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The Test Kitchen Revisited

2021-04-29

The Reply All team takes a look at the Test Kitchen, and what those mistakes mean for the future of the show.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From gimlet. This is reply all I'm image, Ochi around ten p m on Tuesday February. Sixteen I got a voice memo from a friend. It was pretty short, I'm pretty direct. None of this is your problem to fix. My friend said: stay the fuck out of it for those of you who don't know the event. My friend was telling me to stay. The fuck out of was a full blown reckoning of a race and work culture that took place on twitter, involving this show and a series we made called the test kitchen, which was about the systemic racism matter of food magazine, called bon pity. Not long after we publish a second episode of that series, former colleagues of ours, a gimlet, but publicly about their honestly, really horrible experiences working with young. People on a company which is overwhelmingly white, some of these allegations actually centred on the show and how some members of our team, including Pga, vote, and if you put him in any,
with the editor reporter on this series opposed vein. The union, which was formed two years ago in large part by people of color. In the aftermath of our online reckoning, be JANUS roof. He left the show, I'm thinking about them My friend sent me a lot lately, because what I'm doing literally right now on the air on video calls every day is the exact opposite of staying out of it, which is to say, after all, of the tweet frames after the New York Times articles after the notes, app apologies, after everything, that's happened and all the people of this show has let down a very familiar course of events has transpired white leader guy at the stage, and that guy is talking to you about it. That back doesn't feel good to anyone, but it is what's happening. The truth is, despite my friends warning
I have definitely not stayed the fuck out of things after pj and Sufi left the show. I was a part of trying to figure out exactly where we went wrong, publishing this series, which we'll get too late in one in this episode, I jumped on the phone alongside my colleagues and called the former employees of bon Apetit who had failed and I was there and we decided not to continue airing this series. I did a lot of that stuff. Because I felt and still feel really awful about the way we felt so many people of color, but also, as I dug deep into what had happened. I was doing but I think some of you might be doing right now, learning about things that happen. On the show, this company,
Thinking about all the people who left, but also just thinking about who remains and about what remains like what is left of the show, that's worth, carrying on and being a part of what is reply all now. This isn't a new question for me is a question I had way before happened with it s getting serious question. I ve been asking since I first got out of his job as a host last year back in June. When be, they asked me if I wanted to become actors to issue a bunch of questions came to mind. One me talked about summer progressed was about the timing of his proposed promotion. Just weeks after Derek Shovin murdered George Floyd, I was worried about being seen as a way for this show to fake racial progress. Another question I asked
but one and being a right now was, are you kidding? I asked a question because of lack of energy is often hard fought right and seldom just give him. In my experience, white people off. Neither control of something to black people when its clear what they handing over is in crisis sums. All then point mediate. Ami wasn't quitting He told me he wanted me on the ammo that I was good at my job and deserve this I want to make the show you want to make he said so we set out to do that. The first step was an announcement about my promotion. You may have heard it when I add at the time. I didn't think that much of it well, our whole staff listened to it again a couple of weeks ago and. I'm gonna play for you, because if you listen closely underneath Oliver joviality and camaraderie, you can act in a year's time.
Also a lot of complicated questions about ourselves in real time. Alex Goldman Pga vote is unsuspicious already so voice are the shall we have a big announcement. We are very say about yeah, where adding a third housed somebody, you already know, a male genji Emmanuel, allow Hey guys and to be clear, adding a new house. Does that mean getting rid of one of the old ones that he didn't No, we are not getting rid of any of our existing hosts, but we are adding a manual as a host or reply all and basically the idea behind this move is like. We just want to give a manual more space and support to do stories like the ones he's done. Like big ambitious reported pieces like his three parter on Alabama Democrats from the winter or history the summer about why people sitting by people reparations unbend MO you mean the story about like white people.
Trying to like give like people what they deserve? Yes, that story. But just to say that is now This is yes, this promotion is not reparations in action. It's just sort of like the fact that we have a super talented reporter on our staff, who is going to get a little more stage to tell stories on. Thank you, pj yeah. Basically, what you need to know as a listener is that the show is still going to be the show me and are still going to be here telling each other stories laughing at dumb jokes. You shouldn't necessarily expect a manual in every single story. He probably isn't slipping into. Yes, no, unless he really wants to. We just want him to have the space to do more, ambitious work. I really hope people are even half as excited as Alexander about this any we've made any change to the show some people freaked out literally after our second episode. There were people telling us that we change too much and the old stuff was better. Is that true? Yes, they said that we were
doing stories about apps now and we sold out yeah, that's right used to be the creative shown how they just do stories about stories ourselves. The main thing I want to say is our show is going to keep changing and well. We hope that you like these changes. They are not totally for you. Making the show is a privilege. It is a pleasure, but for us it is only worth it to the extent that we can keep it interesting, keep it different and keep it challenging we'd rather stop than repeat ourselves: okay, let's just stop it there shall we because there's a lot going on in that Alex joking. He asked if he's being replaced. Pj says very nice. Things me and says the show is gonna be great, even though it isn't exactly clear how the show is going to change right like where I fear that change or
who the hell of a show is full besides ourselves. The only thing that happens, of course, which I am not going to go server- is that my only real contribution to be announcement is to cringe me wink at the thing I felt like we were tiptoeing around saying, which was bill is now a black guys going to be in the air from now on, he's good, don't be mean, don't be racist Mps, maybe more changes coming then we don't say in my opinion, is why We need to sail this to me. It felt like we were doing all of its work and our announcement in part, because we for MRS might be freaked out at the idea of a file hosting nation to Alex and Pga, but also in part, because anytime, I had even referenced the mere existence of race or racism on the show
I've gotten some weird shit from some of our listeners, like one white woman, actually wants emailed me a seventeen minute voice memo complaining that everywhere she turned there are black people making her feel bad about race and she wanted it to stop. When I bought me subject I, like some listeners, acted like I was coming into their perfectly clean house dancing around in issues like shoving stuff, they didn't want. Think about in their face. I was that guy to some people, and we trying to tell these people to get over their feelings and give me a chance. I appreciated the songs. We took up the time but looking back on it now that New House announcement feels emblematic of a major blinds, but on our show we often and cumbersome about about how we didn't like, but listeners, had negative reactions to the sorts of of stories was interested in stories about race and identity. Even though we were the ones who made a show about so often ignored race and identity, we ever off the crucial question: what was it
about? What we would be busy making that required us to lecture our listeners in Monet being net criticism of my work on the show that always felt the worst wasn't racist or bad faced off people said about me. It was something they said about my stories that always felt pretty true that my morning. Just didn't sound like something that belongs in the version of reply. All that certainly listeners had come to all know and love living that exist. Me about becoming a husband, a show and excited my colleagues was at. My stories might not feel out of place on the show anymore and that by proxy other kinds of stories. Other people wanted to do when fill out place, but the show might actually change, but I didn't really end up happening. We did do some work to try and in turn me Jane. A show functioned, try to figure out my new role,
tried to make some of our processes at the show better, but we weren't honest with ourselves about the work we needed to do to tell the stories we wanted, and that was especially true when it came to telling a very complicated story about race in the workplace. Experience the test kitchen. So I'm going to tell you that story in four parts: a story about bone empathy, it'll start a decade ago when the man in charge would build this whole, obviously there's a lot that happened there. There are some things that I can talk about and that we're going to talk about in just a second, but there are also some things that we just can't get into. I don't speak for Gina as a company and Bassam, really private interpersonal matters behind. You'll find very angry that any workplaces place that I just explore explore. I will say, though you know
He may explain why haven't by myself because honesty, everyone on staff, removing this over, including my colleague and caused I've Goldman Sachs hey. So I don't know. I think probably a lot of this is of listen to this episode so far, and just for even one where you been ill of this right? Well, I mean, like you said earlier: we have spent the past two and a half months reflecting on the making of the test
Jim and more than anything what we want to do in apologize. We really hurt a lot of people. We hurt people from donor petite. We heard our colleagues and we hurt our listeners. We are very very sorry. For the past couple of months, we have been working to pinpoint where exactly our process failed by choices that we could have made very differently and from the start, it's been important to us that we're not just doing this alone were also going to be working with folks side of the shout to identify problems in our process and we get that it's weird to hear us reporting on ourselves, and we dont presume that this is a complete picture of everything that went wrong, but for now here's what we think we messed up so as a show reply has always always been incredibly focused on making sure stories are accurate. We have fact checkers, we bring
outside editors, and all those processes are meant to protect the work. We do make sure that were characterizing people's opinions correctly. There getting stuff right, that we're not making factual mistakes, but there's another very basic, initial step that you do when you work on a story which is the you ask a question like what am I bring to the story like what effect do my life experience as my biases have on the story and after it, Those questions. What you're supposed to do is ask yourself: am I the reporter the right person to be doing this story right, and you know the whole point of reporting a story about someone else is to understand that person's experiences right. One your own experience or buyers to end up harming the The story that you're telling or even over shattering it, I think, what's tricky about all of this- is that at the beginning of the series like we did ask ourselves as
Although the story we're making was actually different, like what became the test kitchen initially started now as a story about the complicated history of curry and how that data fight over a viral recipe last year and in that context there will come a stations about what's goofy is someone who grew up in India was bringing to the table for the story, but the problem was that the story changed in scope and ambition like pretty dramatically and it became the.
an appetite series yeah like a full part thing, and you know along the way we just didn't, keep asking ourselves those question hard enough or in the way that we should have, because if we had, we would never for the serious away we did and in a given the mistakes that Treaty Pga and our team made, we might never published this story at all. What what did happen, though, is that lay in the process people on our team and people outside of gimlet with the absolute I've done a fine, the dissidents and in what we were doing and I've been reported, and you might have read about in the New York Times, just after the first episode came out, pj and Rufe like reached out to people who used to work at gimble and all still work at Gimble and the Redondo them to have conversations that I have to say, like they probably should have had outside the context of the story. True fame voices of goals are absent from what you just told you, what we do
from then the following two statements and I'm going to stop by reading the statement that shop sent us quote my reporting and on empathy help me recognize my own mistakes in the workplace, but not clearly enough and not soon enough to fully reckon with them. I want to apologize to my former colleagues, especially to the people of Burma, Betty who felt let down by me the issue I hope it s kitchen would explore racism and the damage it does. The conversation arena that is and and ignoble I know about conversation- will continue because it asks that wish Ruthie statement, and this is Pga statement quote. I didn't support the Gimlet union at the time. I didn't was the best choice for me personally. That was the wrong call and I'm sorry for it when I didn't care
then- and I wish I had- was what the union represented to people of color the company, seeing how much hurt and disappointment people felt about my choice, I decided the best way to hold myself accountable was to step down. It was a great and rare privilege to work with the repeal team. I'm excited to see what they do next, I will be ready for them. So that's what be changed if he had to say about the mistakes it, made an you know on our end up looking through a lot of these mistakes, we made the decision not to at last to episode of it. Has regions. Areas that decision for a number of reasons right- and I mean the fact- is that when shrieking pda left the show the last two episodes of the series just we're finished like they weren't built, and I mean one option would have been to hire and outside reporter to complete the series, but that would mean that person would have to in a red
dozens of interviews with people who had already entrusted us to tell this story and been disappointed by us. It's just an impossible position for any reporter and we created that situation. Yeah, I mean it's just like what's restraining for me for me, I'm sure it's training for you, you the listener. It's just like so many of we made It is also obvious. I know I know as new ones veil and everyone may agree with that, but I think for me back all of those mistakes. I was just like. We shouldn't be custodians of this thing. The story we told was really important and like I really hope that someone else tells it, but I think, like we just lost the right to do that as a show. So those mistakes that I feel like been marinating in and really looking out for, like the last two months when we have it,
We ve been trying to figure out is just also how how we move forward in. I talked of a beating of the show about what is reply all now, and it's a very present question for us. I mean true Vmp leaving leading the show, is like a significant change. A lot of people have asked, I think rightly like what is reply all without PJ, and I can only say for myself. I don't know the answer to that. I have never had a job in radio that pj wasn't also at really January January. Twenty ten, my first day radio as an intern worth the damn at Pga, while virtually when you MP, J, like want waken together, I was a minor,
What we want is, but what I can say is, in the past few months, sort of the bright spot amid all the sort of dark stuff we ve been working through has been that you know the eight people that remain on the show this people who made all the stories that we made before they all have like really fantastic ideas for stories for directions to take this shown and like that is very exciting to me. Yeah, it sank. The thing we have never to people are going just like space. I dislike space for our ideas and like space for different type of show. I think like there is a lot to be excited about, and you're not is not lost, that six months ago we made a similar announcement on announced Melanesia, which I paid in this episode right. We were basically alike
play the changing, things are going to be great and they want- and I think what I want to say right now, but I hope makes it so different to some of you is just like. Do you want? If you guys and say we don't know, if it's going to work like a lot of things, we need to do to actually make the show that we want to make all that we can promise. Is that we're going to try we're going to try to make this a better show, and if that interests you in any way like what we could be making stay with us, Our first episode back in our regular schedule will be June, tenth see you then, reply. I was made by fee abandon manual Joshi Animal.
TIM Howard, Damietta Marquis devoted LISA, Wang, Jessica, Young and me Alex Goldman. We are mixed by on the episode was fact checked by Isabel Cristo music in this episode by Marianna, Romano and the mysterious break master cylinder, Special this week to week to Rehan, Harmons and Lydia Paul Green. You can listen to our show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts thanks. So much for listening, see you on June tenth.
Transcript generated on 2021-05-26.