BEHIND THE SCENES with Andrea Silenzi

When the show is at its best, what does it sound like?

Ideally, Why Oh Why should sound like hanging out with your friends in the back of a bar. It's intimate.

When I moved back to NYC a few years ago, my friendships weren't where I'd left them. So I started listening to a lot of comedy podcasts. These are the kind of podcasts where comedians talk for 3 hours about their moms, and what makes lunch awesome. I'm even the kind of sadist who enjoys the opening monologue on WTF with Marc Maron. Looking back, I think I was digging into these shows and listening for moments of honest human connection. A lot of radio shows exist to help make you more aware of the world, and to give you smart things to say at dinner parties. Comedy podcasts are about shooting the shit with your friends. I'm hoping to do both. Technically speaking, Why Oh Why should sound like I made it alone in a week, unpaid, while working a full-time job. There are some things distinctly WFMU)about the show. WFMU is the independent radio station in Jersey City where the show airs live every week. Most community radio stations are based in '60s identity politics, while WFMU comes at it from a DIY punk ethos. Everything we make is highly personality-driven, and made for the lonely hippies and weirdos we attract. But unlike any other shows on the station right now, Why Oh Why steals a few storytelling devices from documentary radio, such as tightly edited interviews, radio verite, and delicately mixed inoffensive music intended for tugging on heartstrings.

Why Oh Why seems to blur the line between "radio" and "life," which - as you mention in the show - sometimes gets "weird." What do you mean by that?

In my efforts to blur these lines, I've recorded dates, dinner conversations with friends, phone calls with my grandma Phyllis, drunk guys trying to pick me up on the subway, and my IUD insertion procedure. I'm trying to be as honest as possible about what's going on with me from week to week. I've been told that it's "brave" but I think its more like lazy! Using myself as a storytelling device is the easiest way for me to create scenes with high emotional stakes and no additional research.

What radio shows, podcasts, or other bits of audio most inspired you in creating Why Oh Why?

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. I love this show, specifically the episodes where he's talking to his closest friends including Chelsea Peretti and Kumail Nanjiani. His show helped me realize how great it is to listen to friends talk to each other, not just hosts and authors.

The Harmontown Podcast recently toured their live show around the country. In their Pittsburgh episode, the host Dan Harmon and his then-girlfriend Erin McGathy had an epic fight in front of a live, incredibly uncomfortable audience. It was one of the most interesting and memorable moments in radio I've heard in years. I'm shooting for that rawness. McGathy's podcast This Feels Terrible is also fantastic.

The Longest Shortest Time is an example of a successful podcast with a host - Hillary Frank - who isn't afraid to incorporate her personal experiences, but then knows how to step back and highlight other voices and stories.

Your show incorporates non-traditional tape (e.g. from other podcasts, crowded bars, and Skype conversations.) Are there other non-traditional ways you'd like to incorporate audio into Why Oh Why ?

Some creative audio you'll hear in some future episodes includes: excerpts of dialogue taking place in porn videos, online dating advice remixed, and show contributors leaving me voicemails while going on dates.

Plus, there will be more candid moments from my own life. Since starting the show, I've started taking my recorder with me everywhere. I've also used the Tascam PCM iPhone app in a pinch, and it sounds great. Also, I'm a big fan of the iPhone app TapeACall for discreetly recording your friends and family.

Dating in a big city has been central to television like HBO's Girls and Comedy Central's Broad City . What do you hope Why Oh Why adds to the conversation?

Dating is the Trojan horse of Why Oh Why ! It's really a show about the ways we're awful to each other, and how we learn about ourselves. I recently did a story about a Wall Street stock-trader realizing she's on her very first grown-up date with tablecloths, and suddenly going into a complete panic. She could barely eat or speak. At one point her date reached over and started eating her pasta. That moment felt like what I see Girls doing every week - young women comparing what we were told about adulthood by our parent's generation with the realities of our actual desires. I grew up with images of women as delicate objects to be pursued, not girls who turn comatose on a grown-up date. Like these shows, I think it's important (and not at all hard) to tell stories of women being clumsy, selfish, gross, naive, impulsive, and sometimes puffy.

In this episode you introduce us to Randy, who becomes a reoccurring character throughout your show. You mentioned to us that you have some plans for him... could you let us in on a bit more?

After folks hear Randy in this episode for the first time, they always have strong feelings. One listener went after me for being both naive and exploitative: "Randy's clearly getting off on insulting and shocking you and you're cynically using him for material for your show. Not cool." Other listeners felt the need to protect me and reassure me of my value: "I am compelled to write because I just felt yucky hearing what that guy had to say to you. As you know, you have a vitality and effervescence so please keep telling these stories.

I've found the perfect nemesis in Randy. People associate him with every awful guy they've ever encountered online or in real life. But just because he told me I look stumpy and smell like hay, should I stop having him on the show? No way.

Did you have any fears or anxieties about starting your own podcast? What advice do you have for new producers thinking about creating their own show?

I've reached a point of fearlessness with my career. When I was 21, the NY Times tried to get me kicked out of college. When I was 24, I got fired from the largest public radio station in the country because of an ex-boyfriend's bad idea. If there's a mistake left for me to make, I'm sure I'll be making it soon, but that's not a reason to hold back.

I seriously don't know why I waited so long to make my own show! I used to think that radio hosts could only be old white dudes, and women with polite laughs, and I had a hard time picturing myself in that role. The reality is that most radio stations aren't developing interesting new shows anymore. Individuals are making these shows, building a following, and then finding a way to support that vision. The comedy podcast world figured this out a long time ago. Why does every comedian have a podcast and not every radio producer? There are lots of podcast nerds (like me) who want to listen to dudes talk about nothing for hours, and anything you can do that's more interesting than that will get you fans and subscribers.

What are the chances that you will find cosmic love through the show?

Corny as it sounds, I think of this show as a love song to myself rather than a siren call to a future boyfriend.