I know it sounds bananas when I say that podcasts changed my life. But, they did. By simply pressing “download” before leaving my apartment in the morning, I am guaranteed entertainment for a hefty chunk of time. There’s no feet being dragged to the BART station. In fact, I actually look forward to hopping on the train and standing for 45 minutes with my face in someone else’s armpit. My favorite podcast, and one that particularly hit home (literally, she lives in my hometown), is Millennial.
Millennial is a podcast that documents what people never teach you – how to maneuver your 20s (something we can all relate to). It’s brought to you by host and producer, Megan Tan, who records what it’s like to be a present-day millennial in real time.
I sat down with Megan, #girlboss extrordinaire and self-starter, to chat about how she got into podcasting, the challenges she faces, and what we can expect from her in the future.
You mentioned in the first episode of Millennial that you struggled for a long time with making it. What made you finally sit down and put together the first episode of Millennial? Was there a catalyst?
It took me a long time to make the product, but I had been toying with the idea and making various edits for a long time. The first idea I came up with when we moved to Portland, Maine last September. It was just this kind of cool idea, but I just got really frustrated in the creative process and I had no idea what I was doing, so I just kept putting it off. I think what really forced me to do it was the conversation that I had with Ben, my boyfriend. When you’re with someone who also has their own aspirations and is really determined, you want to be the best “you” around them. So, when it feels like you’re falling short, you don’t want their perceptions of you to change. I feel like when we had that conversation in the car [that was recorded in the first episode] where Ben was basically calling me out, I kind of became this teacher for myself. For me, because I worked in previous instances with really hard deadlines, I know my potential. Done is better than perfect, and in order to get better, you just have to practice.
So is your background in radio? Is that what you went to school for?
No, my background is in photojournalism. I was trained to take photographs for newspapers for four years and, while I was a student, we were trained to also create short documentaries. In that came a love and obsession for story structure – because what makes a great video isn’t necessarily the images, but is the audio, the pacing of the film, the character development and the structure. During that time, I actually took a year off from school and did an internship at RadioLab. At that time, I still had no idea that I was interested in radio. Millennial was kind of this big leap to hone a craft that I felt really insecure about. I never thought it was going to turn into a podcast that people I don’t even know listen to!
That’s so great. I’m curious – what are your career goals? How does the podcast align with them?
The whole idea was that the podcast would help me get a job in radio. A lot of things have happened for me in the months of April and May, which I will reveal on a later episode of Millennial. Making the podcast has opened lots of different doors for pursuing radio as a career, because the people that I’ve talked to and have been interviewing with have listened to the podcast. It’s really great because they already understand who I am. You’re walking into a space where they’re going to accept you for who you are from the get-go, which I think is really special.
As someone who is also juggling a full-time job, sometimes it’s difficult to hold myself accountable to my self-imposed deadlines. How do you motivate yourself and stick to deadlines, particularly when you aren’t getting paid?
I love it! I love working for myself, and I love making content that I’m in charge of. It wasn’t necessarily about me getting me story out, I just have all this content and it’s really fun to go through it, and manipulate it, and see how it can all mesh together. That’s why I think I love radio so much, because there’s more of a thought process involved in the way that I like. In the end, it just became this thing that was mine that no one could really touch and just fueled me in a way that makes working my 40-hour job worth it. When I’m making Millennial, time flies by and I don’t even realize it. There’s a lot of joy for me, and I think that’s what has really fueled me to keep going.
Millennials are often portrayed in an unflattering light, particularly from the older generations. We are pegged for being lazy, narcissistic, and entitled. Do you agree with these stereotypes? What are your thoughts on the Millennial generation as a whole?
I think of course there are those stereotypes. I can’t talk for all of us, because we didn’t have the same experiences, but I grew up with having. I feel like a lot of other generations were in war, or had to ration, so just in getting by and in getting a job you were fortunate. I feel like with our generation we were fortunate enough to be comfortable. So now, we are looking for something beyond comfortable. Fulfillment kind of has a different definition now. With our generation, there isn’t really a plug-n-chug method anymore, and there’s not a linear path like our parents had. Our expectations may be higher, or we want more, and we can’t get to it just by plugging and chugging away. We have to create the stuff on our own.
What have been the easiest and hardest parts of your journey so far? Is anything different than what you expected?
That’s a pretty loaded question, girl! Really, the hardest thing is still making each episode, because no one is there to tell you that you need to do this. I think that the hardest part just has been my mindset when I go into the first draft critique – to push through that part to make the second draft, which is still ten times better, but still not done. I also think I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. Everything has been self-taught. I watched a lot of Lynda.com videos. When it comes to mixing audio, I’m working with this program I’ve only worked with a couple of times. My knowledge is still very shallow in terms of how to approach mixing and it takes a long time to get through. I think the most fun has been finding music. I think that’s been one of the easiest parts. The other hardest part has been working alongside my boyfriend and creating kind of a professional atmosphere. I think critique sessions in general are always really hard. Now, the hardest part is really balancing everything because of all of the press that Millennial has gotten recently. I spend a lot of time answering emails! The fact that people are listening to it that I don’t even know is a pleasant surprise.
Thank you so much for chatting me with, Megan! I am eagerly awaiting the next episode of Millennial. Don’t forget to subscribe to Millennial on iTunes like the #girlboss you are. ;)