At an event at the stunning Sydney Pullman Quay Grand Harbour, ARN launched BlakCast – a new network showcasing and supporting podcasts and proudly platforming the stories of First Nations Peoples and people of colour.
BlakCast empowers First Nations Peoples and people of colour to reclaim their narratives, strengthen cultural identity and contribute to a more inclusive Australia by showcasing exciting, emerging talent from Indigenous communities and other Australians from minority backgrounds.
The BlakCast network launched with podcasts, including Black Magic Woman, Yarning Up, Curtain the Podcast, Unapologetically Blak, Meet the Mob and Coming Out Blak, and partnered with ARN’s iHeart to drive revenue and audiences for new and diverse talent. iHeart is the number one podcast publisher, with more podcast hits than any other publisher.
Mundanara Bayles, who was last night awarded the Australian Podcast Awards, Indigenous Podcast 2023 Award and Supply Nation’s Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year award back in August this year, is the driving force behind BlakCast. Bayles is a proud Aboriginal woman raised in Redfern, Sydney, and the daughter of the legendary Tiga Bayles, an activist and pioneer in Indigenous media who used his platform as the inaugural chair of the NSWALC to advance the rights of Aboriginal people across NSW in the 80’s. As a successful entrepreneur, educator, and speaker, Bayles launched the ground-breaking podcast Black Magic Woman in 2020 and joined ARN’s iHeart in 2023.
The event, MC’d by television presenter and proud Kamilaroi, Barkindji, Ballardong and Whadjuk woman Bianca Hunt, was a touching tribute to Indigenous culture, recognising the effort and work that has gone into the launch of the network. “Around 1% of the Australian media landscape is represented by First Nations people. Obviously, that’s not enough. It’s not a lot. I feel very lonely in this landscape. And so that’s why something like Blakcast is so important”.
The event opened with a touching welcome to the country, delivered by Bayles’ sister, who outlined the importance of First Nations voices. “The language, the stories in the culture of the Gadigal people stolen, was ripped away. But it is up to each and every one of you who live in this country who call this place home to know the true history of this country and to become custodians”. This was followed by traditional performances and music from a mob of First Nations performers.
Bayles broke down when telling the audience of her family’s rich history in the radio industry and how it shaped her to be as passionate as she is about sharing First Nation voices and stories. She told of how her Grandmother and her Father started on 2SER in a 10-minute timeslot in 1981 and how she grew up behind the scenes of Koori Radio, watching her Father help provide a permanent platform for First Nations voices.
“I never imagined that 15 to 20 years later, I would return to media following in the footsteps of my father and my grandmother… Blakcast is Australia’s first or only indigenous podcasting network that is owned and led by First Nations people,” Bayles said. “We are proud to showcase exciting emergent talent from our communities whilst improving cultural and socio-economic outcomes”.
Corey Layton, head of digital audio at ARN IHeartRadio and IHeartPodcast Australia, also took to the stage, outlining the importance of the network and why ARN is so keen to support the idea. “As the head of IHeart, I was acutely aware that as a middle-aged, bald, white man, I had built a network that didn’t truly represent modern Australia. What was missing was diverse voices,” said Layton. “It was an idea that very quickly, instantly resonated with me, an idea designed to showcase, invest in and develop emerging and existing talent behind and in front of the mic from Australia’s First Nations communities”.
The event was also an opportunity for ARN and the Blakcast team to launch a national talent search for First Nations Creators wanting to step into the podcasting world. “When we find those people, we’re going to bring them back to the IHeart studios, and we’re going to train them; we’re going to give them the best equipment possible. And then we’re going to send them out across Australia to find stories we haven’t heard,” said IHeart Podcast content director Stephanie Coombes.
BlakCast’s mission is to strengthen the cultural identity of Australia. Grounded in the values of the world’s oldest living continuous culture, they are committed to unapologetically championing diverse voices and perspectives.
“BlakCast is paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future where all voices are heard, and the stories of the First Nations peoples are celebrated. Through diverse storytelling, we seek to foster a deeper connection to the rich tapestry of our nation’s history and culture for audiences and content makers alike,” said Bayles.
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