Anticulture – Arts, Food and Culture
Josiah Sinanan is a born and raised Calgarian who didn’t have a strong sense of culture growing up. As he got older, he realized Calgary was full of people with all kinds of different backgrounds and experiences. This made him wonder, “What [makes] someone’s cultural identity?”
That’s a question Sinanan explores on his podcast, Anticulture, where he interviews people with different cultural backgrounds from across Alberta. One episode features Tehilah Chiwele, a member of the only family of African descent in the northern town of Lac La Biche, and Anila Umar Lee Yuen, the chief executive officer of the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary.
Through these interviews, Sinanan came to realize that people are not defined by their background alone. Instead, “It’s about the culture they have created around themselves and the only way we figure that out is by asking questions and hearing people’s stories.”
The title Anticulture does not come from an adversity to culture. With this title, Sinanan is trying to get others to challenge their perceptions of how they look at people and different cultures in western society.
The amount of listens the podcast receives depends on the podcast subject matter and the interviewee. Anticulture has an average of 200 downloads per episode. There is no specific category his podcast fits into but Sinanan said he enjoys that, because it allows the messages and ideas of his interviewees to spread even further.
Common Ground by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation – Social Issues
One of the newest podcasts to emerge in Calgary is Common Ground, produced by the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation. So far, the show only has five episodes but that hasn’t stopped it from getting its message across.
As anti-racism advocates, Iman Bukhari and Irfan Chaudhry felt the popular medium of podcasting would help them share their knowledge about hate in Alberta. They do that on Common Ground by interviewing immigrants, settlers, indigenous people and even hate groups to create a balanced dialogue.
There’s an emphasis on bringing the community together and working together to resolve hate issues. They hope that people will come to understand others perspectives, even if they don’t like them.
“I think at the end of it, in order to find common ground, we have to be willing to be able to listen to each other even if that means getting uncomfortable,” said Bukhari.
Creative Block Media Lab YYC – Business and Marketing
When Kyle Marshall was a kid, \he wanted to be a late-night talk show host more than anything else. As he grew up, he started producing YouTube videos until one day, a friend of his got him to listen to a podcast. Since then, he’s been making his own.
His show is called the Creative Block for two reasons: first, it’s a “block” of time where he gets to talk to anyone he finds creative; and second, it refers to the fact that he often interviews his artist and business owner about the “blocks” they sometimes hit and how they overcome them.
Creative Block is a local podcast with Marshall talking exclusively to people in Calgary. He wanted to be able to tell people in the city about all these amazing businesses that they might not see or know about without him having to write reviews, a blog or articles.
“I think we get this into our heads that there’s nothing cool that goes on in Calgary but there’s all this stuff that’s under the seams,” said Marshall.
Depending on the topic, there will be anywhere from 70 to 200 downloads per episode from people all over the world. Marshall also talks to his guests about how they can grow their ideas, as well as create their own podcasts and videos.
Girl Tries Life – Self-Help
Victoria Smith is a stress-reduction coach who started writing a blog that included advice from strong females. Unfortunately, she found that no one was reading her work so she ended up using a different medium to share her work with the world.
Her podcast, Girl Tries Life, dives into tangible tools and topics that women can apply to their everyday lives. It was inspired by the belief that we never know what life will throw at us but the most important thing we can do is give everything a solid try.
Every other week, there is an interview, typically with a woman who has persevered in her field. Smith has spoken to entrepreneurs, employees of large corporations, shop owners and moms.
“I want to show profiles of women doing incredible stuff and sort of break down how they got there and their story,” said Smith.
On alternating weeks, she dedicates time on her podcast to microlife coaching. She hopes that women will finish her podcast feeling inspired, like they’ve gained useful information and they are part of a network of individuals looking for the same goals.
Girl Tries Life has over 120 episodes, with an average of 175 downloads per episode. Most of Smith’s listeners come from the Calgary area, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Smith would like to continue reaching out to more people and share the stories of incredible women – whether they live in or outside Alberta. She hopes that maybe one day, Girl Tries Life could become big enough for live podcast events.
Makeshift Stories – Storytelling
Makeshift Stories started 11 years ago as an extension of Vern Hume telling stories to his son before bed. Hume has always been a fan of radio dramas and listening to audiobooks, so this podcast was a way for him to explore both mediums.
The original idea for the podcast was to have the audience create the story’s script and determine how the characters develop. However, there was no audience at the time. So, the first two episodes were improvised by Hume and this is where the name Makeshift Stories comes from.
Hume is not a writer, but he really enjoys creating stories and producing episodes. He said, “I feel a strong commitment to that audience to continue to provide content for them.”
That audience includes both younger and older generations and has grown to attract an average of 1,800 downloads per episode. Most come from the United States, yet there was a time where an English teacher in Japan recommended Hume’s podcast to their students.
Currently Hume publishes two episodes a month: one short story and one long story, which has bumped his episode count up to more than 170. Hume is joined on the podcast by Mitchell Tew, one of his son’s childhood friends, who is now its primary narrator.
“I would love to do a non-fiction podcast but at this point I have no time. I would like to improve the writing, the narration and to maintain the audience wherever possible and to grow it,” said Hume.
The Red Mile – Sports
Started by lifelong Calgary Flames fans Nathan and Cameron Woolridge, the Red Mile hockey podcast began as a way for the brothers to bond over their favorite team even though they live in different cities. Nathan records from his spare bedroom in Calgary, while Cameron does so from his university dorm room in Edmonton.
“I wanted something to do with hockey still because I wasn’t playing anymore. So I thought with what Nathan is doing, I could use him a little bit to create our own platform,” said Cameron, referring to his brother’s pursuit of a journalism degree at Mount Royal University (which publishes the Calgary Journal).
While choosing a name for their podcast, Nathan asked Cameron what stuck out about the Flames from their childhood. For Cameron, the most memorable thing was when the team competed for the Stanley Cup in 2004. During those playoffs, Calgarians travelled down 17th Avenue and partied. That’s when the street became known as the Red Mile, which the podcast takes its nostalgic name from.
According to the brothers, the Red Mile now recieves around 100 to 300 plays per episode. Earlier episodes ranged from 20 to 30 minutes long. But a Red Mile episode today is roughly 45 to 60 minutes, as the conversations got deeper and fans requested longer episodes.
Currently, their listeners hail from all over the world. Along with their loyal Calgarian audience, the Red Mile has been downloaded on the Canadian East Coast, northern Washington state and even as far as Ireland.
Their growth has led to new opportunities, including a recent partnership with Kids Up Front Calgary, an organization that helps young people have enriching experiences by providing tickets to various events around the city. The Red Mile is helping bring awareness to the Kids Up Front Calgary organization by asking its listeners to donate tickets to these events.
Correction: A previous version of this story reported incorrect information about the number of downloads the Red Mile receives. The podcast actually gets around 100 to 300 plays per episode.
This story is part of the Calgary Journal's November-December print Issue. You can find a digital verson here, or grab a copy at news stands across the city.
- By Cassie Jamieson