A former mayor and his chief of staff have more to talk about than just politics — even after eight years in Kansas City’s highest office, said Joni Wickham, describing the wider-ranging theme of her new podcast with Sly James.
“People’s initial knee-jerk reaction may be to assume that this is a podcast all about politics or leadership — and certainly there will be some of that — but we also have some podcast guests that talk about culture, about music, wine, food and travel,” said Wickham, who with James launched the No Filter Media podcast last week.
The duo also co-founded Wickham James Strategies & Solutions in 2019 when they left the mayor’s office. Like the firm, No Filter Media plays on the two’s engaging professional dynamic and complementary strengths, they said.
“I think [listeners] will find it to be eclectic,” James added. “We’re not honing in on any specific area — we’re honing in on specific people, and those people have different stories to tell about different things.”
Of course, sometimes people do equal politics, they said, and with the right personalities on the podcast, Wickham and James won’t be afraid to talk about what they know best.
No Filter Media’s first episode — released Feb. 2 — for example, features guests Jason Kander, a high-profile Democratic voice and former Missouri Secretary of State, and Kit Bond, former Republican U.S. senator and Missouri governor, and the namesake of one Kansas City’s most iconic bridges.
“The subject matter of the first episode is timely in this particular political and social setting.” James stated, just weeks after a new U.S. president was inaugurated and as the nation’s former chief executive was set to begin his second impeachment trial. “The guests are intimately knowledgeable about the inner workings of politics in this country, and they’re on both sides of the political spectrum.”
Click here to listen to the first episode of No Filter Media. New shows are expected to be posted weekly on Tuesdays.
Covering a wide range of topics beyond politics, however, opens the door to a deeper impact with more listeners, Wickham said, emphasizing parallels in an overly polarized world.
“The target audience would be people who want to think about things in an innovative and creative way, as well as people who have a positive outlook on the world,” she said. “I think that’s a common thread throughout all of our conversations: trying to find positivity in whatever topic we’re discussing. There’s a lot of negativity out there right now, so that’s one thread we’re trying to weave in.”
James — who worked as a lawyer in his earlier career — recalled that, as a plaintiff’s attorney, every single person was a potential client. Now as a podcast host, he views every person as a potential listener.
“Our goal is to present some interesting views, and we’re going to take it as it comes,” James said. “We’re going to continue to strive for quality and for interesting subjects. … We’re always asking people what they would like to hear about, because that’s really at the forefront of this.”
When James and Wickham are not recording the podcast, they focus on strategic communications, public policy, government relations and political consulting within their firm.
Or even writing books.
“We are always thinking of creative ways to keep talking about the issues we care about,” Wickham said. “We wanted to continue interfacing with people who we find interesting and who are doing good work in their industries and within their communities. The podcast was a very natural next step.”
Click here to read more about Joni Wickham’s recent book,“The Thin Line Between Cupcake and Bitch.”
Along with their strong communication skills, the duo finds success because of the balance they offer one another, they noted.
“We truly did work very well together in the mayor’s office,” Wickham said. “We have complementary personalities and skill sets, and because of that, we managed to get a lot done while we were at City Hall.”
Just like politics takes a team, Wickham and James credited Kansas City marketing firm — Lillian James Creative — for being an instrumental help in putting together the podcast.
As for the meaning behind the title “No Filter Media”, it is simply because no amount of witty banter or buzzing topics are off-the-table for these co-hosts.
“A lot of stuff in the back of her mind seems to find its way onto my plate,” James said, jokingly. “… She’s yin and yang, and I’m just trying to say the hell out of the middle!”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.