“Biogeochemical. It’s a word, I promise!” That’s how Shaan Merchant began his college application essay to Tufts University, where he would go on to build his own major studying media and political science through a sociological lens. It’s also a nod to the Nashville native’s love for language, honed over hours playing Scrabble with his first-generation immigrant parents and, later, traveling Southwest Europe locales such as Pamplona, Spain and Bordeaux, France. When he’s not globe-trotting, the wine savant and food lover is cooking, and fondly remembers giving culinary tours of Boston’s Little Italy to hungry tourists.
Inquisitive, outgoing and deeply thoughtful, Merchant is fascinated by how the news is translated to the wider public. As he told his student newspaper, “Unless you are watching C-SPAN 24/7, every little bit of political information you get from the news is a secondary source.” He wanted to look at how human factors, and biases, play into communication…which is why he worked on the production sets of some of the nation’s most pointed political comedians, from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (where he once filled in for Hasan Minhaj – or his arm, at least) and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (where he helped develop a sketch on immigrants in the food industry that included Top Chef host and OZY friend Padma Lakshmi).
As an operational analyst, Merchant is helping OZY tell better stories by lending his deft hand across all departments, and particularly with our senior management team. If you’re thinking about reaching out, don’t be shy: Merchant, a self-described people person, certainly won’t be.