#FellowshipSpotlight | Rise of Charm City

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The Rise of Charm City
@RiseofCharmCity /
riseofcharmcity.com

The Rise of Charm City is a podcast and podcast producer that does both audio production for their podcast, The Rise of Charm City, and for third-party clients. They specialize in podcasts that are narrative in form and that also produce for social good. The trio, Stacia Brown, Ali Post, and Marcia Jews, met us at their recording studio at Eubie Blake Center in downtown Baltimore.


How did the Rise of Charm City come about?


STACIA: In 2015, we were awarded a grant to produce the first season - an audio documentary about landmarks, businesses, and neighborhoods in Baltimore City that are not usually profiled in the media - particularly those of the African American community. I was brought on by the grantmaker as an independent consultant and met these two lovely ladies at our partnering organization, WEAA. When the grantfunding was over, we decided we still wanted to work together. We produced a second season and are now expanding with a for-profit business arm.


What was the vision and inspiration to continue the project and grow it?


ALI: Something that really stuck out about the project was when Stacia called it "love letters to Baltimore" -- telling the histories and stories of Baltimore City that are positive and loving. We got a lot of great reception from the first season and there were so many more stories to tell.


STACIA: Also, Baltimore has been losing a lot of its independent and alternative media in the years since we started this podcast. As a result, we really wanted to continue the project and provide counter-narratives to what is usually reported on about Baltimore. We wanted to continue the work especially in what is increasingly the lack of presence of other outlets to do so.


MARCIA: I think we make a unique, wonderful team - almost three generations of people that can approach stories from different vantage points to weave together something very beautiful.

Also, these two are really very modest. They are Baltimore's Best in Baltimore City Paper, Baltimore Magazine, the Baltimore Sun. Stacia is an award-winning journalist and Ali is really talented on the editing side of things. Together, they are very powerful storytellers. My own strength is in the outreach - knowing people, having long-time institutional connections, knowing where all the bones are buried, so to speak, and providing deeper context to a lot of the stories we produce.


What's the big vision moving forward?


STACIA: Right now, we're in between seasons after doing a special three night production for Light City's Neighborhood Lights and we're pursuing funding for season three of the podcast. In the gap time, we're producing for other people and working as consultants.


MARCIA: The big vision is to become a national podcast company and producer.



You all are obviously coming at this project from individual and unique strengths. How did the BCAN fellowship facilitate your work?


STACIA: I liked how it brought together a diverse community of Baltimore creatives. A lot of times when independently producing in Baltimore, we are creating in silos and don't get an opportunity to connect with people outside of our own small circles. We learned a lot just about the creative industry itself in this city and not it's something we want to cover further in our own podcast series now. Creatives tend to be freelancers without the resources of business degrees. The program helped us figure out how to effectively backtrack on what we've already been doing to establish a sound business practice and infrastructure.


ALI: It's helped us focus in on what direction we want to go in and how to get there.



Why Baltimore?


MARCIA: It's a big country town. I've lived all over in different urban centers. But this is home. You can put your arms around it. People know you. It's just a good vibe. The arts community is flourishing and people are really paying attention to it.  There's a new vibrance. It's poised to accept whatever you have to bring that is positive and wonderful.