If podcasts are measured by the rapport they create between host and listener, then The Cut on Tuesdays is exemplary. It’s like an intimate chat between friends – a conversation you feel party to, one you find yourself absent-mindedly humming along to in agreement.
Co-created by New York Magazine’s women’s site The Cut and Gimlet Media, the show dives into different facets of the female experience each week, bringing the listener a thought-provoking analysis of topics that have included weed smoking, abortion, political power, domestic violence and pubic hair. Like The Cut it’s a balance of light and heavy and reflects the broad spectrum of women’s daily experiences.
“My favourite episodes are the ones that manage to combine those two things; that are ostensibly serious but have moments of levity, or are ostensibly light but reveal … an undertow,” says podcast host Molly Fischer, who is also senior editor of The Cut. She has also had her work published in the New Yorker, Slate and Harper's Magazine.
Fischer is talking to Broadsheet because, along with producer Kimmie Regler, she will be in Sydney on Sunday March 10 to record, live, an episode of The Cut on Tuesdays. It’s happening at the All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House, a day of talks, workshops and conversations about issues affecting women around the world. It’s all territory The Cut on Tuesdays also covers.
For the Sydney audience Fischer and Regler will look at the evolution of women’s media, from women’s magazines in the 20th century, to the landscape of women’s websites and podcasts in the 21st century.
Like The Cut, The Cut on Tuesdays falls under the category of “women’s interest”, a label that’s historically been used as shorthand for “trivial”. It’s a term Fischer is in a position to reclaim and embrace. “It increasingly feels like women’s culture is the culture,” she says.
“In the ’60s and ’70s, you had men’s magazines like Esquire or Playboy that presumed their audience was largely male and catered to that, but these were also the magazines that were publishing the stories everyone was talking about. With the current boom in women’s media, women’s outlets are assuming a similarly central role. Part of what we want to try to do with The Cut on Tuesdays is adopt a posture that isn’t a defensive crouch; I think we treat the things we’re interested in as if they’re interesting.”
Fisher says the podcast format is particularly good for getting across varied opinions because a studio-recorded interview can segue into a voicemail or a poignant monologue. “There’s something about that cacophony of voices adding up to a cohesive whole that we were interested in replicating in podcast form,” says Fischer of the process of extending The Cut’s perspective to an aural product. “Audio is the perfect medium for bringing those voices to life, to a greater audience. The sheer emotional punch of hearing a voice telling a story is something we’ve been interested in incorporating from the start.”
Episodes run for around 30 minutes and are pithy and tightly edited. “It was designed for speed and to give us room to play, where we could work week by week and cover things that were current,” says Fischer. “That said, I wouldn’t rule out going longer or doing multiple episodes on one topic in the future.”
The Cut on Tuesdays will be recorded live on Sunday March 10 at 1pm as part of All About Women Festival at the Sydney Opera House.