Pop Con Podcast

Pop Con Podcast Pilot Season

Welcome to the pilot season of the Pop Con Podcast! With the intention of marking the 20th Anniversary of Pop Con, season one was produced by students enrolled in “Rock the Archive: Hip Hop, Indie Rock, Pop & New Media,” a course co-taught by Michelle Habell-Pallán and Sonnet Retman at the University of Washington during winter 2022. It was conceived as a media justice project in partnership with Pop Conference, UW Libraries’ Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Communities Oral History Archive and Seattle’s KVRU 105.7 FM, a low-power radio station committed to sharing listener stories and creating community-focused programming. 

This pilot season of the Pop Con Podcast introduced 80 students, many of them first-generation and from underrepresented communities, to music writing and sound production. Fourteen teams composed of first-time music writers and media makers created podcasts featuring music critics whose writing they studied in class. Students did further research on their own to craft their questions and shape their interviews. Sonnet and Michelle guided them through an intentionally low-tech production process. In this pilot season, students focused primarily on content. 

Due to the pandemic, student production teams made these episodes while working remotely. They never met in person. Moreover, they creatively worked around the fact that they had no access to a recording studio or professional equipment. Using a method Michelle developed for UW students producing “The Ofrenda Podcast,” also created in partnership with KVRU radio, teams completed their podcasts using free recording and editing platforms. They did an incredible job. The first season of the Pop Con Podcast is a shining example of media justice in action, through critical inquiry and storytelling. In this process, we’ve connected our students to a network of music writing mentors. Our intention was to provide students with enough skills that they continue to develop their music writing and podcast making in the future. 

We want to express our deep gratitude to all of the music writers who understood the value of student learning and generously gave of their time in these interviews: Daphne Brooks, Michelle Habell-Pallán, Jack Hamilton, Jason King, Ann Powers, Sonnet Retman, Karen Tongson, Sherrie Tucker, Deborah Vargas, Alex Vazquez, Gayle Wald, Oliver Wang, Eric Weisbard, and Deborah Wong. The podcast will feature more Pop Con writers in subsequent seasons. Thanks to Lulu Carpenter, station manager of KVRU, who provided a media justice production workshop for our students and also to UW librarians Elliott Stevens and Bryan Shipley who also provided a sound editing workshop. We were gifted an original song to use as our season’s theme music! Immense thanks to Curtis Bonney, Ruth Lockwood and Dan Webb of Off Off On for granting us permission to use “Start at the End.” Above all, we thank our students, who pushed through their feelings of vulnerability to work in a new medium.

The pilot season of the Pop Con Podcast was produced by Michelle and Sonnet, who pooled various community and university resources to create it; it was a do-it-ourselves project. In future years, the production team will annually rotate to different campuses and organizations. This will allow other institutions to utilize their local resources to produce the Pop Con Podcast, giving it a unique flavor every season.  

A note about the podcast links: these pilot episodes will be posted on KVRU 105.7 SoundCloud. KVRU 105.7 runs as a labor of love: Pop Con podcast links will be updated soon by volunteer staff. Once that happens, we will update the episode links on this page. 


Episode 1 featuring Gayle Wald

Episode 2 featuring Alexandra Vazquez

Episode 3 featuring Jason King

Episode 4 featuring Deborah Vargas

Episode 5 featuring Michelle Habell-Pallán

Episode 6 featuring Oliver Wang

Episode 7 featuring Sherrie Tucker

Episode 8 featuring Eric Weisbard

Episode 9 featuring Daphne Brooks

Episode 10 featuring Jack Hamilton

Episode 11 featuring Ann Powers

Episode 12 featuring Deborah Wong

Episode 13  featuring Sonnet Retman

Episode 14 featuring Karen Tongson