Celebrating Five Years and 1,000 “Progrums”

Interview with Wanda Wisdom

Hey there, hi there, hello there, ladies. It’s me. Wanda Wisdom. I’m your 34-year-old sassy, sober drag queen hostess with the “mostess,” coming to you live from my very own podcasting boudoir here in glorious Minneapolis, Minnesota. The heart of God’s country.

These words have come out of Wanda Wisdom’s mouth in some form or fashion for the past five years, during more than 1,000 of her podcast “progrums.” She started out recording her late-night ramblings on a cheap Radio Shack microphone for a few curious listeners in 2005. Five years later, her ramblings have turned into an award-winning podcast, downloaded by thousands of loyal fans across North America, Europe, and Australia. She was one of the world’s first gay podcasters; is considered the original podcasting drag queen; and last year, even was chosen Minneapolis’s Best Gay Icon. What’s next, first drag-queen President?

Shortly after celebrating her five-year anniversary, and producing her 1000th podcast, we decided it was a good time to head back down to Wanda’s boudoir (that’s what she calls her basement studio here at Lavender), and check in with the original podcasting drag queen.

Congratulations, Wanda, on your five years of podcasting and more than 1,000 podcasts!

Thank you! It’s hard to believe my mouth is still yapping after all this time. I remember worrying that I’d run out of things to talk about after 100 podcasts. Some people might argue that I actually did, and that the last 4,900 or so constitute little more than shuffling deck chairs around on the Titanic.

There might be one or two people around who still don’t know what a podcast is.

It’s a radio show on the Internet that you can listen to whenever you like. I used to give a longer, more technical answer, but I found that when I used terms like RSS feed and time-shifted, people’s eyes quickly glazed over—which is sad, because RSS feeds are really kind of cool. Oops. Did I just say that out loud? Sorry.

Do you need an iPod to listen?

I killed the last man who asked me that question. OK, not really. The doctors said he’ll be out of the hospital in, like, six weeks. Seriously, though, one unfortunate consequence of the term “podcasting” is the notion that you need an iPod to listen. That’s good for Steve Jobs, but not for those of us trying to explain how easy it is to access our content. All you ever need to do is go to wandawisdom.com, and click the “play” button. It’s always free, and just an Internet connection away.

How did the podcast come about?

I found myself a couple years into sobriety with a lot of creative energy that was going unexpressed. I’d started a blog, and had fun with that for about nine months. Then, in early 2005, through a friend, I learned about a crazy lesbian in Chicago, Madge Weinstein, who was producing something called a podcast. It was an audio playground I instantly fell in love with, and wanted to be a part of. Madge was a pioneer in the medium, and graciously taught me everything I needed to get started with a show of my own. I began podcasting Lucky Bitch Radio in early March 2005, and have been recording regularly ever since. In fact, a week hasn’t gone by in the last five years that I haven’t podcasted something. If there were a Guinness Book of Geek Records, I’d be on the cover.

Why do you think podcasting has allowed you to find your voice?

Frankly, because of my listeners. They let me find my voice. I started out with the idea that I had to create a new persona, somebody completely different. Instead, I found the sooner I was just myself, and shared my life as it happened, the sooner people warmed to my show—the quicker they connected with it and me. You may not have to worry about your hair or your outfit when recording a podcast, but you better make sure you’re being genuine, and speaking from a place of truth. Audio is such a wonderfully intimate medium in that regard. It strips away all the visual, physical baggage we carry around, and people can hear right through BS.

Don’t you ever get bored?

There are days when I have no idea what I’m going to talk about before I click the “record” button. There are other days I don’t even want to click that button. Once I begin singing along to my theme song, and yelling out the words to my opening greeting, however, something magical happens. I’m transported yet again to that crazy audio playground of make-believe, where the problems and cares of the world are rendered irrelevant for a little while. I imagine my listeners out there in the world, listening, and hopefully laughing at the random stories that come flying out of my mouth.

Any other thoughts about the past five years?

Just that I’m eternally grateful to Lavender for recognizing a great thing when they saw it; to my countless listeners for their gifts of time and loyalty; to my friends and loved ones for putting up with my crazy shenanigans; and to all the amazing divas of days gone by for inspiring me to follow my dreams.

One last question: Do you do your podcast in drag?

If you have to ask that question, then my answer is yes. Every time I podcast, I’m festooned with big hair, a beautiful beaded gown, and stiletto heels. And by that, I mean usually just a T-shirt and jeans.

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