Ashleigh-Ann Mowatt’s podcast on the topic of homophobia in the Jamaican music scene was selected as one of three country winners of the International Podcast Challenge, This was the first year that the Podcast Challenge, which is open to all nations where World University Service of Canada (WUSC) or Farm Radio works, was held. The Young Journalists’ Global Podcast Challenge, led by Farm Radio International, invited teams comprising young journalists to explore global issues and find innovative solutions. Young Canadian journalists received the help of volunteers from local broadcasters and the Uniterra program to get input from individuals both inside and outside Canada. In her award-winning podcast, Mowatt handled interviews on the Jamaican side, while a student provided interviews from the Canadian side.
The inspiration for the podcast stemmed from an article in Time magazine in 2006 that questioned whether Jamaica was the most homophobic place on the planet. The issue explores the history of homophobia in Jamaican reggae and dancehall music and how things have changed since 2006. It notes the progress made toward equal rights in Jamaica and the fact that the LGBT community in Jamaica has made the music their own, lessening the homophobic lyrics. A similar situation in Canada forms part of the podcast’s approach as well.
Mowatt is a professional journalist, marketing and communications consultant, and the manager of the Live Well Jamaica (livewellja.com) blog. She was formerly editor-in-chief of Wealth Magazine, former executive producer of two weekly youth programs on ROOTS 95.1FM, and former associate with Transformative Communications Partners, where she was responsible for training 30 police officers in the skills of radio broadcasting and audio editing. She uses her marketing and communications skills in redeveloping the marketing program for a multi-discipline rehabilitation center in Jamaica and coordinates the program schedule at Irie Vybz Radio. She also contributes monthly articles to Jamaicans.com.
WUSC is a Canadian non-governmental organization (NGO) working to improve education, employment and empowerment of youth through a network of students, volunteers, businesses, and other entitiesand find youth-focused solutions to the problems of inequality and exclusion. It joins with the International Center for Studies and Cooperation (CEC), another NGO that is involved with the development, global cooperation and humanitarian aid for fighting poverty and exclusion in marginalized communities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.