The burlesque dancer. The barber. The carpet installer. The lawyer. The day trader. The wedding planner. The web designer.
These are some of the people listeners will meet on “Work It,” a new podcast from WFAE and winner of the “Queen City PodQuest.” The first episode will be available Nov. 13.
“Work It” looks at the complicated relationship people have with their work. The podcast delves into the joy, pain and insight people get from their jobs. And how do those factors shape people’s views of the world and their place in it.
“Work It” is the brainchild of Jill Bjers and Stephanie Hale.
For more than 15 years, Hale has been asking people about their jobs. After reading Studs Terkel’s book, “Working,” the idea for a podcast solidified.
Bjers’ is a self-described “Jill-of-all-trades” – mother, wife, author/playwright, organizer and travel junkie. Recently retired from a job of 20 years, Bjers has been evaluating what to keep and what to change in her work life.
When Hale asked Bjers to help with the podcast, she jumped at the idea. Neither had any podcasting experience when they entered “WFAE’s Queen City PodQuest” contest in 2019.
The contest attracted nearly 400 entries. More than 31,000 people cast almost 100,000 votes for their favorites. The top five vote-getters moved on to a mentoring phase. Over two months, teams honed their ideas and created a podcast trailer. The teams pitched their podcasts to a panel of judges and an audience at the finale event.
As the winners, Bjers and Hale worked with WFAE staff to take “Work It” from an idea to six episodes.
Bjers and Hale were early in the production process when the world changed overnight because of the pandemic in 2020. They worried that virtual interviews would keep guests from sharing intimate details about their lives. To their surprise, the change didn’t affect guests’ candor. The pandemic also changed how Bjers and Hale produced and wrote the episodes.
Zoom fatigue worked to their advantage. They became more focused because “Zoom hours are not as much fun as hours in a coffee shop,” Hale said.
“Work It” episodes will be available every week through Dec. 18:
• “Pain” – “Work It” explores the idea of pain with the help of a doula, a piercer and a lawyer.
• “Success” – Meet a stay-at-home mom and a barber with very defined, but very different, views of success.
• “Love” – “Work It” takes a deeper look at love by introducing you to a wedding planner, a therapist and a veterinarian.
• “Passion/Obsession” – “Work It” introduces you to a software engineer and a day trader who have an intense love for their work, which may even border on obsession.
• “Home” – Get out of your house and into the homes of other Charlotteans with a carpet installer, web designer and Realtor.
• “Exposure” – “Work It” gets vulnerable with a burlesque dancer, a photographer and an OBGYN.
On the web: www.WFAE.org/WorkIt