An Unscientific Map of the Podcast Landscape

I created this graphic after realizing how many hours of my life I spend explaining how many different kinds of podcasts exist right now.



  • This is unscientific. There are not quantitative metrics determining where podcasts exist on the spectrum. This is mostly based on my gut/experience in audio production.
  • There is no value-judgment placed on shows' locations, but I think it's a useful framework for understanding why you might like certain shows and not others.
  • I didn't include every podcast in this graphic. I will not add new podcasts. I will not add your podcast. Sorry.
Alex LaughlinComment
Mixed race identity: A reading list

This post was originally published on Medium.

A sampling of some of the books, articles, music, and films that helped inform the creation of my new podcast, Other: Mixed Race in America

Before I started conducting interviews for my new podcast, Other: Mixed Race in America, I took a few months to try and read everything I could find about mixed race theory. Every article I found would lead to another book, another facet of the discussion.

In the interest of transparency, I thought it would be fun to share my media consumption list over the last year with you all.

[Subscribe to Other: Mixed Race in America!!]




Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity — Lise Funderburg

Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural — edited by Claudine Chiawei O’Hearn

Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience —Chandra Prasad

‘Mixed Race’ Studies: A Reader — edited by Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe

The Face: A Time Code — Ruth Ozeki

Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights — Kenji Yoshino

Hapa Japan Volume 1: History — edited by Duncan Ryuken Williams

Hapa Japan Volume 2: Identities and Representations — edited by Duncan Ryuken Williams



The Quadroons — Lydia Maria Child

Slavery’s Pleasant Homes — Lydia Maria Child

Passing — Nella Larsen

Edinburgh — Alexander Chee

The Gilded Years — Karin Tanabe

Caucasia — Danzy Senna

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky — Heidi Durrow

Everything I Never Told You — Celeste Ng

The Hostage’s Daughter: A Story of Family, Madness, and the Middle East — Sulome Anderson

A Tale for the Time Being — Ruth Ozeki

All Over Creation — Ruth Ozeki

My Year of Meats — Ruth Ozeki

On Beauty — Zadie Smith

[I was tired of conversations about race being framed in black and white. So I created my own conversation.]


The Tragic Mulatto Myth — Dr. David Pilgrim

Learning why we don’t always mix: A Q&A with Mindy Thompson Fullilove

The Changing Face of America — Lise Funderburg

When Are You White? — Lise Funderburg

Interrogating the Hyphen-Nation: Mixed Race Identities and Multicultural Policy — Minelle Mahtani

When Half is Whole: Learning from the Stories of Multiethnic Asian American Identities — Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

A Narrative of Finding Home for Mixed Roots People: Telling “Our” Story — Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

Addressing Issues of Biracial Asian Americans — Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

Navigating the Color Complex: How Multiracial Individuals Narrate the Elements of Appearance and Dynamics of Color in Twenty-First-Century America — David Brunsma

Hypen-Nation — New York Times

Redefining Asian America: Cultural Politics, Aesthetics, and Social Networks of Independent Rock Musicians — Wendy Hsu

The untold stories of Japanese war brides — Kathryn Tolbert


Almost Asian

Chasing Daybreak

Halving the Bones

Ingrid Nilsen: Growing up in a mixed family


Your Best American Girl music video

Listenable (podcasts/music)

The Mashup Americans

Women of the Hour season 2, episode 9: Sickness & Health

Japanese Breakfast: Psychopomp

Mitski: Puberty 2

I was tired of conversations about race being framed in black and white. So I created my own conversation.

This post was originally published on Medium.

I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself.

I’m a half Korean, half white woman who grew up all over the country.

I’ve lived in places where I was the whitest kid in my class, and other places where my dry cleaner asked if I spoke English. I only speak the most basic Korean, and I haven’t been back to Korea since I was a toddler. I grew up the darkest cousin in my family, going to reunions full of blond people in Kansas.

By the time I was three, I knew to explain to strangers why I looked the way I did: “Hi, I’m Alex. I’m half Korean.”

Me, with my cousin and grandmother.

When I meet other multiracial people, I get excited. It’s something familiar you see in each other. You might not know exactly what their mix is, but you can see in their faces that they don’t quite fit in either. They’re familiar with that ever-present question: “What are you?”

I wanted to investigate that moment of recognition.

It’s the kindergarten-level foreign language you can speak to your aunts, the taste for “foreign” flavors you’ve known since childhood, and the distinct feeling of otherness projected onto your face because you look just a little bit “different.”

Out of all of these experiences, I created “Other: Mixed Race in America,” a new podcast from The Washington Post about multiracial identity.

I’ve spent the last year reading everything I can about mixed race identity. I interviewed experts and people I met on the Internet. I have stories from Ruth Ozeki, Maureen O'Connor, Sulome Anderson, and more. I listened to an ungodly amount of Mitski and Japanese Breakfast.

“Other: Mixed Race in America” is not meant to paint the definitive portrait of mixedness in America. I’m not even sure such a portrait is possible. But I do hope that the stories we tell will inform and enrich the conversation about what it means to live in America today.

New episodes of “Other: Mixed Race in America” will publish every day for a week, starting May 1. Subscribe to the series on Apple Podcasts or RadioPublic.

Alex LaughlinComment
How to email a potential mentor

This post was originally published on Medium.

You. You’re a college senior. Or maybe you’re an early career go-getter. Or maybe you’re trying to learn a skill and break into a new industry. Bottom line is, you’re thirsty (in the best sense of the word), and you want to do everything you can to get ahead.

You scroll through Twitter and see people with gleaming accomplishments up and down your timeline. A quick click on their profile shows they’re a leading expert in X field or they’ve won Y award or they work at Z company. And you want that. So you find their email and dash off a note that looks something like this:

Subject line: Hello
Dear Professional Idol,
You don’t know me at all and I don’t know you, but I am a college student/professional in X and I want to get into your industry. Would you have time to grab coffee sometime so I could pick your brain on your career and how you got to where you are?

Connection made. This is how networking is done, right?


This person might respond to you. But chances are she’ll be at least a little bit annoyed.

What you have to remember is that this person is busy. Sure, they would probably love to help you out, but you have to make it easy for them.

Here are a few quick tweaks you can make to your initial email that’ll make your potential mentor more interested in responding to you:

  • Before you even start writing the email, think critically about what you want a meeting to achieve. Has this person written about the topic you’d like to ask them about? Some people have FAQ sections on their websites. Easy win: Make sure you aren’t asking a question that’s already there.
  • Make your subject line specific. Who are you? What do you want? Do you have a mutual connection you can draw upon? (“John Smith College introduction”)
  • Introduce yourself quickly and succinctly. In one line, say who you are and why you’re emailing. (“I’m Alex Laughlin and I’m a senior at the John Smith College majoring in women’s studies.”)
  • Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Prove that you’re not just emailing this person because they work at X company, but because you’re genuinely interested in the route their career has taken, or in the work they’ve done. (“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you were also a women’s studies major. I am experiencing some anxiety about pursuing a career in journalism with my major and I was wondering if you had any advice about not seeming too biased in my reporting.”)
  • Maybe don’t ask to get coffee/talk on the phone. If you can ask a specific enough question that they can answer it via email, it will be easier for them to respond. But if you really, really want to meet up…
  • Give them a few specific date/time options to choose from. Again, make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.
  • Finally — and this is crucial — make sure that you are not asking something of this person that they get paid money to do. If you are reaching out to someone who does editorial consulting, don’t ask them for free advice on your new publication. This is especially important when you’re reaching out to self-employed experts. This is how they make their living, so don’t ask them to give their expertise away for free.
Alex LaughlinComment
The 22 Most Influential Women in Podcasting

This post was originally published on Medium on 6/16/2016.

UPDATE: Collisions has removed the list and posted an apology in its place — and linked to this blog post!

Collisions recently released the Pod 22: A list of the 22 most influential people in podcasting, and the listservs I’m on immediately went wild.

The named “influencers” are certainly notable and deserving of placement on this list — names like Jad Abumrad, Ira Glass, and Alex Blumberg, who have all done their parts to shape the way we’ve come to view (hear?) podcasts.

But there were only two women on the list: Sarah Koenig of Serial and Megan Tan of Millennial.

We can do better than that. We are doing better than that.

So for you all, podcast lovers and consumers and ~hyperglobal thinkfluencers~ alike, here, in no particular order, is a list of women in podcasting who are kicking ass.

  1. Jenna Weiss-Berman — Co-founder of Pineapple Street Media

Her name is on pretty much every great podcast you know and love because she is a stealthy podcasting witch. She was previously the head of audio at Buzzfeed, where she, Heben Nigatu, Tracy Clayton, and Julia Furlan created family favorites like Another Round and Women of the Hour, and built the team that has connected the words “Buzzfeed” and “podcasts” in your mind (not an easy feat — ask every media company ever). Now she’s founded Pineapple Street Media with longtime Longform colleague Max Linsky, where they’re making podcasts all over the damn place. Fun fact: Jenna is the only female owner of a podcasting company.

2. Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton — Hosts, Another Round

Speaking of Buzzfeed, Another Round has been a force in the podcast industry. Started as a fun, drinking-themed podcast, Another Round has evolved into a place to talk about current events, pop culture, mental health, careers, sex, and so much more. Most importantly, Heben and Tracy have created a space to elevate the voices of people of color — the serious, the silly, the petty, everything. In an industry so dominated by white male voices, they’ve asserted their identities and inspired their listeners to do the same.

3. Emily Botein — Vice President, on-demand content, WNYC

Doing the 50,000 foot-level thinking — and the nitty gritty editing — for WNYC’s star podcasts like Death, Sex and Money. Check out her interview on the Tape podcast to hear about her path to this hyper-powerful position at WNYC.

4. Starlee Kine — Host, Mystery Show

Mystery Show was Gimlet Media’s third podcast, and Starlee Kine brought her signature personality, honed on This American Life, to the job. Starlee sprinkles her stories with a super special ~~Starlee dust~~ that infuses them with childlike awe and curiosity in the world. Here’s my favorite Starlee Story ever, for the record.

5. Ann Friedman & Aminatou Sow — Hosts, Call Your Girlfriend

CYG is the ultimate, “Ladies, do it yourselves” podcast. It’s made with love and it aggressively asserts women’s voices into the discourse. This great episode has inspired the conception of many a lady-anchored podcast.

6. Gina Delvac — Producer, Call Your Girlfriend

Speaking of CYG, I think Gina deserves her own spot here. These lists so frequently overlook the producer, the person cutting the tape and making sure everyone’s phones are off — and frequently, those people are women. Praise hands emojis to the ladies who make it happen.

7. Julie Snyder — Senior producer, This American Life

Quietly making things happen at This American Life and Serial. Lady is a genius.

8. Julie Shapiro — Executive producer at Radiotopia

In addition to the work she does at Radiotopia, Julie is the former Artistic Director at the Third Coast Radio Festival, where she influenced a TON of producers about how they think about sound.

9. Anna Sale — Host, Death, Sex, and Money

She was a reporter at WNYC. She had an idea. She pitched it. She ran with it. And the result was straight magical. Particularly recommend their series on New Orleans for the Hurricane Katrina anniversary.

10. Nazanin Rafsanjani — Creative Director, Gimlet

Nazanin is thinking about how to make podcasting profitabale for Gimlet. Before this, she was a senior producer at the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and produced for NPR and other podcasts before that. Also, she happens to be married to Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg, who did happen to make it onto the Pod 22 list.

11. Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel — Hosts, Invisibilia

Two woman hosts in one podcast?? How will listeners ever be able to tell their voices apart?!

Jk. After launching, Invisibilia quickly became NPR’s most successful podcast, ~~vocal fry~~ and all. PS: Season 2 is on its way, now with Hanna Rosin as well!

12. Jennifer Ferro — President, KCRW

As president of KCRW, Jennifer Ferro has created 100 hours of original programming a week and is running a $48 million capital campaign to move the station into a state-of-the-art facility in 2017.

She also created the Independent Producer Project which brought us Strangers and UnFictional.

13. Ellen Horne — Executive Producer, Audible, Original Content

Ellen Horne is making original storytelling happen at Audible, the company we all know from Midroll podcast advertisements. Before that, she was executive producer at Radiolab, the podcast created by Jad Abumrad, who is on the Pod 22 list (noticing a theme here).

14. Eleanor Kagan — Head of audio, Buzzfeed

Taking over the reigns from Jenna Weiss-Berman, Eleanor makes the magic happen at Another Round and she’s also a freakin geniuis.

15. Caitlin Kenney — Head of new show development, Gimlet

Do I really need to explain? Gimlet needs shows to survive and thrive. She’s making that happen.

16. Crissle West — Cohost, The Read

Crissle West talks about race in an insightful and funny way. The Read is a crucial podcast for any podcast consumer. Also, she was once featured on Beyonce’s Facebook page. A brush with greatness.

17. Laura Walker — President and CEO, WNYC

Laura Walker has made a concerted effort to get more women into podcasting with “WERK IT,” the first ever women’s podcast festival, and WNYC’s inaugural podcast accelerator.

18. Sara Weber — Writer/Editor, Adolescence is a Marketing Tool

As a lady-powered alternative to Nick Quah’s newsletter (which is great also), Sara listens to every podcast that exists ever, each week, and delivers you summaries and recommendations of the best episodes of the week.

19. Kelly McEvers — Host, Embedded

Embedded is NPR’s newest podcast, but Kelly McEvers is hardly new to the game. Before taking on the podcast, she was a foreign correspondent for NPR — listen to her Longform episode here.

20. Hillary Frank — Host, The Longest Shortest Time

Hillary Frank is the host of a wildly popular podcast, and she got her start at This American Life.

21. Kristen Meinzer — Senior producer, Panoply

Formerly of WNYC, Kristen now produces for Panoply, a major player in the podcast space, obvi.

22. Kerri Hoffman — CEO, PRX

She’s been a non-profit executive for over 20 years, focusing on financial management and business development. Side note: Who would have thought there’d be so many lady executives on this list?

Special thanks to the members of my radio and feminist listservs who sent me names and descriptions for many of these amazing women.

A disclaimer: This is by no means an exhaustive list — 22 is more for rhetorical effect than anything else. Do you know someone who should definitely be on this list? Add her name in the comments and tell me why she’s awesome! Because guess what: Representation of women shouldn’t just be a quota to fill. We dominate.

Alex LaughlinComment