A few weeks ago, we recommended the nine-part podcast About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge. At the end of those powerful episodes, Reni recommended several other programmes hosted by Black creators, which is how we came to learn about Blacticulate, a platform for elevating Black stories in the U.K. Founded by Ade Bamgbala, the platform produces podcasts, hosts workshops, and provides Black creators with the necessary tools to grow their business and careers.
While Reni’s recommendation was for Blacticulate’s eponymous podcast, it was Stories That Stick that caught our attention. We at Pod Bible love a programme that offers something new not only in topic but in production. We were immediately drawn to the structure of founder Ade’s show, which invites guests to tell their own story and share stories that have impacted them.
Each episode begins at the end. The guest is first asked to speak about death, which may seem an odd place to start but perfectly establishes a person’s thought process for how they live their life. If we know how someone imagines, copes with, or theorizes death, we better understand the parameters they exist within today. From there, our host asks that his interviewee breaks their life into decade-long chapters, beginning with their first ten years.
Not only does this make for an easily digestible podcast, but it creates a shared nostalgia when paired with story recommendations from the episode’s guest, spotlighting a different book in each “chapter” of their own story. It’s hard not to fall into one’s own reminiscences during the first chapter, often peppered by beloved children’s books or familiar stories from religious texts.
When exploring shows that are new to us as listeners, creating a structure that we can easily latch on to helps to ease us into unfamiliar territories. Structures based in Q&A sessions, particularly those that remain consistent from episode to episode, create an excitement as we begin to imagine our own answers and build a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with the guests – their answers ebbing and flowing with our own.
An excellent podcast structure is reliant on its host. A quality host creates consistency for their listeners, while still remaining flexible for their guest. Ade’s soft-spoken guidance feels gentle, steering the conversation expertly without editorializing someone else’s experience. In episode 15, with Christina Moore of Don’t Skip Media, his guest off-handedly mentions the experience of growing up as the child of immigrant parents. Ade thoughtfully encourages her to explore that experience, and she opens up beautifully, allowing the listener a much deeper insight regarding her childhood. The deft way with which he supports her examination of what, moments earlier, seemed like an off-handed reference to something many listeners may not have experience with shows us how seriously Ade takes his work. It is always easy to allow a guest to move beyond something – especially something they have a shared understanding of, or something the guest may have explained in a pre-interview – but it does not serve the audience to allow those moments to pass us by.