CONWAY, Ark.– Upstairs in the bonus room of a Conway home lies a passion, side gig, a hobby.
Centerstage is a studio surrounded by conversation starters. This is where two friends sit face to face, being authentic, talking about anything and everything.
Leo Cummings III and Todd Cate go back to junior high where they were in youth group together. It’s a friendship that’s spanned years, and what you hear is what you get, from fitness and sports to some of the most controversial topics.
“Todd and I will get deep and talk about things like our families, we’ll talk about race, we’ll talk about politics a bit,” Cummings said. “We would talk about things and maybe my perspective would be just a bit different because I’m black and his perspective be a bit different because he’s white.”
They kept in touch throughout the years, but reconnected in 2016, finding a common interest in podcasting.
“You know if we’re having conversations like this, there’s got to be other people having conversations like this,” Cummings said.
And that’s how the Black Dude White Dude podcast was born. Both felt it was a way to have peaceful and meaningful dialogue with each other and their listeners.
“You know you can get in your own world and stay there,” Cate said. “It’s been a scheduled opportunity to talk about hard things.”
When they know those tough topics are going to be brought up, they have a mantra.
“Look, we’re going to get into some stuff,” Cummings explained. “It’s not going to be fun, it’s not going to be easy, but when we set these ground rules, we’ll know that when we’re done we’re going to shake hands we’re going to high five we’re going to bro hug and we’re going to be good.”
In one episode, Cate and Cummings discussed the George Floyd protests that sparked a national movement. But talking about racial inequality was something they’ve discussed from the beginning.
“In the world of, you know, yelling on Facebook and ‘Your opinion is different from mine so we can’t be friends,’ like that’s important right? To know that stuff that separates us is not stronger than the bond we have,” Cummings noted.
When they’re not recording, the dudes stay busy at their full-time jobs. Cummings is the Director of Sales and Member Engagement at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. Cate is a Field Engineer at Squan.
Balancing work, a podcast and a family as a husband and father of five, Cate explains we all have similar goals.
“We all want to love our families, raise our children, go do fun stuff, but at the end of the day we can still have these conversations, right?” he said.
Cummings and his wife have two daughters, a family who also supports their love of connecting with people to give them food for thought.
“Because, if nothing else, it gives me his perspective. I may not agree with it, but it makes me say ‘OK, I can see how you could have that line of thought. I don’t have that line of thought, but I see how you got there,’” he said.
“Having his perspective allows me to critically think and develop my own opinion, not fall on some side of the line,” Cate added.
The two want others’ point of view as well. They bring in various guests with different platforms to talk about their work in the community. When asked what they hope listeners take away from Black Dude White Dude, they stressed the importance of finding common ground as well as knowing how to not always agree.
“That we have way more in common with each other than we have different with each other and that we can always meet on some sort of common ground,” Cate said.
“It’s ok to disagree. Right? I mean I think everyone thinks we’ve all got to think the same way and that’s not the case,” Cummings added. “We can disagree, but if we’re going to do that let’s do that peacefully.”
Respecting differing opinions and walking away with a deeper level of understanding in how to talk to each other, today.
The Black Dude White Dude Podcast has reached listeners beyond Arkansas. Cate and Cummings say they plan to keep the conversation going and encourage people to engage in more positive dialogue.
To check out their podcast, head to the show page in the Apple Podcast store.