Black Austin Matters Podcast: A Love Letter to the City

Black Austin Matters hosts Dr. Richard Reddick and Dr. Lisa Thompson. Credit Gabriel C. Pérez
I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!” That common saying seems to apply perfectly to the circumstances that brought Lisa Thompson, PhD, co-host of the new local podcast, “Black Austin Matters.

She recalls the frantic effort she had to make to get to Austin for her interview with UT back in 2010, as the call came while she was working abroad. She made it happen and has no regrets.

She considers the podcast “a love letter” to the city that embraced her, her artistry, and her passion for the Black community. Although originally from south Austin, co-host and fellow UT professor, Dr. Richard Reddick feels much the same way. His motivation for the role he plays in the podcast is to help listeners understand that the city in which he spent his formative years is not just a single story. While he went to both Reagan and Johnston high schools and knew quite a bit about both communities, he finds himself amazed at the different worlds found within Austin’s city limits, and each with growing black representation.

The birthday twins tag team in interviews with local personalities that might go otherwise unnoticed. For those who many think they know, they get excited when conversations expose the multidimensional nature of their guests’ contributions to the city and beyond.  Referred to by Thompson and Reddick as “the glue”, “the plug” and “the star” of the podcast, native Austinite Miles Bloxson is the podcast’s producer. The mix of Reddick’s local experience, Thompson’s zeal for the arts, and Bloxson’s technical and media savvy have made for a true family affair. Bloxson sees the show as an opportunity for people to really get to know Black Austin, “and it’s already happening!” she proudly shares. “The response has been great!”

While the target audience of the podcast is the Black community that has been disrupted and dispersed as a result of the developments in East Austin, it is a great chance for anyone who is interested in learning more about the vibrancy of the Black people who make Austin home.

Texas is so much more than the national, and even global headlines it often gets

Reddick makes clear that the aim is to neither glamorize the stories, nor tell an overwhelming tale of woe, but rather to revel in the gems that are hidden right under our noses. “In some of these conversations, it is thrilling to talk to someone who was known for one thing, only to learn so many more amazing things about the work they are doing.” Thompson also sees the podcast as a way “to push back against the haterism Texas gets.” Texas is so much more than the national, and even global headlines it often gets.”

Reddick and Thompson interviewed Exalton and Wilhelmina Delco in their East Austin home.

The first interview was an enlightening sit-down with Wilhelmina and Exalton Delco, who have spent decades leading efforts to advocate for equity and representation in education and local politics. The second podcast featured an interview with Chas Moore, leader of the grassroots organization, Austin Justice Coalition, who tirelessly fights for marginalized communities.

While the first two podcasts arguably feature local heavy-hitters, Thompson and Reddick both emphasize that the podcast is not designed to be a “who’s who” in Black Austin leadership, Rather, it plans overall to aim a sharp lens on the everyday folks who make up the amazing fabric of Austin’s artistic, sociopolitical, business and cultural scene. Listeners can expect to hear from folks for they may have never known in future episodes.

With Austin fast becoming “the new Atlanta”, in which much of its Black population is made up of folks from other cities, the Black Austin Matters podcast is “something that needed to happen,” to connect us, according to Bloxson. “People are embracing the podcast and I’m so happy to call [Austin] my city.”

Listeners can hear the full-length Black Austin Matters podcasts at KUT Studios, with excerpts broadcasts later on KAZI.

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