Past seasons of WBEZ’s biographic podcast “Making” dove into the rise of three people so iconic they’re known by just one name – Oprah, Beyonce, Obama.
The podcast’s latest season offers the same level of legends’ stories but in a new format. This season, each weekly episode covers the “making” years of a different figure via interviews with three people who had personal or professional relationships with the subject. And the show also has a new host in WCIU’s Brandon Pope.
Pope says to give a complete look at the rise of Serena Williams, who is the subject of the first episode, the team carefully considered what elements of her career needed to be discussed.
“It was tough because it's like, who is going to give us the best perspective? And you want it to be from different angles,” Pope said. “So for this episode we had Chanda Rubin, who played against her and can talk about how scary it is to play against someone like Serena Williams and how that has to how you have to up your game to play again. Then we think, OK, how about family life? The family story is a big part of her legacy. We talked to her older sister, Isha Price. And then finally you want to get the coaching perspective, a person who actually sat there with Serena … and that's Rick Macci.”
Pope says the subjects will range from sports and entertainment figures like Williams to historic and political figures – but always with an eye toward modern-day relevance.
“We didn’t want it to be the History Channel, where you’re talking about a bunch of people who there’s not a lot of connecting to. There will be some episodes where we do talk about Frederick Douglass and some really cool people who did some great things, but to be able to have people that are currently their story is not completely written yet, they’re still writing it, I think that makes it even more fun because it gives us the opportunity to also maybe go back later on and revisit it and see what the next chapter is,” Pope said.
He mentions the episode about Rihanna’s early career as one with particular relevance for him.
“It was the most enlightening because I have always been a fan of Rihanna but I didn’t realize the effort she put in, the work ethic. And it’s just such an unconventional story,” said Pope, referring to the second episode of the season focusing on the Barbadian pop star. “That progression and that effort, that drive, I think that’s really inspiring. And so learning those details, I leave each conversation inspired thinking, wow, if they can do that … we can do the same thing.”