Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kaitlin Olson
Guests: 
Jeff Chang


Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kaitlin Olson on "Sweet Dee" and the Morally Bankruptcy in It's Always Sunny on Philadelphia

Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.

Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently in its tenth season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Keith Villaluz

Jeff Chang on Art, Race, and How Diversity Now Means "Them"

About ten years ago, Jeff Chang published his book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. His new book is a sort of follow-up -- it chronicles some of the cultural and racial shifts we've experienced as a nation. It's called Who We Be: The Colorization of America.

Chang talks to us about what "diversity" means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.

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The Outshot: What It Means to Be Superhuman

Jesse tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ricky Jay

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Guests: 
Vijay Iyer

Magician & Sleight of Hand Artist Ricky Jay on the Nature of Deception

Is there such a thing as honest deception? Ricky Jay thinks so. Jay is one of the finest practioners of magic and sleight of hand in the world, and began performing as a child in Brooklyn. He learned the elements of performance from his grandfather, who was also a magician, and from his mentors like Dai Vernon and Charlier Miller.

He talks to us about magic as the family business, the times his work has made people angry, and why deception isn't always evil.

Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice will kick off the new season of American Masters on Friday, January 23, 9-10pm on PBS (check local listings).

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Photo: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Vijay Iyer on "The Song That Changed My Life"

Pianist, arranger and composer Vijay Iyer describes the pop song that lodged itself into his consciousness and changed his life.

The Vijay Iyer Trio has a new album, Break Stuff, out on February 10. They'll be out on tour supporting the album this winter and spring.

For more from Vijay, check out our interview from 2012.

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The Outshot: Jay Mitchell's Bahamian Funk

An awesome album cover leads Jesse on a journey to the little-known Bahamian musician Jay Mitchell.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: 'Boyhood' & The Life of Richard Pryor

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Richard Linklater
Guests: 
Ellar Coltrane
Guests: 
David Henry
Guests: 
Joe Henry
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

Boyhood's Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane on Childhood and the Filter of Memory

Thirteen years ago, the director Richard Linklater set out to make a very ambitious film. He wanted to make a movie about childhood and growing up, and he wanted it to actually capture the passing of time in the actors' lives. He cast Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as parents, and an as-yet-unknown seven year old actor named Ellar Coltrane as their son.

Linklater shot the movie bit by bit, over the course of twelve years, and it was released last year in theaters with the title Boyhood. The movie shows a series of moments in a boy's life (and by extension, his parents' lives). He eats dinner with his family, goes bowling with his dad, meets a new stepdad, gets a girlfriend, learns photography, moves away to college.

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane join us to talk about how the movie was conceived, how Coltrane's life and personality was slowly integrated into his character, and which things stayed the same over twelve years of filming.

Boyhood just picked up several awards at this year's Golden Globes, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama. It's now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Takes Us Through 'The Towering Inferno' and 'Parents'

Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast join us to talk about some of their favorite underrated films.

Glen recommends checking out Bob Balaban's dark horror comedy Parents, starring Mary Beth Hurt and Randy Quaid. It's available on Amazon Instant.

Linda suggests going back to watch the 1974 blockbuster The Towering Inferno, which is jam-packed with movie stars and epic disaster scenes. It's available on DVD and VOD.

You can hear Glen and Linda every week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, and check out Linda's writing about TV, books, movies and more on her blog at NPR.org, Monkey See.

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Furious Cool and the Genius of Richard Pryor

When David and Joe Henry set out to write about Richard Pryor, they weren't looking to write a straight-ahead biography. Instead, they produced a poetic and impressionistic portrait of Pryor as a product of the time and place where he lived.

Their book, Furious Cool, explores the cultural landscape of Pryor's life, in addition to the events of his childhood and professional career.

David and Joe Henry join us to talk about Pryor's ascent in the comedy world, some of his most transformative moments, and why he remained so well-loved, even when he behaved atrociously.

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him is now available in paperback.

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The Outshot: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Why does Jesse love The Gang from Always Sunny so much? It's definitely not because they're good people. He'll explain.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Offerman, Billy Bragg and Dolly Parton

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This week's episode includes content from previous broadcasts. Check out the links below to listen and share each segment.

Nick Offerman Talks Moustaches, Woodworking and Luck

Nick Offerman is a man accustomed to being recognized. As city administrator Ron Swanson on NBC's Parks and Recreation, he sports one of the most revered moustaches in recent television history. He'll explain why his moustache is may actually be more famous than he is.

Swanson has a lot in common with Offerman. They both pride themselves on masculinity and have a penchant for carpentry. But Offerman says there are some major differences between himself and the character he portrays; like the fact that Offerman took two semesters of ballet classes.

Offerman also talks about the joys and perils of growing up in a small town in Illinois, how he discovered his theatrical side, and why woodworking continues to be central to his life.

Offerman's book, Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living is now available in paperback. You can also catch his new comedy special on Netflix. It's called American Ham, and see him in the final season of Parks and Recreation, which begins January 13th.

This segment originally aired October, 15 2013.

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Billy Bragg on "The Song That Changed My Life": Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Billy Bragg performs politically-minded folk music with a punk rock edge, songs with a tone and attitude somewhere between Woody Guthrie and The Sex Pistols. But what led him to develop his voice as an artist?

As Bragg explains, one of the most pivotal moments in his life happened during his lunch break at a record store. He put on a record that changed his life: Bob Dylan's folk anthem The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Billy Bragg's latest album is called Tooth & Nail.

This segment originally aired April 23, 2012.

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Dolly Parton on Show-Business and Sacrifice

Dolly Parton's beautiful voice and musical talent could have carried her to some measure of success. But it was Parton's unwavering drive and embrace of hard work that made her a superstar.

Parton will talk about the personal sacrifices she made for professional success, the events that shaped her life and how she feels about them now.

She'll also share stories about childhood. Parton grew up in the mountains of Tennessee with a large family and a not-so-large home. You'll find out how her upbringing relates to one of her most-loved songs, "I Will Always Love You".

Parton's newest album, Blue Smoke is available now.

This segment originally aired December 11, 2012.

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The Outshot: Michael Mann's Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir film Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last big score, but it's just as much about running from loneliness and is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've ever seen.

This segment originally aired July 8, 2013.

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Holiday Special 2014

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mitchell Kezin
Guests: 
Bill Corbett
Guests: 
Elliott Kalan
Guests: 
Dan McCoy
Guests: 
Stuart Wellington


Christmas Music Fanatics and Mitchell Kezin's "Jingle Bell Rocks"

Mitchell Kezin is the director of the new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks! Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree at 33 ⅓ RPM. In it he unravels the backstories of twelve alternative Christmas songs that you won't hear on the radio or in department stores. You'll hear a few of those tracks today.

The film includes other famous Christmas-music lovers including Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips and John Waters.

Kezin will tell us why a grumpy Christmas song helped ignite his love of holiday music and how the US Air Force produced a Christmas album in the late 1960s (complete with fighter jets). He'll also recommend some of his favorite records for people who want to branch out from Bing Crosby.

Jingle Bell Rocks! is available now on VOD and DVD.

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Bill Corbett on Riffing and Rebooting Christmas

If you've ever listened to Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax, you know who Bill Corbett is. He's been mocking bad movies for decades, alongside his collaborators Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy.

He's also kept busy as a writer, a screenwriter and a playwright. He writes for the public radio show Wits, was a contributor to A Prairie Home Companion and even wrote the Eddie Murphy movie Meet Dave.

This year, he's getting into the holiday spirit. What if Santa Claus and Rudolph were actually super heroes that went by the names Red Avenger and Caribou? What if they spent their time fighting the villainous Ebenezer Scrooge? That's the premise of Corbett's new graphic novel Super-Powered Revenge Christmas.

Corbett will tell us why he chose to tackle a Christmas reboot, and explain why his most important holiday tradition involves melted cheese. And we couldn't let him go without divulging one of his favorite bad Christmas movies -- he'll tell us about Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.

Super Powered Revenge Christmas is now available.

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The Flop House Tackles the Holiday with Flash Gordon

The Daily Show writers Dan McCoy and Elliott Kalan host The Flop House podcast along with their pal, Stuart Wellington. The films the show covers aren't complete amateurish duds like The Room or Birdemic. Rather, they deal with Hollywood gone wrong. Think films like Pompeii or Dracula 3D.

Now the show's hosts have written a new holiday comic: The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014. The adventures Flash and his crew go on show the hero in unusual situations that you may not expect; especially if the only thing you know about Flash is the 80's Queen song.

They'll talk about the Flash Gordon mythos and some of their favorite bad Christmas films. Plus, they'll explain how they celebrate Cagemas; a special holiday tradition that's all about Nicolas Cage.

The Flash Gordon Holiday Special: 2014 is out this month from Dynamite Comics.

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The Outshot: The Peewee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Jesse doesn't have many holiday traditions. But he'll tell you about the one thing that he makes time for every year: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mavis Staples

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Mavis Staples


Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Mavis Staples talks about Singing Gospel, Civil Rights, and Working with Prince

Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time-- a gospel, soul and R&B vocalist known for her rich, throaty voice. She began as the lead member of The Staple Singers in the 1950's, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children.

The Staple Singers achieved hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do it Again". They also became a musical voice of the American Civil Rights Movement with their protest music.

Staples has reinvented her sound over the decades. She's worked with Curtis Mayfield, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and Prince (Yes, THAT Prince).

Her most recent album One True Vine was released in 2013 and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. You can find a partial transcript of this interview here.

This segment originally aired January 30th, 2011.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me Offer Pop Culture Advice

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me join the show to answer pop culture quandaries from listeners.

Are you ever too old to hang up posters on your walls? Should you ever tell your children that the shows they like actually suck? Is it ever a good idea to talk to a stranger about the book they're reading? The brothers proffer their advice with a healthy amount of goofs mixed in.

If you liked what you heard, over 200 episodes of My Brother, My Brother and Me are available on
iTunes and right here on Maximumfun.org

This segment originally aired February 28, 2012.

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The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

This segment originally aired March 24, 2012.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paul Reubens, Aasif Mandvi and Kimbra

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Paul Reubens
Guests: 
Aasif Mandvi
Guests: 
Kimbra


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Pee-wee Lives! Paul Reubens on his Past and Pee-wee Herman's Future

Paul Reubens is famous for being the creator and embodiment of Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee has appeared in stage shows, on TV, and in movies for almost 30 years -- from cameos in movies like Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, to his first special on HBO, two feature films in the 1980s, and a successful run on Broadway just a few years ago.

So why has the character of Pee-wee Herman endured? Maybe it's because Reubens worked so hard to make Pee-wee seem real.

Reubens has been busy the last few years with a new stage show, putting together the next Pee-wee Herman movie and now with the release of Pee-wee's Playhouse on Blu-ray.

Reubens will talk about growing up in a circus town, how Pee-wee almost appeared on the Surreal Life, and the latest details on a brand new Pee-wee Herman movie.

The remastered Blu-ray edition of Pee-wee’s Playhouse is available now from Shout Factory.

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Kimbra on “The Song That Changed My Life”: The Mars Volta's "Cicatriz E.S.P."

If you've heard the Grammy-winning mega-hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye last year -- and who didn't? -- then you already know Kimbra, who performed the female vocals on the record.

But the avant-pop musician had already been performing and recording for a decade. As a teenager growing up in New Zealand, she was writing music, playing guitar, and exploring the musical landscape.

Kimbra says that "Cicatriz E.S.P." by The Mars Volta showed her production tricks and psychedelic sounds she had never experienced before.

You can hear some of that psychedelic influence on her new album, The Golden Echo.

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Aasif Mandvi is "No Land's Man"

You probably know Aasif Mandvi as the Senior Muslim Correspondent on The Daily Show. He says he's probably not the best person to represent Muslim culture. But then again, that’s kind of the point. (He’ll explain.)

Mandvi had already been acting on the stage and screen for many years when he was called to audition for The Daily Show in 2006. And though he's been a mainstay of the show for seven years, he's continued to write and act in other projects, like the 2011 indie comedy Today's Special and the upcoming HBO series The Brink.

Mandvi talks to us about how he found himself making a 9/11 joke on his very first day at The Daily Show, what it was like being an Indian kid growing up in Northern England and Florida, and that time he almost got punched by a member of Congress.

Aasif Mandvi's new book of personal essays is available now. It’s called No Land’s Man.

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Steve Reich's Different Trains, Kronos Quartet

The Outshot: Steve Reich's "Different Trains"

Jesse will talk about how Steve Reich’s 1988 orchestra piece “Different Trains” transports him.

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Judge John Hodgman Special

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This week Bullseye with Jesse Thorn breaks format to bring you something from another great show on the Maximum Fun Network.


Judge John Hodgman

If you know John Hodgman , it's probably as The Deranged Millionaire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or maybe from his books of world knowledge. Or, maybe, as the PC from the Mac vs. PC ads. What you might not know is that he's also a fake judge on the internet.

On Judge John Hodgman, he hears disputes from real people all over the world via Skype and tells them who's right and who's wrong. Jesse Thorn is the bailiff. The two cases you’ll be hearing are slightly truncated versions. If you want to hear the full versions and see the supporting evidence, click below.

The Right to Remain Silent

Chris wants his daughter, Sophie to get over her shyness and show more confidence in uncomfortable social situations. Sophie believes in making progress in her own way and doesn’t need any pushing from her dad. Eugene Mirman made a special appearance on this case to help weigh in on the dispute.

My Legal Pony

Nancy brings the case against her friend Becky. They are both veterinarians. Nancy lives out in the country, and owns a herd of Shetland ponies. She says the ponies act as ponies do and are perfectly fine just as they are. Becky says Nancy’s ponies are ill-mannered. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one man can decide.

If you liked what you heard today, there are over 180 episodes of Judge John Hodgman ready and waiting for you, and a new one added each week! Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, in the RSS feed, or look for it in your favorite podcatcher. Here are a couple of our listener recommended episodes:

Father Gnaws Beast

Die Flederhaus

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sergio Mendes and The Pogues’ James Fearnley

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Sergio Mendes
Guests: 
James Fearnley
Guests: 
Brent Weinbach


Courtesy of Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes on the, "very sensual, very romantic," Sounds of Bossa Nova

For a time, Sergio Mendes was the most famous Brazilian musician in the world. He grew up learning classical piano, heard Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" and took a turn towards a jazzier sound. His band Brasil '66 was at the forefront of a bossa nova explosion that introduced the genre to listeners across the world.

Throughout his career, Mendes has collaborated with many artists, including saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and Janelle Monae. But he also once collaborated with Harrison Ford… in an unexpected way. He'll explain.

Mendes will talk about how his music has evolved over the years, why his encounters with other musicians have been so important, and why the sensual, romantic sound of bossa nova has such universal appeal.

Sergio Mendes' new album is called Magic. To find out where he's going next on his tour, check out his website.

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Comedy: Brent Weinbach at MaxFunCon 2014

Abstract. Experimental. Weird. Funny. Those are all good words to describe Brent Weinbach. But none of them come close to summing up how special he is. Or the faces he made during this set. You'll just to have to imagine those.

He performed for us at the most recent MaxFunCon -- as part of a comedy showcase in the woods. We present part of his set here to you.

Tickets for MaxFunCon 2015 go on sale November 28th. You can find more of Brent Weinbach's upcoming shows on his website.

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James Fearnley: Heavy Drinking in a Minivan and Navigating Irish-English Relations

James Fearnley plays accordion for the English folk/punk band The Pogues. The band formed in the early 1980s, and made a name for themselves with a Celtic-inspired sound.

Fearnley will talk about his time with the Pogues, how they finally decided that frontman Shane MacGowan had gone off the rails, and whether as an Englishman, Fearnley feels secure in the band's Irish heritage.

Fearnley's memoir is called Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues.

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Outshot: Black Jesus

Courtesy of Facebook: Adult Swim

What Jesus lived in America, in 2014? Jesse will tell you why Black Jesus, a new show from Adult Swim, is so affecting.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell and Bob Edwards

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Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Bob Edwards
Guests: 
Damian Kulash

Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is film critic, best known as the host of KCRW’s "The Treatment". Since 1996 he’s interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors on the show. He’s even gone into filmmaking for himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But don’t mistake Mitchell’s tastes for being conventional. He may very well be the only critic in America quoted as enjoying the film Pootie Tang.

He’ll talk about the interplay between television and film, how he got his start in pop culture and why he was arrested on the Canadian border with Cuban cigars and $15 thousand in cash.

You can listen to The Treatment every week on KCRW and on iTunes

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This segment originally aired 06/26/2012


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Damian Kulash with "The Song That Changed My Life"

OK Go is band who broke out in 2006 with a hugely popular homemade video for their single "A Million Ways".

Lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash talks to us about one of the moments that led him to his place in music- hearing "Rockit" by jazz legend Herbie Hancock of the 1983 album Future Shock.

OK Go just released a new album. It’s called Hungry Ghosts.

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This segment originally aired 08/24/2011


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Bob Edwards: Broadcasting Icon

Bob Edwards was around at the very, very beginning of NPR. He was the original host of Morning Edition back in 1979 and stuck with public radio for decades. His interviews and insight earned him the Peabody award in 1999 and cemented him as a broadcasting icon.

In 2004 Edwards was controversially removed from his hosting job. Listeners didn’t take kindly to it, but Edwards was quick to move on- to satellite radio. For almost a decade The Bob Edwards Show aired daily on Sirius XM. And a weekend version of the award-winning program was aired on public radio stations via Public Radio International.

Production of The Bob Edwards Show ended in September. To celebrate Edwards’ 40-year career, Jesse will play his 2005 conversation with him. Edwards will talk about his early days at NPR and why he stuck with non-commercial radio for so long.

Reruns of The Bob Edwards Show can still be heard on Sirius XM and on iTunes.

This segment originally aired 08/27/2005

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Outshot: Ric Burns' Coney Island

Ever feel nostalgia for a time or place that you never even experienced firsthand? That’s what Jesse felt after watching Ric Burns’ documentary Coney Island, a beautiful portrait of America caught somewhere between its past and its future.

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This segment originally aired 05/27/2013

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