Meet badass ladyboss Ann Friedman of the ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ podcast

She partners with Aminatou Sow and Gina Delvac in a show for long distance besties

Ann Friedman and her badass crew of lady bosses are pioneering the world of podcasting for women, and she isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Her freelance work has been featured in Rolling Stone, ELLE, New York Magazine and so many other publications.

We had the amazing opportunity to speak with her and discuss her most recent project, Call Your Girlfriend, a podcast in which she discusses a host of social, political and feminist issues.

How did you all meet?

Amina and I met in DC in 2008 or 2009 at our friend’s house who was having a viewing party for the Gossip Girl finale. She was wearing a homemade t-shirt that I loved and that was pretty much it. We actually ended up seeing each other the following night at something totally different, so it was a weird, twice-in-one-week, and we hung out constantly after that. I met Gina after I moved to LA – we have a mutual friend as well who introduced us.

How did you get the idea for CYG?

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It was said to us a couple of times that maybe we should start a podcast, and honestly I think we came up with the name and the format followed from there. Obviously we’re huge Robyn fans, and we were also trying to think of the easiest possible conceit, which turns out is just calling each other.

It must be great to see people react so positively. What’s the nicest response you’ve gotten?

We get great feedback. We are pretty casual and pretty open about what’s difficult for us and what we’re thinking about, and in general that makes people pretty generous towards us when they respond. By and large we have really nice reactions from our listeners.

We get the occasional negative iTunes review about how we say “like” too much, which we don’t really care about, and sometimes people write emails that are kind of splainy, like, “you know your audio wasn’t so great on this one,” and we’re like, “we know, we’re trying.” This is no ones full time job so we get a little prickly sometimes when people point out things that we already know could be better. But by and large very supportive.

What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever had a fan say?

We get a lot of emails from women who have just moved to a new place and are feeling kind of lonely, and write us and say that the podcast got them through that period. Anyone who’s been new in town knows how hard that can be until you find your social group and friends.

Those are meaningful to me – when people say we’ve helped them through that. Also, we did a live show in LA in March and I was chatting with these two women afterwards. I asked how long they’d been friends, and they were like, “We met here tonight! We love each other!” It was sort of like, wow, people can actually find friends through us. Lots of good stories.

And how have the live shows been going?

We’ve done two. Our third one is on Sunday in DC. They’ve been good. They’ve been different for different reasons. The production support we had at the first was better than the second one, but the second was also more of a book event with our friend Rebecca Traister.

They were very different but I think the DC show will be more similar to the San Francisco show, which is a little more produced and a little more of a live version of our standard podcast episode. They’ve been so great though. It’s so amazing to be in a room with really smart, positive, supportive women.

You both have diverse interests. How do you incorporate those into CYG?

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Sometimes they relate. There will be some weeks the column I write for my day job is inspired by a conversation I had with Amina on the podcast, or I know Amina works with women in technology which is something we talk about on the podcast a lot. Sometimes when she tells stories, it’s not just her personal experience working with tech, it’s her friends or people she works with at her day job.

So it’s not at odds with our day jobs at all. Gina, our producer, is a radio producer during the day. It’s a really good fit, and all of us are self-employed so we don’t have a full-time employer who’s asking why we’re spending so much time on this. We’re free to fit it in where we have time.

How do you designate specific topics for podcasts, or is it more just what you feel is the most relevant that day?

It depends. Sometimes people will ask us to address something specific. Sometimes there will be a story that we think didn’t get enough attention that we want to talk about. Or something that’s annoying us, or a news item about a celebrity we’re both obsessed with. We’ll go out of our way to talk about those things. We’ll get letters that raise interesting questions and we don’t always read listener mail, but sometimes that inspires topics too.

You’ve had some impressive guests – how do you choose who you feature?

So the Phone a Friend episodes, which are the interview episodes, in most cases are people who are actually our friends who we have a direct personal connection with even if we’re not super close. There have been other interviews with more famous women who aren’t personal connections, but that’s a more recent thing that we’re just figuring out how to do.

We’re trying to figure out now who we want to interview for the second half of 2016, and we’re figuring out how we might change that format a little bit. We’re playing with better ways to do the interview thing but I think we all have a list of women we’d love to have a conversation with, so we’re going to see how reasonable the women on that list are to get.

Favorite feminist writer or book?

That’s a good question. I really love Ellen Willis, who was a rock critic in the 70s and 80s and after that was a feminist essayist. She was really super forward thinking about a lot of stuff. When you read her opinion today, you’re like, “oh, this totally makes sense to me right now,” which I think is really hard to do.

I don’t know what it would’ve been like to read it then. Her work has been really important to me and she’s someone who talks about pleasure a lot, prioritizing class and race and other concerns, but also is a very engaging and provocative writer. It’s not just her ideas, but how she communicates them. I’d recommend an anthology called The Essential Ellen Willis.

What publications do you read?

I get a lot of publications, in part because I’m a freelancer so I can use it as a tax write off. I get New York Magazine, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. There’s a magazine in Chicago called The Baffler that I love, and I’m a devoted online reader of Rookie, and I like a lot of the long form stuff Jezebel has been doing lately. I get way more than I read – I’m kind of a magazine hoarder.

Pop culture guilty pleasures?

I don’t know if I believe in guilty pleasures, but I have to say I’ve been Watching the OJ miniseries which is just so poorly done. It’s like a made for TV movie after school special, but actually about really interesting issues. There’s something about that that feels guilty because it’s so cheesy, but the stuff it’s talking about I don’t feel guilty at all telling you that I like it. David Schwimmer is pretty unintentionally hilarious in it.

Favorite girl power song?

Someone asked me if I were an MLB player what my “at bat” music would be, and the answer is “Feeling Myself” by Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. I feel like that’s such a good pump up song.

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