When Megan Tan started her podcast Millennial a few years ago, she didn’t exactly feel prepared or qualified for the job. But she quickly rose to the challenge, and Millennial is not broadcasting its third season! Learn more about the woman behind the podcast and even get some great recommendations of other podcasts you should listen to.
1. Hi, Megan! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Wasian (White and Asian). My mom is from Cleveland, Ohio and my father is from Singapore. Though I speak more Spanish than I do Mandarin Chinese. I’m from the Midwest which means I let people in front of me when I drive and have eaten my weight in cream-of-mushroom dishes and casseroles. I’m the youngest sibling. My sister is ten years older than me so I feel like I’ve always been able to see what life looks like ten years down the road, giving me the advantage to plan and make decisions accordingly.
Almost three years ago I graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in photojournalism. When I graduated, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or be. Fortunately, I have a supportive mother who said, “You do what you love when no one is watching,” a phrase that really struck me.
At the time, I was spending lots of time listening to podcasts and analyzing audio narrative storytelling. So I decided that I wanted to become a radio producer; the only problem was I had never created a radio piece before.
The purpose of Millennial was to be a portfolio piece where I could practice making documentary-style radio. I decided to focus on my own life because it was a very accessible story. Plus, one thing that makes a great narrative story (in my opinion) is when change happens within the character. In my 20s, change was all I experienced.In my 20s, change was all I experienced. -Megan TanClick To Tweet
3. Your podcast has been around for three successful seasons. What do you have planned for season four?
To be honest, Millennial is still being made in real-time, so right now we’re focusing all of efforts on season three.
4. Most recently, you traveled to Cuba and interviewed residents about their coming of age stories. What was that experience like?
Cuba is a fascinating, complex country. I am fortunate because one of my childhood friends, Hannah, has been living in Cuba for the past five years, so I had a personal tour guide.
I grew up with the very American moto, “You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.” It’s a message that hangs on posters in public libraries, is a focal point of commencement speeches, and the moral of the story in most of the films I grew up watching. But in Cuba, after talking to people who are younger and older than me, I realized there are a lot of restrictions that prevent people from developing their dreams. For instance, when we spoke to Roberto, who’s 22 years old, he said there’s a fear that the government will come in at any moment and shut down a business in which you’ve invested your whole life. The resources in Cuba are also limited and expensive, and there are strict rules around which private industries can exist and which can’t.
A lot of people we interviewed explained that it’s hard to dream in Cuba. It’s hard to be ambitious.
The majority of the people we spoke dream to leave. Even though they love their country, as young people many of them find it hard to feel fulfilled there.
At the same time, there are parts of the system and the country that are commendable. We spoke to people who had multiple degrees because they had received a free university education. There’s free health care and Cuba teaches sex education to its students starting at a young age. When we walked the streets at 2 a.m. in Havana we never felt like we were in danger.
With that said, I understand why a lot of people we spoke to feel limited by their country.
5. Do you have plans to travel anywhere else new for your podcast?
We’re planning on traveling to Singapore, where my father is from, for a possible identity story.
6. I’m guessing you listen to lots of other podcasts. What are some of your favorites?
The Heart, Reply All, Criminal, HowSound, This American Life, Another Round, The Truth, Radiolab, Planet Money, Shannon Cason’s Homemade Stories, Why Oh Why, StartUp, The Longest Shortest Time, Love and Radio, How I Built This, The Daily… there are so many.I still have to remind myself to be my future self now. -Megan TanClick To Tweet
7. Do you have any advice for your fellow Millennial women that you’d like to share?
There’s a phase that helped me launch Millennial and gave me the confidence to enter a space in which I felt unqualified. It goes like this: The present is a manifestation of our past actions, so the future will be ann indication of what we do now. I still have to remind myself to be my future self now.
Thank you, Megan!