BrownTown chops it up with Damon Williams and Daniel Kisslinger of AirGo Podcast about all things independent media-making, humanizing through subject-to-subject dialogue, and making equitable space in Chicago’s creative communities and social movements. Let’s get meta. Originally recorded April 22, 2019.
Damon Williams is an organizer, writer, rapper, poet, comedian, and educator from the south side of Chicago, and the Co-Host and Co-Executive Producer of AirGo. He is the cofounder of the #LetUsBreathe Collective, a grassroots alliance of artists, journalists, and activists harnessing creative capital and cultural production to deconstruct injustice in America and worldwide. The Collective operates the Breathing Room, a Black-led liberation space for arts, organizing, and healing on Chicago's South Side.
Daniel Kisslinger is a Chicago-based host and producer working in the worlds of radio, live events, digital, and community building, and the Co-host and Co-Executive Producer of AirGo. He is also the Executive Producer of VS, a Poetry Foundation podcast hosted by poets Danez Smith and Franny Choi, and is the Booking Producer and Contributing Panelist for The Hoodoisie, a biweekly block-optic news talk show hosted by Ricardo Gamboa. He is a member of the #LetUsBreathe Collective.
AirGo is a weekly podcast and cultural media hub in Chicago, showcasing the artists, rappers, poets, musicians, organizers, and change-makers reshaping the culture of the city and country for the more equitable and creative. Through long-form conversations, AirGo puts Chicago's reimaginers in conversation, documenting Chicago's radical renaissance and creating a living archive of humanizing dialogue telling the stories of our creative communities and social movements. AirGo is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects, a Detroit-based organization that cultivates media for liberation.
In this episode, BrownTown gets meta with the fellas from AirGo in the podcast about podcasts. The conversation begins covering the impetus of both podcasts as well as some emerging strategies and experiences of growth: AirGo elaborates on their humble beginnings, physical/digital platforms they’ve traversed, and their fake-to-real beef with the FCC while BrownTown breaks down episode 8.3 and their working relationships.
The gang unpacks the power dynamics inherent in our current media landscape (a reflection of existing systems of oppression) including liberatory spaces, and how we can better use our dialogue, our actions, and our skills to decolonize and decentralize traditional power sources to better amplify visions of a more just world. AirGo discusses the methods and theory behind diving deeper into nuanced and complex ideas by finding common ground with guests and collaborators using entry points and accounting for power within public-facing conversations, our cultural artifacts. BrownTown builds on this by pushing back on the notion “illusions of littleness,” or falsely obscuring the power media-makers possess in order to inauthentically give others space while they are the ones crafting the messages. As per usual, the gang talks #NoCopAcademy (See SoapBox's article and Mariame Kaba’s open letter), Chicago corruption, and toxic masculinity. With that, BrownTown and AirGo place vulnerability in the center while challenging common myths about modern journalism’s “objectivity.” Originally recorded April 22, 2019.
As we constantly move within an ever-expanding digital ecosystem while simultaneously coming into new consciousness, we must treat media as the medium of which our audiences, our communities, and most of all, ourselves, learn, grow, and reflect. As they say, “do the work.”
Follow Damon on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and Daniel on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Follow AirGo on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and listen to them on their site, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
CREDITS: Intro soundbite from Malcolm X’s “Racist in Reverse” speech. Intro/outro music and audio engineering by Genta Tamashiro.
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