Deep Dive into Podcasts with Mei Qi
Asia Society at Home
Discover your newest binge and get to know our staff a little better with the Asia Society Texas Center team's favorite ways to stay entertained indoors! With our Deep Dives each week, we take you on a journey into the obsessions of individual staff members for an in-depth look at a specific art form or cultural production.
Mei Qi is Asia Society Texas Center's Business and Policy Programs Manager. She studied political science, international relations, and law, and worked as an editor before joining ASTC. In addition to following news headlines too closely, she spends a lot of time reading fantasy books, watching Asian variety shows and hockey, and thinking about food. She enjoys the ability to both escape and learn new things through podcasts.
What I am currently enjoying
If you like to follow podcasts about current events and politics, or are a fan of Pod Save America or The Daily but want to hear it from an Asian American perspective, Model Majority is perfect. It features former Obama staffers and grassroots organizers who just happen to be Asian American, and they provide ongoing commentary of the news while elevating Asian American activists, organizations, and perspectives.
Asian Enough is the latest iteration from the Los Angeles Times. I was skeptical at first but gave in when I saw the lineup: John Cho, Lulu Wang, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Margaret Cho, Mina Kimes! The hosts are excellent. Both are reporters and have those research chops and fingers on the pulse of Asian American discourse, but they're also likeable and relatable. John Cho was especially notable to me for sharing insights on how he doesn't necessarily identify as Asian American as his primary identity; Margaret Cho provided great perspective comparing Asian American identity and activism when she first broke into entertainment versus now; and the sports fan in me loved Mina Kimes' everything.
I'm a book nerd and have a special soft spot for kidlit, so stumbling across this podcast was like magic. Book Friends Forever features two childhood friends who happen to be Asian American and also both happen to be in the children's book publishing industry. They have weekly convos catching up on each other's lives and often sharing interesting things about the industry. It's a great way to hear more about new diverse children's books coming out. The recent episode about how the pandemic has affected publishing was especially interesting!
What I find myself returning to again and again
They Call Us Bruce. If you're semi-active in Asian American spaces online, you've probably heard of Angry Asian Man (i.e., Phil Yu). He and Jeff Yang (columnist and activist) have been in the podcast game for a few years, and engaged as outspoken Asian American voices for longer. They always have really interesting guests — not all of whom are celebs — and have helped introduce me to authors, artists, comedians, activists, etc., I might not otherwise know. Generally focused on pop culture and current events, and tends to be funny and engaging if not always light-hearted.
Projects that I am looking forward to
Korean Drama Podcast is perfect for people who love K-dramas as well as people who are totally new to them. The Asian American hosts rewatch a classic series and, yes, there are jokes and reactions to the ridiculousness, but there's a lot of fun and interesting takes from the Korean American perspective. The first season featured a hilarious watch of Boys Over Flowers (which, tangent, my alternative and only slightly tongue-in-cheek suggestion for this Deep Dive was into the many adaptations of the Hana Yori Dango manga. Did you know there was an anime, a film, and four official live-action dramas, plus more unofficial adaptations?) Anyway, I'm really excited for season two of this podcast, which just launched and features Secret Garden. Minds will be blown.
A podcast that excites me is
Asian Americana releases episodes infrequently enough that I'm always excited about new episodes! Similar to NPR's This American Life, it takes a topic and dives into its history and wider effects and impacts, often with contributors sharing personal stories. I particularly loved the episode on boba (do you call it "bubble tea"? It might depend on where you live!), the one about Cambodian Rock Band featuring Khmer American music, and the one that explores how immigrant families might react differently to the KonMari method.
Looking for a way to follow authors of Asian descent across all genres? Books and Boba is a pretty good way to do it. The podcast is a mix of author interviews and book club-style discussions. Not every book, author, or genre is of interest to me, but the monthly book news episodes are a great way to get a sense of what's out there and to expand my horizons. The blog is very useful too! And it's always exciting to discover a new book you end up loving.
My wildcard recommendation
Lunch Break — this is actually just the audio of Wong Fu Productions' lunch break YouTube videos (check out the playlist here). They're great little 15- or 20-minute convos between friends about all sorts of interesting, random topics such as cartoon crushes, high school reunions, and would-you-rather games — would you rather give up boba or ever petting a dog again? I like how the length of each episode is appropriately bite-sized, which makes for a quick listen when you've got a lot of other things going on.
Business and Policy programs are endowed by Huffington Foundation. We give special thanks to Bank of America, Muffet Blake, Anne and Albert Chao, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Nancy Pollok Guinee, United Airlines, and Wells Fargo, Presenting Sponsors of Business and Policy programs; Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, and Leslie and Brad Bucher, Presenting Sponsors of Exhibitions; Dr. Ellen R. Gritz and Milton D. Rosenau and Wells Fargo, Presenting Sponsors of Performing Arts and Culture; and Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Presenting Sponsor of the Japan Series. General support of programs and exhibitions is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Hearts Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, Inc., the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, McKinsey & Company, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as Friends of Asia Society.
About Asia Society at Home
Though Asia Society is temporarily closed, we are dedicated to continuing our mission of building cross-cultural understanding and uplifting human connectivity. Using digital tools, we bring you content for all ages and conversations that matter, in order to spark curiosity about Asia and to foster empathy.
About Asia Society Texas Center
With 13 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.