public radio

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Roman Mars and Boots Riley, Live at SF Sketchfest

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Roman Mars
Guests: 
Boots Riley
Guests: 
Steve Agee
Guests: 
Peter Hartlaub

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This week, a live recording of Bullseye, held at the Punchline Comedy Club as part of SF Sketchfest.


From 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Peter Hartlaub Recommends San Francisco on Film: "The Conversation" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture critic, Peter Hartlaub, joins us to share some of his favorite San Francisco films.

He recommends Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for its realistic depiction of San Francisco, as well as the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which, in spite of its terrifying story, might give San Francisco's public transit planners some food for thought.

Peter Hartlaub writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs about pop culture at The Big Event.

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Roman Mars on 99% Invisible, Public Media and Crowd-Funding

You'd think that it'd be almost impossible to tell stories about architecture and design in a completely invisible medium, but Roman Mars makes it work. The public radio host and producer's stories show that design is everywhere – he's produced stories about the unintentional music of escalators, failed prison designs, and reclusive monks who make the best beer in the world.

These stories are all a part of 99% Invisible, "a tiny radio show about design" that Roman hosts and produces. The show is truly tiny; it airs for only five minutes on a handful of public radio stations, including KALW. But the podcast is another story. Episodes of the podcast version of 99% Invisible are longer and more detailed – and they reach a much larger audience. Last year, Roman led a massive Kickstarter campaign to fund the show's third season. Fans gave more than $170,000, making it the most successful journalism Kickstarter to date.

Roman joins Jesse onstage to discuss his theory of creativity, his reasons for exchanging his dream of becoming a scientist for a career in public radio, and his Doogie Houser-esque college experience.

99% Invisible is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow Roman on Twitter at @RomanMars.

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Comedy: Steve Agee on Movie Trivia in the Pre-Internet Age

Why did God invent the internet? Steve Agee has an idea. It's probably not what you think.

Steve Agee is a writer, actor, and standup comedian. He's a former writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and appeared as Steve Myron on the beloved Sarah Silverman Program.

You can follow him on Twitter at @SteveAgee.

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The Coup's Boots Riley on Merging Music with Social Activism, and What to Learn From Telemarketing

Boots Riley's life has always been about change, and never about complacency. He was already an leftist activist in high school, staging walkouts on school grounds, and he followed his parents' lead into community organizing. He was immersed in rap and hip hop in his hometown of Oakland, California, but didn't make the connection between the power of music and activism for several years.

Boots has fronted the hip hop group The Coup for over two decades as an MC and producer, and the group's positive, funky, and danceable music is still clearly message-driven in 2013. Their lyrics confront injustice, police brutality, and the rise of corporatism with aggressive wit. The group released a new album, Sorry to Bother You, late last year.

Boots talked to us about why he thinks an active engagement with world makes life worth living, finding humor in the disturbing reality of poverty and injustice, and what he learned from his time in, of all things, telemarketing.

BONUS AUDIO: Boots and his longtime collaborator Eric McFadden performed several songs live on stage. You can listen and share those tracks here.

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The Outshot: "I Got Five On it" by The Luniz

What says "Bay Area" to you? For Jesse, it's all about I Got 5 On It by the Luniz – specifically, the Bay Ballers remix.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell, Kevin Barnes, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Kevin Barnes
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Justin McElroy


Comic Books with Alex Zalben and Brian Heater

Our comic book experts return with new graphic bounty! Alex Zalben recommends the new series Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt, who spins a tale of a plane crash, memory loss and psychic spies. The second issue in the series is out now. Brian Heater suggests you check out Angelman by Nicholas Mahler, which is a story of a man who has superpowers that might be milder or meeker than those of most heroes -- fighting figurative fire with qualities like being a "good listener".

You can find Alex Zalben writing for MTV Geek or co-hosting NYC's Comic Book Club Live. Brian Heater is a journalist and the Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Crosshatch, which highlights alternative comics.

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Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is a critic who's brought his insights on film to the pages of the New York Times and the L.A. Weekly; he's also interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors over fifteen years of hosting the LA-based public radio show The Treatment. He's even ventured into filmmaking himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But while he's been in the business of film criticism a long time, his manner or tastes can't be called conventional. Mitchell talks about his wide-ranging cultural appetite (which has room for well-executed films like Pootie Tang), the interplay between television and film, and how he got into the business of analyzing pop culture.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

The brothers McElroy -- Travis, Griffin and Justin -- are in the business of giving advice, though they don't suggest you take it. This week, they answer listeners' queries about the collision of pop culture and personal relationships. The McElroy brothers host a weekly podcast called My Brother, My Brother, and Me.

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of Montreal Frontman Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes founded the experimental pop group of Montreal over fifteen years ago, and the band's sound has morphed as often as (and alongside) Barnes' various stage personae and personal ups and downs. Of Montreal's original twee pop sensibility gave way to new sounds and increasingly complicated arrangements over the years, as the band experimented with electronic, R&B, funk, disco and psychedelic music within a pop framework.

Barnes discusses why he writes so much of the band's music on his own, the theatricality of the band's live performances (from elaborate costumes and skits, to a live horse), and more.

The band's latest release, Paralytic Stalks, is out now.

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The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

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To inspire you: Jay Allison and Jad Abumrad

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My friends/heroes Jad Abumrad and Jay Allison gave the opening and closing remarks at the recent Public Radio Program Directors' conference. The PRPD is largely an exercise in self-justification by the largely calcified public radio world, but Jad and Jay both really nailed their contributions. It's inspiring to see guys at the top of their field use their power and influence for good.

Jad, who'd been crowned a genius by the MacArthur Foundation just two days before, talked about change. Public radio is notoriously change-averse, and he did some Radiolab-style research as to why that is. Then he issued a call to arms. Luckily for me, that call to arms included an exhortation to program directors to carry my show. More than that, though, it was a request on behalf of creators to be given the opportunity to create, and see what happens.

The benediction at the conference was delivered by Jay Allison. Jay's a less public figure than Jad, but you may know him as the producer of the long-running essay series This I Believe. He's probably public radio's most prominent independent producer, and created Transom.org, a magnificent website for folks who want to learn to make great radio. He also founded a radio station that serves the Cape & Islands in Massachusetts.

Jay's talk made me cry. He's a man who truly believes in the work he does, and the things he believes in are the reasons that I'm proud to call myself a public radio host. There were more than a few moist eyes in the house, which is a remarkable feat for a Saturday morning. He also took some shots at public TV pledge drive bullshit, which I think we can all get behind.

I post this here because both of their wonderful talks are available free to anyone at the PRPD website. They're not just for public radio people, or even public media people. I think you'll find them moving, informative and inspirational no matter what field you work in. Give them a listen now.

Free Download of Bob Edwards' memoir "A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio"

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Beloved public radio host and past Sound of Young America guest Bob Edwards is releasing a memoir about his long and distinguished career as a broadcaster called "A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio." Although the print edition isn't due until later this month, his publisher has released a free, downloadable version that will be available until September 9th from multiple e-book retailers including Amazon's Kindle store, Barnes & Noble's Nook store and the Google ebookstore.

I grew up listening to Edwards host "Morning Edition" every weekday as I rode to school in the car with my father. So I'm already intrigued. But for anyone who isn't as intimately familiar with his work, the memoir's publisher, the University Press of Kentucky, has released this video mashup of highlights from Edwards' career.

Edwards has already published two earlier books that are bound to be a hit with any fan of broadcasting history. The first is Fridays with Red, which chronicled his radio friendship with legendary sportscaster Red Barber, and the second is Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.

Ed Ward: King of Infotainers

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I love Fresh Air's "rock historian" Ed Ward. He really nails it every time out - even when he covers stuff I know a lot about I learn something, and I'm never lost when he covers something I've never heard of.

He's had two great Fresh Air segments recently. This one covered the early days of Sly Stone (aka Sylvester Stewart), when Stone was still best known as a radio DJ and record producer. It even includes some rock records he produced (I had no idea, and I couldn't be a bigger fan).

This one covered another early-70s soul legend, Syl Johnson. I had no idea his career stretched so far back before his days working with Willie Mitchell, as the bluesier Al Greene.

Adam Carolla on the KCRW PieCast

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Adam Carolla is an avowed pie-lover, and it was pure delight when he stopped by KCRW's Good Food PieCast to chat with Evan Kleiman. It's five or ten minutes of solid highlights, but I particularly enjoyed when Kleiman nudged Carolla into declaring that boysenberry is "King of Pies." Two of radio's most distinctively ridiculous, sharp and entertaining personalities clashing as you'd never have thought they might.

By the way, if you missed Adam Carolla on The Sound of Young America, it's very much worth a listen. And don't miss my and Jordan's return engagement on Carolla's show in a week or so.

WTF: The Public Radio Show!

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For about six months now, Sound of Young America editor Nick White and I have been working on a secret project. Now, the secret can be revealed... please welcome WTF with Marc Maron, the public radio series!

We've taken the hundreds of episodes of the WTF podcast and boiled them down to what we think is ten hours of exceptionally compelling radio. We've chosen the best stories and the best guests and made a ten-episode public radio series, produced by Marc, Nick and me.

Thanks to the kind support of Torey Malatia and Ira Glass, our first station commitment came from WBEZ and Chicago Public Media. We've got lots of other stations on tap, but feel free to let your station know it's available on PRX and that you love it. We hope that stations will air it this summer and early fall all over the country. (It was Torey and Ira's insistence, by the way, that led us to keep the name "WTF".)

If you want to hear the show, you can check it out, share it and review it on PRX. Our goal was to capture what makes WTF special and communicate it to folks who aren't comedy nerds - or even necessarily comedy fans. I think they sound wonderful.

Here's the first episode:

And here are the great promos Ira made out of the kindness of his (very kind) heart:

My hope.

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My hope is that this song and video will embarrass you so much that you will feel compelled to tell your legislator that you support funding for public media.

This is a critical time for public media funding. This isn't some urban legend email forward. This is the real deal.

The per-capita cost of public broadcasting is less than two bucks per person, per year. This money is a small but important piece of what keeps big stations afloat, but it's the cornerstone for small stations.

I don't get any direct federal funding, but all of the stations that carry The Sound are supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Of course, the average station leverages every dollar of public funding to create six dollars of private funding through donations, private grants and other income. That federal money is the seed that grows an amazing tree.

If you want to learn more, you can check out 170 Million Americans, a website created by some big public media players to convey why public media is so important, and why 170 million people around the country tune into it every month.

The Newshour on Radiolab

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One of our favorite public radio shows is RadioLab. The PBS Newshour profiled Jad and Robert, the show's hosts, in a lovely pieces built around one of their live shows. Of course, they were also guests on The Sound a couple of years ago.

John Hodgman Solves Violent Video Games

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John Hodgman solves the problem of violent video games using public radio's Ira Glass. "You're welcome."

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