It’s morning in Boston and mid-afternoon in Paris when we catch up with Chalin Askew for an exclusive interview.
The interview began with the most basic question, “Chalin, what do you do?” He smiles through the zoom call and mentions how he gets asked this question often.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m a journalist exactly. However, I aim to give a voice to the stories that are often overlooked.” Chalin, educated at Harvard and NYU, is the host of The Delve, a current events podcast in the top 10% of globally ranked podcasts.
Naturally, he has a calm demeanor and a very soothing voice, and if you’ve ever listened to The Delve, you get pulled right in. He juggles the podcast and his consulting work and runs a major civics organization, DEMVP, back in the US.
With so much success at only 32, the next question was obvious, “What’s next?”
“The Delve has been a crazy journey. Two years ago, when we started, I knew nothing about media or microphones. I studied economics, not journalism. I try to be cognizant of my skillset and my limitations. So the most important task was to develop a great team to assist me, and it’s been great to learn so much from a talented team,” Chalin continues. “The next move is to launch a media company where we expand our programming for a global audience and add in video. While the Delve will be our flagship product, I want to develop programming that hears and amplifies young voices across the globe. This is a project that I’m extremely passionate about and excited to get started on this summer.”
Chalin is an interesting figure. After school, he worked for several years as a logistics executive. With no experience whatsoever, he’s miraculously accessed two fields with fairly high barriers to entry, government (DEMVP) and media (The Delve), and created successful ventures in those sectors, as measured by just about any meaningful metric you can think of.
DEMVP has helped register a million-plus voters and has a strong email list that could probably tilt a tight local election. The Delve brings in thousands of streams weekly and has listeners in 35 countries around the globe.
For the next few moments, he comments on technical details, even ones as granular as what people or listeners in a particular zip code may need to hear or see to influence their decision-making.
When asked what the specific goal of this new media venture is, Chalin elaborates, “News and engagement are such interesting topics these days. We hear the term ‘fake news’ all the time, and I want to bring news from the people to the people. The Delve explores topics, big topics, with the people who know the most about them. So whether that’s a young activist or a researcher of 20-plus years, I want to know the unadulterated truth about a subject. Nothing easy or manufactured but rather the cold, hard, and sometimes ugly truth.”
“The new company will expand beyond the US borders and hear voices and narratives in new markets. I want to know and help amplify stories in Brazil, France, the Middle East, in Africa. And it’s not going to be all news. I think there’s intrinsic value in just cross-cultural communication. Just hearing about what a day is like in Sao Paulo for a dancer. Or what it’s like for a Christian, perhaps a nun, living in Cairo. Or exploring what technologists are working on in Lagos or Dubai, or Seoul. These are really rich stories that we never hear. I’m excited to hear them, and I think others will be as well.”
After hearing more, it was clear that the new venture would be much more than another podcast. This media platform will be a network of curated products that span global tastes and mixes entertainment, tech, and Big Data.
The interview ended on a funny note, as Chalin didn’t know how to politely tell the interviewer that he had to begin his afternoon prayers. He’s a religious guy. I leave the zoom call hoping that all of his endeavors work out. We could use a bit more cross-cultural communication.
The Delve is available on all streaming platforms and releases a new episode every Friday. They’ll return for Season 6 in the Fall.