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Why We Started a Podcast (Listen to Our First Interview with Bif Naked)

Um, why not? Okay, truthfully, I’ve been on the fence for a while, because I let my negative inner voice take over. She kept saying, “Everyone has a podcast, what are you going to add to the noise? The world doesn’t need another podcast. Move on.” But every once in a while, another inner voice piped up: “But you’ve always wanted to do this, you even studied sound at university, and you interview fascinating subjects all the time. Why wouldn’t you do this? It’s something you love doing.” I liked what she had to say, but I let my negative inner voice drown her out, over and over, until one day when I got an email from Vanessa Conley, subject line: “Podcast Pitch.”

“I’ve been wanting to email you for a while now but have been too afraid to take the next step required to realize my ambitions. But now is the time, so here I am! A quick intro: Hi, My name is Vanessa. I’m a music industry professional with a journalism and event coordinating background.” The email went on to explain her vision: an inclusive podcast for women that shared a wide variety of stories and tackled uncomfortable subject matter through honest sharing.

Although we had never met, I could tell from the tone of her email that we were on the same wavelength and that we had a similar vision. I also knew that Vanessa brought to the table what I lacked: experience in audio editing (my sound minor, after all, pre-dated the era of digital technology), an in-depth knowledge of the podcast world, years of experience in the music industry, and general confidence that this would work.

About 37 emails later, we finally set a date to meet in late January. 

A correspondence like this followed:

J: “Are you free Monday?”
V: “Yes.”
J: “Does a coffee shop in west end work?”
V: “Yes! Just let me know where.”
J: “How about Full of Beans, Dundas and Dovercourt? 3 p.m.?”
V: “I love that place!”
J: “Wait, where do you live?”
V: “Right there!”
J: “What street?”

As it turns out, we not only live in the same neighbourhood, but we also live ACROSS the street from each other. When we were deducing all this on phone, I asked her what number while I pulled back my front curtain. 

“I can see your door.”

It may have taken us several months to finally get together, but now we tape at mine, and Vanessa pulls the audio equipment from across the street. Call it what you want, I’m going with fate.

But even though all the signs were suggesting that this was a creative pursuit meant to happen, I was still nervous: “What if no one listens? What if it fails?” 

Well, we’ll never know until we try, so we created a list of potential subjects to start with. I had noticed Harbourfront was hosting their first ever Brave Festival and thought that Bif Naked, who was performing + speaking, would make a great interview. I scribbled her name on one of the many Post-it notes scattered on my desk.

A few busy summer weeks went by, and then Holmes PR reached out to me to pitch an interview with Bif. Thankfully, my negative inner voice was quiet that day, and I pitched the idea of Bif being our first podcast guest back to them. 

It all seemed perfect, and a festival about risk and failure gave my ego a sort of padding: if we failed, it would almost fit the theme. But I also knew that, like me, Bif was in recovery, and I felt we’d have a connection. At the very least, this would be a good conversation. During our chat, Bif reminded me that there is no such thing as failure, and that even if one person heard this–if it made one person happy–it would be a success. 

I share all this because our podcast wants to focus on how change begins. Sitting down with women from all backgrounds and histories, we want to share their stories: the projects, passions and journeys. Where did the ideas stem from? How has their work helped them grow or see the world differently? What were the tough lessons learned along the way? The difficult chapters? The times when they thought they couldn’t continue but pushed through? We want to explore strength, courage, and the drive that pushed them to act. We want to learn how their actions took them to new spaces, both physically and mentally.

Although it’s just a podcast, it wasn’t something that came easy. As with many things, there was self-doubt and procrastination. It took the nudge of another woman (thank you, Vanessa!) an outside force, to say, “HEY, I THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA! And I want to do it with you!” for this to happen. And so it did. I am the host, Vanessa is the producer, and perhaps you are our next guest. No matter what happens, it’s already been a positive and enjoyable experience. Risk and failure makes life exciting. 

Listen to our first episode with Bif Naked in which we discuss the onset of her career as a performer, the 1990s in the Pacific Northwest, using alcohol and heroin to self-medicate, AA/NA, recovery, activism, the value of walking and laughing, and much more. 

Isn’t it cool what can be accomplished once you take the first step? I mean, it all starts somewhere.

For more information on Harbourfront Centre’s Brave Festival, including tickets, head to their site. Bif Naked: How I Came To Love Myself Today is scheduled for Friday, July 20, 7:30 p.m. ($20).

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