Creative Lives Podcast — Journalist and cultural programmer Chrystal Genesis on how to launch a successful podcast
On Creative Lives this week, we chat to Chrystal Genesis, the London-based journalist, cultural programmer and creator of acclaimed Stance Podcast. We hear all about her career journey to date, from joining a media course despite being under-age, to her varied experience at the BBC as a producer in both the UK and the US. On top of this, we also gain brilliant insight into the podcasting process, with advice on how to hone your idea, edit a story and – most importantly – how to monetise your show.
Creative Learning Manager – Young People, Southbank Centre
Founder and Editor, Stance Podcast
Masters, Global History, Birkbeck University of London
Postgraduate Diploma, Broadcast Journalism
City & Guilds Level 3 in Media, Vauxhall College
Foundation Degree, London College of Communication
Chrystal, photographed by Grace Gelder
Growing up in Brixton, Chrystal was drawn to the world of media from a young age. As a child she knew every newsreader’s name by heart and devoured newspapers, teaching her how the same story could be packaged for different political bents. Skip forward a few years and after a City & Guilds qualification in media and a two-year foundation degree at LCC, Chrystal’s next step was to get some work experience.
An internship at the BBC soon turned into a freelance job working on Vanessa Feltz’s show and then she went to 6Music, assistant producing programmes for Steve Lamacq and Cerys Matthews, and later Radio 4’s Women’s Hour, PM, Today and Broadcasting House. While it was an incredible period of growth and learning, Chrystal also shares some of the frustrations she felt while working in a homogenous media landscape, as well as her thoughts on the value of expressing your opinions, ideas and perspective – rather than quietly fitting in. “People actually need you to speak up, especially if you’re the only black person in the room, or if you’re the only person not from the south of England,” she says, while acknowledging how challenging that position can be, as well as the tiring nature of having to repeat the same thing again and again.
“You are unique, don’t copy someone else.”
Chrystal at work
After a stint as a producer in Washington DC in 2014, Chrystal had a baby and took the time to complete an MA. Through all of her experience, she had begun to identify a need for a new type of journalism that had more integrity – one that was solutions-based, didn’t assume knowledge and welcomed a much wider range of voices and perspective. Then in 2017 she launched Stance as a globally minded arts and culture podcast, which was quickly met with loyal listeners and critical acclaim. In 2018 it won Best Arts & Culture Show and Rising Star in the Mixcloud Online Radio Awards, as well as being recognised by the British Podcast Awards, The Observer, The Times and The Financial Times, to name a few.
Initially a side project, today Chrystal spends two days a week on Stance, crafting in-depth pieces about topics like Manchester’s LGBTQ+ scene, decolonising yoga or the female prison experience and interviewing the likes of Four Tet, political campaigner Gina Miller, singer-producer Nao and poet John Cooper Clarke. In the remaining three days, Chrystal creates courses, workshops and performance programmes for young people at the Southbank Centre, encouraging new talent to realise their potential.
In the three years since Chrystal moved into podcasting, it has become a much more populated space, especially as celebrities and traditional broadcasters move into this area. To make sure people from underrepresented backgrounds are empowered and equipped to do the same, Chrystal runs free workshops to help young people launch their own series – and this includes running monthly event Violet Nights at The Southbank Centre and at Tate as a Tate Exchange Associate. Through the episode, we hear invaluable advice for anyone wanting to make a podcast or get a side hustle off the ground, and how self-initiated projects can make all the difference to your journey.
The Stance website