A Podcast About (Almost) Everything with Anisa Khalifa

A Podcast About (Almost) Everything with Anisa Khalifa
A Podcast About (Almost) Everything with Anisa Khalifa

Oct 19 2023 | 00:29:31

Episode October 19, 2023 00:29:31

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

On this episode of Audience, Stuart talks to Anisa Khalifa about her podcast, The Broadside, which is a podcast that covers a variety of different topics. Anisa talks about her career in radio and podcasting and how she and her team work to develop great stories in order to fully immerse listeners in each of their stories. While most of the stories on The Broadside cover topics that are centered in North Carolina, the themes are universal so everyone can get value and information out of each episode.

Anisa Khalifa is an award-winning podcast producer and host at WUNC. She grew up in a public radio household and fell in love with podcasts shortly before her friends convinced her to start one with them about Korean dramas. Since joining WUNC in 2021, Anisa has produced Me and My Muslim Friends, CREEP, Tested, and Dating While Gray, and is the host of WUNC's weekly podcast The Broadside. Anisa is also the co-creator of indie podcasts Dramas Over Flowers and Muslim in Plain Sight. In her non-podcast life, she’s a culture writer, poet, visual artist, and chronic insomniac, who is fascinated by the stories we tell about ourselves and each other.

If you have any questions about this episode or want to get some of the resources we mentioned, head over to Castos.com/podcast. And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at castos.com/subscribe.

Today you’ll learn about:

  • Anisa’s past and present projects
  • Why The Broadside has such eclectic topics
  • Highlighting why these topics matter to everyone
  • The variety of WUNC podcasts and how they deal with stereotypes
  • Breaking down barriers with podcasting
  • The team behind The Broadside and what they bring to the podcast
  • Collaborating with other newsrooms
  • The importance of preparation


The Broadside: https://www.wunc.org/podcast/the-broadside 

CREEP podcast: https://www.wunc.org/podcast/creep 

Me and My Muslim Friends: https://www.meandmymuslimfriends.com/ 

Castos Academy: https://academy.castos.com/ 

Castos, private podcast: https://academy.castos.com/privatepodcast/ 

Castos, website: https://castos.com/ 

Castos, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/castos  

Clubhouse video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8729ZpWpmIw 

Stuart's Other Podcast:  https://obscureballpod.com/


View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: It when someone says something like, there's a podcast about everything. It's just a short way of saying there's a lot of podcasts out there. And sometimes it has a slightly cynical bent to it. Like, I guess some people think maybe there's too many podcasts or something. But if I said that there's a podcast that's about everything, that takes on a different meaning. [00:00:22] Speaker B: And I was thinking, do I want to spend eight years on one story, or do I want to do something where, like, every week could potentially be a new story? And so I decided that I was interested in too many things to be able to just spend that long on one thing. [00:00:38] Speaker A: Next, anissa Halifa takes us inside her podcast. The Broadside. My name is Stuart and this is Audience, a Casos original series where we go behind the scenes of all different kinds of podcasts to uncover their creative process. But before we get to all the creative stuff, here's a quick note for our podcasters out there. Creativity is the most important part of the process and without it, your podcast or your show won't get very far. But you also need a support system, aka Money. We can help you there. Casos lets you monetize all of your episodes, even the old ones, with a press of a button. There's no chasing sponsors, no extra editing work, none of the headache. You can even tap into your own support network. Let your audience directly support your podcast through one time or recurring donations with Castos commerce. If you want more information about it, check out the links in our show notes. Okay, let's get back into it. [00:01:44] Speaker B: My name is Anisa Khalifa. I am a podcast producer and host at WNC North Carolina Public Radio, and my podcast is called The Broadside. I don't come from a journalism background. I always wanted to be a writer, and my academic background is in history, diaspora studies, cultural studies. And I was working as a freelancer kind of before I started grad school. I got a degree in cultural studies from Duke and it was like specifically Asian cultural studies. And during that time, I also had started a Korean drama podcast with two of my really good friends that I met online through Fandom. So we have been doing that now for six years. And that was basically like how I learned everything that I know, most of what I know about podcasting just through trial and error and just doing it. And so I had been doing that for a few years and then I kind of thought, okay, so I graduated from with my master's in the spring of 2020. So the job market was a little strange and I was still freelancing, but I thought, okay, do I want to get my PhD or do I want to look for a job? And I just decided that rather than because I'm in the humanities, so PhD would have taken probably like six, seven, eight years. And I was thinking, do I want to spend eight years on one story, or do I want to do something where every week could potentially be a new story? And so I decided that I was interested in too many things to be able to just spend that long on one thing. So I started applying for audio producer jobs, and I ended up at WNC. [00:03:24] Speaker A: And now she's an award winning podcast producer at WNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She's helped make shows like my Muslim friends. [00:03:33] Speaker B: Basically, it's about just, you know, I think the concept is, like, conversations that you might have over tea. The tagline is whether or not you have a Muslim friend, you can find one here, which I think is a really good encapsulation of what Yasmin is trying to do with the show, which is basically like, bring people into these conversations that Muslim Americans have. And a lot of know people have a lot of misconceptions about who we are and what we care about and what we believe. And so it's a show that was around at WNC before I joined, but it's been really lovely to work on, worked on two seasons, and Creep. Creep is a show about invasive species. So it's like, a little funny, it's a little nerdy, it's a little science. It's really fun because we talk about animals that are living in places they shouldn't be, but they're living their best lives and taking up space they probably shouldn't be taking. [00:04:33] Speaker A: But her most recent offering, The Broadside, was born out of a show called Tested that Anissa was assigned to when she first started at the station. [00:04:42] Speaker B: Tested was already a show at the station. I joined in November of 2021, but they started it as a COVID updates podcast. And I think in the beginning it was daily, and they were just sharing, like, what are the latest updates about COVID how you could protect yourself as it sort of evolved. And we didn't need those up to the day updates about COVID anymore. It turned into a show that talked about challenging stories about North Carolina and the south. And then when it ended late last year, my colleagues and I, we wanted to sort of bring back the best of what we were able to do on Tested, which was explore these news stories. A lot of times that our reporters maybe had time for a feature, which often is four and a half minutes on the radio. Maybe they had more to say about it, or maybe they had more interview tape that they didn't get to use. And then Tested would give them a bit of a longer runway to tell that story, and sometimes it would give them a way to sort of give us a more big picture understanding of the topic. So The Broadside kind of came out of that wanting to continue that spirit of tested and also just like feeling like a show like that is really important for a station like ours. A show that covers in depth news stories and culture stories that are not just impacting us extremely locally, but talking about the south. So The Broadside kind of came out of us missing what we weren't doing anymore when we ended Tested and now. [00:06:16] Speaker A: You'Ve got The Broadside, of which Anissa is the host and producer. It's a weekly podcast that recently launched and is described as exploring news stories rooted in the American South and explains how they impact the rest of the country. They cover all kinds of topics like how the word y'all became so common and how the spread of the Dollar Store affects access to sustainable food. [00:06:41] Speaker B: I think what we have done with The Broadside and going beyond what we were doing untested, we're not only talking about difficult stories and sad stories, we're talking about fun stories. Our podcast premiere episode is about y'all and why everyone is saying y'all now. And so we wanted to keep it local in its sort of rootedness, but also talk about why the stories that matter in North Carolina, the stories that matter in the south also ripple across the country, right? So they're not. Just a lot of things happen in the south that end up impacting the rest of the country, but the south a lot of times gets ignored except for when election season comes around and people are talking about the voters in Georgia and it seems like the only time that anyone really is or in Texas. So I think there are a lot of cultural stories we can tell. There's a lot of news stories we can tell. I think there's also people who live across the country and around the world who have a connection with this region. One of the things that we're doing as well is we're not just reporting our own stories and talking to our reporters in our newsroom. We're also talking to people who are reporting stories in other newsrooms across the south. So we did a really cool episode about Dollar Stores with a reporter who did really in depth reporting for the Gulf States Newsroom out of Alabama. Well, it's gulf States Newsroom is a collaboration between, I think three or four newsrooms in that area. But one of the things we're doing is collaborating with other newsrooms and sort of providing a place for these stories to live in another medium. Whether it was originally a radio story that is now being given a little bit more time in the podcast form, or if it was a print story or like a digital article. It's just giving it another life. [00:08:34] Speaker C: Yeah, I've heard two of your episodes so far. I got a sneak preview of them and one of them was very much North Carolina based. This one where you were kind of doing like an in depth look at the national Centers for Environmental Information, which lifelong North Carolinian I had no idea. [00:08:52] Speaker B: That was right here. [00:08:54] Speaker C: How cool is yeah, yeah. [00:08:56] Speaker B: No idea as well. Yeah. I think what we try to do is, even if it is a story about North Carolina, we try to highlight why this would matter to others people and how this might be the same thing might be happening in other places with this National Center for Environmental Information. It's climate information know, it's climate data about the entire country. It's just stored here. Right. So that has an impact or it can be useful to everybody. [00:09:24] Speaker C: I heard someone the way someone explained storytelling in the south to me is that so many of the challenges that the country as a whole faces kind of happened in the south first in some ways, and we've actually been kind of dealing with it for a long time. Right now, we're kind of taking the brunt, at least in America anyway, of climate change. We've had these very deep racial divides and class divides, which they exist everywhere, but it just seems like they've been more poignant in the south in some respects. And while we're often looked at maybe as some of the perpetrators of these divisions, and at the same time, there's a lot of people in the south who have solutions to these problems as well. And it kind of seems like maybe we're a bellwether for some of these issues. [00:10:13] Speaker B: I think that's true. And we have a lot of super fun sites in the south. For example, we have a lot of military bases in the south. There's a lot of things that are happening in the south that are happening everywhere. And sometimes people, because people have been dealing with them for so long, they have ideas about how to fix some of these issues. And I think the south is not often recognized for how much innovation and good ideas come out of here. You're a southerner too. You know this. People don't expect us to do great things. They think of us as being all the stereotypes. We know the stereotypes about Southerners. But there's a lot of amazing innovation happening. There's a lot of change happening. And I think North Carolina specifically is transforming very quickly. But there's also a lot of really interesting history here. And I think that people are trying their best not to forget, or at least some people are trying their best not to forget that history as things are changing so quickly. And what we can learn from that history, one of the other things that we're trying to do with the broadside is, like, put everything in its proper context. Whatever happens now, there's a lot of things that happened before that contributed to it. It's not happening in a vacuum. So putting that historical context into the stories that we're covering is really important. And there's a sort of flattened, mainstream idea of history, but if you go back and look. And that's one of the beauties of doing something locally or sort of regionally is you can uncover those stories that are much less known about different communities that have been here maybe for hundreds of years. Like Asian Americans have been in the south for hundreds of years, but that's not really something that people think about when they think of Southerners. So there's a lot of history to uncover and there's a lot of culture that's here now that has long roots. So all of that is really interesting to me. Obviously, as you know from my background, all of that, I'm a nerd about all of those things. [00:12:22] Speaker C: Yeah, it's such an interesting concept. We were talking earlier about some of the stuff you're producing at WNC and substantively they're all pretty different. But I'm wondering, is there a common thread between all of these shows? [00:12:40] Speaker B: I think the common thread in WNC podcasts and I mean, these are not the only shows we have. We also have politics podcast, we have embodied. I don't work on those shows, but those are also in the WNC podcast stable, I guess you could call it. It's just curiosity and ethical journalism and care and the way that we approach our subjects. I think, yes, topically they're very different, but there is a level of just wanting to create something that is informative but is also fun to listen to and is interesting and engaging. And I think all of our shows succeed in that way. Obviously I'm biased, but that's what I think. And also for me, what's really important is bringing people information in a way that's not going to make them feel talked down to. You want to bring the listener in, you don't want to feel like they're being lectured at. And I think that's a really important quality of and I think that our shows do that. [00:13:47] Speaker C: It does seem like an angle on some of these shows is also dispelling stereotypes. Is that a fair comparison? [00:13:57] Speaker B: I think that's part of it. We are a nonprofit newsroom and we do our best to always uphold the standards of ethical journalism and not have I mean, everyone has a perspective. Obviously you have your own perspective. There's been a lot of conversations about the sort of false promises of objectivity in journalism for a long recent years. People have been talking about a lot, I think, being honest about what your perspective is and where you're coming from, but also then doing your best to just report the truth. And when you're not talking specifically in terms of here's what happened, you're not reporting on an event, but more you're talking about somebody's experiences and their life, just giving space to people who don't always get to have the mic. Because the more different perspectives we hear from, the better our understanding is going to be of the place that we, you know, WNC is rooted in central North Carolina, and so we are of this place and we want to be talking to people who are from this place and we want to represent them properly. [00:15:10] Speaker C: I want to talk a little bit about the history of the term broadside. I never knew about this until I heard about your show and I got the, I guess, press release for it. Can you tell me or tell us a little bit about that term broadside, where it comes from? [00:15:24] Speaker B: Yeah. So a broadside, I think also known as a broad sheet, they were these big sheets of paper that would be printed off back when the printing press was really new, 1718 hundreds. And it would just have like a single kind of one side of the paper and it would be about one topic. Maybe it was the lyrics to a song or maybe it was an announcement that would get posted up in the town square about something that was happening or maybe it was a political statement of some kind. Sometimes it would be news. So we just really loved this. When we were brainstorming a title, I came across this and I was like, oh, this is perfect. Because what we're doing is we're going to have one topic a week. And we're kind of trying to bring that idea of like a public square where you can talk about an issue that matters to the people who live around you in your community. And that's kind of what we're trying to do with this show. So we felt it would be the perfect name. Also, we're like news nerds, so we loved it. [00:16:26] Speaker C: Well, I think the format of a podcast, or at least maybe there's no such thing as a podcast format or one format, but the medium, I'll say, of a podcast I think really fits. I think this idea pretty well because as you know, maybe coming from radio, and I do too, that it's really hard to get in depth sometimes into a subject or a news item or a current event just because of the nature of radio. You got a lot to cover in a short amount of time and you've got to stick to that format. Podcasting breaks down all those barriers and really lets you kind of just really kind of get into a subject a little bit. [00:17:06] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, it was something that we were already doing with Tested was if we already had a reporter who had done all of the work, who had gone and written a story and had the story on the radio but sometimes they would only get a couple of minutes or maybe four minutes or six minutes or however much time and it gave that story a little bit more room to breathe. We could feature more voices of more interviews and so that was something that we really loved about that and we wanted to continue with this show. And it does because I think you can get more of the reporter's voice as well. You can get more of the reporter's process and their approach to the story, and you can get more context. So, for example, there's an upcoming interview that we have that's going to be coming out later in the year. This one is not one that you got a chance to listen to, but there's a pro public investigation about this. It's a law that basically required from the 90s that indigenous people's remains be returned to them. And they did a huge sort of expose on how so few of these people's ancestors had actually been returned to them. And so we had a reporter from our newsroom collaborated with someone at Blue Ridge Public Radio, and they did this really wonderful story about it. But when we got to talk to both of them, they were able to give us more context, especially the reporter from BPR, Lily Knapp, who has reported on indigenous issues a lot, and she knows a lot know how these communities in western North Carolina are like on a daily basis. Sometimes things are being sort of uncovered that then they have to figure out, how do we know? Maybe you're building something and you just accidentally uncover what might be a burial site. So we were able to get that context into the conversation. Whereas if you're only doing a story that's going to be like three or four minutes on the radio, you don't really have time to get into all of that, and you don't necessarily have time to get into the history and what's been happening for 100 years and what do those communities want in the future. And there's so much more context that you can bring. And so that's something that I think is really valuable for us as a station that brings people the news that they're not just getting. I think the breaking news that people get on the radio every day is really important and it helps keep people stay informed. And also a lot of times people don't have time for more than that. But then if they do want to have a deeper look and they want to listen to it on their own time, and then they can listen to. [00:19:49] Speaker C: The podcast, yeah, it's really cool. I think just from what I've heard and what you've described, I think it's easy or safe to say that this is a pretty collaborative process, but maybe. [00:20:02] Speaker A: Can we break down some of the roles that people on the team have? [00:20:05] Speaker C: Because it's not just you and it's not just you chatting to somebody. It's pretty involved. [00:20:10] Speaker B: Absolutely. We have so I'm the host. I also produce the show. And then we have our producer, Charlie Schilton, ormond who also does a lot of reporting know. So for example, the program, the episode about the National Center for Environmental Information that was basically like he did all of that. It's really his baby. That episode. Our editor is Jared Walker. We have a couple of engineers that work on it. They help this when we're in the studio, kind of make sure everything sounds good. And then we have a couple of additional colleagues who are not going to be on the show every week, but occasionally they'll bring stories. That's Elizabeth friend and Truitt also like really great stories from like it is very know we talk about the stories I'm the sort of the face but we're a small team, which is nice in the sense that we are able to talk about everything and we have a really unified vision and they're really very smart and very capable, talented people. So I'm honored to be working with them. But we all kind of bring our own experiences to the because we all come from different backgrounds, we have our own perspectives and experiences that we bring, but we all kind of want the show to go in the same direction, which is really important as well. Everybody is on the same road, so you don't have someone trying to take you in one direction. [00:21:38] Speaker A: Yeah, and I like that you said. [00:21:40] Speaker C: You'Re bringing people in from other newsrooms all over the region. What's it been like to work with some of these outside reporters? [00:21:47] Speaker B: Yeah, it's been really great. Basically we will reach out to them if we see a story that they are working on or sometimes if we've kind of unofficially been talking to them. If it's somebody that we already have contact with and we are know some of them are local in North Carolina, some of them are in other states and if they are interested and we're also interested, then we'll invite them on and we'll do an interview in the radio lingo. It's the two way and if they're local then we can record the interview in person in our studios. If it's not local, then we can remotely connect to them and yeah, we'll just sit down with them and basically just ask them to tell us about their story and if they have some tape to share with us, we can include that in the episode as well. [00:22:38] Speaker C: Well, it gives I think maybe some personality to reporters. [00:22:42] Speaker B: I think it's also sort of what your listener is asking you to do, right. So what your audience is asking from you when they're listening to the radio is I think, different from what an audience is looking for when they're listening to a podcast. So you're kind of in line with those expectations. So if you're a radio host, people don't necessarily want your personality and they don't necessarily want to know if you're having a good day. That doesn't really matter to them. They just want the news. I actually listened to an interview I think that Jesse Thorne did with Audi Cornish a few years back because I love the sort of behind the scenes know. I'm sure you do too because that's what you do. But just listening to people who do interviews for a living, how they sort of approach it. And she was saying she approaches it as and I mean, this is when she was still doing All Things Considered. I think probably things are different on her new show, but she was saying, it's not about me. I'm just bringing the information to the person who's listening to me. So they don't need me to inject any of my personality in there. Whereas in a podcast, I think the sort of unspoken contract between the host and the listener and the producers and the listener is a little different. Right. People are, I think, looking for more personality. They don't really want to hear the newscaster voice in their podcasts, whereas they probably prefer it in their newscast. Right. [00:24:13] Speaker C: I'm assuming one that I haven't got to hear yet, but I am excited to hear this one about the Robesonian takeover. What can we expect to hear in that episode? [00:24:24] Speaker B: Yeah. So for this one, Charlie, our producer, talked to Sarah Nagim, who works at the Border Belt Independent, which is another outlet here in North Carolina. And she basically covered this well, a hostage situation that happened in a newsroom 30 years ago, 35 years ago. And it was basically these two Native American men who were like, there's a lot of corruption in Robinson County. Nothing is happening. We've been trying to raise the alarm, so we're going to do something drastic. And what they did was take over a newspaper, the Robinsonian newspaper. And it's a wild story. So this reporter basically talked to one of the people who perpetrated that and also some of the reporters that were there at the time and talked about the legacy of that day, what happened, how people feel about it now. Very interesting. It's a gripping story. [00:25:18] Speaker C: Yeah, sounds like it. I've got that one. I'm waiting on that one to come out. I'm really excited for it. Any other ones that you're particularly jazzed about? I mean, I'm sure all of them are very special to you in one way or another. [00:25:31] Speaker B: So there's this one. It's going to be our third episode. It's actually about the rise of Asian American studies in the south. And I've been working on it for it's a story I've been working on reporting for over a year at this point. But it's basically about so the movement for Asian American Studies started in the during the civil rights movement. It was part of this movement for ethnic studies that really started in California. And over the years, I mean, it got established in California around that time, and there's been kind of waves of activism for Asian American Studies in different parts of the country. But the south has really lagged behind, and it's only in the last three or four years that we've seen a lot of schools finally actually start programs and offer minors and majors and it's just a few schools, but there's finally some momentum. It's personal for me as well, because as a student, I was involved in that movement. So it's definitely a different story in the sense that I am a little bit of an insider in that story. But yeah, that one's really close to my heart. And that one's almost more like an audio documentary, almost, so spent a lot of time on that one. [00:26:48] Speaker A: Almost every podcast consultant out there will tell anyone trying to start a podcast to find their know, find something very specific, target an audience and make something they'll like. And that's not bad advice for someone first starting out. But for a seasoned storyteller like Anissa, who loves a lot of different things and is really good at using audio to tell stories, maybe her niche is just good storytelling. It turns out there's an audience for that, and Anissa and her team at WUNC deliver for them every single time. The Broadside can be found anywhere you get your podcast and [email protected]. And now it's time for our podcasting Tip, where our guests share some advice with the rest of us. [00:27:33] Speaker B: Hey, y'all. I'm Anissa Khalifa from the podcast The Broadside, and my podcasting tip is prepare ahead of time so that you can be in the moment when you're recording. And that's especially true if I've worked on Narrative Podcasts and Interview and sort of like chat podcasts. But I think especially when you're having a conversational or an interview format, I find that having a really well prepared document or some kind of outline for myself means that I'm not trying to think of things in the moment. I already know all of this, or the references or the topics or the random thoughts that I had at 02:00 A.m. That I was like, oh, I really want to ask this person about this, or I want to talk to this person about that. It's already there, so I can quickly refer to it. But then when I'm talking, I can just be in the moment with that person and be really listening fully. So that's my tip. [00:28:28] Speaker C: It's a good one. Thank you. [00:28:33] Speaker A: Audience is a Castos original series. Our founder and executive producer is Craig Hewitt. Production assistance is provided by Esel Brill, Jocelyn DeVore, and Marnie Hills. Our website and logo design is courtesy of Francois Brill, our head of product here at Castos. All music comes from the storyblocks library. This episode was written, edited, narrated, and produced by me. I'm stuart barefoot. Check out Audiencepodcast FM for more episodes or just search for it anywhere. You get your podcasts next time on Audience. I talked to Beth and Patrick from the podcast missing pages. [00:29:14] Speaker D: You know, let's face it, people might not be reading in print the same way they once did. People love audiobooks. Why shouldn't a podcast like an old fashioned newspaper serial novel, allah, Dickens, why shouldn't a podcast be like that?

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