Podcasting has become one of the most popular ways for individuals to share their passions. Whether discussing relationships, politics, sports or music, podcasting is everywhere. Currently, there are over two million podcasts and more than 48 million podcast episodes.
This growing medium inspired Ace Epps, director of inclusive entrepreneurship at Bounce Innovation Hub, to develop the Be You Podcasting Network in the fall of 2019. The network is an initiative of The Self Advancement Center, LLC, founded by Epps, which provides personal and professional development for individuals and small organizations.
Located at the Summit Artspace in downtown Akron, Be You currently comprises 20 Black, local, subject-matter experts who use podcasting to share stories not commonly discussed with other media outlets.
“Be You Podcasting is dedicated to the highest quality of audio podcasts delivered with thoughtfulness, care and empathy, while raising African-American podcast awareness in Akron,” explained Epps. “We want to be the number one advocate for local Black professionals through podcasting. It is home to some of the area’s most impactful podcasts.”
Prior to launching the Be You Podcasting Network, Epps hosted a community-based radio show called “Community Talk” in partnership with WAKR 1590am and the Akron Urban League. Eventually, this radio show became “Akron Community Voice” with Kat McDaniel; however, during last year’s pandemic, the show could no longer broadcast from the WAKR building, sparking Epps to create his own studio and storytelling initiative, “Be You.”
Many of the stories shared on these previous programs are now shared on www.beyoupodcasting.com, creating a space for Akron residents to understand the issues important to the local Black community.
For instance, the “Real Women Talk” podcast, hosted by Ebony Hill, is a safe, supportive space for Black women to discuss life, love and relationships and how they impact women of color, specifically. “Healing the Village,” hosted by Michael Montgomery, covers the challenges, problems and inequities within the African-American community. Both hosts received training and mentorship from Epps and his team.
Epps also co-hosts a podcast called “The Rewine Show,” with Angie Higgins. The pair features a weekly wine and music review and they’ve accumulated 3,000 subscribers in just four months.
Be You Podcasting has received funding from The Knight Foundation and The GAR Foundation showing their support for more inclusive storytelling while impacting local Black communities.
“Telling a fuller story of how Akron is a diverse place to live, work and play will contribute to a better city for all its residents,” said Epps. “While sharing personal experiences and passions through podcasting is a good start, being more open to those stories will take us together into the future.”