The Future is Talking is a new nation-wide podcast series focused on youth leadership, equity and justice, and is led by YPI Canada’s 7-member Student Advisory Committee (SAC). SAC members are themselves between 15-19 years old, each a recent YPI alumni at their high schools across the country.
The intention of this podcast series, as articulated by SAC members:
“Our hope is to educate, to inform, and to inspire a new way of understanding youth leadership, and how to show up for students, teachers, and communities in ways that are respectful to, and meaningful for us.”
We chose to create this platform in the form of a podcast for several reasons, including:
1) Centering Voice, Literally
It felt fitting that a platform designed to center youth voice literally centered voice as its primary instrument of expression and communication. In the words of voicED radio’s Stephen Hurley, “While music may be included in podcasts for effect, the spoken word is really the star of the show.”
Furthermore, SAC Member J.S. highlights the power of voice in shifting narratives: “Despite not having any visuals, podcasts can be entertaining and educational. People can tell stories about their experiences and make the listener understand the problem a lot better.”
2) Increasing Access Through “Pod-modcracy”
Thanks to rapid advances in technology, the gap between who gets to listen to podcasts and who gets to create them has decreased significantly over the last decade. The fact that they can be both recorded and accessed via a smartphone means that the barriers to creation and access are significantly lower than they have been for many, for a very long time. In this vein, we share voicED’s perspective that “democracy is founded on the ability to listen to and appreciate a variety of perspectives on issues that impact all of us. We believe that the tools of podcasting can help us strengthen that commitment to a voice for all. And not just the people with the power, the privilege and resources to buy time on traditional media.”
As SAC member N.F. puts it, “Podcasts have such an influence. They have expansive audience/community that’s listening to them; the way they weave in so many different voices and touch many different people.”
SAC members also agreed that podcasts were an effective way to reach and share resources with young people in particular, with member S.B. likening them to “teenager therapy.”
3) Fostering One-to-One Connection
Although podcasts are now accessible to most people who own a smartphone device, the nature of a podcast allows us to speak to one listener at a time. This is different from traditional radio broadcasting, which assumes that one voice is being heard by many people at a time. This sense of one-to-one connection and intimacy with the listener, we hope, will help us connect with them on a more personal level. As SAC member G.M. shares, a podcast “provides such a personal connection to others to be able to discuss real life issues, especially issues people may not be aware of or not know how to interact (with), due to difference in perspectives, or not wanting to offend.”
Fellow SAC member M.Z. goes on to highlight the authentic exchanges facilitated by podcasts, which she describes as “records of genuine conversations, genuine connections and meaningful discussions.”
We believe that change happens at the speed of trust, and that sustainable shifts are built through focusing on critical connections rather than critical mass. Hosting The Future is Talking as a podcast allows us to build a foundation of trust and relationship with our listeners so that we can better navigate challenging topics and conversations together.
Be intentional about how and through which media format we choose to communicate our message SO THAT it is as accessible as possible for our co-creators as well as our intended audience.