How I Podcast: In conversation with Charis Poon and Eugene Kan
September 20, 2019
We’re talking with podcasters from all walks of life about their creative process and why audio is one of the coolest ways to tell a story.
Before they recorded their first episode, Making It Up co-hosts Eugene and Charis naturally shared illuminating conversations about tech, culture, art, hip hop, and food. They decided to evolve their off-the-air conversations into a weekly podcast, now with over 100 episodes and counting, to share their thoughts more widely as the ultimate culture-driven variety show. What really stands out when listening is that the co-hosts have built a trusting relationship where they can freely share ideas and keep each other grounded in their creative process during inevitable moments of “what are we doing here?”
Both Eugene and Charis work at MAEKAN, a community that celebrates creative culture and emphasizes the art of storytelling. In a world saturated with video, MAEKAN functions like an audio-magazine — telling stories about art installations, flavor scientists, social movements, tattoo artists, and other creatives around the globe. They present these stories on their website in a format where the audio takes precedence and the photos, visuals, and text serve as complementary undertones.
In their first episode, Charis expresses her fear about not sounding smart — a relatable sentiment, especially when the mic is on and the recording is rolling, not knowing what’s going to happen when your voice and opinions are out there. But that fear quickly dissipated after they made a conscious effort to let go of any self-imposed pressure and appreciate the value that they bring to their listeners; there was the realization that when someone listens to your podcast, you’re exactly what they want to hear.
We talked with Eugene and Charis to learn more about their podcast and best practices that they’ve learned along the way.
What motivated you to start podcasting?
Charis Poon: Eugene pitched the idea of co-hosting a podcast with me in the summer of 2017. As I remember it, he said something along the lines of, “I enjoy talking to you and I think you’re good at challenging my perspective on things.” With that kind of flattery, how could I say no? In seriousness, I was intrigued by the idea of co-hosting a podcast because it seemed like a good, low-risk, opportunity to practice the skills of verbal articulation, quick-thinking, and performance.
Eugene Kan: At the time, we only really did long, deep-dive audio stories and we didn’t exactly have an opportunity to discuss and highlight interesting moments in culture. But selfishly, I also knew that a podcast was a good opportunity to help improve and refine my critical thinking and on-the-spot thinking. Charis and I are for the most part quite different people and I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to have somebody who can help frame things in a different light.
What’s your show’s format?
CP: We initially covered three subjects per episode but that quickly dropped down to two subjects to give each subject sufficient time. In order to balance the time we each have on the mic, Eugene picks and introduces one subject and I select and introduce the other one. This has worked out well over time because we tend to have different perspectives on things.
How do you promote your podcast?
CP: We mainly promote our podcast via our owned MAEKAN channels. We will publish each episode as a news item on our website and include it in our newsletter. It also gets featured on our social media.
EK: This is the one area where I believe most creators could get better at, us included. But it can be a lot of work to both create and market.
EK: Aesthetically, Anchor is great. The information is presented clearly and it’s really clutch that the design takes the stress out of podcasting.
CP: Because we are located in different cities, it’s useful to have the ability to save episodes as drafts. This allows anyone with the account information to go in and edit the draft and publish it when it’s ready. I also like that each episode has its own URL so that I can easily link someone to a specific episode.
"Aesthetically, Anchor is great. The information is presented clearly and it's really clutch that the design takes the stress out of podcasting."
What’s your favorite thing about your podcast?
CP: This is so sappy, but one of my favorite things about Making It Up is having weekly conversations with a co-host who is thoughtful, challenges me to think more critically, and is non-judgmental about the questions I have or my process for thinking through things. My other favorite thing about Making It Up is hearing from listeners who felt our discussion of a subject helped them clarify their own stance on it. My ideal scenario is not for our audience to agree with us, but to figure out what their own perspective is.
EK: My perspective is similar to Charis; we both enjoy challenges and respect each other’s vulnerability. This makes for some really great dialogue. I often worried that my perspective would skew heavily towards the world of fashion, sneakers, and business, but Charis has been a great balancing act by tracking things outside of my world that are just as important. This is my second time saying it, but selfishly, Charis is the pin to my filter bubble.