Chenese Lewis found her niche and grabbed it by the horns. The Chenese Lewis Show is the #1 podcast for plus size women. Established in 2008, the podcast features in-depth interviews with a wide range of industry experts, including plus size influencers and national brands.
PBJ: How and why did you get into podcasting?
Chenese: When I launched my podcast, I lived in Los Angeles and was pursuing a career as an actress, plus-size model, and television host. I enrolled in classes to hone my skills on camera, such as working with a teleprompter and red-carpet interviews for award shows. I created the podcast to sharpen my interviewing skills as suggested by my teacher, IDalis De Leon — she was an MTV VJ from the 90s turned TV host coach and media strategist. Prior to her suggestion, I had never thought about starting a podcast.
PBJ: How did you come up with the concept for the podcast and tell us what your show is about?
Chenese: There was nothing that catered to the plus-size fashion and modeling industry, my podcast was the first for the niche market. When choosing the direction of my podcast I decided to focus on the plus-size industry because I was already industry-recognized, and it wasn’t hard for me to get the show off the ground with partnerships, influential guests, and listeners. My podcast serves as a reputable platform for the plus-size industry, which strengthens my brand and influence in addition to other accomplishments I already had.
PBJ: Your website says you are a “plus-industry veteran.” What does that mean?
Chenese: I have been working in various facets of the plus-size industry for nineteen years. I have modeled for a national clothing retailer, produced a major event in Los Angeles for six years, hosted major beauty and fashion events, served as a spokesperson for numerous brands, and I also made history by being the first crowned Miss Plus America in 2003. In addition, I appeared on Dr. Phil as an industry expert. I didn’t need to use the podcast to establish myself in the industry, but it helped to extend my reach and longevity.
PBJ: “Queen of Curvy Conversation”? Tell us about that.
Chenese: The interviews and conversations on my podcast all have one common theme, CURVES! The podcast celebrates influential women (and sometimes men) doing amazing things that mainstream media often ignore because we don’t fit into society’s narrow standard of beauty regarding size. The queen part is because I believe I’m the best at what I do.
PBJ: You’ve been doing this since 2008. How has podcasting evolved, in your opinion?
Chenese: When I launched, podcasting was still a budding platform, and not oversaturated like today. There were not as many apps to stream on or directories to be listed in. I don’t remember any conventions or a big podcasting community like there is now — if there was, I wasn’t familiar. I also started before Instagram was invented, which is a major platform that people use to promote and build their brand today.
PBJ: How many shows have you done, and do you release them on a regular basis?
Chenese: I have released over 200 episodes. I currently release new episodes weekly, but in the beginning, I only did shows once a month. Also, my podcast has been in existence over 10 years, but I have had several hiatuses, sometimes you must take a break to regroup and refocus.
PBJ: What are your downloads/listens per episode?
Chenese: It varies, the more popular the person is I’m interviewing, the higher the numbers are. The highest numbers I’ve ever had for an episode were 14,344 but that was a celebrity and not the average streams for an up-and-coming person that doesn’t have name recognition.
PBJ: How are you getting the word out?
Chenese: I use all social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and sometimes LinkedIn. I post a promotional flyer for each episode on the podcast’s social media profiles as well as my personal ones.
My podcast is a media sponsor for select events in the plus-size industry, and I put postcards in the event gift bags to promote my podcast, as well as other promotional benefits of being a sponsor — which varies with each event — such as informational table, program book ad, logo on step and repeat, etc.
I also host major fashion and beauty events and moderate panel discussions across the country, even if the event is not plus-size related, the average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18, I can literally promote anywhere, and someone will be in my demographic.
In addition, I have purchased ads before, and I used to send out weekly email blasts, which I will revive soon.
PBJ: Do you have advertisers?
Chenese: Yes, not on an ongoing basis, but I have had brands purchase spot commercials on the podcast. Also, there are built-in commercials at the top of the show through my hosting company.
PBJ: Are you making money? If so, how. If not, how do you plan to?
Chenese: Yes, I make money through the built-in commercials through my hosting company, selling ads on my own, as well as ads on my website. I recently added merch for my podcast to the website.
PBJ: What equipment/hosting company/editing equipment etc. are you using?
Chenese: I host my podcast though BlogTalkRadio, I’ve been with them since my launch in 2008. I use the live streaming feature to record my podcasts, so there is no editing, people can listen to my interviews in real time. Also, I feel like if you are a strong interviewer and prepared for the show, you shouldn’t have much to edit, except maybe for time constraints. Conducting a poor interview and salvaging it through editing wouldn’t be helpful for sharpening my hosting and interviewing skills for live events, which is why I started. I use a Blue Yeti microphone.
PBJ: How can people find you and contact you?