The AAPI, or Asian American and Pacific Islander, experience is as diverse as the multitude of cultures that form it. AAPI is an umbrella term that encompasses over 100 languages in addition to English and includes nearly 50 ethnic groups from East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Islands and their diasporas. AAPI communities and individuals are constantly navigating the spectrum of solidarity, community and difference in American life. One thing that AAPI groups have in common, however, is a unique point of view and a history of strong, dynamic and impactful storytelling. Films featuring Asian characters and stories, like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Always Be My Maybe and Parasite have been met with applause and recognition in the US. Other media, like podcasts, can connect with listeners on another level through offering everyday stories, efforts of local and national leaders and creative narratives.
While the "model minority" myth has often cast Asians as deferential and quiet, this list of AAPI podcasts features Asian American and Pacific Islander hosts and guests telling their stories of individuality, nonconformity and dissent. These audio interviews and stories highlight the voices of AAPI women, parents and leaders, pinpoint political and cultural issues in the AAPI community, and feature downright hilarious and entertaining content by AAPI creators.
Hosted by journalists, comedians and interlocutors passionate about AAPI history and issues, these podcasts cover both conventional topics like Asian food and systemic racism and subjects that can be more challenging to talk about in AAPI culture like mental illness and sex. While Asian Americans have often been misperceived as a monolith, listening to various viewpoints and voices can offer a more nuanced understanding of the gradients of AAPI cultural identity. Whether you’re looking to learn, laugh or level critique on anti-Asian racism, this list of podcasts offers illuminating soundscapes of the AAPI experience.
Journalist and second generation Korean American May Lee hosts this topical podcast about the impact of AAPI people on a local and national scale. Talking to Asian and Asian American leaders from around the world, Lee draws out meaningful conversations with her charismatic interviewing style. Tackling topics like Asian stereotypes, AAPI history and disability rights, Lee leads her listeners on a sonic journey of what it means to be a member of the AAPI community.
Created by writers from Plan A Magazine, this podcast aims to encourage critical thought, discussion and action amongst the Asian diaspora to collectively empower the AAPI community. The show alternates between group commentary and interviews on issues like anti-Asian violence, politics and pop culture. Recent episodes include a discussion around the controversy of Pixar’s film about an adolescent AAPI girl’s first period, as well as an interview with self-defense experts on how to protect yourself as anti-Asian violence continues to escalate.
Hosted by two powerhouse Asian women in media, journalist SuChin Pak and comedian-writer-director Kulap Vilaysack, this podcast offers a subversive take on consumer culture and the objects, trends, philosophies and people that we “buy into.” Each week, the hosts chat about what they are adding or removing from their metaphorical and literal carts, taking home things that are worth the emotional and monetary investment and returning the others. We’ll definitely add this podcast to our cart.
This podcast hosted by Karen Zheng explores the complicated intersection between Asian and American identity. Semi-weekly, Zheng invites business owners, creators and politicians from around the country to talk about all things Asian American. Join in on conversations about AAPI food, the stigma of mental illness, racism, parenting models and love languages.
If you want to get in touch with your feelings, and have a good laugh while you’re at it, tune into this podcast created by Asian American comedians Youngmi Mayer and Brian Park. Each week, Mayer and Park interview AAPI writers, actors and cultural figures to talk about everything from sex and dating to pop culture and Asian stereotypes. Recent interviewees include Natalie Lee from the reality show Love is Blind, Sesame Street puppeteer Kathy Kim and Lisa Ling.
Through incisive humor and sharp insight, comedians Aaron Yin and Gerrie Lim tackle current events and politics affecting the AAPI community in this podcast. Every week, the hosts dive into topics like caste, ivy league universities and white supremacy through satire and close analysis. They describe their show as: “Think John Oliver's show, but there's two of us, and we're Asian.”
Korean American moms and influencers, actress Sara Sohn and blogger Chriselle Lim, talk about parenting (bümo means "parent" in Korean), family and relationships in this upbeat and honest podcast. Each week, they address all things parenting like racism in schools, tantrums, screen time and parenting styles. The moms share how they navigate work and motherhood and find time to self-care amidst the chaos of parenting. Listen to the coolest AAPI moms take on fun and challenging topics in this podcast.
Daughter and father podcasting team Gen and Ted Lai lead listeners through deep dives into critical and sometimes overlooked moments and figures in Asian American history. The hosts have covered tasty topics like the history of Ketchup and Vietnamese food and serious ones like the impact of anti-miscegenation laws on AAPI communities. They also shed light on important but neglected figures in AAPI history, like Wataru Misaka, the first professional basketball player to break the color barrier by being the first nonwhite and first person of Asian descent to play in the NBA. Come for the wholesome family banter and leave with important facts about AAPI history.
Hosted by Kristy Yee and Angie Yu, two Asian American women who are open about their history of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, this irreverent and touching podcast tackles “uncomfortable shit that we secretly want to talk about as Asian millennials.” The hosts discuss difficult and often taboo topics in Asian culture like mental illness, suicide and sexuality with humor, bite and empowering takeaways. Join the conversation to help normalize mental health and wellness in the AAPI community.
This podcast that celebrates Asian boss girls is created and hosted by, well, three Asian boss girls. Based in Los Angeles, hosts Melody Cheng, Helen Wu and Janet Wang offer advice on topics relevant to modern Asian American womanhood. They cover issues like managing burnout and toxic work relationships in their demanding careers in finance, technology and media, as well as sex, relationships, breakups and pop culture. Check out this witty and fun podcast to empower yourself to be the Asian boss girl that you truly are.
Writer Phil Yu, creator of Angry Asian Man, and journalist Jeff Yang tackle notable and sometimes controversial subjects in contemporary Asian America in this energetic podcast. They’ve explored topics like what it means to be “very Asian,” the significance of the first Asian superhero movie, and how to battle anti-Asian racism. The hosts interview notable AAPI figures like Your Korean Dad, Jon Chu, mayor Michelle Wu and Domee Shi to talk about racism, representation and revelation.
Hosted by Sara and Misasha, two half-Asian women and mothers of multi-racial children, this podcast aims to reveal and uproot systemic racism and center conversations relating to social justice, equal rights and community organizing. Talking about the intersections of race, class and gender, the hosts share their experiences as biracial women straddling the color line between Asian and white identities. Join in on these productive and challenging dialogues about colorism, anti-racism and reclaiming and refashioning AAPI identity.
Hosted by Jerry Won, this podcast is made by and for Asian Americans. Semi-weekly, Won interviews AAPI guests from diverse backgrounds and career paths to curate narratives that unify, uplift and inspire other Asian Americans. His various guests have talked about navigating cultural identity, how to build community and the importance of AAPI activism. To honor the one year anniversary of the Atlanta massacre, the podcast hosted a panel at SXSW 2022 named “Dear Asian Americans, What Now?” which is available as a recording on the podcast.
“Thrive Spice” is the term that host and parent Vanessa Tsang Shiliwala uses to explain the joy that comes from AAPI folks owning their identity, power and worth. In this podcast, Shiliwala centers stories addressing Asian American mental health and wellness, interviewing business and political leaders, entrepreneurs, activists and creators to share their experiences and offer advice. Listen in on these stories of self-actualization in the AAPI community.
Hosted by a trio of Asian creators, Jay Caspian Kang, Tammy Kim and Andy Liu, this podcast opens each episode with a round of applause and a snippet of the overture of the Italian ballad “Time to Say Goodbye.” The eclectic show interviews an AAPI guest each week to talk about a wide range of topics relating to the Asian diaspora like the Beijing Olympics, Jeremy Lin, local school board drama and AAPI academia.