introducing Courtney Brandt
As an author, I’ve published 10 novels and am basically always writing or editing the next one. I tend to write roughly a book a year. As a blogger and food writer, I publish under A to Za’atar, and post about dining experiences in the UAE and beyond. You might also hear me on the radio, where I talk about all things dining with Helen Farmer on Dubai Eye, and I also do a small amount of copywriting. When I’m not writing something, I volunteer once a week with K9 Friends.
Connection to Amaeya FM
I had heard a Tales of the Trade episode late in 2018 and actually went to meet Chirag to pitch a food-related show. On a whim, I also pitched the CSR idea, which I had only been thinking about, but hadn’t done much with actually developing the project. Fast forward six months and we’ve recorded over 10 episodes! It’s been a very collaborative and educational process.
Advantage of Podcast shows
I’ve been listening for at least five years to various podcasts and can’t imagine my life without some of them (especially in Dubai traffic). I think podcasts represent a medium that is wonderfully passive and an excellent way to show not only creativity but also to learn about nearly any topic. You can listen at your own pace and binge if you feel like it. We intentionally made our episodes on the short side, so they would be easy to listen to, and did our best to include a range of guests that would hopefully interest our listeners.
Inspiration for CSR One
Honestly, I ended 2018 on a bit of a negative note. I found interactions on Instagram to be increasingly toxic and wondered what I could do to stop all of it. I began unfollowing accounts that did nothing for me and instead focusing on people who were using their platforms for others. I’ll admit I was a bit of a hypocrite for a while, but now I never think twice about posting something that isn’t “right” for my feed. If it can help someone else, I’ll hope for the best — even if it means low engagement. I know there is traditional CSR in place, but I’m most interested in those working on an individual level to help others.
The Journey so far
At first, it didn’t seem entirely real – then we got our first few guests and went into the studio to record some of the intros and outros. When the first episode actually went live – I was more than ready! I’ve been so proud to share all that our guests have been involved with. I’ve learned about so many amazing organizations and about what it takes to produce a podcast.
Roadblocks to overcome
Really, much like many of the groups we’ve talked about, it would be great to have a budget to boost awareness about the podcast. I think we have some awareness, but I really want to develop a larger group of listeners, as well as spark some conversations about charities on a large scope in the UAE. Long term, I’d love to take the show internationally and interview people around the world.
Labor of love
My producer Chirag and I are both doing this pro bono. So it’s just a matter of donating our time so far. I’d guess we’d both be working on this about 3 hours or so a week. Would I love to make money on the podcast? Of course! However, I’m prepared this might never happen. If someone wanted to offer corporate sponsorship to pay for studio time, etc. we would definitely be interested.
We’re about to release a special recap episode which highlights some of my favorite moments, but hearing about the ZB Foundation was truly emotional. I’m still in awe of Dani and all she’s done in the fact of tragedy. We were also well impressed with 11-year-old Una who was an absolute pro talking to us about her journey with autism.
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Note by the Author:
I had learnt about CSR One just a week ago and needless to say, I was extremely keen to know more and it lead to this interview with the lovely Courtney Brandt. As a thoroughbred Dubaite, I can honestly say that we need more CSR initiatives to be highlighted, we need more community involvement and we need to applaud people like Chirag & Courtney who have created this incredible platform to share and inspire real life stories of individuals working within our community to make a difference.
~ Zareen Khan
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