Photos by Michael Barrett
How did Token Talk come to be? Is there a mastermind behind the idea?
Darius: Token Talk is a manifestation of the frequent thoughts, conversations, frustrations and jokes shared between Thomas, Tario and myself. Two years before the podcast materialized we named a messaging thread “Token Talk,” and shortly afterwards Tario and I interviewed with NPR’s Story Corp on the topic of friendship. Our chemistry was undeniable, and future Token Talk fans were in the making. Of course I was the mastermind…who else could it be?
Tario: The guys and I have busy lives, but we always made time to catch up over at Thomas’s house. We came up with the idea of a podcast together because when we caught up, we would talk about work, race, local news, pop culture and, of course, dating. There’s no one mastermind, we all bring something valuable to the table.
Thomas: Token Talk spawned from our conversations and Sunday dinners. It was all my idea! I had to beg them to go along with it.
Why did you choose podcast as your medium?
Darius: I’m a handsome brother, but the other two have a face for radio. So, we figured podcasting was the next best thing. Podcasts seemed to fit our method of sharing: quick and painless delivery. We were given support through the podcast avenue by fellow podcasters Melvin Robinson, Beau York and Gerrad Lee.
Tario: Podcasting was fresh at the time, and we were all beginning to listen to shows we liked. We shared a lot of the same friends around Jackson, and they always wanted to chat with us and hear our hilarious stories. A podcast would be a platform to build and mobilize that conversation with them.
Thomas: It was less expensive and easier, plus this voice belongs in stereo.
Can you give our readers a general rundown of how each show goes?
Darius: The format is as follows: Intro, Darius does an amazing job, commercial breaks, show ends.
We started with little to no format and this quickly proved to be less efficient for all (including our sound engineer). Now we tend to stick to a format of an introduction of the hosts and guests, some news and pop culture discussion, an introduction of the theme of the episode or interview, then in a roundtable fashion we discuss our opinions, experiences and narratives for others to critique, question and judge.
Tario: There is light prep work before the show. A show too structured wouldn’t be as fluid as a conversation we would have at Thomas’s. We gather what’s been going on in the news, culture and in our lives and just say go. Every show is different and is a surprise to us sometimes. Topics tend to reveal our different opinions or invite us to dig deeper into ourselves, so we ride the wave to the end being as open to whatever as possible.
You’ve had quite a few notable guests on the show. Is it possible to pick a favorite?
Darius: Yes it is possible. But for the sake of maintaining relationships I will say I love them all (which is true). They were equally integral to making Token Talk what it is today. Including my own mom, who you know…gave birth to me.
Tario: It depends on the show. Each is a great because of either the content, how deep into the topic we went or just because it was so hilarious. I’d have to say the show with Tony Yarber [was my favorite]. There was so much excitement from our team and our listeners leading up to it. It was cool to talk to such a controversial figure and get his side of the story.
Thomas: My favorite was Nordo Blacktastick.
What drew each of you to Jackson?
Darius: I relocated to Jackson as a child. I did not choose Jackson, Jackson chose me. I now choose to stay in Jackson because I believe in “good quality people.” If I could I would interview every Jacksonian. You’ll never find more genuine people on either side of the Mississippi.
Tario: I’ve lived here all my life, but I love Jackson for the kind of people here. They’re artsy, eccentric and always worth meeting.
Thomas: My parents forced us to move here when I started high school from California. Talk about culture shock.
You recently held – and sold out – your first live podcast event. How did it go, and how was podcasting live different from pre-recording a show?
Darius: The live event was amazing and truly flattering. I love that we delivered a product through high demand. For me it wasn’t any different. I always try to speak (when recording) as if there is an audience. I try to be as conscious as possible of my words and implication. I imagine the faces and reactions as I say certain things. It helps me make complete, thoughtful statements.
Tario: It was tough for a short minute because we weren’t hiding in the studio, our audience was right there. But it didn’t take long before we were right in our element again just because our chemistry works in our favor. It still blows our minds knowing we sold out and had to turn people away at the door. It was a humbling experience, but it lets us know we have more work to do.
Thomas: I think it went great because it was live and loose, which means we were “on” or “in the zone.” Interacting with people has always been our strength. It became simple story telling with us, the characters, and not show-prepping for studio recording, which is us becoming the characters. It was truly organic and a great rush. That could have been the Hennessey as well, though. I’m willing to take another stab at it.
What does the future of Token Talk look like to you?
Darius: “Token Talk Gets Picked Up By Vice News for Multi Hundred Dollar Contract”
Remember I said it here first.
Tario: I see us working with podcasts from other states and cities and being an open act somewhere.
Thomas: No clue. I’d love to take this conversation to a larger audience. I understand the hard work it takes getting something this simple off the ground. I’d like to keep growing. Mugs, webisodes, live shows on campuses, etc.