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The new season of WBEZ’s podcast series “Making” explores the rise of black icons | Black voices | Chicago News

Past Seasons of the WBEZ Biography Podcast “Production” plunged into the heyday of three people so iconic that they are known only by one name – Oprah, Beyoncé, Obama.

The latest season of the podcast offers the same level of legend stories, but in a new format. This season, each weekly episode covers the years of “making” a different figure through interviews with three people who had a personal or professional relationship with the subject. The show also has a new host in WCIU’s Brandon Pope.

Pope says that in order to provide a complete look at the rise of Serena Williams, who is the subject of the first episode, the team carefully considered which elements of her career needed to be discussed.

“It was tough because it’s like, who’s going to give us the best perspective? And you want it to be from different sides,” said the Pope. “So in this episode we had Chanda Rubin playing against her and she can talk about how scary it is to play against someone like Serena Williams and how that relates to how you have to improve your game to play again. Then we think, OK, what about family life? Family history is a big part of her legacy. We spoke to her older sister Isha Price. And finally, you want to get a coaching perspective, someone who actually sat there with Serena … and that’s Rick Mackie.”

Pope says the topics will range from sports and entertainment figures like Williams to historical and political figures, but always with an eye toward the present.

“We didn’t want it to be the History Channel, where you’re talking about a bunch of people you don’t have much contact with. There’s going to be some episodes where we talk about Frederick Douglass and some really cool people who did some great things, but to be able to have people whose story isn’t completely written at this point, they’re still writing it, I think that makes it even more interesting because it gives us an opportunity to also maybe come back later and revisit it and see what the next chapter is,” Pope said.

He mentions an episode about Rihanna’s early career as one that is particularly relevant to him.

“It was the most enlightening because I’ve always been a fan of Rihanna, but I didn’t realize the effort she put in, the work ethic. And it’s such an unconventional story,” said Pope, referring to the season’s second episode, which focuses on the Barbadian pop star. “That progress and that effort, that drive, I think it’s really inspiring. And so, learning about these details, I leave every conversation with the inspired thought: wow, if they can do this … we can do the same.”


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