• Holly Miller

Pop Culture Podcasting in a Pandemic

If you asked me to describe the exact moment when Hannah and I decided to start our podcast, Culture Hang, I could only tell you it occurred on a day in late July. I was still in my pyjamas, lying around my bed in the warm, slogging throws of our post-graduation slump. Like thousands of students, we are unfortunately part of the unemployed class of 2020, a doomed graduation present we are both still trying to wade through in this new year. We were closing in around the hour mark of constant Snapchat vlogs to each other. Kanye West had taken to Twitter to claim Kim Kardashian was plotting against him and we couldn’t stop talking about it. Especially when the following articles and discussion was centred around important conversations about mental health and treating people with compassion rather than ridicule and speculation. Looking back, it certainly felt like a positive shift we don’t often see in discourse of celebrities and pop culture.

An hour and a half into our conversation, we joked we should start a podcast. Next thing we knew, we were ordering microphones and organizing a schedule, creating a logo and social media accounts. We settled on Culture Hang, in the spirit of recreating our university days where, after nights out drinking and dancing (remember those times? I miss them too), we would migrate into one person’s bed, too hungover to move and talk rubbish for hours on end. The bed became a central figure in our brand and we took it literally as they would become the stage where we would record from.

As with a lot of creative projects established during the pandemic, suddenly we had joined the masses that now had a podcast. It’s become a stereotype that two friends think they’re so funny the world needs to listen into their conversations. Topped with an already saturated medium, dominated by celebrities, influencers and middle aged white men who already had a mass following and use the medium as a means of revenue, it is hard to believe that anyone will ever find your podcast recorded in your childhood bedroom. But, six months in, we have preserved and worked so incredibly hard to build up a large amount of content that does, incredibly, reach a world-wide audience. It never fails to amaze me to see the places people have listened to us talk from. You don’t need a recording studio or even a producer, just a decent microphone, Skype, soft furnishings in a quiet room and Audacity. Time I feel is the greatest tool we have now in between our constant job searches and other projects and suddenly, this year more than ever, we have it.

Our focus is on pop culture moments from the 2000s as we were growing up, to the mess of social media influencers and out of touch celebrities now. We are often outraged over the Kardashian’s continued screw-ups (featured in our inaugural Culture With a K - The Kardashians: Witches, Influence and the Momager and our catch up episode COVID with a K: Kardashian Catch-Up) and terrible Youtubers like Jeffree Star (Youtube: Cancel Culture, Gabbie Hanna and Parasocial Hoaxes) and Trisha Paytas (who is the subject of too many episodes - we’re sorry, including Controversial Women: Trisha Paytas & Lana Del Rey).

You wouldn’t expect much to have happened as the world stayed inside, every event cancelled and the world turned to the television, but it truly did! We have so many episodes commenting on unfolding drama, celebrities we have loved and what they’ve been up to on social media (Culture Icons: Jennifer Coolidge & Dolly Parton), to looking back at cultural moments that might have been forgotten about (Award Shows: Sexism, Backlash & The Oscars). It has been an incredible mode of escapism during this difficult and frustrating time. When I would feel as if my most exciting and formative time in my adult life has been taken away from me, we can look back to happier and messy times.

What I have found the most interesting about my research for each different, weekly topic is how much pop culture, which is usually sneered at for being tacky and superficial, really shapes fashions, conversations and, during the formative years, the way we are shaped by social media content in this digital age. If I was trying to be philosophical, I’d say it’s a prolonged, joyous deep-dive into exploring the stimuli of the world we have grown up in, but it’s really not that deep.

Every listen, every like on our TikTok, every comment on our Youtube is so incredibly appreciated and we still get super excited over these interactions! We’ve both felt so strongly about continuing our work on growing the podcast and would love to hear any suggestions from listeners about what they would like to hear in the future!

And if you’re a lost twenty-something woman like ourselves, wishing to start their own podcast but are still unsure, absolutely do it! As long as you’re passionate about a subject, go for it! In 2019, it was reported that only one in three of the top podcasts were hosted by women so trust in your own unique voice! Do not worry about who will listen to it, now is the time to voice your wisdom.

Holly Miller is a class of 2020 college graduate who started a podcast with her friend from university, Hannah Davis, after graduation. You can find their podcast on Instagram @culturehangpodcast, Twitter @CultureHang and linktree: https://linktr.ee/culturehang

“We are obsessed with all forms of recent and old pop culture (hence the pod)! I wanted to share our experience to encourage other women and non-binary people to start their podcast as it has never been easier to do so, as we record every episode remotely, at home, from different countries!”

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