Zing Tsjeng is the Editor-in-Chief of VICE and the host of the BBC Sounds podcast Good Bad Billionaire. She’s profiled everyone from Dua Lipa to Zadie Smith and wrote the Forgotten Women nonfiction book series, which was reissued as an anthology in 2023. She also presents the YouTube shows Empires of Dirt and The Business of Crime, which have attracted over 10 million views, and has spoken at a silly number of conferences and on telly, including Have I Got News for You and Question Time. Based in London, UK, one of the things she’s proudest of is helping to launch the Stop Asian Hate crowdfunding campaign with Gemma Chan, which raised over £114,000 for the East and Southeast Asian community in the UK.
A key trait of being a journalist is nosiness, particularly when it comes to things people are usually very reluctant to talk about, like their intimate romantic and sexual relationships. This podcast satisfies my inner nosiness, but it also taught me a ton about how to navigate love and dating. The episode that got me hooked was Speak to Me in French, which manages to be excruciatingly funny, cringe and immensely touching all at once.
I’m fascinated by the dissonance between what actually happened in the past and what people think happened, which is part of the reason why I wrote Forgotten Women. People have an idea of what certain world-altering events are about – like, say, Watergate – but the true story is often much stranger and weirder.
I’m very interested in what Dua Lipa is doing with At Your Service and her Service95 platform more broadly. I recently described her as trying to become the millennial / Gen Z answer to Oprah – and judging from the type of people she’s lining up for her interview podcast and her thoughtful questions, I don’t think that’s a stretch.
I have to pay homage to the podcast that got me, and so many others, into audio. I still think it’s a stunning piece of work – it’s journalistic but entertaining, it brings to life the injustice of the prison system and you really can’t argue with the result it produced in overturning Adnan Syed’s conviction. (Although it’s recently been reinstated, most people seem confident that it will be overturned again.)
As someone who once studied piano but has absolutely no ability to make music myself, I love anything that breaks down songs that I love. Dissect, particularly the Frank Ocean season, is great for this. It helps you appreciate the creativity and depth – particularly of real-world experience and artistic subjectivity – that goes into creating amazing music. AI could never!
This is one of the few straight news podcasts that is informal and chatty enough so that you feel entertained, but not so meandering that you don’t feel like you’re being delivered straight facts. I’ve probably learnt and understood more complex political issues from this show than any number of news bulletins.
It would have been enough for me to tune in based on the fact that this is presented by former NSYNC member Lance Bass, who also happens to be a trained astronaut – but this is a really gripping and extraordinary story about the Soviet space race, too.
Full disclosure: I was a guest on a Media Storm episode back in the day! But I love their mission and what they’re doing to expand the UK media ecosystem by speaking on issues that get misrepresented or under-explored in the press.
I present this BBC Sounds podcast with its incredibly knowledgeable Business Editor Simon Jack. Every episode, we dive into the story behind a billionaire – it could be Bezos or Rihanna – and figure out what makes them tick. And then we judge them, which is obviously the most fun part! Working on this show has seriously taught me more about the business world than years of attempting to understand the Wall Street Journal.