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Interview: Adelle Onyango on 100 episodes of Legally Clueless podcast

In early February 2021, Kenyan Media Personality and activist Adelle Onyango celebrated a new achievement – 100 episodes of her Legally Clueless podcast. On the podcast, Onyango documents her journey as an “evolving unapologetically African woman.” She also shares experiences of Africans around the world. 

Since its debut in March 2019, Legally Clueless podcast has grown to become a chart-topping favourite. It averages about 10,000 plays per week, and has over a million streams in total.

Onyango resigned from her high-profile Kiss FM job to focus on the podcast.

“This milestone validates my journey, as well as tells other Africans it is possible to come into the [podcasting] space and have agency over their stories,” says Onyango.

Legally Clueless was ranked as one of the most popular podcasts in the East African country in 2019 per a OnePulse research, tying with Joel Osteen’s podcast for the top spot.

In 2020, following a deal with Trace FM Kenya, Legally Clueless became the first syndicated podcast in East Africa. It is available on Apple podcasts, google podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Tune-in and Spotify as well. 

In addition, the podcast has extended into residences and tours, with stops in Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Egypt, and the United States.

She is the founder of The Adelle Onyango Initiative, an advocacy organization that educates the public on issues facing women and the youth. The organization has created projects aimed at equipping young people with needed skills for the job and business markets. It also runs a free group therapy program for African women who are survivors of rape

Onyango’s decade plus work in media, and as an activist has earned her several recognitions including 2017 BBC 100 Inspirational and innovative women in the world, 2018 OkayAfrica 100 extraordinary African women, 2019 Facebook Icon of Change.and 2020 MIPAD100 Under 40. 

Museafrica.com had a chat with Adelle Onyango about the new milestone and the future.

Read the full interview below.

MuseAfrica: Congrats on 100 episodes of ‘Legally Clueless’ podcast.

Adelle Onyango: Thank you so much! It’s quite the milestone because this basically means for the last 100 weeks, I have produced & distributed an episode of Legally Clueless. It was also a great time to pause and reflect on what we have achieved; the first syndicated podcast in East Africa (we play on Trace Radio in Kenya), we surpassed 1 million online streams, we have recorded over 150 African stories, have gone on tour and been to several countries to record stories, countries like Senegal, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, The United States Of America and more. This milestone validates my journey as well as tells other Africans it is possible to come into the space and have agency over their stories too.

MuseAfrica: Executive Producers of Television series often view 100 episodes as an achievement because of how unstable the industry can be. Do you feel the same or you look at this milestone as a challenge to do more?

Adelle Onyango: Oh this is almost the same because podcasting is quickly growing yes, but it is also still an emerging industry. So to be able to consistently produce quality episodes, maintain a revenue stream and build a community is no easy feat. Every industry has its challenges however my 10 years in traditional radio definitely gave me the knowledge of navigating the media industry and building my own media business. Additionally, podcasting is non-traditional and digital which means whatever challenges one faces they can design solutions that work for them without necessarily having to do things the way they’ve always been done. We can innovate.

MuseAfrica: You tackle some uncomfortable topics on your podcast. What’s your pre-production process like before recording episodes? What’s your self-care practice like after recording?

Adelle Onyango: The podcast is made up of my own lived reality and those of the various Africans who have told their stories on the podcast. Before I record a story I send the storyteller broad story prompts to help them zero in on the story they want to share. They decide what to share and I am intentional about making the podcast a place where all African stories are welcomed and valid. On a personal note, I try to be as genuine about my life story, my wins and my battles as well. However, I am a firm believer in therapy and I have had moments where a story I recorded was triggering and I had to have a debrief session with my therapist.

MuseAfrica: Does being the go-to person for people dealing with issues they can’t discuss with family and friends weigh you down?

Adelle Onyango:  Honestly, it doesn’t. For me, the stories I have recorded on Legally Clueless have taught me so much even about myself. They have made me extend more grace to people because you honestly do not know the battles people are facing. I also find it powerful that some stories on the podcast have forced traditional media to confront issues that in African settings we deem taboos. Stories on domestic violence, rape, mental health that have been on the podcast have actually been picked up by traditional media and led to bigger, necessary conversations. With that in mind, the work I do is not about me, it’s bigger than me.

MuseAfrica: How do you deal with providing, for want of a better word, warmth and space for people going through difficult times?

Adelle Onyango: I think it’s important to note that the stories on Legally Clueless are not all “heavy” and some are inspiring life stories while some are downright hilarious, so there’s a balance. I don’t look at it as a space for people going through difficult times, I see it as a space for Africans to know each and every one of their stories is valid – stories that make us laugh, that make us cry, that teach us something, all stories. So for me the mission is to get as many Africans on my podcast sharing their stories. That’s how we learn about ourselves and about each other.

MuseAfrica: What is your proudest moment so far hosting the podcast?

Adelle Onyango: Honestly, the first episode. I had just quit my job as a breakfast show radio presenter on Kenya’s top urban station and was serving my notice. So you can imagine how scared I was, jumping into the unknown! The first episode is 8 minutes of my shaky voice basically freaking out. But without that first episode there would not be 100 episodes, a syndication deal with Trace, podcast tours etc. So for me starting is the proudest moment because in that moment I took a chance on myself and it’s definitely paying off.

MuseAfrica: Is there anything you can share regarding your [future] plans for Legally Clueless podcast? Anything else you want to add?

Adelle Onyango: I’m very excited for the future of Legally Clueless. In 2020 I launched the Legally Clueless residencies where I would hold podcast workshops in universities, helping young Africans produce their own podcasts and learn how to run them sustainably. We are evolving the program to target more young Africans and will be announcing that soon. We are moving into the upskilling space as well as intentionally planning to do more Legally Clueless tours which include coming back to Ghana to record stories there too!

2 thoughts on “Interview: Adelle Onyango on 100 episodes of Legally Clueless podcast

  1. I would I love you to start my own podcast as an African in China an educator, mother and former journalist I have so much to tell and wish to begin. My focus would be education, parenting globally and living through stereotypical challenges as we black people thrive and change the narrative by living our best lives in the face of all judgement of what being from Africa is all about.

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