A simple but fun trick 🎵

What's your theme song?

Welcome to At The End Of the Day. I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter for a people-first perspective on the news. If you like what I’m doing, you can support this newsletter via Patreon. In the works: a podcast! 

In my work life as a podcast producer, I live with headphones on. I’m often listening to interviews I’ve recorded or reviewing stories that colleagues have produced. Or I’ll be in a Zoom or phone meeting.

On vacation, my ears have been freed. I’ve been listening to some music, just for fun (more on that later) but also letting my ears simply pick up the sounds of life around me: birds, wind, my kids and their cousins as they play marathon sessions of Crazy Eights.

I’m making this month a very intentional time to rest and recharge, and I hope you are, too. It’s been a singularly challenging year and a half in our rear view mirror.

Looking back, I was fried. Looking ahead, there’s much on the horizon. So I’m shoring up my summertime bliss. Trying to soak it in. The commitment I’m making to downtime this month is meant to help me be a better, rested person for my family and everyone else. 

When I mentioned my July plans to recharge, ATEOD reader Nicolle shared on Instagram that rest is hard to do. I really identify with that, as someone who worked intensely throughout the pandemic (not a humblebrag — it’s something I’m always trying to deprogram in myself). So I’m seeking wisdom from others on how to do it.

A few months ago, I attended a grief workshop for journalists who are women of colour. Lana MacLean, a therapist based in Halifax, blew my mind with her deep recognition of the kinds of grief we’ve been experiencing (every newsroom in this country should get in touch with her).

Lana had a lot of layered, deep wisdom to share and I’ve plucked out one very doable, actionable tip to share with you today.

Everyone should have what I call their theme song. It could be for a month, a week, a year. The song should be something you identify with that helps you in challenging times, a song that speaks to you and allows for you to tap into some of your resilience.

I loved Lana’s idea of a theme song and instantly thought of my friend, journalist and Carleton professor, Nana aba Duncan. Anyone who knows Nana aba immediately recognizes her light and energy — it’s infectious — and she herself has a song that her friends have known about for years.

Now you’re dancing. You’re welcome.

There are many reasons why Nana aba says she loves “Best Of My Love” by the Emotions.

One is it’s joyful and it makes me happy. And another is the lyrics. Doesn’t take much to make me happy – that is so Nana aba!

This song served a useful purpose for the mornings she’d wake up before dawn to head in to work. For years, Nana aba hosted a CBC Radio show that required her to be energetic and on-air by 6 am.

I started to use it as a pump-up song. It was my way of waking myself up and pumping myself up, saying I love you Naba, you’re going to be great, and getting me into the joyful space that I needed to be in as a morning host. 

Needing to perform, having to show up and wanting to be joyful aren’t unique to hosting radio. In some way, we all have these demands on us, in one way or another.

A radio host has to communicate their vibe in an intentional way, and I can tell you that Nana aba is an amazing journalist (and colleague and friend) and that what you hear is true to who she is. Her theme song truly fits.

A side benefit, by the way, of letting your friends know your theme song is that there is a built-in track for celebrations (we, her friends, may have lip-synched this in her honour, as a surprise, multiple times, and I love it).

Inspired by Lana’s advice and Nana aba’s example, I thought I should pick a theme song for myself this summer. I’m super-omnivorous with music and culture and picking a fave is tough (never ask me my favourite book or film -- I can only give lists and trying to pick one will cause me major existential angst). 

I like that Lana, whose own track is “Golden” by Jill Scott, mentioned that a song can be for the moment, so there isn’t pressure into thinking of the one song that defines you forever and ever.

I considered what I’ve been listening to lately (or should I say, watching), the frothy choreo of BTS (I’ve been indulging in YouTube holes of dance video after dance video). 

I thought about “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield, a classic song that spurs many late-night dancefloor memories for me.

But the theme song I’ve landed on is (drumroll, please!) one of the first Lizzo songs I ever heard, called “Let ‘Em Say,” by Lizzo and Caroline Smith. It’s mid-tempo and breezy but strong. 

Trying to stay strong, stay tuned out of the talk but when you’re running the business

I wish it was easy to work like a boss but they keep shaking my patience

Don’t wanna think like a man or look like a model

I wanna look like my mama, five foot two and a natural woman

When people ask, “What’s the song of the summer?” I’d rather ask, “What’s the song of your summer?”

Let me know on Instagram or by hitting reply to this email. 

And don’t forget to dance, even if it’s by yourself.

Thanks for reading,


✨✨✨ This newsletter was edited by Laura Hensley, who is cruising to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers ✨✨✨

Listen up 😎

🎵 Lana MacLean’s summertime jam, Golden by Jill Scott

🎵 BTS Boy With Luv dance practice on YouTube. I’m a pop fan at heart and I just love this feathery light choreography so much

🎵 BTS performs Dynamite at MTV VMAs. I might have watched this video ten thousand times in darker times (clearly, I am Army now)

🎵 ATEOD editor Laura’s summertime track, Lovely Day by Bill Withers

🎵 An all-time fave for me is Move on Up by Curtis Mayfield

🎵 Sharing a playlist from ATEOD reader who goes by DJ Moe Funk on Spotify. Thank you for sharing this with us, Todd!

Further Reading

I’ve been dipping my toe back in the news after a complete week-long break (yes, it was glorious). Here’s what I’ve been reading although I’m also trying to balance the time I spend in the news so I can really commit to this downtime in July.

Introducing the Brand New and Not Improved Post-Pandemic Me, Best Health. Writer Rebecca Gao being extremely relatable (and did you know Toronto may have had the world’s longest lockdown?)

Several of Doug Ford’s key pandemic decisions were swayed by business interests, Toronto Star. A series on the influence of lobbyists and relationships on policy-making in Ontario during the pandemic

B.C. First Nation says more than 160 unmarked graves found, CBC. Penelakut Tribe notifies neighbouring communities about discovery, Catholic diocese issues apology

Outspoken health experts say racist social media attacks have taken a toll, CBC. It shouldn’t be this way. Warning: This story contains offensive language and racist comments

Burst pipeline causes bubbling, steaming "eye of fire" to emerge in the Gulf of Mexico, CBS News. An underwater pipeline leak led to a fire burning in the ocean

"What can I do?" Anything. Heated by Emily Atkin, a newsletter for people pissed off about the climate crisis

What's going on in Fairy Creek? A primer on the battle over B.C.'s old-growth forests, The Vancouver Sun

Muslim community 'gravely concerned' for Hamilton Imam's family as police investigate hate crime, CBC

Giant thanks to the people who are supporting the growth of this newsletter via my Patreon. The goal is to get a podcast off the ground, for which I’ll work with a small team to produce, record and edit a show. Pay what you wish!

Update: For people who have signed up, Patreon is now charging 5% GST. You will see that reflected in your next charge. Thank you!

As friends and co-founders, Nana aba Duncan (featured in this newsletter), Garvia Bailey and I have been hard at work growing Media Girlfriends, our podcast production company. It all began with Nana aba’s own podcast and then grew into events and an incredible, crowd-funded scholarship (we just announced this year’s recipients!). Check it all out here on our website at Media Girlfriends and keep up with us on Instagram ✌️