FLINT, Michigan -- As the host of a new podcast that features Flint artists, athletes, musicians, and entrepreneurs, Rayvon Taylor enjoys providing a platform for people from the city to tell their own stories.
But his own story is an impressive one as well. Taylor grew up on Flint’s northside and eventually moved to the southside. He went to Flint Southwestern and then eventually graduated from Swartz Creek High School. Thanks to a teacher who encouraged him, Mr. Gillette, Taylor discovered his love of broadcasting. First, he had to overcome an obstacle though.
“I was born with a huge speech impediment,” Taylor said. “So to do (podcasting) as a thing now, that’s really rewarding. I try to just inspire kids when I talk to them.”
Taylor, who graduated with degrees in broadcasting and communications from Mott Community College and Central Michigan University, has plenty of chances to talk with kids, too. His day job is as a paraprofessional at Flint Southwestern.
The Ray Podcast
debuted in April and he’s since recorded more than 40 episodes with a who’s-who of Flint people in the creative and business scenes. Although the guests come from many different backgrounds, the theme of the show is simple: it is a platform for people to tell their stories in their own worlds.
“I always love stories,” Taylor said. “I love to know how people got to where they got, what they’re doing to stay there, and what they’re doing in the future. I was actually very hesitant to start the podcast just because I wasn’t sure how many people would agree to come on, but it actually was a big turnaround -- now people are reaching out to me to get on. I want people to have a platform to tell their truth. Over the past 18 months, with protests, with the pandemic, whether you’re a business person or athlete, you want your story to be told with your voice, you don’t want anyone telling it for you but you.”
One of Taylor’s early episodes, with Malika Baker, owner of Couture for You
, is a good example of what he tries to get across in his interviews -- simply encouraging people to share their story in the hopes that it can help and inspire others.
“Malika, she shared her story about how she lost everything and then gained it all back,” Taylor said. “That will inspire all people.”
Taylor also notes his interviews with musician Lyric Da Queen
and Flint United owner Kevin Mays
were among his favorites so far. Although the topics and content of each interview is different, Taylor tries to consistently make guests feel welcome, comfortable, and that they have a good experience on his show.
“With musicians, I always try to find a lyric,” he said. “Musicians put their life in their music. I don’t usually have any history with them, so if I quote something from their song, or someone’s business, or a stat from their best game, showing that I took the time out to research them, at that point they get more comfortable about letting their guard down.”
Now that the show continues to pick up momentum, Taylor doesn’t have any specific future plans other than to not put any constraints on how far he can go with it.
“I want to be a show that you listen to, your wife listens to, your kids listen to,” he said. “I want a show for everyone, that’s why my guest pool is so diverse. I want to expand it as much as I can.”
Taylor is also proud that, through his show, he can play a role in shining a light on the immense talent that exists in Flint.
“That’s probably the most rewarding part,” he said. “We have so much talent here in Flint, people just don’t know about it. Maybe four or five years ago, the support in the city wasn’t that large. But now, especially in the past 18 months, people are really supporting each other. I want to be a voice for the voiceless, for talent who maybe doesn’t have the platform. I want everybody to eat, I want everybody to succeed, that’s what I’m about.”
The Ray Podcast is available on Spotify. Follow Rayvon Taylor on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.