Pride48 Podcaster John Ong: Telling Stories, Building Community

Jun 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, Citizen Media, Podcasting, Podcasting Events

This weekend marks the inaugural run of the Pride 48 podcast marathon. The two day event kicked off Friday evening, and showcases several dozen GLBT podcast shows throughout the weekend.

I recently talked with John Ong, a Kansas City podcaster I know from PodCamp Midwest, whose Ongline Podcast will be part of Pride 48.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: How did you come to be involved in the Pride 48 project?

John Ong: I listen to a fellow long-time podcaster Archerr of He has a group show every week, mostly consist of other podcasters. Daniel (Brewer), along with I think one other podcaster, came up with the idea. They discussed about this project on ArcherRadio, that’s how I learned about it.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: The participants come from all over the world — how did the other people get involved, and how did folks decide which podcast would go when during the two-day period?

John Ong: Essentially, each show talked about it. We have some connections of some Australian podcasters, some from New Zealand. I have some connections with some Malaysian websites and podcasters. That’s how we got everyone involved. It was all through word of mouth.

Just like any other genre of podcasting, we are kinda connected from all over the world because of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community. Within this small group, we spread the word.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: What do you want your audience to get out of listening to the podcast marathon?

John Ong: I think I want a sense of community. Gay or gay-friendly people get together. Not all countries have resources where the GLBT community can listen to open discussions about themselves. There are still many countries who would censor our the word “gay” or “lesbian” during their regular programming. My home country, Malaysia, is one of them.

I want to be able to spread the word to the world that we are really as normal as anyone else they know. Totally unlike how the conventional media or government may want us to appear – oversexed kinky weirdos.

Celebrating gay pride is another goal. Listeners and podcasters coming together for a full 2-day run.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: It may be too early to ask this, but is this the first year of an ongoing Pride Month podcasting tradition?

John Ong: This is the first. But I don’t think it will be the only. Daniel has plans to open up the stream to anyone who wants to do it. And we may actually do it a few times a year rather than just for the month of June. We may do another one later this year.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: Tell me about your podcast, and how and when you got into podcasting.

John Ong: My tiny little podcast that started my other podcasts is Ongline Podcast. My last name is Ong, a play on word of “online”… I always feel obliged to explain.

It started off as an audio blog. Just me talking to my family and friends. This is way back in November of 2004. I started to get more listeners whom I don’t know personally than those I know. It [still] retains its personal journal quality, which I personally am drawn to listening as well.

I focus on human stories. Sometimes it’s my story. Sometimes I have guests to talk about their stories. Not always gay-related. But it’s hard to avoid, since I am gay. But I bring other up and coming Malaysian podcasters on the show. Humorous stories of my own. Embarrassing stories, and sometimes sad experiences. Something that you would overhear a couple of good friends talk about at the next dining table.

I am a semi-professional singer. I’ve had a studio in my basement since 2003. When I first read about podcasting in 2004, that spiked my interest. I already have the equipment, I always find excuses to use my toys, and I am a web fan. That brought me into podcasting within a month.

When I listed my podcast at Adam Curry’s directory, there were literally fewer than 300 podcasts! I hand-coded my first enhanced podcast before any software was available (GarageBand etc).

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: Is there anything else (at all!) you’d like me to share with the readers of Podcasting News?

John Ong: I found podcasting to be my great creative outlet. I get to document part of my life that I choose to share with the public. It also allows many voices of a minority group to be accessible from all over the world. Being an Asian, and being gay. I wished when I was younger to be able to hear a real voice out there speaking as a gay Asian, as openly and as genuinely as one chooses.

I personally hope and think the future generations may actually benefit from having real people speaking out about their lives that younger GLBT children may otherwise not have the exposure to. The struggles that I went through as an isolated gay kid, not understanding why I’m different from many of my peers, all can be shared now on my podcast. Hopefully my stories would reach children or adults who are going through the same situations I went through.

I also started several other podcasts after my Ongline Podcast. I started Penang Hokkien Podcast, a foreign language podcast, a year later. I also started Ding Da Bell Podcast about a year ago.

Elisabeth McLaury Lewin: Thanks so much for bringing Pride 48 to my attention. It sounds like a really neat project, and I’m looking forward to stopping in to have a listen.

John Ong: Just so you know, streaming can be done on a computer or even iPhone or iPod touch. Chat room, however, is only available on the computer. But we are going to monitoring hash tag #pride48 on Twitter. Anyone who wants to interact (which podcasters sometimes missed) can do so either in the chat room or tweet using #pride48.

We are hoping this won’t just be an annual event, but more than once a year. We’ll find out as we go along.

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