Chinese audiences respond strongly to 'This is USA!' podcast

Weekly show featuring Penn State faculty member, graduate student downloaded 2.5 million times

The "This is USA!" podcast features (from left): College of Communications faculty member Bu Zhong, graduate student Rose Luqiu Lewei and video journalist Suli Yi of Voice of America. Credit: SubmittedAll Rights Reserved.

A weekly podcast featuring two members of the Penn State College of Communications has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times in 14 weeks.

The podcast, which includes Associate Professor of Journalism Bu Zhong and doctoral student Rose Luqiu Luwei, focuses on United States media, politics, culture and society. “This is USA!” is broadcast in Chinese and is tailored to a Chinese audience. Suli Yi, a video journalist at Voice of America, is the third member of the show.

Zhong and Yi have been in the United States for about 20 years apiece. Luqiu was one of the most popular journalists in Hong Kong and China before coming to Penn State.

“This is a unique experience that we can share with our fellow Chinese on the other side of the Pacific,” said Zhong. “We provide unique information that you could not easily get somewhere else.”

Every Tuesday, a new episode is released focusing on an issue or event in the United States. The 30-minute podcast can be found on Penguin FM, or 企鹅FM, which is run by Tencent, a top Chinese media company. The group records each show by using Skype usually on Sunday mornings.

Some early and popular content for the podcast included: a 24-year-old Chinese American woman, Lindy Li, running for office in a Pennsylvania congressional district; Chinese students on U.S. campuses (at universities and younger ages) and gun control.

A lot of times, the podcast opens with Luqiu, the host, providing background info on the topics so the Chinese audience can understand. Then, Zhong and Yi discuss the topic while Luqiu asks questions.

“Most of the audience has no background on the democratic system and the campaign system,” said Luqiu. “People are trying to get new information. People just want to know why gun control is so difficult here and why the president seems powerless when facing this kind of issue. So, we have to explain to them the relationship between the administration, Congress and legislation, and also the public opinion, so they have a clear picture.”

Moving forward, the group hopes to continue the podcast, gathering more data to analyze the audience to determine what topics are most effective. 

Last Updated June 02, 2021