Westwood One is the largest audio network in the States, and hosts a variety of radio and podcast programming. According to Suzanne Grimes, President of Westwood One and EVP Corporate Marketing at Cumulus, Stokes & Friends: KPOP with T.H.I.S came about after Westwood One “experienced firsthand the power and passion of K-pop and the BTS ARMY” at the Billboard Music Awards last year through an interview with BTS. “The authentic response from our listeners and on social was huge, so that was the moment that we said, ‘how can we capture this that’s right for the fans and the listeners?”
In an interview with Billboard, Nielson described his encounter with BTS at the BBMAs as the starting point of his interest in K-pop. It took him on a tour to Asia to meet the members of the Korean group, and ended up spurring the podcast’s creation as a way to learn more about the world of K-pop and the people who are part of it.
“At the end of the day, these individuals that form these groups are like their own star,” Nielson said. “So when you have these stars come together, you have this galaxy of stars. And BTS to me is the prime example of that. Because once you get to know V, and once you get to know Jungkook, and once you get to know Suga and J-Hope and RM and Jin and Chimchim [a nickname for Jimin that inspired his BT21 character Chimmy] and all that, you find out that each of them are so unique in their own way and that’s what makes them so special.”
The podcast will focus on the K-pop music and industry, as well as associated fanbases and its interaction with both South Korean culture and the rest of the world. Many episodes were recorded in different countries to reflect the way that K-pop interacts with international audiences.
“There’s so much awareness of Korea right now from a political standpoint,” said Grimes, referring to recent events surrounding the relationship of South and North Koreas. “And with that backdrop and high interest among lots of people it feels like something we just had to do.”
Along with serving as an introduction to K-pop and South Korean culture through interviews with Korean stars and fans of the industry, Stokes & Friends: KPOP with T.H.I.S will also feature the likes of Jane Zhang, Kelly Clarkson, Jackson Yi, and Shawn Mendes. The first episode was released earlier today (May 14), and features BTS’ V (Kim Tae-hyung) talking about his appreciation for Seoul.
A new episode of Stokes & Friends: KPOP with T.H.I.S will be released every Monday, and be made available through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, WestwoodOnePodcasts.com and the Westwood One Podcasts App. The May 14 launch comes days before the group releases their Love Yourself: Tear album on May 18; they will perform at the Billboard Music Awards on May 20.
Listen to the first episode here.