Best friends Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings co-host “The NOD,” the first podcast dedicated to black culture on Gimlet Media.
Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings have both worked what they call “a ridiculous amount of jobs,” but when the best friends were tapped to host “the NOD,” the first weekly podcast geared towards blacks on Gimlet Media, they began living their purpose full-time.
“I remember us having some conversations about feeling like the jobs that we were doing were not meaningfully contributing to making the world a better place or making black people’s existence more comfortable, or in any way better,” Luse said. “I think also we were both yearning for some sort of meaningful way to exist in the world … and our switch into radio and broadcast … has filled that hole.”
As former hosts of “the Colored Nerds,” Luse and Eddings are no strangers to podcasting. however, with the NOD which is affectionately titled after the nonverbal cue many Black folks use to indicate acceptance or acknowledgement – the duo gets to explore black art, media and culture in a thorough, authentic and entertaining way.
“With the NOD specifically, we started to yearn for a bit of change. We realized we wanted to make things a bit more complex and there was a bit of opportunity to go beyond the conversations we were having … there was an opportunity to really tell more complex stories in the ways that people might not have heard before. It was kind of a natural evolution to move into the NOD,” Eddings said.
Now the two Howard University grads spend their days telling blacks’ stories in a way that sets them apart in an industry that is rapidly growing and dominated by mostly white, straight males.
“I’m not aware of another podcast that has the focus on storytelling and reporting that we do when it comes to reporting on black culture,” Eddings said. “We want to hear our stories told by us in a way that shows the intentionality and care that we think those stories deserve and I think that’s reflected in our episodes.”
Luse and Eddings said they track down individuals who actually lived through or witnessed the stories they tell so their audience can get first hand accounts of how the main characters felt; as well as the impact the topic had on broader culture. they also make it a point to not take themselves too seriously.
“We really have a focus on trying to have fun,” Luse said. “A lot of the reporting around black people in general is usually focused on something bad or there’s a lot of focus on the pathology, but when I think about my everyday life, I’m usually not sitting on a street corner bemoaning the state of black people. I’m usually having a good time despite all of the crap that’s going on in the world. We have created a space of fun for black people where people can just relax and enjoy and revel in all of our greatness and all of our quirks.”
The duo, whose friendly banter is hilarious and authentic, said they are intentional about high lighting topics that are “under-told, under-reported or under-preserved” with dignity.
Among their favorite and most well received episodes are: “A is for Afrocentric” and “Chitlins at Bergdorf’s,” which highlight sending your kids to Afrocentric schools and the more widespread diversity found in the American fashion scene in the 1970s, respectively.
“The response has been pretty amazing, and awesome and kind of overwhelming at times. … It’s been really nice to hear people say I just hadn’t heard this before. We hear that a lot,” Eddings said.
they credit their HBCU experience with helping prepare them for their current roles.
“Going to an HBCU definitely shapes your world view. It affects how you see yourself and how you want to be able to see yourself out in the world and media,” Luse said. “from Howard … those conversations in that educational space have definitely shaped not just how the NOD sounds and the way that we approach thinking about the show, but also who we are as people.”
“Being on an HBCU campus you’re exposed to so many different types of black people. It was a nice way to get an idea of just the range of the (African) Diaspora,” Eddings added.
“We are everywhere, all shapes and sizes and back grounds and our appreciation for the vastness of our culture started there and we figured out how to tell those stories a bit later.”
Luse and Eddings said they believe the reason podcasting has become so popular is because it affords people the opportunity to speak unfiltered and uncensored about the things that matter to them and inspire people to action in the process.
“When our work affects how somebody moves throughout the world, whether it gives them more confidence or urges them to take that next step … when there’s real life application of what we’ve talked about, that to me is the most incredible thing,” Luse said.
“It’s just exciting to think about people hearing the range of black stories and contexts,” Eddings added. “I’m excited for people to hear about the roots of grape drink or how black people are actually really doing some revolutionary things in the fashion game … these are all things happening under the umbrella.”
Episodes of the NOD are available every Monday on multiple providers including Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Spotify. since its premiere in July, the amount of listeners has steadily increased every week.
The fact isn’t lost on Luse and Eddings. they said they have more great stories lined up for listeners and hope they will stay tuned.
“We’re friends who are interested in black stories … We’re really trying to focus on how far we can take it and how many stories we can tell in so many different ways,” Eddings said.
They also look forward to painting the podcast world black.
“I do like to think about whose coming next. the exciting thing about being the first is the hope and the probability that you’re not going to be the only forever … I just want to populate the earth with black podcasts about literally anything,” Luse said.
Learn more about the NOD at www.gimletmedia.com/the-nod.