A new Philadelphia podcast is bringing local couples together to have honest and intimate conversations about what love looks like in their relationships.
The series, called Conscious Connections, is a combination of couples therapy and the reality show Black Love, with an added touch of Oprah vibes, says the host Nicole Blackson.
“Although our podcast is focusing on romantic love, we are having full conversations about spirituality, mental health, and connection as it pertains not only to ‘finding love’ but staying in relationships with one another,” said Blackson, who is the program director at Love Now Media, the empathy-centered company behind the podcast.
For Blackson, who is also a social worker, diversity training facilitator, and ordained minister, it’s a dream project — she loves love. Growing up, she would watch the 1997 movie Love Jones on repeat with friends, fascinated with the relationship dynamics in the film. She became interested in the human behavior of romantic love — it’s something almost everyone experiences.
“However, it’s common that we also struggle through it,” said Blackson. “So I wanted to be able to sit at the feet of people who have been doing it well and feel like they’ve been doing it well enough to tell their stories,” said the host.
Each episode of the podcast features a different couple from the tri-state and they discuss topics that vary from parenting, faith, finances, career and so much more.
To Blackson, who is a 38-year-old gay, Black woman, it’s important to have all kinds of couples on the show to illustrate a range of love experiences.
“Representation matters,” said Blackson. “We’ve been trying to be very mindful that we don’t only want to present a certain type of couple,” she said. Blackson works hard with her producer, Tezarah Wilkins, to ensure that there’s a diverse range of love on the show — from interracial couples, people across sexuality and gender spectrums, as well as age and even marital status.
No matter who is on the show, or what topics are discussed, one thing is for sure: people open up when they’re behind the microphone and asked meaningful questions about their relationship.
It’s powerful for the host to witness this intimate vulnerability full of “real talk and real communication.” It makes her feel “warm and fuzzy,” she said.
“Most of the time, I’m smiling when they’re smiling and when you can see a couple, they’re really enjoying each other, they’re laughing, they have their own little banter going back and forth. It’s a beautiful thing.”
The conversations go deep, sometimes to places that are uncomfortable or that haven’t been explored before, and that’s the point of the show — to facilitate honest conversations between couples.
“It’s not about romanticizing love,” said the show’s producer, Tezarah Wilkins. “It’s about sharing the reality of love. And even if you’re not in a relationship, she says, you can find value in the discussions too.
If you are in a relationship, the show will offer a lot of lessons and opportunities for reflection.
For Blackson, one of the big takeaways over the course of the five episodes that have been released thus far, has been the important role of communication within relationships. She encourages couples both on and off the show to prioritize time to consciously connect.
“You have set time aside to just talk to one another,” said the host. “I mean, literally, like, talk. Not watch a television show or take care of the kids, or do tasks together around the house — but really talk with one another,” she said.
After all, “love is the greatest thing that you can have, give and be,” said the host, and you have to spend time nurturing it.