Exeter selectwoman tackles topics ranging from ‘uncomfortable’ to ‘fun’ in new podcast

EXETER – In the introduction to her new podcast, Selectwoman Lovey Roundtree Oliff says her personal journey has taken her from Queens, New York, to private school, to Bowdoin College to the “little nook in Cambridge for an overpriced master’s degree.”

“I’ve been around the world,” Roundtree Oliff says welcoming listeners to the program. “I know what the struggle feels like and I know what it looks like… I experience a lot, I see a lot and I want to talk about it all.”

The podcast titled the “PodCaste System with Lovey” promises to have conversations that are, “dramatic, entertaining, uncomfortable and fun, with just a touch of the necessary quirk.” So far Roundtree Oliff has addressed topics including the largely forgotten 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the appropriation of African American stories in Hollywood, along with lighter subjects like the reality television show “90 Day Fiancé.”

“People may not agree with everything I have to say,” Roundtree Oliff said. “(The show is) a glimpse into my opinions, it’s my voice and me sharing my thoughts with the world. I don’t want people to take my voice and say, ‘this is what all black people think,’ or ‘this is what all residents who moved here from out of state think.’”

Roundtree Oliff said the name of her show alludes to India’s infamous caste system, which was how citizens organized society where higher castes subjugated the poorer castes with virtually no possibility of upward mobility.

“What the podcast is tackling are issues surrounding world politics, race inequities, the haves and have-nots, ingrained privilege in people,” Roundtree Oliff said. “I talk all about inequalities on a lot of different topics, not all of them are series, and the caste system is not a subtle one that differentiates people.”

Roundtree Oliff said she’s had the desire to start a podcast for more than a year and she received a microphone from her family for Christmas last year. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic hit, she said, while being confined with her family. That “kicked her ass into gear” and she set up her home studio in a closet.

“I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about, then the inequalities of our society were made blatant as a result of the pandemic,” Roundtree Oliff said. “Just thinking about where we live is a privilege. New Hampshire has had it much better than other states and major cities. We have the relative benefit of our own space, our homes, our yards for the most part, and we’re not piled on top of each other like in a place like New York where people can’t leave their immediate space to get fresh air.”

When discussing inherent privileges, Roundtree Oliff said the spectrum runs from the little everyday subtleties, like having multiple supermarkets in a relatively small area; to larger structural forces, such as drastic inequitable access to healthcare for citizens and the deprivation of education for students left behind on the wrong side of the digital divide during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has brought to life how prohibitive accessing health care is for the people who need it most. If their fear is they have to pay X dollars to go to the emergency room or they don’t have healthcare, they won’t get yearly checkups and they have a greater chance at falling ill,” Roundtree Oliff said. “Schools that shut down and went online, but what about students without internet access, those who don’t have home computers or laptops. They all of a sudden aren’t learning? Distant learning is just that, it’s distant.”

Roundtree Oliff said, as an elected leader of Exeter, she sees her personal political beliefs she discusses and explores on her podcast as siloed from her responsibilities as a selectwoman.

“Local politics is much different from federal or state politics, so what’s great about the position I hold in town is that it’s the most non-political, political position one could imagine,” Roundtree Oliff said. “I might not agree with every decision we make personally, but if it’s for the good of the larger population and benefits everyone, that’s how my decisions should be made.”

For prospective listeners, both those who would tend to agree or disagree with the stances she takes on her podcast, Roundtree Oliff said her show is about her personal reflections on her experiences and not to act as a sort of lecturer for people.

“This isn’t a show where I’m trying to educate and people need to come away learning about xyz, it’s more this is my experience and I’m here to discuss it,” Roundtree Oliff said. “I hope through the podcast it allows people to be a part of a conversation they may otherwise never be a part of. Also, so people can feel validated if they are already having those conversations.”

The “PodCaste System with Lovey” can be downloaded and listened to on most preferred podcasting platforms.

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