Catching Up With: Media Girlfriends' Nana aba Duncan

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Every week here on our blog, we’ll be catching up with a Canadian podcaster and their podcast to talk about what’s new, their favourite podcast moments, and what’s still to come. This week: Nana aba Duncan.

Nana aba Duncan is the host of Fresh Air on CBC Radio One, 99.1 FM and has been a host and producer at CBC Radio for ten years. On her podcast Media Girlfriends, she speaks one on one to diverse women working in media about their careers, industry, and personal lives.


Can you describe Media Girlfriends to me as a dramatic movie trailer?

[laughs] Okay!

[Dramatic narrator voice] “In a world where women are the same as everyone! Where two women talk together and support each other in everything they do, and also listen to each other’s quibbles, and also…” I don’t know. [laughs] “Where tears and success are in the same moment!”

Is there a story or an interview with a Media Girlfriend from your podcast that sticks out to you?

The one with Zulehka Nathoo. She is a friend of mine who now lives in LA, and she was talking about being Muslim and living in LA. She keeps her emotions pretty close...she doesn’t talk much about her faith. When I asked her what it’s like...being an Ismaili Muslim in LA compared to in Canada...she just broke down, and she just admitted that it was really hard. One of the basic tenets of her faith is compassion, and for her, seeing reports about Muslims has been difficult. And I didn’t realize how difficult it was until that moment. We had to turn the mic off.

You have a segment on Media Girlfriends where women in media talk about things they should have said at some point in their careers and didn’t. Why are these sorts of stories important to you?

I want other women in media to know that what they’re going through, in many cases someone else has gone through. And I also want the women [who tell these stories] feel good about the progress they’ve made. When you’re in a place where you would say “I would never let that happen now!” I think there’s something really good in that.

I have a feeling that other women see all these friends of mine that I’ve interviewed as very accomplished, and who maybe don’t make that many mistakes, or don’t have feelings of self doubt or whatever. I think we should all know about the softness inside. I’m comforted by the idea that someone who I see as strong has had not-so-strong moments. “I can do it too! I can shoot for the stars!”

What do you love about podcasting?

I love podcasting because it seems less CBC-ish. When I first heard The Read with Crissle and Kid Fury, I was like “What the fuck!” Here are two Black people, they are under thirty, they’re both gay. One guy is totally into comics and videogames, and he’s not shying away from himself. It was so liberating! I find podcasting liberating. I can’t swear on CBC, and I have opinions that may not reflect all of the listeners. I can say them when I’m in front of a girlfriend of mine.

Do you have tips or advice for beginner podcasters who doesn’t know where to start?

Just start. Just start making the audio. Find a place online where you’re going to put it up and put it up. Try to make sure that your audio is clear and that you’re not doing it in a place where the audio sounds too hollow. I have listened to podcasts where at first it’s like “Where are you recording? What kind of hollow-as room are you recording in?” And then after three minutes, if you’re really interested in what they’re saying, you don’t really care. But if you’re a podcast that’s looking to get listeners and followers, it’s good to have that good quality.

When you look at Canadian podcasting, who is missing?

I would like to see more podcasts from high school kids. We don’t know what they’re thinking. We think we do. CBC does have a podcast called Mic Drop, which is really good. But what if it was totally self-directed? I would love to hear a serialized story of a group of high school kids — immigrant, non-immigrant, kids of colour, white kids – I would love to hear a group of kids who are just growing up. I would follow that, man!