For NPR’s Bryce Huffman, ‘Different’ Podcast Starts With Conversation

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Monday, February 17, 2020, 5:30 pm
Sarah Spohn

Above Bryce Huffman at the Poetry Room. Photo taken by Rhys Sirna.

Podcasts are quickly becoming a go-to for many people, as a preferred means of entertainment, education, and form of storytelling. For West Michigan reporter-producer at Michigan Radio, Bryce Huffman, podcasts serve all three of those purposes. His podcast, “Same Same Different,” is a series of conversations focusing on the miseducation of black history.

As part of a live event series, Huffman is bringing the “Same Same Different” conversation to East Lansing’s Hopcat (300 Grove St.) from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Huffman began working at Michigan Radio after finishing college at Central Michigan University. After the station launched the “Believed” Larry Nassar survivors’ podcast, they began accepting pitches for more ideas.

“I had this idea about what it would be like to just have discussions about tokenism, and that’s really where it started,” Huffman said. “So when I pitched the idea, it had this really limited scope, and then after they were like 'let’s roll out this idea,’ and once we started talking about it more, is kind of when it became something that was more broadly about identity, and people coming from marginalized communities.”

“Same Same Different” was launched in October 2019 as part of a five-episode series. After the success of the podcast series, Huffman received questions if there was going to be more episodes, or a season two of the show. With 2020 being an election year, press coverage takes precedent over the conversational podcast. Huffman talked to his producers about doing some live events in collaboration with the podcast, to celebrate Black History Month.

“The live events are really about what we as black people, and anybody really, are losing out on when black history is not really taught,” Huffman said. “A lot of the times, we only learn African or African-American history during the month of February, or maybe people will take an elective class in high school, so it’s not really mandatory for everyone to have a comprehensive understanding of our history. That can affect our identity as black people, but can also affect how other racial groups see us, and see our contributions to the country we have today.”

The goal of the live events, which take place in East Lansing, Detroit, and Mount Pleasant throughout February, is to look at how education might be lacking.

“These events are really aiming to talk about what we are losing out on as a society, when we separate Black History and African American History from the rest of the narrative,” Huffman said.

The Wednesday event at Hopcat sets the stage for the beginning of a bigger-picture discussion, featuring two special guests: Dr. Glenn Chambers, Jr., Associate Professor of History at MSU, and close friend, Victoria Hamilton.

“I picked people who either had a comprehensive understanding of African-American history, from an education standpoint, or I wanted to pick people who I knew had experiences of not having that history be a part of their learning experience — and seeing the difference it made as they got older.”

East Lansing proves to be a diverse community, a perfect location for the event, according to Bryce.

Photo of Huffman at Michigan Radio. Photo courtesy of Huffman.

“When we talk about things like making changes to our education, or talking about the way we look at how black people contribute to this country, and our state, and our local areas – Lansing is a good a place as any to start, because it has so much history that most people never acknowledge, or never get a chance to acknowledge.”

The event is free, but those interested are encouraged to register ahead of time, to ensure seating. Huffman encourages young adults to participate in the event, and continue conversations even after the hour-long program, or podcast series is finished.

“I really wanted this podcast to be the start of a conversation, not the end,” Huffman said. “It’s only five episodes, and every episode is under half an hour, so it’s really not a lot of listening to do. We really wanted people to take these topics and these conversations into their world, their life … to talk to people about identity, and what it feels like to be the other in the room.”

“If people listen to all five episodes and they love it, and they want to keep these conversations going — that’s exactly what we were aiming for.”

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