Based out of the Crosstown neighborhood, the OAM Network produces and broadcasts local podcast shows.
Enthusiasms ranging from bikes to black culture have found a home at the OAM Network at 437 N. Cleveland.
The OAM Network is an independent podcast network that hosts local podcasts in Memphis. The shows range from Black Nerd Power, which focuses on the black point of view in sci-Fi and fantasy, to Behind Bluff City, a behind-the-scenes view of Memphians that are movers and changers. In addition to social commentary OAM also offers several sports and comedy shows.
Gil Worth started the network in 2012 by making some shows with his friends. Soon he was approached by others interested in the world of podcasting.
“I met Richard from Black Nerd Power and he asked how I was doing, what I was doing, so I started helping produce his show,” said Worth. “Then my wife said it would be cool if we did a show about paranormal stuff. Before we knew it we had three or four shows under our belt and it has just grown from there.”
Currently the OAM Network hosts 11 podcasts from their studio in Crosstown, Behind Bluff City being the newest. The show's founders, Kate Friedel and Scovia Wilson, knew they wanted to enact change in the city, and the OAM network offered a way for them to get their message across without breaking the bank.
The women of Behind Bluff City are passionate about Memphis, so they made a show about it.
“Our mission is to get into the crooks and crevices of Memphis and give those people who are making the city great a voice,” said Friedel. “These people are transplants, natives and come from all walks of life. They are different ethnicities, come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and all see the city through a slightly different lens.”
The popularity of podcasts has grown over the years, Worth says, because of the ease of access for listeners and the ability to upload the files on so many platforms.
Groups interested in starting a podcast with the OAM Network are offered assistance with logo design, organization, and content production. There is a fee for studio time and podcast start-up, however, Worth tries to lessen the financial burden by offering very competitive prices. He’s worried about high costs scaring off groups that could otherwise create a great show.
“I just want to find people that are passionate about different things,” said Worth. “That’s the cool thing about podcasts, you can nerd out about stuff and you can design a show around any topic that you are knowledgeable about.”
The OAM Network can deliver something that most traditional media in Memphis cannot, a space for listeners to find news and commentary about their communities without being overloaded by negativity and noise from every direction.
“We're attempting to break through that barrier by offering locals a voice to share with other locals,” said Friedel. “It's neat to see a small community with lots of different talents, occupations and interests come together to produce something that reaches so many people everywhere.”
The Network boasts 14,000 subscribers, and four of the six of the Memphis Flyer’s winning podcasts from the 2016 Best of Memphis awards were OAM-based.
The OAM Network is open to anyone pitching their ideas for future podcasts. Worth says his small team does a great job of getting Memphis voices heard, and that they all truly love what they are doing.
“I think the OAM gives Memphis a voice,” said Friedel. “It is a network by Memphians, for Memphians and supported by Memphians. It reaches a worldwide audience believe it or not but we are all Memphis all the time.”