Invasion of the Pod People
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Inspired by US podcasts like Women of the Hour and Call Your Girlfriend, Can U Not? is one of a new crop of Australian podcasts centred around entertaining and insightful critiques of pop culture – as young women experience and enjoy it. Hosts Brodie Lancaster and Kamna Muddagouni cover topics as broad as the merit of awards, celebrity Snaps, accessibility in art, various Kardashians spin-offs and ethnographic photography practices.
At the heart of the podcast is the question of how women interact with the world politically, culturally, socially, economically – something it shares in common with Megan Tan’s Millennial.
As a successful autobiographical podcast, Millennial is uniquely contemporary. Through three seasons, it’s followed Tan’s dilemmas about work and money, freelancing and burn-out, relationships and family, travel and cultural identity. As the series has developed, Tan’s focus has widened to explore how people in other cultures deal with the same questions.
For the Wheeler Centre, Lancaster and Muddagouni will record a special episode of Can U Not? with Tan as their featured guest. Join them for a discussion of coming of age, figuring yourself out and making things happen – in Australia and America.
Presented in partnership with Audiocraft.
Megan Tan is the creator and host of Millennial, a Radiotopia/PRX podcast about coming of age – based in her closet in Portland, Maine.
Before graduating from Western Kentucky University with a degree in photojournalism in 2014, she worked alongside WNYC’s Radiolab, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Timber & Frame Media. As a radio host and producer she has been recognized by the Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, the AV Club and Guardian, and was listed amongst Refinery29's '29 Under-30 Powerhouses Poised To Change The World'.
Brodie Lancaster is a Melbourne writer and critic whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Guardian, Pitchfork, the Saturday Paper and New York magazine. Her first book, a pop culture memoir called No Way! Okay, Fine was published by Hachette in 2017. She co-hosts Fan Girls, a podcast about footy and feelings.
Kamna Muddagouni is a lawyer, writer, communications adviser and podcaster. Her writing explores pop culture, diaspora living, feminism and her experiences as a woman of colour. In 2016, she launched the podcast Can U Not? with gal pal Brodie Lancaster, which examines how her love for all things pop culture sits very comfortably within intersectional feminism.
In the last few years, podcasts have matured into the storytelling format du jour – with a little help from a certain sensationally popular true crime serial (ahem). Yet the surge of interest and excitement around audio features and podcasts has been gaining momentum for even longer, propelled by a diversity of formats.
Take the narrative artisanship of This American Life or the sonic vivacity of Radiolab; the topical deep dives of Slate’s Culture Gabfest or Phillip Adams’s Late Night Live; the animated storytelling of The Moth or Sum of All Parts; or the intimate conversations found in Death, Sex and Money or WTF with Marc Maron. The influence of these and countless other shows can be felt in today’s most interesting podcasts (insert shameless plug for the Wheeler Centre’s own successful forays into richly-produced feature-making, including Andrew Denton’s Better Off Dead, and The Messenger, here).
Beloved for their sense of proximity, their active listenership, portability and in some cases, ambitiously-crafted audio, podcasts have a unique ability to keep listeners in the company of their own choosing – and to render mundane tasks bearable. And since design show 99% Invisible’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns – podcasts have also shown promise in otherwise dim times for media businesses. What’s next for podcasting – and how could it be done better?
In celebration of all things audible, we’re bringing you some of podcasting’s best and brightest to share their thoughts and insights on the art (and business) of listening.