Meet Jessica Beinecke, the writer, host and producer of “OMG! Meiyu,” or “Oh My Gosh! American English.” Each weekday the 25-year-old Voice of America journalist posts 2- to 3-minute videos explaining the hippest American English and culture to a Chinese audience; her many Chinese fans, in turn, tell her what they’d like to learn next.
But the show originated as an afterthought. Last July, she and her colleagues at VOA “were producing a monthly travel show that went around the country showing the coolest places in America, the most interesting American people and teaching American slang along the way,” Beinecke said. “But we thought, this isn’t online, this is only monthly, so are people seeing this? We had no idea.”
With some advice from the producers of “Parazit,” a popular show on VOA’s Persian service profiled last year on the NewsHour, she created “OMG! Meiyu.” And seven months later, her show now has more than 7 million hits on Youku, the Chinese equivalent to YouTube, and receives hundreds of suggestions each week for new lessons.
“So it’s really fan-driven content, and it deepens the connection that they have with ‘OMG Meiyu’ because they feel like they’re contributing. They feel like they’re creating the show,” Beinecke said.
In the video above, Beinecke explains how she forms her lesson plans, fosters dialogue with her fans and ensures she’s continuing to deliver what Chinese audiences want.