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Meet Chicago Radio Host Anna DeShawn, Creator Of E3 Radio And Queer News Podcast

The award-winning media personality has been telling queer stories for over a decade. Now, she's going on tour.

Chicago native Anna DeShawn is an award-winning radio host, media personality and co-founder of a podcast production company called The Qube.
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CHICAGO — Award-winning media personality Anna DeShawn has been sharing queer news and stories through radio and podcasts for nearly 15 years. This summer, she’s going on a nationwide tour to amplify queer, Black and people of color (BIPOC) creators.

DeShawn is also hosting a virtual conversation with Black and queer podcasters from 7-8 p.m. Thursday. You can register online.

A Chicago-born social entrepreneur, DeShawn started her own queer radio station called E3 Radio in November 2009. Over the last 14 years, E3 Radio has evolved into a 24/7 station playing music by queer artists and sharing LGBTQ+ stories. The station name, E3, stands for its goals: to educate, enlighten and entertain.

“We’re living in this renaissance of creativity and breaking down these gatekeepers. Oftentimes, queer folks get caught by gatekeepers and people wanting them to present a certain way,” DeShawn said. “We’re in this moment where creatives are like, ‘I can say and do whatever I want, and I can find my audience and I can make a living doing what I love to do.”

You can tune into the online radio show on its website.

DeShawn has loved radio for years because of how “personal and intimate” it can be. But after studying radio and television production in college, she noticed “there wasn’t anybody telling the stories of queer folks of color” in Chicago.

“There was nobody interviewing folks or asking them questions or wanting to know more or amplifying messages,” DeShawn said. “I’m like, ‘Why not? There’s amazing things happening in the community and nobody’s telling the stories.’ And I wanted to fill that need.”

When she first kicked off her radio show, DeShawn said she was certain she was talking to herself. Today, E3 Radio amasses about 6,000 monthly listeners.

“If I got a room with 6,000 people, that’s pretty amazing,” she said.

Credit: Provided
Anna DeShawn has hosted her queer radio show since 2009. Left: DeShawn with Carter Cavazos, E3 Radio’s director of community partnerships.

DeShawn has more recently ventured into the world of podcasts, co-founding a podcast production company called The Qube in February 2020 and starting her own Queer News podcast in November 2021. The Qube is a host platform people can use to stream over 90 curated podcasts by BIPOC and QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) creators.

“Because there are so many podcasts, it’s very hard to find the ones that you may be interested in,” DeShawn said. “These current apps, they weren’t built to be directories. They didn’t know that there would be five million podcasts out here in the world one day. So what we’re doing with The Qube is, we’re curating the podcasts and we’re listening to them and we’re saying, ‘These are the best Black and Brown and queer folks of color podcasts.'”

The Qube also released its own original content at the intersections of race and sexuality. You can learn all about the WNBA with “Rebound Revolution,” explore polyamory with the to-be-released “Polyam Chats” and journey through the history, economics and culture of HIV/AIDS in the Black community with “Black HIV in the South: How Did We Get Here?”

Credit: Provided
Anna DeShawn is going on a nationwide tour with The Qube, hosting podcast listening sessions and discussions in several cities across the country.

The Qube was “literally born out of” E3 Radio,” DeShawn said — even its name.

“Mathematically, anything to the power of three is to cube something: the cube,” DeShawn said. “We can make the ‘C’ a ‘Q’ and make it hella queer.”

Through podcasts, DeShawn realized she could share queer, Black and Brown stories in different ways and with even more people.

“There’s just something so personal and intimate about radio, but especially about podcasting,” DeShawn said. “They are so niche that you get to find your people and talk to your people and encourage and speak to them directly.”

Starting in July, DeShawn is taking The Qube on the road for a nationwide tour. At each stop, attendees will listen to podcasts using headphones, then discuss the content together.

For DeShawn, audio storytelling has always been about community.

“I believe we listen to podcasts alone, but we should listen to them in community together, and then let’s talk about them,” DeShawn said. “I can’t wait to take our podcast to the people.”

The Qube is traveling to eight cities this year: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Silver Spring (Maryland), Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Oakland and Baltimore. The tour kicks off July 15 in Brooklyn and runs through October 22.

Get your tickets here for $10 or less. Attendance will be free for some tour stops.

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