The Monday Media Diet with Saidah Blount
On memories of APT, Spoontown & Sugarbill, and Kate Bush
Saidah Blount (SB) is a longtime friend of WITI. She has exceptional taste in music and I would regularly run into her at gigs in NYC: most notably when Spiritualized played Radio City Music Hall. Epic. She put pen to paper for us with MMD to give a look into her media habits. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I'm currently the Executive Producer of Sonos Radio, Sonos' new-ish music and radio streaming platform. I oversee over a dozen different shows and/or podcasts (and counting!) right now. Also while working alongside my amazing colleagues, I'm cooking up a bunch of new ideas for creative, unique content for radio, as well as how to take Sonos Radio into the 'real' world. Additionally, I conceptualized our Sonos Sound System channel, which relies on human-powered music curation for a deep dive into music discovery and what I call "surprise & delight" listening.
In the past, I've been lucky to work at some amazing places including NPR, The Fader/Cornerstone, the legendary venue APT (RIP), the pioneering web 2.0 music and streetwear hub Platform.net (RIP), as well as freelancing for past clients like Topshop, Spotify, Adidas, Adult Swim, and many more. I've always been able to bring my love of music, fashion and pop culture into my work, which I guess is the best I could ask for.
I was born in Kansas City (the Missouri side!), and I always tell people that KC is the hidden gem American city that no one really knows about. It truly shaped who I am, due to exposing me to great music/radio stations, great restaurants/food culture, and amazing people. I now live in Brooklyn, NY.
Describe your media diet.
I'm probably on social media a bit too much, sadly. In the search for music and cultural news, I'm definitely still a solid Twitter user. So many great music and cultural journalists, humorists, and critical thinkers are still on the Angry Bird, so it's a daily must for me. Also, Black Twitter truly cracks me up, we are unbeatable with the quick-as-lightening memes and cultural commentary. I'm also a big Instagram user-- I love getting these bite-sized visual snippets of the lives of my friends, colleagues, and creatives that I stan. And I've recently gotten more into TikTok, there are some pretty amazing storytellers on the platform.
First thing in the AM, if I have to move my car for alternate side parking, I turn on NPR/WNYC, and then I usually check the MusicDef newsletter for a rundown of interesting music news. I also open up these other newsletters: Refinery29, WSJ, Pitchfork, Blavity, Vulture/The Cut, Hypebeast, Consequence, and The Fader... I'm sure there's more, yikes almighty.
Because I consider myself a foodie, I'll open newsletters from Food52, Milk Street, Grub Street, The Infatuation, Cherry Bombe, and more.
I still have a few magazine subscriptions, surprisingly: I still receive The New Yorker, Time, and Smithsonian magazines, and I also support a few super-niche music publications like the amazing Maggot Brain, The Creative Independent, and Wax Poetics.
I buy books locally from the awesome Spoontown & Sugarbill in Williamsburg (they have one of the best browsing tables EVER, and their music book and fancy notebook collection is great. Plus a shout-out to the amazing staff who let you browse, read, and hang out in peace!) and Books Are Magic. I also pick up amazing cookbooks and other food books at the excellent Archestratus Books in Brooklyn. But yeah, I cheat and also buy a bunch of books on Kindle, because I always fear how large my book collection has grown over the years and potentially having to move them someday soon, oyyyyy....
Podcasts: way too many. Like a lot, and I listen at random times (mainly in the car, tho). I also have too many friends that work in podcasting, so I'm not gonna list 'em out and accidentally forget someone. But I like podcasts that are either driven by great storytelling/research, are about crazy pop cultural moments, or beauty/skincare (an obsession of mine).
I digest mainstream news in VERY small bites. I get the bigger global headlines off of social media, and that's enough for me.
TV/cable/movie streaming services: I am basically paying for all of them or sharing logins with friends, oooof.
Finally, I'm in a few 'secret' playlist clubs so I get exposed to awesome, rare and/or deeeeep cut music on the regular. I listen to my Spotify Discover Weekly, well, weekly. And Sonos' über music nerds have a few secret Slack channels that are pretty insane, lol. Killer mixes and tracks come off of those bad boys, for sure.
What’s the last great book you read?
First, a deeper yet important read, Allow Me To Retort: A Black Guy's Guide To The Constitution by the brilliant Elie Mystal (The Nation's justice correspondent). Mystal is one of my favorite thinkers right now around public policy and how our "rights" are being rapidly eroded, and he just nails it in this book.
Second, I breezed thru The Wisteria Society Of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton, a totally light and mainstream yet entertaining fantasy novel about a clan of Victorian-era prim lady pirates who fly around in magical houses and lie, cheat and steal with abandon (totally betting this hyped book will totally get picked up by Netflix or some other movie/streaming platform). No shame here, sometimes I need something absolutely 'easy read' to cut my stress levels.
What are you reading now?
Danyel Smith's newest book, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop. Smith is the former and first African-American editor of Billboard and Vibe, and is just such a great writer.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
I really love a good cover pic! Additionally, I'll flip and see what's on the back page of a magazine, or what's dead-set in the middle and that'll sometimes make a decision if I'll purchase. Hmmm, I never realized that until now! I also still love checking out a masthead and seeing who the writers are... I'll buy a magazine based on a good masthead, for sure.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
Ann Powers. Octavia Butler. Stephen Satterfield. Roxane Gay. Samantha Irby. Marlon James. Talia Hibbert. Zadie Smith.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
(1) Even though they're buggy as hell, I love both Route and Shop so I can track my packages, cuz the carriers be schemin', y'all. (2) Co-Star or the Chani app, because I am one of those horoscope/astral chart people (again, no shame).
Plane or train?
Plane. But I when I worked for NPR, I was on Amtrak all the time, and really enjoyed the freedom of the ride. I absolutely love the trip from NYC to Providence, RI (I used to manage NPR Music's annual jaunt to record Newport Folk & Jazz fest live sets). Parts of that ride are beyond scenic and gorgeous. It makes me curious about doing a trip across the country.
What is one place everyone should visit?
Mexico City. Even tho I had major anxiety while I was there because of not speaking the language and some altitude issues, it was one of the coolest places I've been in a long while. The food scene there is next level (so many Michelin stars and James Beard winners!), the residents are very patient and friendly, and if you want to explore the secret gems of Mexico (hint: Isla Holbox), it's an easy airplane ride away.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
Ooof, most of my most major rabbit holes are obviously around music. I have no shame about spending hours reading stories about music innovators, any number of genres that I'm clueless about, and hot gossip about '70s music icons.
Probably the most recent deep dives were around how Teddy Pendergrass basically kept the music game in a chokehold in the '70s while revolutionizing the music/touring industry (I watched "If You Don't Know Me,' the excellent doc about his life-- definitely check it out!); or digging into the history of Kate Bush and how she pushed EVERYTHING (music tech, touring, fashion, etc) forward. (SB)
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Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Saidah (SB)
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