Are you listening to the brand new podcast Hyphen? It's only two episodes in, but so far it's fantastic. Its host and creator is Parth Shah, an Indian-American reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio. He says, "That hyphen between those two identities, Indian and American, is where I live." On the show's website, he writes:
I was blown away by the show's first episode, Standard Out Cue, which is an episode about names [April 4, 19 minutes]. Parth says, "Your name is a combination of sounds used to set you apart. But what if your sounds are too hard for some people to say?" He chats with friends and family who've taken on various nicknames throughout their lives, and those like his sister Pranjali who deal with irritating mispronunciations on a daily basis. He also talks about his own name, and the difference between the way his parents pronounce it and the way his friends and classmates have all his life. At the end of the episode, he speaks about the tough choice he had to make when he was asked to record a standard out cue for his job in public radio. How would he pronounce his own name on air -- the way his peers do, or the way his family does? It's a powerful (and pretty surprising) moment when he plays the recording in the last few minutes.
The second episode, Lobster Tank, is equally great [April 21, 20 minutes]. It's an episode about decisions -- the kind that end up being life-defining. He talks to twenty-four-year-old Hani, a "moderately practicing" Muslim who's also half Jewish. He's never tasted a drop of alcohol (despite having a social life in the country's heaviest drinking state), and he's vowed to remain abstinent until marriage for religious reasons. His thoughts on dating are fascinating. Parth also chats with Nicole, a Ugandan-American who beautifully describes how empowered she feels each time she puts her hijab on. And he talks with his mom about her vegetarianism, her decision to raise her children without meat, and a decades-old trip to the "aquarium" that his family still laughs about.
Hyphen is just two episodes in, but I'm so impressed by it already. Parth somehow manages to tackle sensitive topics in a totally relatable and lighthearted way. One iTunes reviewer called it the Master of None of podcasts, and I think that's a spot-on description. It's smart, it's funny, and it's really well-made. Episode three should be here late next week, and when I asked Parth what we can look forward to hearing, he said it'll focus on the arts -- particularly why so few Asian-Americans pursue careers in the field. I can't wait to hear it. If you haven't listened to Hyphen yet, I'd highly recommend checking it out asap. It's absolutely going to be a new favorite podcast of mine.