In 2016, when Daniel Loveless created the What Yuh Know show, he knew it would gain some attention. What he did not foresee was the show going viral online.
The show’s episodes, posted on social media, had a simple premise. Daniel visited communities across TT and tested people’s basic knowledge on topics like politics, culture, and history.
“Even before releasing the show’s first episode, without anyone seeing it, I knew this was my path in life,” Loveless, 22 told Sunday Newsday during a recent interview.
When the show’s first episode was released on his personal Facebook page in 2016, it was a hit.
“When the first episode was released, we had a lot of people who liked the show and my personality,” said Loveless.
As the show's viewership grew, Loveless stopped posting episodes on his personal Facebook page and created official social media accounts and a YouTube channel for the show.
Four years later, the show has gained over 23 million views on YouTube, while the Instagram and Facebook accounts have 115,000 and 438,000 followers respectively.
Loveless and Steven M Taylor, the show's producer, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the show and it's journey to success.
“I always aspired to have a positive influence on people, but I just didn’t necessarily know how I would. I thought that if I had an influence on people, I would have a good effect on the world,” said Loveless.
But he wasn't quite sure how at first. After graduating from Sangre Grande Educational Institute in 2015, Loveless held several jobs in customer service. A self-taught photographer, he also bought a camera and created a photography business in 2016.
That same year, though, another opportunity presented itself.
“Growing up and going to different social events, even in school, I would always seek to make other people laugh and put a smile on their face. In 2016, my friend in church suggested I do a show where I could connect with people via social media.”
Loveless liked the idea but what would be the show’s premise? After weeks of reflecting, he came up with the concept for What Yuh Know. The show would test people’s knowledge on a range of topics including spelling and civics.
He filmed the show’s first episode in Port of Spain with a friend’s help.
“We went out into the streets, to do an episode, and my friend simply pressed the record button. I just took the mic; I had no clue what proper introduction was to be done,” Loveless said.
He tested people’s knowledge of local culture for the first episode, using his photography equipment for recording. Another friend helped with the editing.
Over the next two years, Loveless released more episodes and, in 2018, he decided to work on the show full-time. At that time the show’s YouTube channel had generated millions of views, meaning that it could be monetised, and he could generate revenue based on the show’s YouTube engagement.
Working on building the show’s brand, full-time, also meant Loveless could explore more ways of making the show financially viable. As Loveless continued to up the show’s production value, he made the decision this year to bring Taylor on board as producer. The two had been friends for years.
“Daniel has the comedic pulse. What I tend to do is add more of the packaging and polishing to the show. The goal is to elevate what he is already doing,” Taylor said.
In addition to working alongside Loveless to edit the show’s episodes, Taylor is focused on adding more structure to the production team.
“A show needs more than one or two people wearing multiple hats,” he said.
With a master’s degree in film from the University of Southern California in the US, Taylor has produced several music videos for local artistes including Nailah Blackman, Erphaan Alves, Destra Garcia and Kes. He's also a trained special effects makeup artist.
While What Yuh Know has attracted fans over the years, it also has its fair share of critics. Clips of participants misspelling words or incorrectly answering questions can attract large views and some think it can be embarrassing to the participants.
Loveless pays attention to the criticism.
“My response has always been that I accept criticism in good faith. Some of these critics have helped me become a better person. To the critics, I say thank you. A lot of the comments always leads me back to the question of how I can serve more people,” said Loveless.
He notes also that the show has added segments through which people can learn. One such segment is Now Yuh Know.
“This element comes into play when people are unable to answer questions correctly and are informed of the correct answers which leads us to tell them, 'If yuh didn’t know, now yuh know,” said Loveless.
Taylor added, “We are constantly working on ways to restructure the show especially to honour its goal of educating through entertainment.”
Though Loveless accepts constructive criticism, some criticism he said is uncalled for. People have made negative comments on his appearance, for example, but he has grown a thick skin.
Local media personality and former senator Jason Williams has given Loveless advice on how to cope with the pressures of public life. They met on the set of a music video.
“He (Williams) really inspired me with some of the stories he shared. He also shared a lot about coping with the public pressure, the way people perceive you and the down times.”
Loveless said his mother is his strongest support system. His immediate focus is innovating the show’s production which has been affected by the covid19 pandemic.
“We are trying to remain as innovative and creative as possible to make the best of the current situation. A great example of this was the show’s one-hour special which was released on Independence Day. We packaged some of the show’s best moments and created an entire hour of entertainment for the world to enjoy. This was all streamed online and judging from the viewing numbers it was successful,” he said.
On the show’s social media accounts, a What Yuh Know game show has been created and viewers can win prizes for commenting on the correct answer.
Loveless hopes the show can one day be streamed on an international platform like Netflix, which has gained prominence over traditional TV. He hinted that efforts are underway to make this a reality.
Before covid19, Loveless was also able to travel to several regional and international countries to film episodes through partnerships. He's filmed episodes in the US, Canada, Belize, Grenada and St Vincent, among other places.
“The reason for doing international and regional episodes...was to begin connecting with more people who would support the show and build a wider fan base,” he said.
Loveless and Taylor continue to experiment on new ways to market the show. Following the feedback for this year’s Independence Day special, a one-hour all-star show featuring local celebrities is currently being produced and is set for release in December.
Loveless is also focused on expanding his other skills. Earlier this year he completed a degree in business management at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), which he said is useful to continue his brand development.
He does not rule out doing studies in film and directing.
New episodes and content from the What Yuh Know show can be found on the show’s Facebook page What Yuh Know, on Instagram @whatyuhknowtt and on YouTube at What Yuh Know.