Meet Alexandra Cohl from Our September SoundHER Podcast Feature: POD.DRALAND

SoundHER is an interview series where the ladies of Sounder have candid conversations with influential women in podcasting about their journey to success. Read on for industry tips, poignant POVs, and a ton of audio inspiration.

Tell Us About POD.DRALAND’s Podcast Journey

Although POD.DRALAND didn’t officially launch until July 16, 2019, I had been marinating on the idea for it at least six months prior to then and was deep in listening and studying mode with podcasts. I was in graduate school during the time (2017-2019), getting my master’s in English Literature, and I was starting to think about what I wanted to do next in my career. I had been teaching creative and essay writing since graduating from undergrad (in 2014), done some freelance writing here and there, and was working other jobs like the register at the boxing gym I attended at the time. It had gotten to the point where I knew I wanted to pursue my own creative endeavors, this nonlinear career path, but was admittedly nervous to do so and didn’t quite know where to start. 

But, I knew that if I didn’t I would regret it. And, I had been listening to so many podcasts hosted by women and these women were sharing about their creative career journeys (the challenges and the wins), whether it was freelance work, art, writing, or podcasting, and it really made me think, “You know what? I can do this.” And, my first course of action was to start a blog where I showcased these women-hosted podcasts and why I thought others needed to listen to them (The Tuesday Pod). Then, I expanded into podcast lists and short written interview features with independent women podcasters. 

Creating this platform and running my social media pages along with it really taught me how important it was to allow myself to experiment and to not be afraid or overly judgmental of my own vision. I also very much needed to learn how to not attach my worth to an algorithm and to set clear boundaries between social media and how I define success. After a year of running my blog, I started taking on podcast clients for PR and social media, and it has been just another way that I can serve my community and help folks (especially women) be heard by more people. And in this last year of being my own boss, I have had many challenges; at the same time, I’ve also learned to value my work and expertise more and to trust that when opportunity meets preparation and shared values, good things really start to happen.

During the start of the pandemic, I taught myself how to edit my own recordings in Adobe Audition in preparation for creating my own podcast. I took on the role of producer and host, and have been honing my craft since then. In February 2020, I launched my own podcast, The Pod Broads, where I interview women in the podcasting industry about their lives and their work and how the two intersect. Season two kicked off yesterday (new episodes drop on Wednesdays at 3 a.m. EST). My goal is to continue to finding innovative ways to showcase the important work and life experience of women in this field, especially since I know that podcasting has truly made me love and be confident in my own voice more. 

What was the inspiration behind your own podcast, The Pod Broads

When I started my blog, I always knew that I wanted to eventually develop a podcast that would complement the work that I was doing there. So, The Pod Broads was just a natural progression of the work I had already been doing: showcasing and amplifying the work of women in podcasting. As I was developing the idea for the podcast, I also knew that I wanted to interview women from all parts of the industry — not just the hosts, who so often get the forward facing exposure due to the nature of being a host. While I of course interview hosts, I also wanted to be sure to showcase producers, social media managers, CEOs, and other women who may more often remain behind the scenes. 

Creating a podcast takes so much and (unless you’re an indie doing it all yourself) so many people, and too often those with roles behind the scenes get overlooked. Now, it wasn’t just about the work. I also wanted to (and continue to want to) be sure to give space for these women to share about their personal journeys too and show how these different parts of their own lives intersect with the work that they do. Each of our lives are so multi-faceted and our personal life always impacts our professional worlds (and vice versa), whether we want it to or not. And I think it is really powerful to be able to share your full self and reflect on the way these different parts connect and feed into each other. Doing so for myself, I know, has been instrumental in my ability to grow and connect with people on a deeper level, and my hope with this podcast is that I can help my guests do that with my listeners, while also showing off their expertise and work. 

What advice can you give us for new and existing podcasters?

One of my major tips is to definitely be open to collaborations and to not be afraid of trying something new or different (or at least don’t let that fear stop you — since it is totally okay to be afraid or nervous during the process!). Too often women have been socialized to be really judgmental of their own voices, and so something I always like to say is to remind other women that their voice matters, their thoughts and emotions are valid, and the actual sound of their voice is unique and doesn’t need to change. 

I would also say that podcasting is extremely time consuming, especially as an indie creator doing all the moving parts of it! So, carve out time to rest, allow yourself time to ideate, and be really clear on your “why” because if you aren’t clear on it, your listeners won’t be either, and you’ll probably burn out way too quickly. It is also okay if you can’t do everything you want to do right away (whether it is a lack of time or resources), and it will happen if you give yourself permission to grow at a steady rate.

Why Is Podcasting The Superior Marketing Medium?

Part of the reason podcasting is such an impactful form of marketing or PR is because it really is such an intimate space that allows people to directly connect to those they are hearing. People really begin to trust the hosts of the shows they love and so they are invested in what the hosts have to share — whether that is another person, another podcast, a brand, or something else; that trust and connection will have a lot of impact and weight in a listener’s decision to pursue what it is the host is talking about. On the flip side, it is then really important for a host and podcast to continue to earn and follow through on that trust and honor the values they claim to have. 

Tell Us About Your Views On Gender In The Podcast Industry Today

As many of us in the industry know, podcasting is still known as a “white boys’ club,” and this is because for a long time (and still currently), the percentage of male hosts to female hosts on major networks is vastly disproportionate to each other. In other positions outside of hosting, there is still a major lack of representation across the board for women and non binary folks in comparison to white men. We have to look at those who are in positions of power to especially see how that hierarchy impacts the other filled positions in a company or who is chosen to be interviewed or who is given more opportunity in the space.

For me, gender representation in and of itself is a really complex topic, but for me in particular, I can definitely speak more to the women-centric part of it, since that is where I have focused a lot of my energy and research. My goal has consistently been to get more people to genuinely listen to women, their experiences and their voices, and to support them in this male-dominated field. Especially since historically, women have not been listened to in so many areas of their lives and experiences, and I know the power that audio can have on reaching audiences in a new way–whether for pleasure or education or something else. And, if there are voices and identities not present in the production room or the hosting or guest chair, there are going to be so many needed perspectives that are missed or overlooked in the content itself.

As a sexual assault survivor, when certian news came out about sexual harassment going on in the audio and podcasting space, my commitment to this mission became even stronger. We have to also factor in how the lack of representation (and the harassment) increases for women of color and nonbinary folks of color. It is always an intersectional issue, and if we aren’t looking at the way race and other pieces of someone’s identity play a role in any conversation around gender, then we are missing a huge part of it. 

I mention in my Women Who Podcast Magazine feature that there are some men really doing the work to be allies in this space, which is super helpful, but I also like to look to my community of women to see how we are showing up for each other: to my fellow white women, in particular, I ask, how are we checking ourselves and our potential biases or blindspots and how might that be negatively impacting women of color in the space? How does the representation for men of color impact this conversation we’re having? What do we need to change in our discourse? And to all of my women, how are we showing up for our nonbinary peers, and how are we educating ourselves there? These are just the start of many questions that need to be a part of this conversation, and part of my job is to keep listening to and learning from folks in the industry who have a much better and intimate understanding of these other experiences. 

What podcasts are you currently listening to? 

Ah! So many as always, but I have a few currently in rotation that I’ve been listening to for pleasure. Back Issue from Pineapple Street Studios is back with season two, which I am thrilled about. That’s been a favorite of mine since it first dropped last year. Mala Muñoz, one half of Locatora Radio, recently came out with Marijuanera: A Podcast for Potheads (as a part of Locatora Productions), which I’ve really been enjoying and so appreciated her commentary on the issue of the Olympics and Sha’Carri Richardson. And, I’ve been loving Drama Queens with iHeartRadio, hosted by Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz. I am a major One Tree Hill fan, so I’ve been loving these episodes that break down their rewatching of the show, along with interviews of other cast members. They are also talking about their behind-the-scenes experience and about what it was like as a young female actor during that time. This podcast, as they express, is a reclamation of that show in a way, as they all experienced sexual harassment and abuse on set during the actual filming of it. And, as I’m sure you know by now after reading through this interview, I am a huge fan of anything that helps survivors reclaim their experience. 

What’s Next For Your Journey & Mission?

I am currently expanding my work in PR and social media, so that I can serve even more folks in the industry. I would love to create some resources for people to download and apply themselves, especially for folks who may be unable to afford a consultation session or an ongoing contract with me at this time. With my podcast, I am ready to start experimenting with form more and am excited to bring some other amazing women to the mic during season two (check out the trailer here and the first episode here). As a part of that, I can’t wait to do more collaborations with other podcasters and brands and to just keep building this ecosystem of my women-hosted podcast work. 

For more on Alexandra’s journey follow her at @pod.draland on Instagram and @poddraland on Twitter to stay connected. 

Thank you for reading this month’s edition of #soundHER! If you have any questions for Alexandra or would like to be featured as Sounder’s next female voice, email us at support@sounder.fm or tag us on social using #soundHER. To keep the conversation going, join us on Wednesday, September 29th at 7:30 p.m. EST when Sounder goes live with Alexandra on Instagram. Make sure you’re following us on IG so you can jump right in.

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