Posted in Featured Stories, Features, Top Features

An interview with SFU’s coolest feminist radio-host, Kitty Cooke

SFU student reminds us that we have a story to share with the world

WEB-Kitty Cooke-Lisa Dimyadi
Image Credits: Lisa Dimyadi

Twenty-two year old Kitty Cooke is a communication and archaeology student, DIY enthusiast, and the co-host of CJSF’s feminist radio show, IntraVenus. Sassy and smart, Kitty sees her communication and archaeology education as her pathway to educating others on culture and anthropology.

In her final semester at SFU, The Peak sat down with Kitty to talk about her experience in broadcasting with CJSF, and how she hopes to engage with world with media.

The Peak: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Kitty: I’m in my [. . .] first semester of my fifth year. I am a communication major and archaeology minor, and they go together better than you would imagine.

P: How did you first get into broadcast and involved with CJSF, and what attracted you to radio?

K: I first got into broadcast when I was in high school. I did TV production. You’re only supposed to do the class once but I took it for almost two years, just because I was good at doing the on-camera broadcast, and I’m like ‘hey, this could be a really cool career for me.’ So I also go to BCIT and I study broadcast journalism there part time, because for some reason I didn’t want to do the full-time program. [. . . if I did] I would have been there and never at SFU.

P: And how did you get involved with CJSF?

K: Well my first semester, my dad, in a weirdly insightful moment, was interested in my life and said, ‘You should do your school radio station,’ and this was back in 2012 and I’m like, ‘Okay Dad, I’ll go check it out.’ Then last year, January of 2015, my friend who had already graduated said, ‘Somebody I know needs help with the radio station show,’ and so I went and I sat in on the show and did some presenting. [. . .] I did it most weeks after that and then [Laura Scheck and I] took it over. So I’ve been doing that same show for like a year and two months.

P: Tell us about the show, IntraVenus.

K: Well, we do a lot of live stuff; my favourite segment is the feminist news update [. . .] because it forces me to be engaged with what’s happening in the world in feminism and women’s rights [. . .] It’s just such a fun show to do. I really like talking about feminism. [. . .] Because of the show, I’ve become pretty politically-engaged, like learning more about politics and reading about it, and being like ”This is actually super interesting; I wish I had been more involved my entire life so far.’

“I want to be the lady Bill Nye — but for anthropology and humanities” – Kitty Cooke

K:  I probably do. I grew up living with my dad and my brother, so I was around a lot of dudes, but I was also around my grandparents a lot, and my grandma’s not really a feminist. She says she is, but she’s not. But she’s a very strong and independent woman, and I just found that pretty inspiring. [. . .] What got me into feminism is when I realized I was queer when I was in my super early teens. I was like, ‘I’m going to be treated differently about this for the rest of my life because  I am a woman and because I’m also queer,’ so that’s [makes me think that] that I can’t just pretend [this] isn’t happening, because I can’t change the way I am, so I might as well become engaged.

P: Why are these topics so important for you to broadcast at SFU?

K: I want to say I chose SFU, but really this is the only school I applied to, because applications cost money [laughs] I really liked the idea of SFU because [it seemed like] a super politically-engaged and socially active school (which is not that true, but I’m not going to throw shade at a school that has housed me). SFU has got a lot of flaws, but it also has a lot of really wonderful things and a really good community, especially for women and women’s centres and queer people at Out On Campus. And at the time that I was starting university, I was going to Out On Campus a lot because I was like ‘whoa, there are people who are like me and super femme but also super queer and they’re also seen as not legitimate as members of the queer community and it’s so weird!’

P: That’s exactly it; SFU has this really interesting culture that you don’t expect to find.

K: And it’s so cool because we have so many clubs [. . .] there are so many religious groups and cultural groups, and queer people and women and it’s just such an assortment of [different groups who] all seem to get along.

P: What have you learned from hosting a radio show?

K: Radio is not my desired path in media. But I knew that before I started. I really want to get into TV, which kind of ties into all my post-graduation plans [. . .] and my life plans. I really want to have a TV show for kids — more anthropology-focused. I want to be the lady Bill Nye — but [for] anthropology and humanities — because I think that’s equally as important as science. The arts and stuff are so key to being a [well] rounded human. You can’t just focus on hard academia; you also need to learn about cultures and how they change and grow. And that’s how archaeology ties into communications,  because a lot of it is about culture and societies and how they’ve changed and what made them the way they are.

P: What would you say to students who are also interested in broadcast?

K: Oh definitely do it, that’s really the main thing. [. . .] When I got involved I [was] like ‘Wow, everyone is super nice, like weirdly nice,’ and they want you to get involved, and they want to make good radio, and they want you to learn and be doing stuff that makes you happy, and be making content that makes you happy [. . .] And the other thing, you don’t actually have to be on the radio to be involved. There are people who [. . .] just want to be involved, and there’s lot of stuff you can do at the station.

“. . .with the radio, creating stuff where there was nothing [. . .] it’s so magical” – Kitty Cooke

P: What else could students do?

K: You could do PR; we have a lot of graphic stuff; we have production stuff which is really interesting [. . . like] sourcing and researching content.

P: So you’re a hard-core student and you host a weekly radio show; what do you do in your spare time?

K: I do a lot of making stuff, like my jacket. I really like DIY culture, which is a really big part of feminism, coincidentally [. . .] but I do a lot of knitting, crocheting, embroidery [. . .] So yeah, I like making stuff, I love it [. . .] It’s like with the radio, creating stuff where there was nothing [. . .] it’s so magical. 

P: How do you feel your education and broadcast work come together?

K: Just the whole idea of putting information out there and media stuff is so related to communications, especially with feminism, I get to integrate a lot of what I learn in school into what I actually talk about, which is all the stuff I’m interested in, which is why I do it. One course in particular that really helped me with being intersectional in my feminism and learning more about intersectionality was Race and the Media [CMNS 452]. It was a really good course, and all the readings from that class I have used on the radio.

P: Has your time at SFU changed you?

K: I’m definitely more politically and socially engaged than I was, which was one of my goals by choosing this school, because that’s what [SFU] is known for. But it wasn’t necessarily through my studies, just kind of the environment and who I made friends with which kind of helped encourage that.

P: Is there anything else you want to add?

K: [IntraVenus] has had many iterations, transformations throughout time. Even in the past year we’ve changed focus so much just because it’s different hosts than when we first started [. . .]. So it’s really interesting how the content of the show and what we focus on really changes depending on who hosts it.

So who even knows what the next generation of IntraVenus people will be focusing on? So I am a feminist, with very strong beliefs, but I was not interested in being any form of educator or wanting people to see my point of view. I just really wanted to do entertainment news because that’s almost never depressing, so that’s one thing that’s really changed in my journeys as a university student. I wanted to do entertainment news hosting, but now I want to have a show that makes an impact on kids that they can think back on the [same] way I think back on Bill Nye the Science Guy [. . .] It’s super important to me that kids are getting quality education, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

  • Cool? Feminist? Don’t think so.