I have largely avoided podcasts.
Though there was this one year when I had an hour commute and would fire up the TED Talk podcast when I wasn't listening to Big Boy's neighborhood on Power 106 (RIP neighborhood, hello 92.3), I've largely avoided listening to podcasts as they're so long and I always have to pause them and get out of my car at weird moments meaning that when I turn them back on I'm jumping in having forgotten the context and it's like picking up a book you were halfway through the first chapter of six months after you put it down.
This year I listened to Serial because who didn't listen to Serial, but I've otherwise managed to avoid them. That is, I'd managed to avoid them until I was invited onto one this week.
I showed up at my friend's North Hollywood apartment Monday night. I'd been practicing my NPR voice the whole car ride. Minji and Marvin, my friends in question and the folks who ran the Lunar New Year Festival, are both organizers of Kollaboration, a national Asian American talent show/leadership program that started here in Los Angeles. My connect to Kollaboration goes back years to when I performed at an after party and my apartmentmate won the audience choice award (backed by a music mix I made, thank you very much.)
As part of Kollaboration's growth, Minji and Marvin recently started an awesome podcast that has a simple premise: Minji and Marvin talk, sometimes with friends.
It sounds a little loose. I was skeptical at first. Again, I don't trust podcasts. But upon listening to the first episode, then the second, and then the whole series, the rhythm of the conversations made a lot of sense. Marvin brings a structure of topics and announcements and then Minji grabs the structure and pulls out all the nuance and insight she can. Their chemistry is real, Marvin's tact and cool demeanor provides the perfect foil to Minji's frank honest style. They allow themselves to get heated. They allow themselves to agree to disagree. They're awesome people on the mic and indeed off the mic. Marvin sounds like he should be on All Things Considered. Minji sounds like she should head a morning radio talk show. It's great.
They aren't the only folks getting into the podcasting game right now. There have been a number in the Asian American media space, a bunch in LA alone. Angry Asian Man launched Sound & Fury last year with an all star guest list, while this year we've seen the launch of #WeOwnThe8th's The Perfect 'Cast USC Asia Pacific Arts' NPR-style masterpiece Bullet Train. A decade after the launch of YouTube, the conversation around Asian America has shifted and the containers we use to hold those conversations have, as well, gained more sophistication. Though podcasting still has its reach limitations, there's something to be said for knowledge production uninhibited by the flash and furor of a video.
So this Monday evening I was privileged to join the show with my friend Naomi Ko and off we went. We talked about the Mulan announcement and casting for the show. We talked about arts organizing and community building. We talked about #RaceTogether and then boba and then our different experiences growing up around the country. There was always something more to say, something to add to a point, something to counter with. The conversation bounced around the four of us like a shuttlecock, light but intentional.
The conversation was scheduled to run for an hour. It ran for an hour and forty five minutes. After Marvin managed to wrangle us in and close out the session, we stuck around talking for what felt for another hour until Naomi and I had to leave.
There's something to be said for having friends who you can talk to for an hour and forty five minutes and feel like it was nothing. Who says LA is shallow?
Listen to the podcast here.