Creator Download: Juliana Ogechi Onyenani

In the first of a new Q&A series with podcast creators, the host of No Shame In My Name discusses the value of identity

No Shame In My Name is an independent identity-focused podcast series telling the stories behind people’s names and celebrating where they come from. The host and creator of the show, Juliana Ogechi Onyenani, started planning the podcast at the end of 2019 as a personal goal to do something creative and started recording in 2020 – initially in person and remote following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Growing up, Onyenani said teachers would never say her last name because it was too difficult, and that was something that bothered her. As a British Nigerian woman, names are something Onyenani has always been curious about – why parents chose a certain name or people’s reactions to them. 

Onyenani says that she doesn’t want people to think she’s only focusing on names from ethnic minority backgrounds, however – she wants it to be appealing for everyone. 

“We’re all humans and as humans we are given the right to a name, and there’s something so precious about it,” she says. “So see them as a human and not just a diverse story.”

We asked Onyenani to share her journey with podcasting and some significant things she's learned along the way.

How would you describe your podcast?

It’s a podcast about names and stories. Essentially, we celebrate and document the meaning and stories behind names. It’s heartwarming, homey and intriguing.

Why did you start your podcast?

I’ve always been so intrigued by the beauty and wonder of names. There was a pivotal moment in my late teens when I realised what my Igbo name meant, and it helped me to understand my parents’ story, as well as an element of my own. That was really special. I wanted to give people the platform to discover the stories around their own names. I initially thought of doing a documentary, but at the time, I was immersed in the world of podcasts, so I stuck with trying that out.

What advice do you wish you’d been given when you first started?

Don’t sit on raw audio footage. Have it ready to go out as soon as possible. There’s been so many times, I held off doing the edit immediately, because of one reason or the other. I find that having an uninterrupted workflow between recording and release just helps to manage the workload a bit more. And it also means things are fresh, so if I ever did need to clarify something, it would be an easier conversation to have, rather than three months down the line.

How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?

All in all, it takes a minimum of five of us. That’s including the wonderful designs consistently created by designer Jacqueline Davies, and the foundational look and sound created by Kingsley Nebechi and Greg Webster. I also have a friend who has been helping with the operational side of things. Shout out Nobandile!

Do you monetise your podcast?

No, not yet. But I’m very open to suggestions, or any brands interested in collaborations or sponsorships.

How do you promote your podcast?

I would say that word of mouth is a key way that we promote the podcast. I have to shout out my friends and family who are always plugging the pod with their own network. They say the tongue is a powerful weapon and it definitely is! I’ve even interviewed some of the guests because of a word of mouth recommendation. On socials, we’ve taken the time to think about the look/feel and how it blends into the whole theme of names and identity. On Instagram, Jackie – our dope designer – is responsible for creating hero assets for every single guest that features. On LinkedIn, we’ve been sharing name-stories too, and we use Twitter to try and engage in any conversations that loosely relate to names. We want to jump on the video-platforms soon, like TikTok and YouTube. That could be fun!

Who listens to your podcast?

Most of our audience come from the UK. And then we have a listenership brewing in the USA. Every now and then, we do get a handful of listeners from countries such as Romania, Germany, South Africa and Nigeria – which is very exciting.

What have you learned about yourself since starting your podcast?

I’ve learnt that growth comes from pushing beyond my comfort zone. Starting the #NSIMN podcast was a real challenge for me on many fronts, but I’m so glad I was courageous to pursue a project that I am truly passionate about.

What was the last podcast you listened to?

I’ve been into the Rule of Thirds Podcast. It’s a bunch of designers speaking about art, design and culture. They’re really funny to listen to, and share some interesting views about creativity! The creative execution around their podcast is excellent too.