WASHINGTON — Campaign Zero’s DeRay Mckesson is set to launch a podcast titled “A Word With DeRay” that will aim to help give its listeners direction on social advocacy.

The podcast will be published under Crooked Media, the new liberal political network founded last year by former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor.

Mckesson first appeared with Lovett, Favreau, and Vietor on the network’s flagship “Pod Save America” podcast at the height of the anti-Trump protests, discussing the lessons he learned protesting and organizing.

The move to sign Mckesson, the most famous activist to emerge from the Black Lives Matter movement, comes briefly off the heels of its successful “Keepin’ It 1600” podcast on The Ringer Podcast Network, founded by the sports columnist and author Bill Simmons. They spun off the podcast, and, like The Ringer, have plans to expand it into a larger editorial platform, which has so far largely featured themselves, as well as MTV News writer Ana Marie Cox. (Mckesson had one other suitor for the project, he said, but declined to name the podcast network.)

Mckesson’s group, Campaign Zero, has sought to recalibrate its organizing strategy under the Trump presidency. The group most recently created “Our States”, a resource manual to assist people who want to oppose Trump’s policies at the state level; and a more comprehensive Wikipedia-style format called the Resistance Manual designed to quickly inform anti-Trump organizers on the administrations policies and priorities that the group deems worth protesting.

Crooked Media hopes to have an impact on the 2018 midterm elections, and part of its strategy was to dedicate a podcast exclusively to activism, organizing and what steps people could take to make a difference. Favreau said he immediately thought of Mckesson, whom he met while running for mayor of Baltimore.

“Because we’re growing so slowly every person that we bring on we almost want them to have multiple talents,” Favreau told BuzzFeed News. “And I think with DeRay, he’s someone who’s obviously knows how to organize and been involved with the movement, but he’s also brilliant and down to earth when you talk to him with also fits in with our brand and what we’re trying to do.”

Mckesson told BuzzFeed News that Campaign Zero quickly learned that even the people most interested in helping it advance its goals didn’t have guidance in terms of what actually do. Already armed with the web tools, Mckesson likened his aim with the podcast to his appearances on cable news and on Twitter over the course of the past few years: as a large-scale attempt to help give supporters language to talk about matters of policing, racial issues, and the movement itself.

His own success as a principal in the movement — and as a player in national politics — is due in large part to his effectiveness as a communicator.

“I’m trying to figure out how we give people language that they can repeat,” Mckesson told BuzzFeed News. “I think a lot of the media, not just podcasts, are doing a lot of the ‘Let me explain the world to you’ [format] but not in a way listeners can actually keep explaining the world to people.”

“I want to be intentional about how I use platforms to amplify this work,” he said. I think a podcast will be a great opportunity to do that.”



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Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.