Fishko Files from WNYC

WNYC's Sara Fishko with sound-rich essays on art, culture, music and media - past and present.


  • MLK: 2 Films

    Jan 15 2021

    Today, the new documentary film MLK/FBI is available to screen. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, it's a dark and revealing update to civil rights movement history. That, and an older Dr. King film, are the subjects of this edition of Fishko Files. MLK/FBI is out today in select theatres and on VOD. King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis is available to rent or buy.

  • Man with a Movie Camera

    Jan 08 2021

    It's 125 years since the birth of Dziga Vertov, the Russian documentary film and newsreel director. That's a good excuse, says WNYC's Sara Fishko, to look at his remarkable and pioneering 1920s film Man with a Movie Camera, the subject of this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011) Man with a Movie Camera is streaming on Kanopy and Vudu and available to rent or buy on Amazon.

  • Life of the Party

    Jan 01 2021

    In this last gasp of 2020, we face a New Year's without parties - unless you count the ones in this Fishko Files episode, composed of party scenes from movies over the last many decades. (Produced in 2016)

  • Ida Lupino

    Dec 25 2020

    The actress, director, and film business pioneer Ida Lupino's 1950 film "Outrage" has been added to the Library of Congress's National Film Registry. To celebrate, we bring you this Fishko Files meditation on her life and work. (Produced in 2010)

  • Fantasia at 80

    Dec 18 2020

    80 years ago, in the dark fall of 1940, just before World War II, Walt Disney’s classical music film Fantasia opened across America. WNYC’s Sara Fishko and guests explore its ups, downs, and in-betweens in this episode of Fishko Files. Fantasia is now streaming on Disney Plus.

  • Film Noir

    Dec 11 2020

    Any time the nights get long, cold, and a little ominous, film noir comes to mind. Here's this Fishko Files with WNYC's Sara Fishko and the "Tsar of Noir" Eddie Muller. (Produced in 2004)

  • An Hour with Dave Brubeck (Centenary)

    Dec 04 2020

    This Sunday is the Dave Brubeck centenary - the late, celebrated jazz player was born December 6th, 1920. WNYC's Sara Fishko had a memorable time talking with Brubeck back in 2004, resulting in this program, "An Hour with Dave Brubeck," filled with his reflections and recordings.

  • Stuff Smith

    Nov 27 2020

    Violinist Stuff Smith: Once you hear his fabulous, swing-era playing, it's hard to forget. WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests celebrate Smith in this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2017)     

  • JFK and TV (2020)

    Nov 20 2020

    In the last many months, television has been our WFH window into a disastrous pandemic as well as a deeply divisive presidency. In this special edition for On the Media, WNYC's Sara Fishko takes us back to November 22nd, 1963 - the Friday before Thanksgiving, when the medium was feeling its way, for the first time, through a devastating tragedy. (Produced in 2001)

  • Andre!

    Nov 13 2020

    Andre Gregory - of "My Dinner with Andre" fame - has told stories, on stage and screen, for decades, says WNYC's Sara Fishko. With his first book coming out next week, he's the guest on this edition of Fishko Files. Andre Gregory joins Adam Gopnik on Tuesday, November 17 for a virtual conversation through 92Y. Gregory's memoir, This is Not My Memoir, will be released the same day.

  • Shrinks on Screen (2020)

    Nov 06 2020

    In this fraught time, when truth and reality are warped beyond recognition, we could all use someone to talk to. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002) The Criterion Channel serves up a bevy of films about therapists and patients this month in their series Frame of Mind: Psychiatry on Screen.

  • Scary Music

    Oct 29 2020

    In our unsettled moment, people will find ways to mark an unusual Halloween this weekend. It's a time when music - scary music - comes to mind, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this episode of Fishko Files. Psycho is streaming on Amazon Prime, and Rosemary's Baby airs on Showtime on Monday, November 2. Get Out is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.

  • An Hour with Ned Rorem

    Oct 23 2020

    Composer Ned Rorem turns 97 today. In this hour from the archives, Rorem and Fishko share a long, winding conversation illustrated with plenty of his music, as well as some by those he admires - and those he doesn't. (Produced in 2002) For a feast of Fishko programs on music and culture, visit Fishko Hours.

  • Two American Dramas

    Oct 16 2020

    Two dramas start streaming today, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and What the Constitution Means to Me. Looking at both, WNYC's Sara Fishko finds connections and commonality, in this episode of Fishko Files. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) and What the Constitution Means to Me (Amazon Prime) are now streaming.

  • Two Pianists and a Painter

    Oct 09 2020

    Thelonious Monk was born October 10, 1917. WNYC's Sara Fishko looks at Monk, Glenn Gould, and Vincent van Gogh - and how their brilliant gifts mixed with their personal myths and mysteries. (Produced in 2017)

  • Pre-Dean Teens

    Oct 02 2020

    This week marks 65 years since the death of James Dean, film's "first American teenager." WNYC's Sara Fishko digs up the roots of the teen in movies in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2005)

  • Concert Piece

    Sep 25 2020

    In this time of empty concert halls and virtual performances, WNYC's Sara Fishko is turning her attention to music with an audience, in this episode of Fishko Files.

  • Frank Stella

    Sep 18 2020

    Sometimes artists, seeking inspiration, find it in the very thing that challenges and haunts them most. Here, WNYC’s Sara Fishko talks with visual artist Frank Stella about some very productive pain. (Produced in 2011)

  • Three Critics

    Sep 11 2020

    A few years ago, a rash of books written by arts and entertainment critics inspired WNYC's Sara Fishko to talk to some of the critics/authors about the critical impulse. (Produced in 2006)

  • Guthrie Archive

    Sep 04 2020

    The Woody Guthrie archive is filled with riches, including some related to "This Land is Your Land," written 80 years ago. WNYC's Sara Fishko visited Woody's daughter, Nora, for a journey through a bit of Guthrie history in this archival Fishko Files, produced for his centenary in 2012.

  • Hill of Beans, Etc.

    Aug 28 2020

    In the run-up to the election, we’re all listening to speeches - and many of them are grappling with the very idea of America: what do we want America to be? This episode of Fishko Files goes back to the World War II era, when, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, Hollywood movies were asking the same question - or rather, answering it. Jeanine Basinger's The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre, David Welky's The Moguls and the Dictators, and Thomas Doherty's Projections of War are available...more

  • The 'Indoor Man' and His Playmates

    Aug 21 2020

    After nearly 70 years on newsstands, Playboy Magazine has ended its print run. In this archival episode produced for The United States of Anxiety, WNYC's Sara Fishko tells the story of Hugh Hefner, whose notion of the "Indoor Man" made Playboy a midcentury staple.  The United States of Anxiety is coming to radio this Sunday, August 23 at 6pm, airing weekly on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820.

  • The Personal and the Political (2020)

    Aug 14 2020

    The artist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was recently honored with a quilt created by friends and admirers in his memory. Wojnarowicz, who made art that captured his own decline during the AIDS crisis, was the subject of a Whitney Museum show that inspired this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2018).  Cynthia Carr's book Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz is available on Amazon.

  • Hazel Scott As Herself

    Aug 07 2020

    Pianist and singer Hazel Scott was born in Trinidad a century ago, in the summer of 1920. Scott is well-remembered for her sparkling piano technique, as well as her style - but her biography reveals a powerful character with a rich and layered life behind the glamour. More in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2009)

  • The Great de Havilland

    Jul 30 2020

    The death of actress and star Olivia de Havilland a few days ago has stirred many memories and considerations. WNYC's Sara Fishko chimes in for this episode of Fishko Files. William Wyler's The Heiress (1949) airs on TCM next month and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Criterion and Amazon. From the New Yorker: a consideration of the "last lioness of the Hollywood Studio System," by Rachel Syme.

  • Jon Hendricks

    Jul 24 2020

    Annie Ross, the singer and actress who died this week at 89, was one-third of the phenomenally successful jazz vocal group Lambert Hendricks and Ross. Its heady days of success, as well as Ross herself, were recalled by the late Jon Hendricks - who spoke with WNYC's Sara Fishko in this archival edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)

  • Harlem Renaissance

    Jul 17 2020

    A cultural movement of Black writers and artists was flourishing a century ago in uptown New York, and it’s being remembered now with various virtual events. As WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us in this episode of Fishko Files, the Harlem Renaissance movement was rich with ideas. Emily Bernard is a professor at the University of Vermont and the editor of Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten. Harlem Renaissance 100 continues with its second, virtual phase. Next up:...more

  • Jazz Soundtrack (2020)

    Jul 10 2020

    Composer and arranger Johnny Mandel died last Monday at the age of 94. In the sixty years prior, he gave us standards such as “Emily” and “The Shadow of Your Smile,” and ushered in an era of jazz-inflected movies with his 1958 score for the film “I Want to Live.” WNYC’s Sara Fishko spoke to him about that period in this archival Fishko Files, produced in 2008.

  • John Levy, Jazz Master

    Jul 03 2020

    This archival Fishko Files was produced in 2006 - the year musician and manager John Levy was given the prestigious title of "Jazz Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts. His profound impact on music could be seen in many forms, and for many decades. Levy died in January 2012, just three months shy of his 100th birthday.

  • Three Jazz Works

    Jun 26 2020

    Some of the major struggles and victories of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s coincided with a most active period for jazz music. WNYC's Sara Fishko looks at a few cases where the movement and the music came together, in this edition of Fishko Files. Featuring music by Max Roach, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck, among others. Max Roach's We Insist! Freedom Now Duke Ellington's My People Dave Brubeck's The Gates of Justice Louis Armstrong, Dave Lambert, Jon Henricks, and others' The Real A...more

  • Capturing Cohn

    Jun 18 2020

    A documentary film about the late, infamous lawyer Roy Cohn premieres tonight. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, the variety of films and dramatic portrayals of Cohn reveal a figure both fascinating and repellent. More in this episode of Fishko Files. Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn premieres tonight at 9pm on HBO. Where's My Roy Cohn?, Point of Order, Citizen Cohn, and the HBO miniseries Angels in America are available to stream or buy online.

  • Miss Lonelyhearts

    Jun 11 2020

    The Depression-era novel Miss Lonelyhearts, by Nathanael West, has been called "the purest expression of despair that American literature has produced, in any era." As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this Fishko Files, 80 years after the author's death the book - about the descent into darkness of an advice columnist - still rings true. Miss Lonelyhearts is available to order online. Jonathan Lethem's upcoming novel, The Arrest, will be published this November. You can find more Lethem on West in...more

  • Strange Fruit

    Jun 05 2020

    20 years ago, a book by David Margolick reminded us of the power of a historic song about lynching, Strange Fruit - made famous by the great Billie Holiday. As Americans march against systemic racism, this archival Fishko Files with Lena Horne and others on the song that some say changed the world. (Produced in 2000)

  • See For Yourself

    May 29 2020

    After the opening of the September 11th Memorial and Museum, record-breaking crowds traveled to Ground Zero, to the exact spot where the tragedy happened. In this archival edition of Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko asks - why?

  • Pakula's Paranoia (2020)

    May 22 2020

    New York-born master filmmaker Alan Pakula produced To Kill a Mockingbird and directed Sophie's Choice, but, as WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests tell us, he's also known for a trio of dark and urgent thrillers which are not getting old - they're getting new. (Produced in 2018)

  • Agee on Film

    May 15 2020

    In the 1940s, author James Agee's film criticism revealed his unusually artful take on Hollywood movies. 65 years after his death, WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests explore Agee's lifelong passion for cinema. (Produced in 2005)

  • Escape into the Dark

    May 05 2020

    In this crisis, we're all looking at things a little differently, including movies both new and old. Are we losing ourselves in culture, or are we finding ourselves? A little of both, says WNYC's Sara Fishko, in this episode of Fishko Files. The Best Years of Our Lives, Rear Window, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Follow the Fleet are all streaming now on Amazon.

  • Dave Brubeck

    May 01 2020

    This Monday is May 4th, otherwise known as 5/4 - which has become an unofficial "Dave Brubeck Day" over the years, in tribute to the jazz pianist and composer's most celebrated tune, "Take Five" (1959), written in 5/4 time. WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to Brubeck [b. 1920, d. 2012] in 2004.

  • Chaplin's The Tramp

    Apr 24 2020

    Charlie Chaplin entertained his way through the crises of the 20th century: his first appearance on the screen coincided with the start of World War I. During the Great Depression, audiences flocked to his Modern Times, a memorably satirical take on the era. He lampooned Hitler in The Great Dictator in 1940. Later on, he had a run-in with McCarthyism. A look back at the dramatic life of Chaplin's "Tramp" character in this episode of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2014)

  • Meyerowitz's Lens on New York

    Apr 16 2020

    Joel Meyerowitz's new book is called "How I Make Photographs." But nearly 20 years ago he became known for another book, one that documented the armies of workers turning chaos into order after the 9/11 attacks. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this Fishko Files. Joel Meyerowitz's photographs of Ground Zero can be seen in the Phaidon book Aftermath. His latest book, How I Make Photographs, is out now. For more books and photographs, visit joelmeyerowitz.com.

  • Listening with Willner (2020)

    Apr 10 2020

    We learned earlier this week of the death of the remarkable and absolutely irreplaceable music producer Hal Willner, whom Sara Fishko interviewed at length and profiled for a Fishko Files in 2018. Willner died of complications from coronavirus. His knowledge and love of music - and sense of fun - gave an indelible, personal slant to everything he produced.

  • A Face in the Crowd

    Apr 03 2020

    During the last presidential campaign season, Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd caught on for the way its story mirrored, to some degree, that of our current president's rise to power. As we watch the official, increasingly self-promotional daily briefings on our current crisis, Face comes to mind again. Though WNYC's Sara Fishko recommends here that it be seen with others, "in the dark," it might be even more effective to see it alone, in your place of isolation. (Produced in 2016)

  • Marshall McLuhan (2020)

    Mar 27 2020

    In the '60s, says WNYC’s Sara Fishko, the very eccentric Marshall McLuhan educated us all about the power of television and, ultimately, computers - and how they would someday connect us. He’s the subject of this edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)

  • Cultural Glue

    Mar 20 2020

    With the world in crisis, in a scattered, work-from-home mode, we’re also watching from home. Years ago, in challenging times, late night TV became our "cultural glue," as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2001)

  • Photo League

    Mar 13 2020

    Many decades ago, in the midst of another period of turmoil and uncertainty, concerned citizens and artists took their cameras into the streets to document real life. (Produced in 2011) 

  • Sviatoslav Richter

    Mar 06 2020

    Sviatoslav Richter was born in March 1915 - and he was an astonishing, original, non-conforming, charismatic, mesmerizing pianist, says WNYC's Sara Fishko, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2005 and updated in 2015)

  • Arthur Laurents

    Feb 28 2020

    As you may have noticed, says WNYC’s Sara Fishko, the new production of West Side Story has sharply divided the critics, who’ve been using a range of adjectives to describe it - from “gutsy and exhilarating” to “infuriating!” When the show was brand new, in 1957, the creators then, too, awaited the reviews. The late Arthur Laurents, who wrote the original, is the guest for this edition of Fishko Files.

  • Revueltas

    Feb 21 2020

    The Whitney's new show Vida Americana reveals the impact of Mexico’s revolutionary art of the '20s on American realism - and it has WNYC's Sara Fishko thinking about one of Mexico’s most radical composers of that period. More in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002)  Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945 continues through May 17.

  • The Loser

    Feb 14 2020

    David Lang’s one-act opera The Loser tells the story of two fictional piano students - both Glenn Gould wannabes - whose lives are turned upside down by their idolatry and frustration. Just before the work’s premiere in 2016, WNYC’s Sara Fishko spoke to Lang for this Fishko Files. David Lang's The Loser has just been released digitally and on CD.

  • McCarthy and the "ism"

    Feb 07 2020

    This Sunday will mark 70 years since a speech by Senator Joseph McCarthy cranked up America's post-World War II, anti-Communist crusade - and set in motion something known as McCarthyism. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this episode of Fishko Files.