Zahra Noorbakhsh and Tanzila ‘Taz’ Ahmed launched their podcast #GoodMuslimBadMuslim in January 2015, and they hit the ground running. Their first radio interview about their show, for PRI’s Global Nation, was recorded before the first episode of their podcast was up online, but that didn’t seem to hurt their launch as far as they can tell. According to Zahra, by their second episode they were featured in Mother Jones, and by their 5th episode they were on the BBC weekend round up.
How does a new podcast, like #GoodMuslimBadMuslim find success and find an audience? That’s the $20,000 question. For Zahra and Taz it started as a Twitter joke between friends, mocking the innate Islamophobia of so much of the main stream conversations about Muslims in America and it grew from there. It probably didn’t hurt that they were both already public figures who had appeared on panels and in anthologies.
Zahra says that whenever they would meet up to talk privately with one another they both felt a strong urge to share their personal conversations with the world. “I wish that the conversations that we have are the kinds of conversations I would hear more of,” Zahra told me in our interview for Radio Survivor, reflecting on why they began work on their show. “We should have those conversations, because people want it. There’s really a need for it.”
They did research to find a model for their idea for this podcast, looking for personal takes on what is was like to be a Muslim these days, and as far as they could tell no one in podcast-land was talking about the things they cared about. So they launched their show to fill that void.
Zahra Noorbakhsh’s advice for anyone who is planning (or fantasizing) about starting an online radio show of their own: “For new podcasters, really identifying what it is that is driving you to do it… if there is something out there that you want to hear that you are not hearing, I think that’s a great starting point.”
You can hear more in our podcast interview with Zahra from episode #21 of Radio Survivor.