This week, I traded emails with Misha Euceph, a producer on KPCC’s emerging on-demand audio team that most recently put out The Big One, which was recently written-up by the newly revamped LA Times.
Hot Pod: Tell me about your current situation.
Misha Euceph: I’m a podcast producer and host at KPCC. I just finished producing The Big One and now, I’m working on getting 22 episodes of a new podcast out by May 6. The show is called “Tell Them, I Am,” and it’s about the seemingly unimportant moments that end up defining who you are and who you are not. The stories are universal; the voices are all Muslim. We’re releasing one episode every weekday of Ramadan, so it’s a beast. We have awesome guests on board like Tan France, Alia Shawkat, Mercedes Iman Diamond… basically all of my personal heroes. Their stories are beautiful, hilarious and deeply touching.
HP: How did you get to this point?
Euceph: I didn’t get any of the internships I applied for and no one was taking me seriously, so I followed the lead of Megan Tan and Peter Bresnan and made an autobiographical show called Beginner. Some episodes were absolute shit, but it’s the most honest thing I’ve ever made. I learned how to run a small business, by turning a profit on the podcast. I learned how to market by emailing random press people and convincing them to write about my show. I learned how to edit audio and sound design. I learned how to make deadlines. But most of all, I learned that the only way to get people to take you seriously is by doing the thing itself. Going through the system and climbing my way to the top left too much outside of my control. It would have taken decades. So I had to go around the back way.
HP: What does a career mean to you?
Euceph: I’ve always had the imperative to “make it.” As a little kid, I decided I was going to be famous. A couple years ago, I decided that I don’t just want to be famous, I also want to be the most me possible. I’m still figuring out what that means, but at this particular moment, it’s about making work about my ghosts– the things that haunt my life or that are hard to figure out about myself. I don’t want to just make shows about myself or my identity, but I want to pour as much of that into the things I do make. I think that’s the only way to help other people feel like they belong. And I want to die having made a large body of work, as a producer and host.
HP: When you started out, what did you want to do?
Euceph: I wanted to be a lawyer and eventually go into politics. I competed in high school and college debate and it seemed the logical route. Towards the end of my senior year of college, I realized you can be really good at a thing but not get a sense of fulfillment from it. And you can’t spend most of your hours in life doing a thing that’s about proving yourself, rather than enjoying yourself.
HP: So much has changed lately. How do you feel about all this, and about being at a public radio station while all this is happening?
Euceph: My gripe with public radio, regardless of what’s happening in the industry, is taking “public service” to mean you can’t run a business. You can do both.
That said, I am where I’m supposed to be right now. I feel lucky to have learned from [head of podcasting] Arwen Nicks and [producer] James Kim and to have had time to launch 2 shows within a year and a half. Whatever happens in the industry, having the ability to make really incredible shows will always be the most important. The support of brilliant, creative people and the ability to collaborate with them will always be important. Being excited to go to work every morning will always be important.
HP: What should I be listening to right now?
Euceph: Southern Nights by Allen Toussaint.