Our grandparents got their news and information from Radio Belize and the Beacon Newspaper, the next generation benefitted from independent television stations and more varied radio and newspaper choices. Today’s young people tap into social media and live stream as citizen journalists. But somewhere in between, connecting the past, present and the future of Belizean media are the podcasters. This small band of independent influencers takes on everything from political controversy to potluck cuisine. But whether they upload content every week, or simply whenever they feel like it, podcasters are blurring the lines between broadcast genres. This week, News Five’s Paul Lopez went in search of the Belizean Pod Squad.
Brent Toombs, Brent’s Two Cents: The Semiserious thoughts of a guy in Belize
“Hey welcome to the Podcast, for the week of March the fifteenth. Well, when the P.U.P. won the General Elections on November eleventh
I heard a few people comment that it was like getting back with an ex-lover. An ex that you had good reason to dump back in the day and after all these years later haven’t changed.”
Paul Lopez, Reporting
Meet Brent Toombs of Brent’s Two Cents, the Semi-Serious Thoughts of a Guy in Belize. From his studio in Belize City, Toombs pushes all the hot button news headlines.
“I started my podcast in July, so I have been doing this for less than a year now.”
Toombs, a former news cameraman who now has his own production company, is part of new wave of Belizean podcasting that includes Dominque Noralez. She is young, independent-thinking and started her podcast on Anchor FM, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dominque Noralez, Belizean Podcaster
“Hi everyone. This is Dominique Noralez. There is something that has been on my mind since I found out about it. And I wrote about it in my column, mussing by the curious nonconformist. The name of my podcast is Walasaha’. It’s not Walasaha, its Walasaha.”
“Yeah, yeah, that is ok.”
“What does it mean?”
“It means “our search.”
And then there is the Natasha Stuart on Apple Podcast. Stewart is based on Ambergris Caye in the town of San Pedro. She uses her platform to engage with inspirational stories and inspirational Belizeans.
Natasha Stuart, The Natasha Stuart Podcast
“Why podcast? Because also like in the pandemic when everything was becoming chaotic towards the beginning. People were really posting everything on Facebook, sort of these panic reaction. And I became one of them. I was like this is not how I want to contribute to the people around me or in my life or anything. I was like I need to channel my energy elsewhere. And I read a lot of books and I also listen to audio books as well, not just physical book. I figured from those books, I learnt you become who you spend the most time with. So, I was like I am going to find people who inspire me.”
Roneisha S. Gentle and the Gentle Perspective on Anchor Fm and YouTube take a different approach. Gentle is a final year student at the University of the West Indies, majoring in political science.
Roneisha S. Gentle, The Gentle Perspective
“I enjoy talking about politics. You know for most people that is not the most ideal topic to discuss. But I find it highly informative and intriguing and especially for us as young people, we need to be in the inside of this, because we are the future. So, all of my episodes surround politics, policy and other social issues that not only Belize is going through but also the Caribbean and I try my hardest to tie it in.”
The community of Belizean podcasters is relatively small, but this lets them to connect more intimately to share tips and advice.
“The fact that so many other people are starting to do their own podcast. And they have reached out to me to say hey I have heard your podcast. I am thinking about doing something myself. Can you give me a few tips? And that’s really what I am hoping with that we will see with podcast, that this will become something that a lot of Belizeans will get into producing their own podcast, because the more Belizeans who produce their own podcast the more Belizeans will start listening to podcasts.”
t is not a large pool of us. Butit is a substantial enough pool to know that Belizeans know what podcast are and we are creating it. So, we have people like Brent’s Two Cents who focuses on news, Two Teaspoons of Belize who focuses on comedy and yet still focuses on Belizean politics. There are different strokes for different folks. I think it’s growing in the Belizean population, I think it is a great space for us to remain connected to each other no matter what borders exist.”
Podcasting has been in existence since the 1980’s; at that time it was called audio blogging. However, it really began to really catch on in 2004, with the advent of the iPod. Today there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, on numerous platforms, covering a wide variety of topics. Paul Schmidt III told us why more Belizeans should engage in locally produced podcast.
Paul Schmidt III, Opinionated Cruffy
“I think it’s more, it gives a diversity of opinions of what is happening. Like I said, there are different genres. It could be that someone wants to start a podcast about cooking. It could be that someone wants to start a podcast about going Pokémon hunting. So even young people can get involved and they can definitely form and start a community out of that. So there are different options that are out there and some people want to connect. So it just one different way of connecting.”
Roneisha S. Gentle
“I do believe the popularity of traditional media is still very much here within our society. So, it is the nightly news the Amandala and the radio. Those are the three main sources of information for us as Belizeans. The trend of podcasting is new to Belize, though it is popular around the world. But I do believe that if we really want to be well rounded and be a bit more dynamic, we need to come out of the boundaries that we have here in our communities to say look, there is other things out there available. And I did not know there a podcast for every single genre you can think about, gospel, hip-hop, books everything under this sun.”