“Spoken City,” a new podcast focusing on the University City area, is hitting streaming services, with a new episode planned monthly.
Hosted by Junious “Jay” Ward, Charlotte’s first poet laureate, and poets Hannah Hasan and Boris “Bluz” Rogers, the podcast features University City’s business owners, community leaders and artists. The hosts all live in University City, and Hasan serves on the University City Partners advisory board.
Planning for “Spoken City” began last October, and the group released its first episode in January.
According to Hasan, Tobe Holmes, who served as interim director at University City Partners and now serves as the organization’s planning and development director, “fought very hard” for the podcast to happen.
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Hasan said the podcast format was chosen because of the medium’s growing popularity; recent studies show that podcast listening has tripled in the past two decades.
Hasan said “Spoken City” is meant to show the creative side of University City.
“I think there’s a narrative that would have most people think that the arts sort of exist in a vacuum,” she told QCity Metro, “Most people don’t know there are so many people creating here.”
In the first episode, the hosts introduced themselves and discussed their backgrounds. Hasan said that allowed her to open up about herself. “I listened back, and I was surprised by how much I shared,” she said.
Each episode will feature a “word artifact” – a quote or poem related to the episode’s topics. The first episode’s “artifact” was a quote from Maya Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
The February episodes will feature Black community leaders and business owners in honor of Black History Month. Hasan said she wants the June episode to discuss Juneteenth.
Hasan said getting to co-host alongside Ward and Rogers is her favorite part of producing the podcast. She said she initially hesitated to join the two men because of their close relationship.
“I tried to back out a little bit, and they would not let me,” she said, recalling that Ward and Rogers said the podcast needed a “Black woman’s voice.”
Although the three hosts are Black, Hasan said “Spoken City” is a “place-based” show; its target audience includes all who want to learn more about and celebrate the University City area.
“Spoken City’ is available on all podcast streaming platforms, including Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story may have implied that the podcast would feature only Black creators from the University area. In fact, it features creators of all races.