ABOVE PHOTO: From left: Radio personality Laiya St. Clair, and Visit Philly’s Justin Pizzi and Rachel Ferguson
By Afea Tucker
As Philadelphians adjust to its new nickname “the city of sisterly love”, it appears that the old narrative of being coined the “town of the underdogs” is coming to an end. Breaking away from the fictional Rocky connotations, the hosts of Philly’s new “Love and Grit” podcast say there’s no better way for natives and visitors alike to describe Philadelphia other than with love and grit.
Visit Philadelphia’s Justin Pizzi and Rachel Ferguson joined forces with Laiya St. Clair, national radio personality, to launch a podcast narrowing in on all things Philly titled “Love and Grit”.
As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, Visit Philadelphia is responsible for building the Greater Philadelphia’s image, driving visitation and boosting the economy.
According to their 2019 annual report a record of 45 million people visited from the U.S. and international markets. That’s more than the population of Canada, New Zealand, and Iceland combined. Philadelphia has a population of over 1.5 million people alone.
The fun, spontaneous, and often mixture of A-type personalities delivers a new take on what the city has to offer. It is also re-defining Philadelphia’s voice in an authentic, refreshing, informative and entertaining way.
“You think you know [Philadelphia], but you really don’t know,” said St. Clair, co- host of the Love and Grit podcast and producer and co-host of Questlove’s Supreme.
“I’ve been a big cheerleader for Philadelphia for a long time and developed relationships that are like no other here,” she said. “There are so many hidden gems in Philadelphia ranging from its rich history to unique eateries, niche businesses, and landmarks, but more importantly the essence of the great people who embody love and grit.”
“Love and grit are two words often associated with Philadelphia,” said Ferguson, Chief Innovation & Global Diversity Officer at Visit Philadelphia.
“Love has always been a part of Philadelphia’s brand and Philly has grit to it. There were hundreds of names to consider but we definitely feel like love and grit speak to the topics of our audience,” Ferguson explains.
“I was really excited that we had the opportunity to join forces. The three of us have amazing chemistry but more importantly, Visit Philadelphia has a great website, a leading website for destinations with amazing content that we gave a voice through written word. Now through the podcast we are actually giving our website a [audible] voice,” she adds.
“We are taking a look at diverse news. We all have very different perspectives, so I love that we showcase all that the city and region has to offer,” said Ferguson.
The podcast is released twice a month and aims to inspire all people both travelers and locals to visit (or re-visit) the region.
As a prelude to National Women’s History Month, episode one dives into three attractions and experiences in the city, led by and featuring the stories of powerful women.
The power of these voices highlight Philadelphia’s growing history and the exceptional women who are creating their own legacy.
Episode one, celebrates the legacy of Toni Morrison at The Colored Girls Museum and takes a glimpse into Patrice Banks’ world, founder of Girls Auto Clinic.
“It’s people like Patrice that are powerful reminders that we need to celebrate these diverse stories and history 365 days a year. It’s the power of women’s voices that’s ingrained in our city, the city of sisterly love. That’s why we are so proud to be the city of sisterly love in 2020, because we’re showcasing Philadelphia’s history and of all these amazing women,” said Ferguson.
“The podcast gives us a platform to do that. It’s one additional way to show the importance and to celebrate. We want people to come and celebrate with us. And not only women but the entire city,” said continued.
Ursula Augustine, owner of Philadelphia’s “About Phace Makeup Studio”, is another local successful entrepreneur whose story is featured on “Love and Grit”. According to Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Center, woman-owned businesses are increasing in number, range, diversity, and earning power.
“These are the stories that we have to make sure people know about,” said St. Clair.
Pizzi, Vice President of Strategic Implementation at Visit Philadelphia, encourages listeners to get ready to expect the unexpected.
“We’re really taking the effort to dig around and put a microphone in front of so many amazing people and diverse fun stories in Philadelphia whether it’s food or fashion, to really tell the story of the people that make Philadelphia so important,” said Pizzi.
“It’s not people that you necessarily know but people in pockets of our neighborhoods,” he continued.
He jokingly adds that he has no problem holding his own with the ladies and said that it is a pleasure to work alongside them.
“I’m a pretty boisterous guy to begin with,” said Pizzi. “ We have the best time, chemistry can’t be forced. We learn from each other and bring different views and aspects. The strategy is all Rachel,” he said.
The trio couldn’t give too much away but they did say there is a lot to look forward to.
“We have a great interview with Quincy Harris,” said St. Clair. “He has a radio show and TV show in his own town. He’s also the guy who helped discover Meek Mills, most people don’t know that,” she continued.
“These are not the same old Philly stories which are great, but we’re including what’s new and exciting,” said Pizzi.
Each episode includes a video component that can be seen online at visitphilly.com
Subscriptions to Love and Grit are available for free on Apple, Spotify, and Google.
Learn more about what Philadelphia has to offer each time you hit the play button.
“We have a great lineup with a mix of folks that have their own grit and are willing to beat the odds and put themselves out there. We’re letting people know that Philly is a destination for music,” said Ferguson.“We all have an emotional connection to Philadelphia’s magic.”