Asian American Originals: Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, podcast pioneers

   

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Kathy Tu and Tobin Low are the co-hosts and co-managing editors of the weekly WNYC podcast, “Nancy,” which delves into stories and conversations about the LGBTQ culture and experience. Tu has worked for Radiolab, the Memory Palace, the Mortified Podcast, and Masterpiece Studio. Low has worked on More Perfect, and his work has appeared on Marketplace, Studio 360, and the Codebreaker podcast.

 

Listen to their podcast at WNYC Studios.

 

How has being Asian American affected your work as a journalist?

Kathy Tu: Being Asian American makes me want to tell stories about folks who are like me, folks who are not like me, and folks who are in between. It makes me aware of the role I play in an organization and what kind of perspective and talents I can contribute. And I think it also makes me a more empathetic journalist.

Tobin Low: Working on a show like “Nancy,” we get to explore how our identities inform how we see the world. As a result, I often find myself bringing my experience as an Asian American directly to the forefront of the stories I work on. In talking about everything from desire in the gay community to representation in queer media, I’m really interested how the Asian American experience is unique in all of these facets of queer life.

How do you think your identity has affected how you approach certain stories?

Tu: Knowing how stories about people like me have traditionally been told in the past, I am much more aware of how I am telling other people’s stories, especially folks who are minorities in this country. And it also makes me recognize the privilege that my specific Asian American identity has, so my approach to storytelling is always a mix of these two things.

Low: I think how my identity affects my approach to stories often registers as subtle. For example, when Kathy and I do an interview, and we can talk about being Chinese-American without having to stop and explain all of our references -- that feels like a small but meaningful way that we approach our conversation and stories differently.

How has being Asian American affected how people react to your stories?

Tu: I get a lot of feedback specifically from Asian American listeners, and they’re mostly about the importance of hearing someone with the same identity. There’s such a deeper connection when you realize that a certain piece of content was made for you, and I get that connection with folks who are also Asian American.

Low: Often, we hear from other Asian Americans who are so grateful to their stories told on our show. So often, we’re used to seeing or hearing ourselves in maybe one or two episodes of a show. But with “Nancy,” a lot of Asian Americans reach out to us to say how amazing it is for the show to cover a range of stories from this community.

Who are other AAPI journalists who inspire you?

Tu: Meredith Talusan, Richard Yeh, Kat Chow, Stephanie Foo, Ruth Tam, Inkoo Kang, Frank Shyong, and Jeff Yang.

Low: Early radio heroes were Kat Chow and Stephanie Foo. Seeing them be so good at what they do in the radio and podcasting world helped me have the confidence to pursue the career myself.

 

Artwork by Nicole Vas, a designer at The Hill newspaper.

 

AAJA's Asian American Originals campaign is sponsored by our partners at Panda Express, which has launched its own campaign highlighting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders making their mark.