New podcast lab launches in Detroit to elevate BIPOC voices and stories

After 27 years in the public relations business, David Rudolph is an expert in providing people a platform. But when it comes to himself? Not so much. It’s the nature of the job, putting his clients front and center while he operates in the background.

A new partnership between Futuro Media and WDET Detroit is changing that. Rudolph is one of eight Detroiters selected for the Community Podcast Lab, a 15-week podcasting course intended to elevate the stories of people of color, as told by people of color.

“Normally as a publicist, you don’t always have an opportunity to have a voice. As you send stuff out, you’re always speaking for other people,” Rudolph says. “This is an opportunity to speak as David Rudolph.”

More than 90 people applied for the program, now in its fourth cohort. Futuro hosted previous labs in Boston, Hartford, and Akron; its Detroit Community Podcast Lab launched last month.

The podcasting course teaches the fundamentals of long-form and narrative storytelling, as well as the technical aspects of producing a podcast. Lessons on marketing and audience engagement are also part of the curriculum. When the course is completed in January, participants will leave with at least one full episode of their own podcasts, if not more.

“We are excited to work with Detroit residents to help develop their storytelling skills and hear the creative stories that are shaping the health and vibrancy of the city,” says Julio Ricardo Varela, interim co-executive director of Futuro Media.

The Detroit cohort represents the diversity of the city itself, including people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and neighborhoods throughout. In addition to Rudolph, the cohort includes Nezaa Bandele, Bryce Detroit, Arlyssa Heard, Saundra Little, Eladio Nino, Catalina Rios, and Reda Taleb.

As for Rudolph, the senior managing partner for D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations is taking the opportunity to speak about an issue near and dear to him, something he says that isn’t talked about nearly enough. His podcast will engage Black men as they speak about mental health issues, which is often a taboo topic within the community, he says.

“The working title is Black Streams of Consciousness. It’s for Black men on a journey to find themselves, to share our collective wisdom, and push beyond the stereotypes and stigma of Black men talking about their own mental health,” says Rudolph.

“I’m just a regular guy from Detroit that has problems like anyone else. So I’m venturing into this space to find others and talk about the things people are doing to make things better for their own lives, for their families, and the community.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.