Giving their lives a voice
Friends since middle school, Denae Burchall and Zoe Smith talk — and sometimes argue — about everything.
Current events, their friends’ love lives, nothing is sacred.
Figuring there had to be other people just like them they started a podcast with help from Zoe’s cousin, Lara Smith.
TRUSpace has six half-hour programmes on SoundCloud under its belt; sexism, addiction and parenting are among the featured topics since its launch last month.
“All you need is a set of microphones, a computer and some special software, quiet space and some good banter,” said Lara, who runs film production company LDS Multimedia. “Zoe and I have been doing this kind of thing since we were nine years old.
“We were always making little music videos or audio recordings.”
Once the production side was taken care of, the women had only to worry whether people would find them interesting.
“We wondered how we would be perceived in public,” said Zoe, 27. “We wondered if people would listen. What kind of feedback would we get from a show with just two people talking?”
Added Lara, 32: “You’re doing it for an audience. You want to be authentic to yourself, but you are speaking to people. You don’t want to rub them the wrong way.”
Their first talk, about social media, was downloaded by 102 listeners.
“I think that was a good icebreaker,” said Denae, 27. “We talked about how social media affects us in our daily interactions, there is that instant gratification thing.
“We felt like social media was something that all millennials could speak on and have a conversation about.
“We had a lot of good feedback with that one. We had a lot of people say, I can relate to that, even the embarrassing stuff like the relationship dynamics that happen because of social media — like feeling validated within your relationship because your partner posted you or changed their status to ‘In a Relationship’.
“Not being posted by your partner can sometimes breed insecurity, does this mean he is dating other people?”
A self-described introvert, she was initially worried about how she might come across.
“The best part of doing the podcast for me is being able to speak my mind, and not really worry about being judged,” the Women’s Resource Centre programme co-ordinator said.
Meanwhile, Zoe, a Delta Air Lines supervisor, described the production process as “therapeutic”.
“It is just two hours of talk. It is so therapeutic and releasing. “We just put it out there and then it’s back to reality. It gives us two hours to have no type of chaos.”
More than 360 people listened to their talk on addiction.
Their featured guest, Dayla Burgess, a drug and alcohol addiction counsellor with the Women’s Treatment Centre, talked about illicit drugs targeting millennials and the resources for people who wanted to kick their habit.
“The drugs they are using aren’t necessarily new, in fact they are mostly pharmaceuticals like Xanax, fentanyl, Percocets,” Denae said. “Millennials aren’t really using cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, although those drugs that I just mentioned are within the same families and produce a similar effect.
“Molly, for example, is pure MDMA while ecstasy is MDMA with additives. The media openly pushes these drugs.
“For example, the chorus to the rapper Future’s song Mask Off is: ‘Molly, Percocet, Molly, Percocet’ — and this is a song that is on mainstream radio.”
Said Zoe: “I see the problem around us so much. When we go out clubbing, we see so many things happening.
“I think sometimes we don’t understand the root cause of a lot of issues we face in the community.
“The addiction podcast was bringing those issues to light, and maybe helping people partaking in these situations.”
Most gratifying was that listeners wrote in to thank them.
“It was an exhale for a lot of people,” Denae said. “We have people who are close to us who have battled addictions.
“We are passionate about these topics because this is our lives. People contact us through social media to say, ‘Hey do you guys want to touch on this? I’m having this issue’.”
The fallout is that strangers will sometimes come up and start a conversation.
“I’ll be in the grocery store and someone will come up to me and just say randomly: ‘This is what I think about that show you did ...’,” Zoe said. “Sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what they’re talking about.”
Lara thinks the show is gaining followers partly because there are so few like it.
“I know a few Bermudians overseas who have podcasts,” she said. “But I don’t really know many other podcasts broadcast in Bermuda that talk about local issues. We have talk radio in Bermuda, but you have to be glued to a radio physically.
“A podcast allows you to listen on the go. You could be travelling and listen; you can pause it. I think the accessibility of it is really cool.
“These two have done really well. On the mics they balance each other.
“It really is artistic to go back and forth. I never feel like they are fighting each other for attention.”
Although geared to millennials they’ve had feedback from all ages. “One of the great things is that it is helping me to connect with my daughter,” Denae said of her ten-year-old. “My daughter Lara has grown up with things like social media.
“When she heard we were starting a podcast she thought it was so cool, and wanted to come and watch.”
• TRUSpace is available for download on SoundCloud. Look for @truspacebda on Twitter and Facebook
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