The Media Girlfriends is a podcast company led by Nana aba Duncan, Hannah Sung and Garvia Bailey, three women of colour who use storytelling and journalism to present and honour the voices of those who were historically misrepresented.
The Media Girlfriends is participating in the Fourth Annual Vancouver Podcast Festival to discuss the process of starting their podcast company during the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival celebrates podcasting as a medium with great potential and introduces audiences to local podcast creators. This year’s events focus on providing workshops and panels to help the podcasting community.
“We were asked to be part of the podcast festival to be on a panel about starting a podcast company in the midst of the pandemic, which is exactly what we did,” says Bailey.
Creating a podcast production company with friends
Prior to creating the company, the trio of friends was mainly employed with media companies or freelancing as writers, producers and voice talent. During the pandemic, they were well aware of the popularity of podcasts.
“As freelance podcast producers, when the pandemic hit, we got busier than we ever did working for other podcast companies,” says Bailey. “We knew the work was out there, and we knew that people were listening at home or while going for walks. The podcast realm exploded during the pandemic, and we received a lot of interest in what we were doing.”
The prospect of using their talent and experience to create their own podcasts inspired the trio to start their company.
“This year, while we were talking, we thought, ‘Hey, you know what, we are really good at doing this for other people as podcast producers. Why don’t we come together as a team and do it together with all the values, care and all of those elements that we really wanted to see in the companies that we worked for?’” says Bailey.
The process of starting the company was aided by their ability to collaborate and communicate with one another.
“I think, pandemic or not, it’s going to be challenging to start a business with your friends,” says Bailey “We really went into this thinking about all of the things that will make us into the company that we want to work for and be the heads of. We are constantly talking to each other about the values of the company and the kinds of work that we wanted to do.”
Podcasting as a unique voice
Bailey believes that podcasting has strengths that make it distinct from other forms of media.
“I worked in radio for quite a long time. It’s a similar kind of feeling to radio in that it’s intimate; it’s generally a voice that’s in your ear, which gives an opportunity to be close to the story and the storytellers,” she says. “Podcasts give you the latitude to tell a story in its fullness, whether it’s news, investigative or narrative. You can spend half an hour to weeks on end with a podcast host on one story, and that’s rarely something that you can do with a long form documentary.”
In addition, Bailey indicates that everyone is capable of podcasting due to its easy entry.
“For me, it’s an exciting medium because the barriers to access are lower with a podcast. Everyone is capable – have a microphone, headphones, a recording device and you put it together. People who have great stories are able to enter into the media this way,” she says.
When asked about tips for starting a podcast company, her answers are straightforward.
“Have a great team around you. Gather together the people you need, the skills you need and do it well,” she says. “Get a great plan as to what your mission is and what sets you apart.”
Given that there are many podcast companies out there, Bailey adds, it is important to stand out from the crowd and form a company that has unique value that people can relate to.
“We got a lot of people interested in us because we are three seasoned journalists who are women of colour, so our perspectives and the way we do things are different from some of the other companies, and one of our values is doing the work with care,” Bailey says.
The Media Girlfriends’ panel discussion will take place on Nov. 20. To register, visit: