1: Act Two...
I don’t know when it started for Ebiye.
This act started when I got my offer letter;
Before that, it started when Ebiye from Midas Radio dmed me on Instagram with these words:
“I see the work you’re doing out there. We should talk”
Before that, it started when I emailed Kay saying I couldn't take a dedicated full-time commitment with him and his company because I wanted a certain amount of freedom.
Before that, it started when I decided to take a long break from making episodes of Inside a Bubble, my first podcast production, where I had learned and failed and produced my first 24 podcast episodes covering more than 50 stories.
What happened before that was act 1.
An abridged account of Act 1
I really like to say that this act started in a Keke. I know I had been messing with an idea for a while. The idea was to make a podcast that sounded like what I liked listening to. I wanted it to be the type of narrated, highly produced, edited and meticulously constructed stories I had heard in American voices but I wanted it to be Nigerian. I was in a Keke when the idea for my first podcast came to me. From there, I gathered a small team of friends; I collected voice notes from 10 people; I scripted, recorded and edited my first episode. Then on November 11th, published it. In Act 1, I…
Produced two seasons of Inside a bubble
Grew the team slowly from 3 people to 6 people
Trained 4 new producers
I paid for and took multiple online classes on audio and narrative podcast production.
Quit my job and started freelancing (which was an absolute struggle)
Got my first audio production gig and then my next and then my next
Produced many bad episodes and then eventually started producing some really good ones.
Met Mnena, my audio production accountability partner, who has been instrumental in showing me that I have a competitive skillset in the global audio landscape.
Did many jobs that I did not love so I could sustain myself a while longer.
Cried often but usually for good reason.
Thought about quitting but never considered it.
Met a network of people who are beginning to feel like my own community of people.
Was held up and sustained by the kindness and love of my friends.
And many more things if I am being honest. Act 1 was about me getting started. Act 1 is where I wandered away from the path I imagined I’d always take. My childhood dream was to build a career doing something with technology and computers. Every single choice I took from when I was 8 to when I turned 21 was in this direction. My hobbies, my interest, were all linked to computing. I liked writing code and doing maths and it was a great bonus that it was an extremely financially lucrative line of work. But over the past three years, I have unintentionally wandered away from it and into this. Every week, I have at least one moment when I miss it so badly, I have at least one moment when I think how different my life would be if I hadn’t deviated from that. I have the urge to drop it all and head back in that direction but I won’t do that. I can’t do that. Right now, I am doing the thing I have to be doing. This is the thing I have to be doing and in Act 1, I got started.
Sunday, 16th January
I got a missed call from Ebiye, I knew exactly why he was calling. I had a document I was supposed to have sent him on Friday that I hadn’t. A concept note for one of the projects we had been chasing with a partner for a few months. I texted him
“Saw your missed call”
“We are behind on everything”
Perhaps not what you want to hear but it wasn’t entirely wrong.
We had a call earlier this month (present-day March) to talk about progress because we had been working for two months but we hadn’t yet made any complete audio feature. And we are a podcast company, the thing we do is make audio features.
Things can easily feel stagnant if you feel like you aren’t doing the one thing you are supposed to be doing. Your one job is to make podcasts and two months later, you haven’t made a single episode. I have a certain insight about why we haven’t. Better yet, I had an insight about Ebiye’s anxiety/ An appreciation for it but also a critic, in a way.
Ebiye first dmed me on August 31st 2021. I was preparing a podcast pitch for Kay. This was the week after I had turned down his job offer and quit the writing gig that had been sustaining me for the past couple of months. It was also the beginning of what would be about 4 months without an income.
So here’s where my life was. I had applied for a producer job at a Nigerian podcast company. I was applying to many production openings last year, mostly foreign, mostly without any response. Kay’s was the only Nigerian opening I saw, I applied, I was interviewed, they asked me how much I wanted, I told them, they made me an offer that was half of it and I turned it down. At the same time, I had been nursing the idea for what I wanted to be my next podcast. It was going to be way more work than Inside a Bubble had been. It was going to cost me money and I wanted it to reach a larger audience. Kay’s company was a podcast network that took on creators and I was considering pitching my show to them and seeing what kind of backing I could get. The reason I didn’t take the job apart from the pay being too low was that he wanted me to work full-time without any flexibility to collaborate or freelance outside. I did not like that. I wanted to be able to continue getting gigs that would pay me and more importantly, I wanted to be able to learn through collaboration with people that were farther ahead than I was. I am turning 25 this year, I want to live in my own place and I want to support my parents and sisters. A full-time position with the salary Kay was willing to pay was not going to cut it. But what if I could get him to support my podcast with us sharing ownership of the show. I was wondering about this when Ebiye messaged me.
I was in his office about two weeks later. He told me he wanted to move from the current podcast landscape that was prevalent in Nigeria (chat cast, gist and lifestyle shows) to one more heavy on storytelling. That’s exactly what I was interested in doing. We had a few more meetings, we started making pitches for potential clients and backers and we spoke about pay. My compensation goal was a bit too high for him but he expressed an appreciation for it. When my offer letter came it wasn’t where I’d have liked it to be but I accepted it. Primarily because I felt like I’d have the freedom here that I didn’t think I’d have with Kay.
When I and Ebiye first started speaking, it was for me to join an existing company and help start a new division of podcast storytelling. But things changed, he started a new company and we adjusted our conversations accordingly. With the new company, I’d be leading the podcast production team. Being a new company, the podcast production team was going to be me.
Voix Collective and the blinking cursor
For most of January, I felt like I was looking at a blinking cursor. Everything was new. I was setting up new documents. I was having conversations I hadn’t had before and I was working with a team that I was new to. The team started as just me and Ebiye. Ebiye was telling me about the plans and I was doing what I could to execute. I developed concept notes and made production plans. Then we started talking about budgets and so I developed budgets. Bad budgets as I would later learn. And I think this is how January went.
We had really hefty goals for the first quarter of this year. We were going to produce this and that podcast. On February 25th, I told Ebiye that we should have a meeting. The meeting had started to feel necessary to me because we were stuck in a sort of loop. Ebiye was expressing anxiety about getting stuff done and having products to show for it. It felt like we were behind on everything and we weren’t making a lot of headway. This wasn’t entirely true, we had made progress across the board in lots of things but not forward in anything. At least not to the level I think Ebiye needed to feel more comfortable. I think what I was noticing was that we were jumping around in terms of focus because we were so anxious to get things done. We wanted to do this that and that. And we were setting some pretty unrealistic targets for when to have these things done. So entering the month of March, I did not want to be guided by that anxiety. I wanted to do the thing I was supposed to do. I wanted to produce a podcast. I told Ebiye and he agreed and I made that the focus. We would produce our first original podcast this month and anytime our focus starts to waver from that, I make sure to align back. Of course, I’d be lying If I said that that was the only thing we were doing. We are still chasing clients and sponsors. I am still producing my podcast, doing small pockets of research here and there for what is proving to be a very long production period. I am still doing all the non-production things required to run a company, developing better budgets, making a comms plan with Aaliyah. Preparing for our rollout into the World but the key thing now is to produce our first podcast.
This is where we are currently and where I have to stop this telling of our story. We are producing a podcast.
I still have some very ambitious goals. Including doing a journalism master’s and moving out of Nigeria to pursue production in a more established climate. Maybe that will happen in Act 3.
For Act 2. My plan is divided into personal and professional.
In my personal, I’d like to earn a living wage monthly. Enough to live by myself and support my family. Maybe I’d like to travel more. I’d like to be able to afford most of the things I want because they aren’t luxury things. And I’d like to have time. Time to read and think and write and smile. Time for myself, to be alone and to be with friends.
Professionally, I want to collaborate with many people and I want to contribute to some of the podcasts I listen to. With Voix, I want to produce great podcasts, podcasts that will usher in a new wave of audio quality. I want to build a world-class production team and I want to set up a production system that can live without me and produce things that I would be proud of.
This Newsletter will serve as an essay collection of my journey through Act 2. It will be a true, honest and unreserved documentation of this thing I am trying.
For now, I cannot promise any particular frequency but they will come often.
I don’t think I would have gotten this far without all the people that have supported me in the past so I am here to ask for support again. This time, in form of a cup of coffee
Perhaps you are interested in reading future essays?
Like this one?
On the next Issue…
Our first podcast