Each Friday morning, Los Angeles-based hosts Funmi Akinyode and Jenny Churchill recap the week's biggest current events in under 35 minutes on their podcast All Of The Things. Offering a fresh, female perspective on everything from major international news to hilarious anecdotes, All Of The Things provides an informative, exciting rundown of the past week's news in a super-accessible format. Rogue recently caught up with Funmi and Jenny to chat about All Of The Things.
How did you two meet?
FA: We matched on Tinder. Just kidding.
JC: We met working on a show called TakePart Live for Pivot. It was a news and current events talk show that targeted a millennial audience. The show didn't end up lasting more than a season but our friendship was one for the record books and the rest is very relevant not that distant history! The best part about meeting each other is that we are very different in some ways and similar in others. We both love the news, but different aspects of it. And we often have different takes or feelings about stories, but we always respect each other's opinions, which is kind of rare and cool.
FA: The hours were pretty crazy and we ended up spending ridiculous amounts of time with each other. By the end of it we had no choice but to become friends.
What sparked your interest in starting a podcast instead of a weekly blog or even a Youtube channel?
JC: There are a few reasons we wanted to do a podcast. First of all, it's a medium that is really underutilized currently for people our age when it comes to news. Everything out there news podcast wise right now is kind of dry and, quite frankly, put-you-to-sleep NRP style shit. The other reason we wanted to do a podcast rather than another medium is that we are making our podcast for people who are busy and don't really have time to comb through the news. If we're targeting people who are out and about, what better way to deliver the news to them than via podcast? They can catch up on the news of the week while multitasking, commuting or even working out. That's what's so great about podcasts. You can take in information while keeping the rest of you free to do whatever it is you need to do in that moment. As far as a video component, hey we're not ruling that out in the future, I mean look at us, we're fabulous. But even if we add video we'd always want to make All Of The Things something you can simply listen to and still get.
While All Of The Things is very informative, it’s also hilariously entertaining. How do you strike that perfect balance between news and humor?
JC: Honestly, it can be tricky. But humor is something that we think is very important to our overall goal. I mean, we come from The Daily Show generation. Young people don't want to listen to two old dudes screaming at each other or dryly giving you the facts. I mean, let's get real: there are a lot of other things people could be doing than following the news. But one of the main reasons we started All Of The Things is because we don't think the news has to be boring. For so long it's been this thing that you either follow religiously, or don't know anything about. It doesn't have to be that way. Also, the world has gotten so fucking serious lately. We are both news nerds, but we're not serious people per say, so why should our take on the news be so serious? When we talk to each other about things, even super serious things that worry us or make us sad, we still crack jokes, so why should the news and our pod cast be any different?
FA: For me, this podcast is like my group chats but in audio form. My friends and I have full on in-depth discussions in our group texts, and just like AOTT, we talk about a range of issues, some of them serious, some of them lighthearted. I try to use that same approach when I’m doing the show. Am I going to sit here and make a joke when we’re talking about the Syrian refugee crisis? No. But if we’re talking about Donald Trump, best believe I’m going to be cracking jokes for days. I feel as a society we’re stuck on this idea that since it’s news it has to be all serious and dry. NO! Why not have a little fun with it?
JC: Now, to answer your question specifically, striking the balance is kind of an art. You have to give the facts and give stories, especially sad ones, the weight that they deserve. But we always try to point out the absurd and laugh at what demands to be laughed at. At the end of the day, it's a bit of a give and take. But if there's a laugh to be had, you better believe we will have it.
How do you comb through the week of news and pick the topics you discuss? What’s most important to you?
JC: Figuring out what topics to cover is kind of tricky. We aim for every episode to be right around a half an hour, because that's about the time it would take someone to get to work or finish a workout (you can lie and say you work out for an hour, but we know the truth). So given that, we can't cover everything from the week, so we try to hit the stories that can't be ignored, as well as the stories that are our personal favorites. The most important stories for me are always the ones that have to do with personal freedoms or privacy. It's always been a passion point of mine. I'm a registered independent, but if I had to pick a political party, I'd say I'm a Libertarian. In the current news environment that point of view is often ignored or under covered. I think it's really important, especially in the digital age, to talk about any time the government is sticking its nose where it doesn't belong, be that in the bedroom, in your computer or in your every day life.
FA: The most important stories to me are the ones dealing with race. Whether it be police killings of unarmed black males, to the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood, to even the curious case of Rachel Dolezal. As an African-American, it’s important to me to make sure these stories get the coverage they deserve. In no way am I trying to paint myself as the voice of the people but I do feel a responsibility to speak my mind on issues that pertain to my race.
In “All of the Things,” you are both the voice of the news and the voice of the people. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re recording, knowing that you can portray current events in any light you want (especially considering “All of the Things” could be one of the only news sources for a busy person like me)?
JC: To me, the most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone might not have the same starting point for a story that I do. I've been working in news for almost ten years, and often we are talking about complicated stories I've been tracking for almost that long. One thing I wanted to do with this podcast was make the news accessible to anyone. Watching the news on TV can be kind of like watching a soap opera. If you missed the beginning of the storyline, it's hard to catch up. So every time I present a story, I try to take it from the place that this could be the first time someone is hearing about something. Otherwise, you've lost them from the start and they tune out.
FA: One of the things I always try to keep in mind is that, like you said, there’s a good chance this might be one of the few outlets that the listener is getting their news from. That means, for me, that I need to be extra cautious and make sure I’m doing a good job of actually doling out the facts of the story. I’m a very opinionated person and sometimes I just want to get straight into giving my thoughts on whatever story we’re discussing. I’ve had to learn how to reign myself in and make sure I get all the facts in and that the listeners have a good understanding of what’s going on before I hop in with my own personal views.
What are your opinions on publications like Buzzfeed News that offer quick, accessible stories, and what do you think is the difference between those and the content of All Of The Things?
JC: As much as I think Buzzfeed's damn quizzes will be the downfall of humanity, I'm actually all for things like Buzzfeed News. Look, I want anyone and everyone to know more about the news. For some people that's watching TV, for others it's reading a blog or a hot sheet online. And for some people it's through a podcast. I would say the main difference between what were doing and something like Buzzfeed news is us. We're here to walk you through the story and offer some differing opinions. Also, I like to think that our podcast offers a different take than you've seen elsewhere and also stories that you may not have known about otherwise. And lastly, we make it so you don't have to read a damn thing. That's nice, right?
FA: Not to throw shade but I’ve never been a fan of Buzzfeed. However, that being said, I totally support their attempt at making news more accessible to people. Would I ever go to Buzzfeed’s News? Umm, no. But if someone else wants to get their news from them then more power to ya. I’m a news snob but I don’t expect everyone to devour news the same way I do. I support helping create a better, well-informed society so kudos to Buzzfeed News for doing that. The main different between Buzzfeed News and AOTT is that we’re here to not only provide you with the facts, but also with our personal views on how we feel about every single story.
I love the personality and voice you two offer on All Of The Things, especially on topics like women’s rights issues. What do you think is the biggest problem for women in the media right now, especially in journalism?
JC: To me the biggest problem for women in media and journalism is that they are trying to play a boys game in world built by boys. But we're not boys, we're women, we are different. I think that instead of trying to conform to the parameters set by men, women in the media need to carve their own path. I make a point to always try to be me through and through, not "news Jenny" or "journalist Jenny". I refuse to conform to some "ladylike" standard just because the world wants me to. Another thing is, when you get more than one woman on any journalistic or media endeavor, suddenly it's a "women's thing." Fuck that! Just because we are both female doesn't mean that we have to focus on women's issues or talk about things from the standpoint of being a woman. I also think that there is an assumption that if it's just women on a project that the audience will only be female. That simply isn't true unless you make a product that only appeals to women.
FA: I think the biggest problem with women in media, specifically journalism, is that we get pigeonholed into these tiny little boxes. Like, oh, as a female journalist you should only be talking about issues that are particular to your sex. And that’s complete and total bullshit. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to cover topics like planned parenthood, sexism and the wage gap. But there’s also tons of other issues I’m capable of talking about that have nothing to do with the fact that I happen to have a vagina.
Tune into All Of The Things here.
story by Alyssa Gengos
photography by Embassy Row