Over the last couple of months, Emerson alumna Maryalice Aymong ’11 and her friend Julia Moser have interviewed a horror film director, a truck driver, two indigenous rights activists, a restaurateur, and a martial artist.
These wildly different interviewees have one thing in common: they’re all women. And they were all guests on Listen, Ladies, a new women’s issues podcast hosted by Aymong and Moser and available for download on iTunes.
“We look at issues in different ways,” Aymong said. “[We address] the kind of topics or people you wouldn’t think of, but we got really great feedback.”
Listen, Ladies is an offshoot of Women Across Frontiers, a nonprofit online publication that looks to raise awareness of international women’s rights and other topics relevant to women’s lives and careers. Aymong said she got involved with the website through a professor at New York University, where she is studying for a master’s degree in global affairs, in addition to her day job as a producer for CBS News.
Aymong pitched the idea of a podcast to Women Across Frontiers as an audience booster and brought on her friend Moser, who is also a TV producer. Then, for the first time in her career, the Visual and Media Arts graduate was in front of the mic.
“A big part of my [day] job is prep research and [producing] questions for somebody else to use in their interviews…This is the opportunity to do it from the ground up and be the person executing it.”
(John Pouliot ’11, an Emerson classmate of Aymong’s, is the editing the podcast. They hadn’t spoken for a while but reconnected when the hosts were looking for people to work on the series.)
Listen, Ladies’ first episode, “In the Driver’s Seat,” features three women in male-dominated industries. Aymong said they could have easily gone with women working in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street—fields that normally leap to mind when we think of boys’ clubs.
But for the podcast, Aymong said she and Moser try to deliberately look at issues from a new perspective. For the premiere episode, they lined up Stacy Title, director of horror film The Bye Bye Man; Desiree Wood, founder and president of REAL Women in Trucking; and Esther Choi, chef/owner of New York Korean noodle restaurant mokbar. Each of the women share the obstacles they face in their careers and what they’ve done to be able to carry on doing the jobs they love.
Subsequent episodes have featured segments about female spies, the president of the proposed National Women’s History Museum, and black belt and women’s self-defense expert Gabrielle Rubin.
Though some politics may creep into the episodes, Listen, Ladies is intentionally not a political podcast.
“I work for a news organization so I can’t be out there with my own political views, which honestly seems like a benefit for us, because we can expand out beyond politics,” Aymong said. “One void we think we can fill is the international aspect, to call attention to things people might not think about.”
The May 17 episode was a collaboration between the podcast and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to highlight issues disproportionately affecting indigenous women and girls, including colonialism and climate change, and featuring interviews with UN Women’s Beatrice Duncan and Tarcila Rivera Zea, a Quechuan activist from Peru.
And recently, Listen, Ladies launched a listener book club with Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, who was just featured in Time Out magazine as an immigrant making an impact in New York. The ladies will discuss the book on their podcast sometime in June.
Aymong said that as a “news junkie,” it’s not hard to find interesting guests to invite onto the show, and there are plenty of fascinating women out there to feature. She got the idea for an upcoming episode about four women who rowed a boat from San Francisco to Australia when Netflix suggested a documentary about them in a recent “what to watch” message.
What has come with a steep “learning curve” is marketing and promoting the podcast, though Aymong said it has been helpful to partner with other women’s organizations, including UN Women. And Women Across Frontiers has a built-in fan base.
She said she’s in graduate school, she’s working full time, and she’s not getting any money to host Listen, Ladies, but she still looks forward to recording every episode.
“I think probably the most surprising thing is how fun this is,” Aymong said.