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Why popular podcast ‘The Read’ is growing on its own damn time

In a rare interview, Kid Fury, one half of the hit podcast ‘The Read,’ opens up about why, after nine years, he and cohost Crissle West decided to offer a paid tier.

Why popular podcast ‘The Read’ is growing on its own damn time
Kid Fury [Photo: courtesy of Patrick Neree]

Kid Fury may be 14 years’ deep in the content creator game—he started out giving his sardonic, unfiltered opinions on his former YouTube series Furious Thoughts and now does a version of the same thing as one half of the popular comedy podcast The Read—but make no mistake: He’s not pressed about jumping on trends.

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“The TikTok generation is killing me, girl,” Kid Fury says. “These backgrounds and this audio and all these things—I don’t understand how these babies are making full-fledged mystery thrillers and action films on TikTok and Instagram today.”

Conventional wisdom would lead most creators to feel as if they need to be everywhere all at once in order to maximize their reach and audience. While that may be true for some, Kid Fury and his cohost of The Read, Crissle West, have taken a more “pulled-back perspective” in building their brand as digital creators.

“We’re Black queer people in our 30s,” Kid Fury says. “So we don’t really have the energy to be doing backflips and splits and all this choreography. Sometimes we wanna take a nap.

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“There’s always a new app,” he continues. “There’s always a new meme. There’s always something that’s changing and morphing. Ultimately, we’ve been blessed to find our groove in having conversations with people and connecting in a more grounded way.”

Kid Fury and Crissle West. [Photo: courtesy of Patrick Neree]
Having a more deliberate approach has given them a better perspective on how to cater to the community they’ve grown since launching The Read. It also informed their decision to recently launch a Patreon nine years into their already successful podcast.

“[There was] the draw of being able to connect with our audience that has been so gracious to us and so supportive,” Kid Fury says. “To be able to connect with them and communicate with them on a more direct and intimate level and talk to about what it is they like about the show, what they like to see, and then create brand-new content for them is really exciting.”

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The Read has become a pop-culture powerhouse, specifically in the Black, queer community. In each episode, Kid Fury and Crissle spotlight everyday Black people doing extraordinary things, give their hot takes on hot topics, answer listener letters, and fire off on the major (and sometimes minor) issues on their minds. The Read has leveraged its loyal following into sold-out live shows and merch drops, a show on Fuse TV, and an original comedy album through Issa Rae’s label Raedio.

The Read on Patreon, in Kid Fury’s opinion, is “like a gift basket of extra ghetto shit that you would expect from us, but premium.”

Patreon subscribers will have access to bonus audio and video segments, monthly live Q&As, presale codes to live events, and more. “It’s something that both of us have wanted to do for a bit,” Kid Fury says. “Crissle and I are humble to a fault and sometimes we’re not able to say, ‘Hey, everyone would love this.’ Sometimes we need a fire under our ass, and Patreon has been that fire. They’ve been so supportive in realizing a lot of the ideas that we want.”

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“We’ve been doing this forever,” he continues. “So it just felt like the right time to spread out and do more.”

The Read community couldn’t agree more. When they announced their Patreon last month, many of the Twitter comments had a similar tone:

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It may have taken awhile for Kid Fury and Crissle to expand to Patreon, but taking their time in growing and connecting with their audience set the perfect stage for them to join a subscription-based platform where it’s all about how much a fanbase is willing to buy into you.

For Kid Fury, getting to that point has been about balancing what The Read‘s audience expects with what he wants or is willing to do.

“The most important aspect of growing with the audience for me is just listening to what people are getting the most out of and fine-tuning it in a way that fulfills me—that still allows me to have fun while also give the people the experience that they want the most,” he says. “Because if the two of us are the only ones having fun, then what kind of damn podcast is that? It has to be a community thing where everyone is getting the most out of everything.”

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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