PE070: Knowledge Building, Activism & Advocacy with Dion McGill

PE070: Knowledge Building, Activism & Advocacy with Dion McGill

We all have a part to play in these conversations that are going to be happening over the next however many years I think the hardest part is just figuring out what is my role to play in this discussion.”

~Dion McGill, Off the Beaten Podcast

Let’s talk about Black voices thriving in podcast spaces. Let’s talk about the politics of personal opinion and professional expectation. Let’s talk about candor as an ingredient for responsive content strategy. Let’s talk about those cringe-worthy MySpace years.

OK, so maybe we’ll let that last one slide.

Dion McGill has a lot to say about all of the above. His show Off The Beaten Podcast plays like a love letter to Chicago, a city often maligned by news outlets, social media, and politicians.

The show’s premise is simple: sit down and talk with as many interesting people from Chicago as possible. The goal is anything but simple: offer a richer, more nuanced portrayal of the city and her people – and upend the lurid tale of urban decay currently sold to the rest of the world. Essentially, tell the city’s story from the inside rather than allowing outsiders to paint the picture.

Both home-grown narratives and national news are steeped in opinion, even when touted as unbiased. But is having a POV a bad thing? Is opinion even a problem so long as you get your facts straight?

Continued below…

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Friday August 14, 2020 @ 11am Central Time

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Article Continued

“For me, I want to be as a reliable a witness as I can be to what’s actually going on, especially during these times, you know?

~Dion McGill

For a content pivot to be successful, the shift has to address current social justice issues (or the pandemic… or the presidential election… or killer wasps…or… ) with genuine interest and thoughtfulness – understanding that early attempts to do so won’t be perfect.

Dion says your community needs you to show up. “I want to be as a reliable a witness as I can be to what’s actually going on, especially during these times, you know?”  

All that authenticity pays off in the long run even if listenership dips in the short term. But how does a podcaster continue to show up when so many employers are forcing new hires to sign agreements that effectively shut down their platforms?

Dion puts his faith in an honest voice rather than false pretense. He landed his current job as a communications and community outreach manager because of his podcast and blog POV. 

His MySpace page though? Maybe not so much.

Peace, love, and podcasting!

Mentioned in this episode

Blk Pod Collective

Afros And Audio

Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man

A good place to deep dive on the Jon Burge Chicago Police Department scandal Dion referenced

Dion being interviewed by my students on Power Your Story about gun violence

Connect with Dion McGill

Off the Beaten Podcast Website




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