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Life & Work with James White

Today we’d like to introduce you to James White.

Hi James, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born, raised and still currently reside here in St. Louis. I always had the want to create and entertain, whether it be throwing parties during my senior year of high school leading into my freshman year, doing youtube skits. or doing campus radio with my friends. I even helped to create and take part in a Creative firm called The Bachelors Brand that incorporated those things along with blogging. Once I graduated with my Bachelors degree from UMSL in Media Studies, the creative spark died a bit while I journeyed off into the corporate world but I felt something was always missing.

In 2016, I discovered podcasts through shows like Jenkins & Jonez, MyPotnaB’s Podcast, The Read, The Brilliant Idiots, and The Friend Zone. I would sit and listen to them at the job I was working at at the time and really wanted to start my own. I tried to start one with a few of my friends and it was difficult to manage everyone’s personalities and who would talk when and where while also managing the flow of the show so I tabled the idea. Then in 2017, Jenkinz & Jonez were doing a podcast series around centered around the NBA playoffs and they were about 15 minutes long. Up until that point, I had never heard a podcast that wasn’t at least an hour to two hours long. This gave me a boost in confidence that I could do my own within a 15-minute window while also keeping it interesting. I decided to call the show “Henny Nights” and it would start off with stories from my life, whether they were funny, informative, inspirational etc. and eventually, once I established a rhythm, I would bring other people on that I knew to have conversations. As long as I could be authentic and myself, I was fine with taking a risk and venturing out on my own. Now four years and 65,000 streams later, I am still enjoying it as much as I did with the first episode.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been ups and downs for sure. There are times where the response I get to my episodes are great. When I see people out and they ask me about a topic that was discussed or a story that I told or one of my guests have told. It’s great to see the content resonate with people. The other side, which can be a downside, is that you can get entirely too invested in the number of downloads and listens that you have. I never started Henny Nights for the numbers or notoriety, but as a creative, there is a part of you that wants people to support what you have created. It can become easy to look around and wonder if you are doing enough or why the support has changed. What keeps my grounded is telling myself that if this particular episode changes one person’s perspective, then I’ve done what I needed to do.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I started the Henny Nights Podcast in 2017 with the intentions of telling funny, relatable stories about my life and things I have experienced with my friends. My first episode was about losing my virginity and how it was nothing like I expected it to be, and that allowed me to shake the nerves and share more about myself. From there, it has evolved into something I didn’t know it could be. It’s become a platform where not only I have grown; it also has become a space for others to share their trials and tribulations, whether it be about entrepreneurship, their faith, mental health, while also maintaining that fun element.

It’s become important to me to show that black people and people of color are not monolithic. We agree on some things, and other times we have a different perspective. We may have similar experiences, but we also have experiences that are unique to us, and it’s important that we share our stories ourselves before someone else tries do it whether it be in the media or elsewhere. I want Henny Nights to be an example of betting on yourself and building something yourself and taking that risk. I have failed at plenty of things and used those lessons to get where I am today. Failure isn’t the end, it’s just a detour. The podcast has also highlighted the importance of storytelling in regards to brand messaging. After graduating with my Masters in Media Communications from Webster University, I realized a lot of companies do not know how to market to people of color or do not have us in these spaces. So now I am looking at how to change that and creating something to change that.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
There are several podcasts that I listen to. Jenkins & Jonez, The Brilliant Idiots, The Read, MyPotnaB’s Podcast, Whiskey Soured, Polite Coolery, Oversaturated The Podcast just to name a few.

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