Indigenous perspective: Podcast created to fill gaps in mainstream media
Rick Harp is a Cree journalist with over 20 years of experience telling stories.
But after stints at APTN and CBC Radio he stepped away from the mainstream microphone to create a new Indigenous space on the internet.
Media Indigena is a weekly current affairs podcast, done as a roundtable discussion that includes journalists, academics and story makers.
Harp, who is a citizen of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, started the roundtable two years — or 130 episodes ago — because he wasn't hearing the discussions we wanted to hear on the radio.
"There's obviously a lot of content made by non-Indigenous people about Indigenous issues, there's content made by Indigenous people... about Indigenous issues," he explained. "But I wanted something that, instead of being a content provider, it was a context provider."
Harp said he wanted to hear Indigenous people dissect, decode and decipher Indigenous issues in a lively, engaging and intelligent way.
Recent topics he's explored on his podcast include a primer on pipelines and an extended discussion and debate on the controversial APTN reality show, First Contact.
"I just felt, we're at a point where it is a worthy exercise, so long as it's constructive, to engage content made about Indigenous people by Indigenous people."
Labour of love
With more and more podcasts popping up, thanks to fairly inexpensive startup costs, Harp said the challenge is in keeping up the production.
"These things take time. They take energy and whatever your monetization or revenue model is — to use the lingo —you've got to find a way to compensate your labour, short of the love you feel for it, to make the podcast happen."
Harp said as a result, podcasts often suffer from 'podfading' after producing about 10 episodes.
"The dirty secret is half of your work as an independent media maker is marketing. Larger organizations, larger entities, private [or] public, they have the resources for all that," he said.
Despite that, podcasts are growing in popularity with listeners, something Harp said is due to the intimacy they provide. But, Harp added that the biggest barrier for people is making them comfortable with the technology.
"That's some of the big work yet to be done frankly, is getting people not only aware but actually making it second nature."
Harp said the growth of podcasting will not see mainstream avenues close up shop. Rather, the effect of listeners migrating online will ripple out in different ways.
"People thought radio would kill newspapers, TV would kill radio and newspapers and the Internet would kill all those," he said.
"The respective media just recalibrate, reorient themselves and go 'What do we do best?' I think we're in time of great experimentation."