Meet Liz Joyner from The Village Square

Jessie Nguyen
Marketing and Communication Specialist
April 15, 2024
·
5
min read

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With a growing network of podcasts and organizations that create educational content about democracy, civic engagement and civil discourse, we caught up with Liz Joyner from The Village Square about the Village SquareCast podcast and how it has grown since it first started 18 years ago!

Q: Tell me about yourself and The Village Square.

Liz: I'm Liz Joyner, founder and president of The Village Square. The Village Square is devoted to building civic trust between people who don't look or think alike in hometowns. So we're very geography-based, we believe that where you live is really important — that's where a lot of the divisions that we're feeling now have taken root and where the challenge can be addressed most effectively.

We've been at what we do for almost 18 years now so we were pretty early to the space. At first, we just saw something that we thought was a local need. And we know now it was just the tip of the iceberg.

Q: How did the idea for the Village SquareCast podcast come about?

Liz: We’re not podcast hosts first — we’re community builders first. But we have long recorded our programs and had them up online, which I’ve learned so much from doing. When podcasts came along, it was pretty automatic for us to think maybe it was time for us to have a new market. We started podcasting during the pandemic and we loved it and decided that we wanted to keep on doing it.

I have a lot of respect for the people who really understand the podcast world better than we do because it’s our sideline.

Q: How has the Village SquareCast grown since the podcast first started?

Liz: Because we’re geography-based, our way of growing is a little different. It’s hometown by hometown by hometown and we’re never going to have a big national footprint. What we want is to be in 100 hometowns. When you think about how you grow sideways like that then having a podcast is a great way to do it because it means you have the potential for a very broad reach that you can’t do one hometown at a time.

Q: Looking back, is there a challenge that either The Village Square or the Village SquareCast have yet to overcome?

Liz: I think the primary challenges in both spaces are those that we all face in some ways. Our recent Village SquareCast guest Dr. Jonathan Haidt wrote a cover piece in The Atlantic and he refers in it to the fragmentation of everything. We’re living in a media environment where getting your message across is like looking in a mirror — it’s broken into 1000 pieces on the ground because your audience is like that. We’re all in our little spaces.

For us, the most important thing is to be able to gather a wide diversity of humans together, whether that’s in a room together at our events or listening to our podcast. The problem is we’re all used to this very hyper-personalized, niche marketing that doesn’t speak to us in one voice, it speaks to us in a million different voices. And we don’t want to just penetrate one market, we want a wide variety of people engaged with us and that has always been the biggest challenge.

Some people are more likely to engage and some demographics are harder to reach. Our almost two decades of work have been focused on trying to reach the harder audiences.

Discover the top episodes selected by our hosts

Village SquareCast | The Democracy Group

Village SquareCast: Created Equal and Breathing Free

“All Men are Created Equal,” but not everyone feels they are. Have we gone too far with insuring equality or not far enough? In “Created Equal + Breathing Free,” we’ll examine the straining of the central – and sometimes competing – principles of equality and freedom. Does your freedom threaten my equality? And does my equality limit your freedom? We’ll dive into the last year of struggle on racial issues, gay rights and the appropriate role of the law in both insuring equality and safeguarding freedom.

➡️ Listen now!

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