March 3, 2023

I remember the first time I listened to an episode of Unladylike.

It was 2019 and I was on a morning train headed into Toronto to work at my startup job. I was in the early days of developing my career in podcasting, but it was still just a side project.

That year was a chaotic time for me. After almost 10 years in Toronto, I moved out of the city suddenly and moved in with my partner and his parents due to a family emergency. Together, we lived in the country, where it took about 20 minutes to drive to get to any semblance of society. After years of biking to work, my partner now drove me to the train every morning. My closest friends were now an hour away when it used to be only a subway stop or two. I couldn’t walk around my house in my underwear anymore. I couldn’t find dim sum ANYWHERE.

It was a shock to the system.

Every week on my commute to work, the hosts and personalities of The Cut on Tuesdays and Stuff Mom Never Told You quickly became my non-judgemental friends who could help me navigate my new life and lack of independence. I was really too ashamed to talk about this with anyone in my personal life for fear of sounding bitter, ungrateful or selfish.

Stress and womanhood tend to go hand-in-hand. In a 2022 report, data showed that between 2020 and 2021, stress was 4 per cent higher in women than in men. In early 2019, I was managing my new routine and responsibilities while working a full time job, pursuing my dream job and trying to come through for my family.

This is a pretty typical example of where some women are these days, with some even calling millennial women the “do it all generation.” Stress has become a part of our identities and that leads to higher rates of depression and anxiety. In fact, we might even be addicted to it.

Sitting on the train heading into my job in Toronto that winter morning, as the sun beamed through the window over my steaming, crappy train-station coffee, I hit play on Unladylike for the first time and felt seen. 

The opening theme song was punk and totally embodied how I felt as a woman in that moment – tired, angry, and still dreadfully optimistic.

The rest of the episode had me hooked immediately. The feminist lifestyle podcast covers a range of issues in women's lives that don’t get talked about much – from dating after sexual assault and late diagnoses of ADHD, to riding bikes and nose jobs.

It felt incredible to find women talking about the nuances of being a woman in the world and how our histories have shaped us. To find space to be both shamelessly curious and shamelessly pissed off.

These feminist podcasts were a major influence in shaping how I’ve dreamed of making podcasts: honest, complex, and charming, but also making some sort of difference in the world.

This week, I got a chance to talk to Cristen Conger, host and creator of the Webby Award-winning podcast Unladylike, in honour of Women’s History Month. It was a blast. I’ll call our chat, How to be a Woman in Podcasting.

This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

I have to ask you about the opening theme music of Unladylike. What is your relationship with Riot Grrrl and punk music?


The band that performs it is Flamingo Shadow, and the vocalist is one of my very best friends, Madeline Adams. We met in high school and growing up she was in the punk DIY music scene. I was very square, but nevertheless, I would go to shows and she was my gateway into Riot Grrrl and punk music.


Did that music influence your interest in feminist issues?


I have to say that my music education really started around the same time in high school because I grew up in a really, super Christian home and was not allowed to listen to secular music. Thanks to Madeline, I feel like the seminal album that still kind of resonates today was Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Even today, it really embodies a lot of the claiming of space, claiming of emotions, and even irrationality of our feelings and just letting it all out. 


Unladylike has been running since 2018; how do you keep coming up with good topics? 


I keep a running ideas spreadsheet. I think the most powerful episodes of Unladylike are ideas that come from listeners. Probably the most standout example of an episode that we never would've come up with on our own was, How to be a Bad Mom. It was inspired by a listener who has a child and wrote in like, “I'm really struggling because there are days when I don't really wanna do this.” Come to find out there is a term for this: maternal ambivalence. My inbox was flooded after that episode, with parents who felt validated for the first time. As someone who doesn't have kids, [that topic] would not have come to me otherwise.


I'm also always keeping my eye on news that's coming out and issues that are developing. It's funny because there's rarely a time when I feel a lack of a potential idea. It's more the question of, “what kind of story can people handle right now?” What needs to be talked about or what would be a nice escape this week? It can't always be deep, dark, depressing topics. 


Let’s talk about how to be a woman in podcasting. We know that women experience stress on a greater scale. In balancing your life, your career in podcasting, and the emotional impact of talking about feminist issues on your show, what has been your experience with podcasting burnout?


Funny you should mention it; I was talking to my therapist about that just yesterday! I started to use the word ‘balance’ and then stopped myself because like, there is no balance. It's just podcast life.


One way that I manage my head space and everyday stress day-to-day is through listening to other podcasts. I don't know if that makes me fully unhinged, but it's helpful. It is nice to just get out of my own world and listen to comedy podcasts. Especially because I need a little levity in these times. 


The burnout factor is something that I have not personally done as much as I really should to take care of myself. It's more bulldozing through burnout. One of the hardest things is allowing myself to take time away, because the podcast industry feels chaotic right now, and even though Unladylike has been around since 2018 and we have a dedicated listenership, it's also not a blockbuster podcast. In an industry that hinges on ad-driven business models, it's always a question of like, am I going to stay relevant to people? 


In the decade plus that I've been doing this, it's always been feedback from listeners that re-centers me and reminds me that, to at least that listener, it's worth it. 


Now, the business side of things is a whole other beast. But making the thing, it still brings me joy and fulfillment. I have learned so much along the way from listeners who have taken the time to educate me that I want to continue building on that relationship. I've found that people almost respond louder and even more positively when they can see that you are actually listening back.


Let’s talk about tone-policing and the criticism around women’s voices. How has that impacted you, and do you have any advice for people who get criticism about their voices? 


In my early days, there was probably more active vocal policing. It still pops up every now and then in rude Apple reviews. I get people nitpicking my filler words or my excessive use of y'all, which I stand by. 


Part of my leaning on y'all more in recent years has been in response to listeners saying, hey, could you stop with the ‘you guys’? And being more careful about referring to ‘girlfriends’ rather than just ‘friends’ – unnecessarily gendering language in that way.


But I haven't met anyone who didn't have to get used to the sound of their own voice. It took me a while to be able to listen back to myself. But if your words are being communicated effectively, if your message is nevertheless coming through and people just don't appreciate the aesthetics of how it sounds, just forget about it. I think it says more about the person who feels like it is their responsibility to tell you about it. You will know constructive criticism when you see it. 


We know that a lot of women are underpaid and overworked. Do you have a hot tip for women or just non-cis-white-male-identifying-people to make the most of their career and get paid well? 


Ask a [cis] white man what he's getting paid to make his podcast! Whatever you think you're worth, ask for more, even if it feels outrageous, because people are gonna lowball you.


Cristen has curated a Spotify playlist of Unladylike episodes, one for each day in March, featuring interviews with trailblazing women and conversations about womanhood – from finding lesbian bars to egg freezing and learning how to slam dunk.

Here’s what Cristen is listening to these days: ICYMI, StraightioLab, I Love a Lifetime Movie, Higher Learning.

Happy Women’s History Month!

tweet of the week

jobs hot from the fryer

Toronto International Film Festival is looking for a social media producer to join the team. They want applicants with three years’ experience managing large social audiences and driving social performance. This is a full time gig based in Toronto. Salary ranges between $50k to $65k annually. Apply by March 8. 

Radio-Canada’s La semaine verte needs a producer. They’re looking for someone with five years of production experience in TV and digital media who can pitch stories and coordinate shoots with reporters. Apply by March 9.

Lemonada Media is looking for a supervising producer of weekly content. You’ll manage a small team responsible for booking, pre-production, production, and post-production on up to three weekly series. The company is US-based, but it looks like candidates can be remote. Salary is listed at $90k to $110k “depending on experience.”

Global News is hiring a show producer for a six-month contract on Crime Beat. Candidates should have a minimum of five years in TV news and documentary production.

Global News also needs a new part-time camera operator and editor to shoot and edit coverage of local news. Heads up, some early mornings, weekend work and overtime are likely. Deadline is March 12. 

BlogTO is doing a ton of hiring right now, with job openings for a new managing editor ($85k to $110k/yr), a digital reporter of trending local and national news, a digital reporter of food and drink, and an events reporter ($55k to $65k/yr for the reporter positions). All of these jobs come with benefits!

hey freelancer!

The International Association of Professional Writers and Editors needs content writers to create articles and blog posts about… well, pretty much everything. Pay is $20 per 100 words, which they say comes out to about $50 to $75 per hour.

Do you looooove to write? Loose Lips Magazine has put out a call for pitches for their digital Spring 2023 issue with the theme: Revolution. Email with your pitch by March 13.

If you’re desperate for a good picture of the state of Canadian podcasting, I just did a presentation about it over the weekend. Curious? You can check out the recording on YouTube!

what we're listening to

I’d describe my life these days as “booked, busy and blessed” and all I’ve been wanting to listen to is pure stupidity. I’ve been on the hunt for podcasts that give me a deep belly laugh and make me grin in public. Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet has really come through for me.

Every episode, siblings Alex and Christine Schiefer pick a theme or topic and dive into the wild world of one-star internet reviews – from mall Santas that didn’t live up to their hype, to steakhouses, Valentine’s Day candy, wedding DJ’s, Chuck E. Cheese and so much more.

They also have a ton of fun with their listeners. They take up a challenge every week to scour the internet for a specific kind of review. On a recent episode, Alex and Christine were challenged to find reviews that referenced Satan, which led to a hilarious review of one person who had a horrible time at a house of mirrors. Give it a listen and have a nice laugh!

Forward to a friend

We want to hear from you! What are you looking for in your podcast news? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram, or by email at

Thanks to Emily Latimer for editing this newsletter, and to Katie Jensen for designing it.

We’ll see you again on March 10. Michal will be back! Until then, here’s an update from a nice plump squirrel outside my home office window who thought spring was here, until it wasn’t. 

Yours in friends and fries,

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