First we had Lee Molefi, who told a very moving story about being a kid on the cusps of teenage drama, who had to navigate not black enough, too smart and and an untimely death. He has the kind of voice you can listen to for hours and so it was nice to hear him speaking in such a personal way as opposed to the very serious MC’ing I’ve only ever heard. His story had us gasping, laughing in one moment and then suddenly crying.
The second storyteller was, the sultry voiced, Vutomi Mushwana. She spoke about love and used the example of what was one of her most important relationships to illustrate how love can smother, hurt, heal and ultimately make you grow. As a lover of love, her story was my favourite. Not because of the topic but because of the reality of what a toxic relationship can do to you without you realizing. She definitely hit us with some wisdom. I have read some stuff on her blog and I have become a fast fan.
The third speaker was one of my favourite commentators slash bloggers, Milisuthando Bongela (better known as Miss Milli B). First of all her outfit was fierce and fittingly so because her tale was about where her journey with fashion began. But the bigger story she told was how she met her intuition while on the job, when it seemed that the world was coming crashing down around her. We so often second guess our intuition and if she had that day things would not have worked out as intended.
The night ended of an a light note when Anele Mdoda’s storytelling time turned into a bit of a comedy set. She regaled us with a tale from her early childhood, one I had read before in her book, It Feels Wrong to Laugh, But (part of The Youngsters series) but because of how animated she is in person I loved seeing that story come alive. I cried but not because there was any sad part in the story but because I was laughing so hard.
I loved the intimacy of the evening because it let those who told stories do it so freely and made those of us who listened privy to some the four storyteller’s most telling tales. I am keen for the next event, to hear more stories over wine in a basement.
PS – In between the storytelling, Melo B. Jones serenaded us, here’s a little taste of that: