Self Evident Media

Self Evident Media

Self Evident (hear our trailer) offers a space to engage with reported stories, personal histories, and participatory local events — all by and about Asian Americans who have been confronting this question for generations. Starting with a podcast with intent to improve Asian American representation in public radio, we’ve spent

Self Evident Media

Self Evident (hear our trailer) offers a space to engage with reported stories, personal histories, and participatory local events — all by and about Asian Americans who have been confronting this question for generations. Starting with a podcast with intent to improve Asian American representation in public radio, we’ve spent four years working from the grassroots to build a home for the full range of Asian American perspectives so often erased from the national discourse. Each episode presents an in-depth audio documentary or radically open conversations that help listeners of all backgrounds take on the tough questions about who we are. Our mission is to empower local communities to share stories and build relationships around the value of self-representation. Listeners tell us that they love Self Evident because we help them understand America from diverse perspectives, effect personal change, and take action with those closest to them to help move our country towards healing and justice. The work we’ve done to produce nuanced and challenging stories about Asian Americans — then collaborate with local listeners to spur restorative dialogue around those stories — has underscored how storytelling can grow the capacity for underrepresented people to create structures of mutual support with each other.

About the Organization:

Self Evident (hear our trailer) offers a space to engage with reported stories, personal histories, and participatory local events — all by and about Asian Americans who have been confronting this question for generations. Starting with a podcast with intent to improve Asian American representation in public radio, we’ve spent four years working from the grassroots to build a home for the full range of Asian American perspectives so often erased from the national discourse. Each episode presents an in-depth audio documentary or radically open conversations that help listeners of all backgrounds take on the tough questions about who we are. Our mission is to empower local communities to share stories and build relationships around the value of self-representation. Listeners tell us that they love Self Evident because we help them understand America from diverse perspectives, effect personal change, and take action with those closest to them to help move our country towards healing and justice. The work we’ve done to produce nuanced and challenging stories about Asian Americans — then collaborate with local listeners to spur restorative dialogue around those stories — has underscored how storytelling can grow the capacity for underrepresented people to create structures of mutual support with each other.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Texas

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Texas

The Issue:

We address a systemic lack of resources for Asian Americans to tell their own life’s stories. Through audio storytelling, the beneficiaries we focus on are Asian Americans with no leverage in public radio markets, independent storytellers with no support system in podcasting, and Asian diaspora families who need help to preserve their personal stories. 1. We serve Asian Americans who are excluded from public radio — behind and in front of the mic. While public radio stations are mandated to pursue racial equity in their stories and staffing, accountability (let alone publication of diversity data) is nonexistent. Asian Americans are perennially underrepresented in terms of on-air programming and under-served in community programming. Even in a post-Crazy-Rich-Asians world, we’ve been told repeatedly by public media decision-makers that there's no audience for Asian-centered reporting, despite the fact that Asian American people make up between 6-10% of their addressable markets. As long as this institutional bias perpetuates racial and class gaps, we must build an independent home to bridge those gaps and build an alternative platform. 2. That home must also include independent storytellers — who currently turn to homegrown podcasting to speak their truth, but are severely limited by the lack of funding, mentorship, and distribution for those podcasts. While Asian American podcasts have grown from a couple dozen in 2018 to several thousand in 2022, 99% of these new podcasts are constrained to chat formats and hyper-niche topics — because that’s what’s possible without infrastructure to pursue stories with greater production value and broader impact. While the rising number of podcasts heralds a drop in barriers to entry, it also masks a persisting barrier to power. 3. Our Asian diaspora listeners have also shown us that on a local community level, their families lack tools and secure spaces to pass down their life’s stories to future generations. While this problem is technically straightforward to solve, nonprofits are under-resourced and rarely trained to work with Asian diaspora communities — which leaves a ticking clock on our chance to preserve the stories of elder generations who are entering the twilight of their lives.

The Solution:

We’ve built an independent home where Asian American storytellers are treated as stakeholders and collaborators. And we’ve chosen audio as our medium because it’s the most cost-effective, flexible, accessible tool we know. 1. Faced with systemic bias in public radio, we’ve established a flagship podcast that provides the resources, credibility, and cultural competency for Asian voices to be heard. While most podcasts attempt to monetize their literal podcast feed and social media presence, we’ve partnered with mission-driven funders like PRX Education, the Solutions Journalism Network and the National Geographic Society, to pay our reporters, producers, and editors. Then, we’ve partnered with organizations like KALW 90.7 and Making Contact to distribute our podcast to more and more listeners via re-publishing and radio syndication. Podcast episodes make further impact as resources for university educators and DEI tools for employee resource groups. 2. As an independent studio for Asian American voices, we’re investing in the next generation of Asian American storytellers. Our strategy here is to scout podcasters and students, plus non-professionals from our network of community-based organizations. Going beyond a standard pitch call, we provide mentorship and funding for urgent, on-the-ground work — shepherding ideas to become new stories or entirely new series. This is the stage of growth where we need support. Development is an underserved need because it involves risks and investments with no immediate payoff. After three years of building a tent for Asian American voices, we want to shoulder those challenges with the folks who most need our support. 3. In response to listener requests for guidance on how to open a dialogue with family members, we’ve designed an oral history education program that we’re now piloting nationwide. This program teaches Asian Americans how to conduct their first oral history interview with a loved one — and then add that interview recording to an archive managed by Self Evident. This programming brings our work full circle, building a path to more stories and more opportunities for Self Evident to fund, curate, and amplify — whether through our podcast, new studio projects, or partnerships around the archive itself.

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