Meet Yowei Shaw of First Person Arts Podcast LIVE!
Our FPA Festival performers just keep coming! Today, we’re here to introduce you to the fabulous award-winning radio producer behind the First Person Arts Podcast, Yowei Shaw.
This Wednesday, the First Person Arts Podcast will go LIVE for the first time ever and Yowei will perform a radio documentary on stage accompanied by music, audio mixing, and sound effects. A diverse group of talented storytellers will share their true tales on the theme “Talk to Me.” If you love real life stories and podcasts, you won’t want to miss this exciting premiere event! Tickets on sale here.
AG: What excites you most about performing at the FPA Festival as a part of First Person Arts RAW this November?
YS: I’d have to say I’m most excited about trying out a new medium with live radio performance. It’s definitely been a challenge to think of effective ways to adapt radio for the stage, but it’s also such fun to get to do things you could never do on the radio!
AG: As an award-winning radio producer, you’ve gotten to work with WHYY’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, This American Life, Studio 360, NPR, and more. How did you get started in the business?
YS: In college, I got internships at WXPN and WHYY, and then I just started freelancing for different radio programs. In the beginning, I also obsessively read transom.org, joined the Association of Independents in Radio, and basically became a radio fangirl/nerd, and eventually a maker. My biggest advice for anyone interested in getting into this kind of work is to go make stuff. A lot of it. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.
AG: Throughout past projects you’ve worked on, like Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio, Really Good Elevator Music, and the First Person Arts Podcast, you broadcast amazing stories from Philadelphia and beyond. What was one of your favorite stories to work on?
YS: When I was in college, my Taiwanese immigrant parents – the last people I’d ever imagine doing the dance of passion – took up the tango on a cruise to South America. They began dancing five nights a week and staying out until 2am (later than I did). They practiced dance steps while waiting to be seated at restaurants and played tango music 24/7 in the house and car. When I caught my mom wearing dresses I used to wear while sneaking out of the house in 8th grade, I knew something big was up.
So I pitched the story to Studio 360 with the subject line: “How Tango Saved My Parents from a Mid-Life Crisis”. I thought, this will be easy – who has better access to a source than a daughter? It turned out to be the most challenging story I’ve ever reported. First, I had to convince my incredibly private parents to go on national public radio. They eventually relented – only after I guilt-tripped them about supporting my career, and allowed them to use pseudonyms. It was also hard because my interviews would sometimes provoke arguments. At one point, my dad threatened to stop dancing tango forever!
Luckily, that didn’t happen. What the story did do was help me discover that my parents were actual people with flaws, complexities, and passions. It also helped my parents understand this radio thing I was doing, and that I’ll never be a lawyer! You can listen to the story here.
AG: Considering it is the 13th Annual FPA Festival, can you tell us what inspires you in 13 words?
YS: Hard question! Let’s just say for now – experimenting with the good and bad.
–Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern