Pop Culture Critic Shares Career Stories with Fisher Community

April 2, 2024

On Monday, March 25, St. John Fisher University’s Media and Communication Program welcomed National Public Radio (NPR) host Aisha Harris to campus. Harris is a co-host and reporter for NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, and is the author of the 2023 book, Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture That Shapes Me.

Fisher student Alayna Delice interviews pop culture critic Aisha Harris.

Prior to working with NPR, Harris served as a staff writer, editor, and podcast host for Slate, and later as an editor at The New York Times. She has been serving in her current role at NPR since 2020.

During her visit to campus, Harris spoke to more than 50 students about her career in a gathering at the Golisano Gateway Midlevel and discussed her book on an episode of Cardinal Television’s “Our Community Forum,” hosted by junior Alayna Delice.

“I did have sort of a sense that this book would be really useful on college campuses,” said Harris. “I talk a lot with students about my career, and a lot of them want to do similar things that I do. And I feel as though - especially in some of the essays where I’m kind of working out, how do we talk about pop culture from a racial perspective, from a gender-sexuality perspective - and I hope that it’s a useful tool for people to figure out how they can find their own voice.”

Harris also spoke to students in Dr. Michelle Laura Flood’s course, Understanding Audiences. In preparation, students read a portion of Wannabe and discussed how pop culture helped shape Harris’ life, and how it has impacted theirs. Additionally, Harris and Flood recorded a podcast about the intersections between Harris’ experience with pop culture analysis and Flood’s own research.

“It was an absolute gift to have Aisha Harris join us on campus,” said Flood, “because her brilliant cultural criticism offers us insight into how media and popular culture reflect what we find culturally salient and valuable.”

Harris said she hopes Wannabe can help readers explore the importance of media literacy and being conscientious about pop culture consumption. For students and aspiring pop culture writers, Harris’ advice is to always carry a notebook to take notes and write down moments of unexpected inspiration.