Kerning Cultures is a podcast whose mission is to dissect the more complex narratives of the Middle East through stories. I spoke with one of the show’s co-founders, Hebah Fisher, about podcasting in the Middle East — how listening behaviors vary, the different types of stories that get told, and the role of the Western perspective. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Why did you and your co-founder, Razan Alzayani, decide to focus your show on narratives of the Middle East?
Audio storytelling pulls on the long tradition of oral history that we have in the Middle East. Many years ago, storytellers (called hakawaty) would gather people in a circle in the streets and tell long narrative, often historical stories of heroes and legends to entertain and educate them. That tradition hasn’t been completely lost, per se, but it’s no longer common. We wanted to modernize it and bring it to the current day to explore topics like society, culture, history, entrepreneurship, and current affairs through personal stories.