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Dessa Goes Scientific in New Podcast, Produced Via Novel Media Tie-up

Kali Hays
·4 min read

Indie rapper, writer and brain science enthusiast Dessa has a fresh creative outlet: a podcast.

Titled “Deeply Human,” the 12-episode series starting March 8 delves into a longtime interest of Dessa’s, namely human-oriented science. Each show delves into a topic investigating, generally speaking, why people do the things they do. The first episode covers attraction and love. Another looks at déjà vu. Another at our obsession with physical symmetry. Another at the experience of pain.

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“I’ve been genuinely startled on every episode, like ‘What?!’” Dessa said of the series. “I spoke to an astrophysicist, who’s also really hip and funny, and the way she experiences déjà vu blew my mind.”

Dessa’s enthusiasm for the show is clear and she brings a lot of herself into it. Like her experiences with dating, heartbreak and her family. Her mom is featured in the first episode, wherein Dessa hands over her Tinder and gives her mom free reign to swipe as she sees fit. But “Deeply Human” is filled out with scientists and researchers who are experts in their various fields, giving the show precision and heft in just over 20 minutes.

“The goal is to always get a very rigorous person,” she said. “But it’s a show driven by curiosity and personality, too. One of the things I dig most about the show is we invite people from very varied backgrounds to help us.”

Partnering with the BBC, iHeartRadio and the nonprofit American Public Media was “exciting” for Dessa, used to working on her own or at most a handful of others and now being able to “reach out to some of the brightest minds in the field and at least have an email entertained.”

For the trio of media heavies behind the podcast, executives from each also expressed enthusiasm at working together to produce and distribute the new series in what appears to be the first time three major media entities have partnered for a single podcast.

While BBC seems to have been the hands on partner with Dessa in researching, recording and editing the series, American Public Media recommended her for the show to the BBC, having worked with the artist before as a guest on APM shows and events. And BBC is eager to market this show to an American audience, which APM is expert in, as is iHeart, with a massive network of radio stations and podcasts.

“We wanted something that would work in the American market as well as the global market,” Steve Titherington, senior commissioning editor at BBC World Service. But he also wanted an explanatory show, which the BBC is already expert at, that gave some more personality and narrative, making the energetic and open Dessa a welcome host discovery.

“The show feels quite new and good,” Titherington said. As for working with two other media companies on the show, the BBC often does media partnerships for content, audio and video mainly, but this is a first with both iHeart and APM.

“It’s a great way to get some fresh thinking and fresh talent…and these are big topics so we want as wide an audience as possible,” Titherington added.

Chandra Kavati, a vice president at APM, said the tie-up for the podcast “is a great marriage of the mission and talents to create something of significance to reach new audiences.”

“This is a space where we view partners as being vital and important,” she said.

And with such a partnership, the podcast will be distributed and promoted widely, with some radio spots in the U.S. and Europe, as well as other big global BBC markets like Africa.

“As soon as we saw the pitch for this show, I loved it and loved the opportunity to get behind a podcast like this and bring it to a broader market,” said Will Pearson, chief operating officer of the iHeart’s podcast network. “Smart podcasts work really well for us.”

Pearson added that getting to work with regarded networks like BBC and APM is “a dream.” And one that seems likely to continue, although the three-way partnership on “Deeply Human” is currently just a one off.

“I see this as an opportunity,” Pearson said, “to test what will be a meaningful partnership.”