From Angie Martinez to Wendy Williams, Black women were a consistent voice on the hip-hop and R&B stations I listened to growing up. But when I began wanting more talk, and less music, Brian Lehrer and Ira Glass (White male hosts that I enjoy) were waiting for me at the "front door" of public radio, and I had to search for the representation I'd come to expect.
I found Michel Martin, who hosted Tell Me More (TMM) for seven years, before it was canceled last August. Martin’s depth and ability to discuss everything from the 2010 midterm elections to laws against homosexuality in Uganda to yes, conversations about hair was extremely important to me as a budding radio journalist. Listening to her show daily, I heard her express what she cares about as a Black woman, mother, sister, friend– while also objectively covering the news.
A HUGE void was left in my radio life when TMM left the airwaves, and I've been trying to fill it ever since. Dramatic? Perhaps, but accurate.
Through talking to friends, and anyone willing to listen to me complain about TMM being off the air, I now have many black-women-talk-show options through the magic of podcasts! In fact, I recently realized my podcast app had more shows with Black women hosting then White men.
Here are (just) six shows that feature some of the podcasting world's strongest Black female voices:
Why I love her: Crissle’s weekly rants are always the perfect balance of indignant, hilarious, and dismissive. You never have to guess what she thinks about the day’s celebrity news, because she won't hesitate to tell you. And living at the intersection of black, queer, and female, I appreciate her analysis on topics like, why Patricia “it’s time for men, gay folks, and people of color to fight for women” Arquette, needs to have a seat. | Start with: The Read: Say No To F**k Boys
2) Girl on Guy, hosted by actor, comedian, director, author and activist, Aisha Tyler, is weekly personal and often intimate one-on-one interview with mostly comedians and actors you know from “that” TV show/movie/drunk-night-out.
Why I love her: Nothing is off limits during Aisha’s interviews. She rarely prepares for them, so you hear her genuine reactions to her questions about childhood experiences, career path, and self-inflicted wounds. Truth is, I hardly ever know the people on her show before I listen, but it never takes away from how much I learn. And I often feel like I’m listening in on a private conversation– full of dirty words and stories that remind me success is a combination of luck and just plain hard work. | Start with: Episode 171: Romany Malco
3) Last Name Basis, hosted by Franchesca and Patrick, a married couple who talk what’s going on in the world and what’s happening in their lives.
Why I love her: Franchesca (aka Chescaleigh from youtube) makes me laugh out loud in public. Often because of her ability to randomly burst into song, but then quickly snap back into finishing her thought (or sentence). And the chemistry she and her husband have together is addictive. I especially enjoy the “slanguage” (aka slang-language) spelling bee she challenges him to every week. Also, (I feel like I should mention) Patrick is White, and every time Franchesca pulls or reinstates his “White card,” I am in agreeance. | Start with: Episode 10: Stay in my corner
4) Another Round, hosted by Heben and Tracy, two BuzzFeed writers who let us in on their weekly happy hour conversations, tackling race, gender, and saying no to squirrels.
Why I love them: I was just put-on to this podcast, and I already feel like I have two new best friends in Heben and Tracy. Like me they love corny jokes, spend hours on "Black Tumblr" (not to be confused with Black twitter), and acknowledge the dark days in college when spoken-word poetry was a thing that happened. And from Issa Rae from Awkward Black Girl to Gene Demby from NPR’s Code Switch, apparently– they are BFF’s with every dope media maker I read, watch, and listen to online. | Start with: Episode 3: “Oh, The Racism!”
5) Mmhmm Girl, hosted by Lola & Babs, “2 dope girls talking about everything and yo mama,” literally– all while drinking their alcoholic beverage of the week.
Why I love them: Lola & Babs are childhood friends from The Bay, whose conversations around dating, relationships and sex, appeal to every petty bone in my body–i.e (small) side of me that wants to call my ex just to make sure he’s not happier than me. They talk Empire, West Coast hip-hop, and news headlines– but I mostly enjoy listening in on their girl talk around avoiding d*ck pics, summer BBQ’s, and taking their niece to the club. Also, I respect their ability to stay semi-anonymous (no pics!) | Start with: The Petty Shabazz Episode
6) Love Hour, hosted by Melissa and Kevin Fredericks, a married Christian couple who give advice on marriage, love and relationships.
Why I love her: Melissa is real about her challenges growing up in the church, marrying her high school sweetheart, and staying happy after almost 15-years with Kevin and having two kids. Though they are very heteronormative in the way they talk about marriage, their journey to learning how to communicate with each other around sex, trust, and their career goals are lessons for us all. And I enjoy their ability to express their faith and beliefs, without condemning anyone. | Start with: Love Hour 5: Jealousy
Veralyn Williams is a Social Justice Journalist and Community Organizer, working to build power in Central Brooklyn as Communications Organizer at the Brooklyn Movement Center, a membership-led, direct-action, community organizing group. She co-hosts & co-produces Brooklyn Deep Third Rail, a monthly podcast that deconstructs hot topics and social justice issues that impact the lives of Central Brooklynites.