Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

Below the Radar Surpasses 25,000 Listens

November 05, 2020
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By Melissa Roach

Reflecting on a podcast milestone during crisis times

Two years and 86 episodes later, Below the Radar is going strong with 25,000+ listens. SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement launched this podcast with the aim of connecting with our community in a new way. Through Below the Radar, we have been able to lift up ideas we felt needed to be heard, offering audiences engaging conversations they can listen to on their own time.

The connections we have made to our guests and listeners became even more dear to us this spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic made it unsafe for us to gather and be in community with each other in the same way.

Without that buzz of discussion in a packed room, or the joyous singing and dancing at community workshops, or just the accidental delight of running into friendly faces on-campus or at 312 Main, the Below the Radar podcast has been a vital link to our community while our doors remain closed to the public.

Michael Roberson joined "Below the Radar" for an episode of Pandemic Conversations,"Reading the Political Moment."
A conversation with Justine A. Chambers and Laurie Young about their collaborative dance performance, "One Hundred More."

In the early months of the pandemic, we began to have conversations with scientists, frontline service providers, community organizers, and artists about how this public health emergency is impacting people and the world around us.

Our team launched a special Pandemic Conversations series of Below the Radar to bring these conversations to the fore. Being just one of many overlapping crises communities are facing, we spoke to local and international experts about how COVID-19 is intersecting with the housing crisis, a toxic drug supply, gender-based violence, campaigns for a just and green recovery, and more.

Co-op student Jackie Obungah curated and conducted a series of interviews for Below the Radar — lifting up the voices of Black youth and discussing the changemaking work they are doing in their communities. Episodes included an interview with SFU student organizers Ayaan Ismaciil and Natasha Mhuriro about the importance of mutual aid and setting up the Black in BC Mutual Aid fund. Jackie also spoke to Aida Mwanzia about centering youth in policymaking and her policy recommendations around putting a cap on international student tuition in BC.

Your host, Am Johal, ready to Zoom into his next "Below the Radar" interview from our office at 312 Main.

In the past seven months of podcasting, we have been welcoming our guests over Zoom and working without the technical gear and support our cozy in-office recording studio provides. We have been embracing the ups and downs of recording from our at-home work stations, and we continue to share ideas flying below the radar every week.

Our wi-fi may be shaky, but our community connections are strong.

To mark this milestone of 25,000 listens, I asked my fellow Below the Radar producers to share one of their favourite things about making this show.

“Working remotely on Below the Radar has offered us the opportunity to develop new systems of collaboration within our team. I have learned new skills and I am putting old ones into practice as our work has become more digital. Most importantly, I think working with the VOCE team during the pandemic, we have learned to lean on each other when we need to and to appreciate each other’s strengths. Besides the great content and amazing guests, a true highlight for me has been working with my colleagues during this time of uncertainty.” — Fiorella Pinillos

“Even though I haven't been on the team for very long and have just barely contributed to their current checkpoint of 25,000 views, I'm very excited about having an opportunity to hone my technical skills while learning about and engaging with our community through osmosis!” — Alex Abahmed

“I love working with the team on the podcast and feeling accomplished with every new episode we put out. I am especially proud of the episodes I have gone behind the mic for, such as our conversations with Laura Marks, Janice Abbott, and Teresa MacInnes.” — Paige Smith

"Below the Radar has been a novel excuse to get to speak with interesting people in Vancouver and elsewhere. In a time of social isolation and pandemic anxieties, it has given us a place to connect with our many communities, no matter where they are based and be responsive to emerging conversations." — Am Johal

"I learn so much from our guests while I'm editing their conversations. It's so exciting to hear from guests whose work relates to my practice, and it's such a joy to be able to use my technical skills to help share their knowledge and experiences." — Kathy Feng

Thank you to all who have listened, subscribed, shared, or been on the show as guests. We look forward to bringing you more episodes with fascinating guests in the weeks to come. As we like to say, see you next time on Below the Radar!

Find our full archive of Below the Radar episodes here.

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