It wasn’t long ago that Kathy Tu and Tobin Low met at Transom, a boot camp for nascent radio producers. The two realized they had a fair amount in common.
Tu, now 31, was born in Taiwan, but emigrated with her family to the suburbs of Los Angeles when she was four; Low, a 29-year-old Chinese American, grew up in Cupertino, Calif. Both are gay. Beyond the obvious similarities, Tu and Low share a sense of humor, one that can dull the edges of a tough situation in a few words, as well as an understanding of the complexities that come with cultural differences.
“Sadly, I’ve come out multiple times to my mom,” deadpanned Tu, who shares one of those instances on the podcast. “I had to record the last time. Conversations are happening but we are ignoring it. It’s proof.”
“I think Kathy’s story is what we look for in a lot of stories,” added Low.
After Transom, they decided to enter WNYC Studios’ Accelerator program, which gives podcasters the chance to pitch their ideas and work with producers on a pilot. Low and Tu wound up winning the whole thing with their podcast, “Nancy.” (For those wondering where the podcast’s name comes from, it’s an old-school term for a gay man. “It’s fun and irreverent,” said Low, who cohosts the show with Tu.)
The weekly podcast features intimate, frank and often funny conversations, reportage and immersive stories about LGBT people. The 12-episode podcast includes lessons a year after the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, a show on gay Republicans and an exploration of whether Harry Potter is the “gayest book ever.”
For WNYC Studios, the production arm of WNYC, “Nancy” represents a bigger move to reach new audiences in the podcast space. The second-largest podcast producer behind NPR, WNYC Studios, is planning four to five brand launches every 12 months, and is piloting or developing three to six shows at a given time, a spokesman said.
New York Public Radio, Studios’ parent, generates revenue through membership, donor support and sponsorship. Major top-tier branded advertisers include Blue Apron, Quicken Loans and Squarespace. A spokesman said “Nancy” will have multiple sponsors at launch, but declined to name them yet.
“I’m so excited for this podcast,” said Paula Szuchman, vice president of on-demand content at WNYC Studios. “When you hear Kathy and Tobin together, you immediately want to live in their world, and that’s a rare thing to find. We’re thrilled to bring their fantastic chemistry and these memorable episodes to the world.”