Podcast

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

The Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, from PRI, is a smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt introduces the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy – so let Studio 360 steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life. Produced in association with Slate.

Episodes

  • Daveed Diggs and Suzan-Lori Parks, ‘In the Pines’ and supernumeraries

    Apr 18 2019

    Kurt Andersen talks with playwright Suzan-Lori Parks about “White Noise,” along with one of the play’s stars, Daveed Diggs from the original cast of “Hamilton.” Iggy Berlin explains what he does as an extra for operas and ballets, where they’re called supernumeraries. And the rich history of the song “In the Pines,” which many luminaries sang in their signature style, from Kurt Cobain to Lead Belly to Bill Monroe.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • In the Footsteps of Merce Cunningham

    Apr 16 2019

    This month marks the birth centennial of American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. His defiant work transformed contemporary arts beyond dance. Cunningham talks about movement and technology, and dancers Daniel Roberts and Bill T. Jones tell us about his influence.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Portraits of the artists

    Apr 11 2019

    At 82, the writer Frederic Tuten has published a memoir of his formative years in New York, “My Young Life,” and Kurt Andersen strolls the East Village with him as he reminisces.  Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite looks back at how some of her own struggles and insecurities inspired the “Cathy” comic strip, and how while many women loved the strip, others thought it didn’t do enough to forward the cause of feminism. And Helado Negro performs songs from his new album, “This Is How You Smile.”Learn ...more

  • This Woman’s Work: Patti Smith’s Horses

    Apr 09 2019

    Studio 360 is teaming up with Classic Album Sundays for a series of storiescalled This Woman’s Work, highlighting classic albums by female artists. We'll talk about records that represent women musicians at the peak of their creative powers, and whose influence is felt all over the musical map.From what is arguably one of the most arresting opening lines on a debut album, to the mournful romanticism of its final track, Patti Smith's Horses is one of the most significant records in American music...more

  • Mob mentalities

    Apr 04 2019

    Understanding our fascination with the criminal underworld. Jia Zhangke’s takes an empathetic look at criminal brotherhoods in China in his new gangster film “Ash Is Purest White.” Stand-up comics reveal what it was like working in Vegas when mobsters owned the clubs. A brave critic defends “The Godfather: Part III.” And how the late Sue Grafton created the seedy universe of her “Alphabet” crime novels.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Susan Choi’s Surprising Side Project

    Apr 02 2019

    Susan Choi’s new novel, Trust Exercise, is a story about trust, betrayal, and the blurry lines between fiction and real life. It focuses on a group of teenagers at a performing arts high school in the 1980s and their fraught relationships with the eccentric teachers whom they idolize. The book takes a metafictional twist about halfway through, but Choi is loathe to describe it as such: “Don't use the M-word. Don't!” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Remembering Agnès Varda

    Mar 31 2019

    The trailblazing filmmaker Agnès Varda died on Friday of breast cancer at age 90. In tribute to her, we’re revisiting Kurt’s 2017 interview with Varda and her collaborator JR.Their Oscar-nominated movie, Faces Places,documents their loving — albeit unexpected — friendship. She was a founding member of the French New Wave, while he is a 36-year-old French artist known for plastering huge black-and-white photographs on the sides of buildings around the world. A few years ago, they hit the road for...more

  • Let’s do the time warp

    Mar 28 2019

    Our monsters, ourselves: Why creatures repel us, yet attract us. Our latest American Icons segment is about “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and producer June Thomas reports on how the movie became an audience-participation phenomenon — and gave a sense of belonging to some of those moviegoers who were made to feel like outcasts elsewhere. Kurt Andersen talks with author and filmmaker Mallory O’Meara about her new book “The Lady From the Black Lagoon,” the story of Milicent Patrick, who designed...more

  • Cracking cases

    Mar 21 2019

    Kurt Andersen talks with Marcia Clark, prominent again after two highly regarded television shows revisited her role prosecuting the O.J. Simpson case, and who now has a new legal-drama TV show, “The Fix.” And producer Sam Kim takes on a case of his own: He helps unravel the mystery of an old “Sesame Street” cartoon called “Cracks.” Many people who are middle-aged now remember it terrifying them as kids — and then the cartoon vanished.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoice...more

  • Jia Zhangke’s Empathetic Eye

    Mar 19 2019

    For much of his career, Jia Zhangke’s films were officially banned in his home country, China. But through austere, realist movies like Still Life, Platform, and The World, Jia became one of the most celebrated directors on the international arthouse circuit.His latest film, Ash Is Purest White, appears at first to be a conventional mob epic, focused on a “gangster’s moll” character played magnificently by Zhao Tao. But with a story beginning in 2001 and spanning 17 years, the movie is just as m...more

  • Why Yanni happened

    Mar 14 2019

    Kurt Andersen talks with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck about his new film “Never Look Away,” and why the director interviewed the artist Gerhard Richter extensively to make a film that is only kind of about Richter. Plus, how Yanni, John Tesh and other musicians discovered an improbable vehicle to ‘90s stardom: the PBS pledge drive. Nat King Cole would be 100 this week, and to celebrate: an appreciation from both his biographer, David Mark Epstein, and actor Dulé Hill, who is current...more

  • The Playbill of Rights

    Mar 07 2019

    Kurt Andersen talks with Heidi Schreck about her new play, based on oratory competitions she took part in as a teenager, called “What the Constitution Means to Me.” Siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarín join Kurt to talk about their new documentary “306 Hollywood,” an artful and even surreal look at how they dealt with their beloved grandmother’s house after she died. How Niki Russ Federman meant to stay out of her family’s smoked fish business, Russ & Daughters, and then found herself drawn in...more

  • Arresting Poetry

    Mar 05 2019

    Edward Doyle-Gillespie always found writing stories cathartic, a way to process whatever was going on in his life. But as a police officer in Baltimore, witnessing people in the most desperate conditions, he increasingly turned to poetry as a vehicle for understanding and expressing his experiences on the job.“There are these moments in policing, distilled moments of a word, an image, a smell, a concept, that to me bespeaks of a kind of encapsulated poem right there.”Learn more about your ad cho...more

  • These go to 11

    Feb 28 2019

    Kurt Andersen talks with author N.K. Jemisin about writing, politics, and her new book “How Long 'til Black Future Month?” Our latest American Icons segment is about “Cross Road Blues,” the song that helped to posthumously popularize — and mythologize — Robert Johnson. And how “This Is Spinal Tap,” which opened 35 years ago this week, helped create the template for other hilarious mockumentaries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Oscar hour

    Feb 21 2019

    The annual Oscar hour. Kurt Andersen starts it off with his takeaway from this year’s crop of nominees: some actors delivered great performances in films that overall were not so great. Then Kurt talks with Richard E. Grant about his nomination for "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" and some of his other memorable roles, including in “Withnail & I.” Finally, the invaluable yet seldom acknowledged job of a movement director, namely Polly Bennett, who helped Rami Malek embody Freddie Mercury in “Bohem...more

  • The Crack Monster: The Mystery Behind Sesame Street’s Creepiest Cartoon

    Feb 19 2019

    In the mid-1970s, Jon Armond was traumatized by something he saw on Sesame Street. It was a cartoon about a little girl who encounters creatures formed by the cracks on her bedroom wall — including a horrifying, screaming face who called himself “The Crack Master.”Decades later, Armond wasn’t sure if the cartoon actually existed… until he discovered a subculture of obsessives who remembered the exact same thing. Armond details the bizarre rabbit hole he fell into trying to track it down. Plus, S...more

  • Sex seen

    Feb 14 2019

    As Cupid takes aim this week, a look at how sex and sexuality are handled — and mishandled — on-screen. Kurt Andersen speaks with Slate’s Jeffrey Bloomer on depictions of first-time sex. Intimacy-scene consultant Alicia Rodis describes how she helps actors who are virtual strangers seem like they are deeply and lustilly in love during sex scenes. Desiree Akhavan’s show “The Bisexual” takes on what she sees as an anti-bisexual bias, a bias she demonstrates with clips from shows including “Sex and...more

  • Honky tonk angels

    Feb 07 2019

    An hour on country music: past, present and future. Nashville-based music reporter Jewly Hight gives Kurt an update on how women artists in country music are forging new paths in an industry that’s become unwelcoming. Dolly Parton reflects on her long career. Willie Nelson shares an Aha Moment about the song that changed his life. And the incomparable Dwight Yoakam performs live in studio.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Behind the Curtain at Autism-Friendly Broadway Shows

    Feb 05 2019

    In 2015, an autistic boy disrupted a performance of The King & I on Broadway, reacting loudly to a scene where a slave is whipped. He and his mother were asked to leave the theater. After the performance, one of the actors from the ensemble posted a reaction to the incident on Facebook. He wrote: “When did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?”The Facebook post went viral. What’s interesting is th...more

  • Found in translation

    Jan 31 2019

    Natasha Wimmer, whose translations of Roberto Bolaño are extraordinary, tells Kurt Andersen about her rules of the road. Plus, the play “Behind the Sheet” helps to expose and reassess J. Marion Sims, a pioneer in gynecology whose advances came at the expense of the slaves on whom he conducted brutal experiments. And Kurt talks with artist Jessica Campbell, who for her first solo exhibit  created work almost exclusively out of carpet.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adcho...more

  • Shall we dance?

    Jan 24 2019

    An hour on continuing innovations in American dance. Choreographer Donald Byrd uses dance to illuminate what it means to be black in America. Elizabeth Streb speaks with Kurt Andersen about how she defies gravity with her “extreme action” techniques. And how the salsa pioneers Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco got the world on its feet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • From Aria Code: Dalila, the Femme Fatale

    Jan 22 2019

    On this Studio 360 extra, we’re sharing a great new podcast called Aria Code. Produced by WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera, it features singers and other thinkers decoding the magic of a single piece from an opera, followed by the music uninterrupted.In this episode, host Rhiannon Giddens and her guests reflect on the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, the trope of the femme fatale, and how composer Camille Saint-Saëns created this unforgettable moment that sounds as if Dalila’s slowly removin...more

  • The mother of all abstraction

    Jan 17 2019

    Thanks to a new exhibit at the Guggenheim, the art world is rediscovering Hilma af Klint. How was this Swede so ahead of her time, and will she finally get her due? Lee Israel’s memoir about forging letters by famous writers, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” is now a terrific movie starring Melissa McCarthy. Israel died in 2014, but here she is in an interview with Kurt Andersen in 2008, where she talks about how — and why — she decided to start impersonating the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noël Cowa...more

  • Digging into ‘Doug’

    Jan 10 2019

    The story of “Doug,” the Nickelodeon cartoon from the ’90s that used a minimalist approach but had a profound impact on young viewers. Kurt Andersen talks with Rina Banerjee, who makes enchanting installations and who is the subject of a retrospective show at just 55. And the breathtaking backstory and staging for “The Jungle,” the play that replicates an Afghan restaurant in a migrant camp.This episode is brought to you by Doctors Without Borders. Donate today at doctorswithoutborders.org.Learn...more

  • Tales from the Script

    Jan 08 2019

    John August, the host of Scriptnotes, explains his approach to screenwriting.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Best of 2018, part 2

    Jan 03 2019

    Some of our favorite stories from the past year. First, Kurt Andersen speaks with Daniela Vega, who delivered a stunning performance in "A Fantastic Woman." Casey Trela is a musician in Los Angeles with a Kafkaesque day job: he watches movies and TV shows over and over and over again looking for the tiniest production glitches. Lauren Groff has a complicated relationship with her adopted state, and nowhere is that more evident than in her recent short story collection, “Florida.” And an oral his...more

  • Best of 2018, part 1

    Dec 27 2018

    Some of our favorite stories from the past year. First, the musical equivalent to stock art, library music, where composers anonymously churned out some of the strangest, funkiest — and most recognizable — music of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The Domino’s Pizza mascot, The Noid, was just a whimsical advertising mascot — until it became part of a really dark story. And Kurt Andersen talks with Angélique Kidjo, a superstar of African music, about her recent album: a song-by-song cover of the 1980 Tal...more

  • Welcome to The Jungle

    Dec 25 2018

    Here in America, despite the hysteria whipped up in the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections, there was no influx of migrants from the south.In other words, nothing like what happened a few years ago, when hundreds of thousands refugees from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa arrived in Europe. There’s a new play about that migrant crisis called The Jungle — which was the nickname of the notorious migrant camp in Calais, France. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit m...more

  • A movie hallmark, and Hallmark movies

    Dec 20 2018

    An American Icons segment about “The Searchers,” John Ford’s problematic masterpiece featuring John Wayne. Kurt Andersen talks with Carol Stabile about an aspect of the Red Scare that’s received scant attention: the 41 women who were blacklisted from radio and television. And how Mariame Kaba, a prison activist who’s black and Muslim, falls hard for something very white and very Christian: Hallmark Christmas movies.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Art that grows on you

    Dec 13 2018

    The stuff you love as kids — that still deserve love when you’re grown up. Kurt Andersen talks with author Bruce Handy about how the best children’s literature can still enthrall adults — and then Bruce’s and Kurt’s kids join them to weigh in. Jim Henson always thought of his creations, the Muppets, as adult entertainment, but thanks to “Sesame Street,” they ended up being beloved by kids. And finally Kurt talks with design critic Alexandra Lange about the history of playgrounds — and how lawyer...more

  • Can You Ever Forgive Lee Israel?

    Dec 11 2018

    Lee Israel’s memoir, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” tells the story of her years forging letters by famous writers like Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward. Her book has recently been adapted into a new film starring Melissa McCarthy as Israel. Kurt Andersen interviewed the real Lee Israel in 2008, and with the film adaption now in theaters, he revisits his conversation with the literary con artist.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Unhung heroes

    Dec 06 2018

    Why is contemporary culture obsessed with how well-endowed men are and yet in classical art men are so small? Kurt Andersen unravels the mystery with a classics scholar, Andrew Lear. Stacey Rose is a playwright, but when she’s not working to take audiences’ breath away on stage, she’s doing the opposite in her day job: she’s a respiratory therapist. And finally, a Studio 360 holiday tradition in the making — a Christmas-themed radio drama based on a short story by Kurt Andersen.Learn more about ...more

  • My fair lyricist

    Nov 29 2018

    Kurt-ain call — a show about what goes into making great theater. First, a look at Alan Jay Lerner on the centennial of his birth. The lyricist for “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi” and “Camelot” was as complicated as he was talented. Then Jack Viertel, the theater impresario, gives Kurt a master class on all the elements of successful musical theater that audiences will recognize but may not have had a name for — like the “I want” song. Finally, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-winning play “Sweat” about factory w...more

  • Aha Moment: An Odd Path to Plath

    Nov 27 2018

    One day at school in the early 1990s, Shane McCrae watched a TV movie about teen suicide. The first half was all exactly what you would have expected: cheesy platitudes, heroic teachers, and feathery haircuts. Then, a character quoted the poetry of Sylvia Plath. “I don't want to be hyperbolic, but it did feel like a kind of an electric shock,” McCrae remembers. “I had never heard anything like it. I never had a feeling like that.” That day, he wrote eight poems at school. Then he took the bus ho...more

  • American Tricons: Harley, Hendrix and O’Keeffe

    Nov 22 2018

    Three American Icons that embody our nation’s counterculture. First: it’s not the fastest or fanciest bike out there, but Harley-Davidson has become synonymous with the motorcycle for many Americans. Then, why Georgia O’Keeffe fled the East Coast for New Mexico, where she found her muse in sun-bleached bones that littered the desert. And finally, how Jimi Hendrix captured the sound of bombs falling overseas and screaming protestors, using only a whammy bar and a fuzz pedal. Learn more about...more

  • Settlers, unsettled

    Nov 15 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with Missy Mazzoli and Karen Russell about Mazzoli’s new opera, “Proving Up,” based on a short story by Russell about a family’s bleak prospects in post-Civil War Nebraska. Buffalo Tom singer Bill Janovitz talks about how, when the band scaled back its touring and recording, he found a less hip — and yet surprisingly satisfying — career in the Boston suburbs. More from Beantown as Kurt talks with Kelly Horan about the podcast she co-hosts, “Last Seen,” which is about biggest ...more

  • To Distill a Mockingbird

    Nov 13 2018

    A new theatrical version of To Kill a Mockingbird is opening on Broadway next month, adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. So in anticipation of this Broadway debut, we’ve put together some of our favorite segments about America’s most beloved novel.First, we check in with the residents of Monroeville, Alabama — Lee’s hometown and the real-life "Maycomb" — to see how public opinion about the book has changed since its initial chilly reception in 1960. ...more

  • The deal of the art

    Nov 08 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with Amy Cappellazzo of Sotheby’s and filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn about the art market and Kahn’s new documentary, “The Price of Everything.” How the masterful Talking Heads album “Remain in Light” drew on inspiration from radio preachers, newspaper headlines, recordings of former slaves and John Dean’s Watergate testimony. And Kurt talks with the Oscar-winning writer Kenneth Lonergan about his play that’s on Broadway, “The Waverly Gallery.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visi...more

  • Done and doner

    Nov 01 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with Morgan Neville about his documentary that focuses on an Orson Welles film that was completed long after Welles died. Maria Schneider’s album “The Thompson Fields” took a circuitous path, and she discusses it both as it’s being conceived and a year later, when it’s in the can. Neuroscientist Heather Berlin tells Kurt how the creative brain gets revved up — and how the brain helps to focus and complete projects. And how the band School of Seven Bells finished an album when...more

  • Home, Sweat Home

    Oct 30 2018

    Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017. It tells the story of a group of friends who work in a factory in Reading, Pennsylvania and are reeling from layoffs and racial tension. The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit took the show to the road and visited 18 places in the so-called Rust Belt. One of these unconventional venues was a public library in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Studio 360 was there to capture the moment.This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Sandra Lopez-Monsalv...more

  • Scents and sensibilities

    Oct 25 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with Sandi Tan, who shot a film as an 18-year-old in Singapore in 1992, but the footage disappeared. She finally got her hands on the footage a few years ago, and the mystery of its disappearance is the subject of her new documentary, “Shirkers.” Tanwi Nandini Islam is both a novelist and a perfumer — and she demonstrates how she applies both of those talents to create a fragrance based on the Toni Morrison novel, “Beloved.”  And getting to the bottom of the hidden meani...more

  • Pure speculation

    Oct 18 2018

    Speculative fiction — the catch-all term for non-realist genres — in its many forms. Remembering the irascible speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison. How reading a sex scene in an Isaac Asimov book changes an adolescent’s understanding of gender identity. Colson Whitehead reads from his zombie novel “Zone One.” And tracing the sci-fi-themed Afrofuturist tradition in music, from Sun Ra to Janelle Monáe.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Day Jobs: Respiratory Therapist

    Oct 16 2018

    Stacey Rose is a playwright in Saint Paul, Minnesota but by day -- and sometimes also by night — she’s a respiratory therapist.  Stacey is also a fellow with the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab and her play, “The Danger: A Homage to Strange Fruit” just played in Brooklyn. As part of our Day Jobs series, Stacey told us about her two very different passions. This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Sandra Lopez-Monsalve and Schuyler Swenson.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm...more

  • All most famous

    Oct 11 2018

    Kurt Andersen and Theresa Rebeck discuss her new play about the most acclaimed actress of her day, Sarah Bernhardt. Justine Bateman’s new book examines being inside — and then outside — the fame bubble. A listener finds something surprising inside a book at a used bookstore — an inscription from the famous author of the book to an even more famous novelist. And how New York hip-hop pirate radio station WBAD rose — and fell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Mind the Generation Gap

    Oct 04 2018

    Kurt talks to the author Daniel Torday about his new book, “Boomer1,” a dark satire about the tension between millennials and baby boomers coming to a head. Then a segment about something boomers couldn’t stand about the generation that preceded them: its love for Lawrence Welk’s unapologetically wholesome variety show. For our Guilty Pleasures feature, listener Paul Fotsch explains how he couldn’t stand Lawrence Welk as a kid but grew to love the show. And finally, Argentine experimental musici...more

  • Don McLean's "American Pie"

    Oct 02 2018

    It was late in 1971 when the singer-songwriter Don McLean released his song, “American Pie.” Today, everybody still seems to know all the words… but nobody seems to know what those words really mean.Who is the “jester [who] sang for the King and Queen/In a coat he borrowed from James Dean?” And what was it that “touched [the singer] deep inside/The day the music died”?Don McLean himself helps break down the song, as well as author Raymond I. Schuck. And the singer Garth Brooks talks about his lo...more

  • Hawkish

    Sep 27 2018

    Ethan Hawke came of age as a Gen X heartthrob, but he’s stayed relevant and is as busy as ever. He’s appeared recently in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” and the Nick Hornby adaptation “Juliet, Naked,” and the fourth film he’s directed, “Blaze,” is out now. Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” has become so strongly associated with film noir, it’s hard to know whether film noir was more influenced by the painting or the other way around. And the members of Balún explain how they developed a sound they ...more

  • Pacific Northbest

    Sep 20 2018

    Swingin’ on the flippity-flop in the PNW. Sub Pop CEO Megan Jasper on her legendary hoax on The New York Times with her lexicon of grunge terms. Carrie Brownstein on Sleater-Kinney and the difference between TV stardom and music stardom. What residents in the Washington towns where “Twin Peaks” was filmed love — and hate — about the show. And the generation-defining album that is Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • BoJack Horseman’s Raphael Bob-Waksberg

    Sep 18 2018

    BoJack Horseman, Netflix’s animated series about a washed-up ’90s sitcom star living in the Hollywood Hills, is beginning its fifth season. Its protagonist is half-horse, half-man, and its tone is half-jokes, half-existential-angst. That’s a study in contrasts that seems inexplicable—until you talk with the show’s creator, Raphael Bob-Waksberg.Bob-Waksberg is about as introspective, funny and dark as you can be at the tender age of 34. In 2017, he talked with host Kurt Andersen about why so many...more

  • Apocalypse, wow

    Sep 13 2018

    Ann Dowd, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of Aunt Lydia on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” joins Kurt to talk about playing characters — many of them terrifying — for three decades. In the 1960s, when hippies turned to Christianity in what’s commonly called the Jesus Movement, Christian rock was born. And so was a belief that the end of the world was coming any minute. And how the guitarist Stephane Wrembel’s life was changed when he discovered Django Reinhardt. Learn more about your ad choices. V...more

  • EGOT to have it

    Sep 06 2018

    Only 12 entertainers have won the EGOT sweep: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. In this hour of Studio 360, we look back at some of our favorite stories about EGOT winners. Composers Robert Lopez and Marvin Hamlisch both perform in our studio. Mel Brooks’ classic comedy skit, “The 2,000 Year Old Man.” And finding inspiration in Whoopi Goldberg’s stand-up. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Link Wray’s “Rumble”

    Sep 04 2018

    Young guitarists emulate standard-bearers like The Kinks’ Dave Davies, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. But when those guitarists were making their mark in the 1960s, they worshipped their own guitar hero: Link Wray.Sixty years ago, in 1958, Wray released “Rumble,” an instrumental song that had the 12-bar form of blues but pioneered the distortion effect that would become a defining element in rock. It’s what you hear in the very first notes of songs like The Kinks’ “You Really Got M...more

  • A room with a viewfinder

    Aug 30 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with the celebrated architect Liz Diller about how making buildings is like making movies, and she picks some of her favorite examples of films that use architecture brilliantly. How court-ordered psychotherapy helped spur the material Richard Pryor performed for his album “Wanted: Live in Concert,” which marks its fortieth anniversary this year and has been inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. And poet Maya Phillips joins Kurt to talk about “B...more

  • Framing the debate

    Aug 23 2018

    What happens when artists get political. Kurt talks to conservative painter Jon McNaughton about protest art in the age of Trump. The dramatic use of masks in the paintings of Detroit’s Tylonn Sawyer. Our American Icons series looks at the song “Dixie,” the Confederate symbol that’s impossible to remove. And Roya Hakakian and Reza Aslan on Iranian politics and poetry.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Remarkable Bounce of Blindspotting

    Aug 21 2018

    The excellent new movie Blindspotting deals in complex ways with issues of race, gentrification, and police brutality. But it’s a drama both leavened and enhanced by its unique use of rap and verse. Co-writers and stars Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Rafael Casal (Def Jam Poetry) play best friends Collin and Miles who, over the course of the last few days of Collin’s probation, navigate their rapidly gentrifying hometown of Oakland as well as their relationship to each other.That Diggs and Casal al...more

  • The golden age of anonymous music

    Aug 16 2018

    Some of the greatest film music of the 20th century came from readymade stock albums recorded by virtually anonymous musicians. Author David Hollander and composer Keith Mansfield tell the story of vintage library music. How Lucille Fletcher’s thrilling 1943 drama “Sorry, Wrong Number” shocked American radio listeners. And writer Matt Novak uncovers the surprising movies watched by American presidents inside the White House.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Studio 360 Presents: Hit Parade

    Aug 15 2018

    Studio 360 presents a special bonus episode of another great podcast — Hit Parade. This week, one of music's most iconic personalities — Madonna — is turning 60 years old, and Hit Parade is here to celebrate her. Host Chris Molanphy, a music journalist and pop-chart historian, digs through Madonna's large catalog, particularly at a time when she found herself at a career crossroads.  If you like this episode of Hit Parade, subscribe to their podcast. Every month, you'll get new episode...more

  • Walden pondered

    Aug 09 2018

    In “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau helped shape the way we think about nature and our place in the world. An American Icons segment examines why many readers think that Thoreau was a genius while others think he’s a hypocrite. A second American Icons segment remembers Leonard Bernstein’s “Young People’s Concerts” with the New York Philharmonic, which not only captured the genius and wit of the conductor but also showed the power of the then-young medium of television. And 40 years ago, Gloria Gayn...more

  • Happy Bernstein to You!

    Aug 07 2018

    This month, the music world is celebrating what would’ve been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. As conductor of the New York Philharmonic, he changed the way audiences understood classical music. Five musicians from the Philharmonic remember playing under Bernstein’s baton.This story was produced by WNYC’s Sara Fishko.(Originally aired September 26, 2008. Violinist Oscar Ravina died in 2010.)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Everyone’s a comedian

    Aug 02 2018

    Ken Jennings got famous for his record-breaking run on “Jeopardy!” But he stayed famous for his keen wit, and he joins Kurt Andersen to talk about his new book on the history and future of comedy, “Planet Funny.” Mira T. Lee explains how a Picasso painting, “Girl in a Mirror,” found its way into her debut novel. And the versatile 8-person vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, performs their hauntingly beautiful music in our studio.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Whee!

    Jul 26 2018

    Pressing play — stories about children and how recreation is a form of creation. Kurt Andersen takes a field trip to Governors Island with design critic Alexandra Lange to learn about the history of playgrounds — and see some extraordinary slides. Paola Antonelli tells us the humble beginnings of the Frisbee, its origins being in a pie-baking company whose pie plates — college students discovered — were impressively aerodynamic. Producer Jessica Benko talks to an 8-year-old about her imaginary f...more

  • A Wild and Crazy Anniversary

    Jul 24 2018

     It was 40 years ago when Steve Martin released the concert album, “A Wild and Crazy Guy.” These days Martin is known as an actor, a novelist, a playwright, an accomplished banjo player, a major art collector. But before all that, he was best known for wearing a stupid joke arrow on his head – or a pair of rabbit ears.He wears those rabbit ears, and a white suit, on the cover of “A Wild and Crazy Guy,” his second stand-up comedy album. That record proved he had command of the full...more

  • Making it in Cleveland

    Jul 19 2018

    The coasts are not the only cultural centers in America: Kurt Andersen takes a trip to the FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. A musician pays the bills as a Mastering Quality Control Technician for movies and TV shows. And what we can learn about the Bible from Beyoncé.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part III

    Jul 17 2018

    An ode to animals, read by the late poet Marianne Moore. Plus, since the dawn of humanity, more or less, people have used representations of animals to tell stories. But some artists have wanted to buck that trend, depicting animal stories from the animals’ point of view. Laline Paull is one of these artists. Her novel The Bees was dubbed "Watership Down for the Hunger Games generation,” but it might be more accurate to call it 1984 in a beehive.And Chicago filmmaker Jim Trainor thinks that auth...more

  • Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part II

    Jul 16 2018

    Biologist Roger Payne discovered whale song when he started studying a mysterious recording in 1966. The recording came from a sound designer doing military research, Frank Watlington, who was trying to record undersea dynamite explosions.Payne became obsessed with the recording, and made a startling discovery: the sounds were repeating. That means that they were scientifically classified as songs. Over the following years, Payne pressed the recordings on musicians, composers, and singers, inclu...more

  • Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part I

    Jul 15 2018

    Laurel Braitman is a historian of science and the author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. She’s particularly interested in animals held in captivity. “If their minds aren’t stimulated and challenged they can end up with all sorts of disturbing behaviors,” she explains. Braitman wondered if music could help counter animal anxiety and depression? This question led Braitman to arrange a series of concerts for all-animal...more

  • Drawn from experience

    Jul 12 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with comic artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb about her trailblazing work. In 1965, Wilson Pickett went to Stax Records in Memphis to record “In the Midnight Hour” — and nothing was the same after. And “Luke Cage” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker breaks down how his love of hip-hop and other music shapes his show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Here Comes the Pitch

    Jul 10 2018

    The music documentary podcast Pitch, produced by Alex Kapelman and Whitney Jones, is returning after a three-year hiatus.Nine new episodes immerse in subjects including the music of ISIS, the hip-swaying, female-empowerment dance songs of Carnival, and blacklisted 1950s jazz musician Hazel Scott.“Her story is amazing,” Whitney Jones tells Kurt Andersen about Hazel Scott. “She grew up with jazz legends just in her house. They were friends of her mom — Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Lester Young — the...more

  • American Icons: Monticello

    Jul 05 2018

    Monticello is home renovation run amok. Thomas Jefferson was as passionate about building his house as he was about founding the United States; he designed Monticello to the fraction of an inch and never stopped changing it. Yet Monticello was also a plantation worked by slaves, some of them Jefferson’s own children. Today his white and black descendants still battle over who can be buried at Monticello. It was trashed by college students, saved by a Jewish family and celebrated by FDR. With Ste...more

  • Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part III

    Jul 03 2018

    When is humor appropriate in the medical field? Bioethicist Katie Watson, an Assistant Professor in the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Program of Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, has thought a lot about this issue. She moonlights as faculty at the Second City Training Center in Chicago, the teaching side of the famous improv comedy club.She has written about gallows humor in medicine, spoken about it at the Chicago Humanities Festival, and used the intersection of her ...more

  • Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part II

    Jul 02 2018

    Sophie Scott is fascinated by laughter—and she thinks that cognitive science and psychology are missing out by ignoring it. A cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, Scott studies and teaches us how to distinguish between “social” or “voluntary” laughter (the way you politely laugh at a co-worker’s jokes) and “authentic” or “involuntary” laughter (the kind that causes you to gasp for breath).Chris Gethard, the host of “The Chris Gethard Show” on Fusion and the podcast Beautiful/An...more

  • Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part I

    Jul 01 2018

    The practice of laughter yoga began in 1995, when it was invented by Madan Kataria, a doctor in Mumbai, India. Today, its practitioners attend thousands of classes offered all over the world. They say they gain health benefits, including stress reduction and an improved immune system.Kurt Andersen and Mary Harris, a health reporter at WNYC, were curious so they decided to attend a class in New York to find out - and tell us - what it’s all about.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone....more

  • Filth

    Jun 28 2018

    Filth in all its forms: whimsical and mundane, literal and figurative. Kurt talks to America’s auteur of the scatological, filmmaker John Waters. Writer Henry Alford and comedian Dave Hill visit a museum exhibit where all the art is made of dirt or trash. Who’s selling and who’s reading the smutty bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey”? We get to the bottom of the the shockingly complex world of diaper design. And indie rock band Dirty Projectors performs live in our studio. Learn more about yo...more

  • Behind the Harlem Sound of Luke Cage

    Jun 26 2018

    On Luke Cage, the Marvel series on Netflix, music is almost everything. “I’m a hip-hop showrunner,” says showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker. “It just permeates every decision we make on the show because we’re not just making decisions about plot. The whole thing has to feel a certain way.”If the first season of Luke Cage introduced the Marvel universe to hip-hop, the second season expands the musical education across the entire spectrum of African American music, Coker says. Episodes in this season wi...more

  • Rebels without a pause

    Jun 21 2018

    Thirty years ago, Public Enemy brought the revolution to hip-hop with “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” Kurt Andersen talks with the graphic designer Bonnie Siegler about the history of protest art. And the newspaper comic “Nancy” gets a reboot and its first female cartoonist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Shadows in the Sunshine State

    Jun 14 2018

    Fiction, fantasy and reality in the Sunshine State. Lauren Groff talks about writing — and surviving — in Florida. The writer Carl Hiaasen tells Kurt Andersen how he turns sleaze into sunshine noir. In Celebration, Florida, fantasy meets reality. How the Florida wilderness helped create Jeff VanderMeer’s apocalyptic landscape. And Judy Blume tours her old stomping grounds in Miami Beach.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Director of Hereditary on Family, Kids and Other Horrors

    Jun 12 2018

    After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, critics have called Hereditary the scariest movie of the year — perhaps even the scariest movie since The Exorcist. It’s a supernatural film starring Toni Collette about a family dealing with horrifying, unspeakable trauma.It’s the first feature film by writer and director Ari Aster. “It was very important to me that [Hereditary] functioned first as a vivid family drama,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “And then all the horror elements grow out of their...more

  • ‘Fahrenheit 451’ rekindled

    Jun 07 2018

    An American Icons special segment about “Fahrenheit 451,” the cautionary tale about authoritarianism and free speech that has seen a sales surge since the 2016 election. How Tony Visconti, Bowie's longtime producer, captured the artist's career in a 15-minute remix for the exhibit “David Bowie is.” And why filmmaker Bart Layton included documentary elements in his feature “American Animals.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part III

    Jun 05 2018

    Columbia University astrophysicist Janna Levin talks to Kurt Andersen about gravitational waves, the book she wrote about the breakthrough called “Black Hole Blues,” and the arduous, 50-year journey to finally hearing the sound that proves a 100 year old theory of Einstein’s to be true.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part II

    Jun 04 2018

    James Gleick tries to imagine what Einstein would have thought about time travel.  “For a while, I was hoping I could find a letter from Einstein,” he says. “My dream was that he'd read the 'Time Machine' and said 'Ah ha!' But of course, there's nothing like that. There's no evidence that I could find that Einstein was a sci-fi buff.”And John Wray’s novel, The Lost Time Accidents is about an eastern European family in the early 1900s that believes that they have discovered the secret to tim...more

  • Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part I

    Jun 03 2018

    When he was growing up in Germany in the 1880s and 90s, nobody had pegged Einstein as a genius. He dropped out of high school and had to apply twice to a university in Switzerland that accepted students without high school diplomas. He did well at college, but didn’t apply himself and struggled to complete assignments and pass tests.He ended up working at the patent office in Bern, Switzerland and knew, if he wanted to be a physicist, he had to do research and get published. He was looking at th...more

  • American Icons: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

    May 31 2018

    How do you build a monument to a war that was more tragic than triumphant? Maya Lin was practically a kid when she got the commission to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. “The veterans were asking me, ‘What do you think people are going to do when they first come here?’” she remembers. “And I wanted to say, ‘They’re going to cry.’" Her minimalistic granite wall was derided by one vet as a “black gash of shame.” But inscribed with the name of every fallen soldier, it...more

  • American Animals: Bart Layton’s New Breed of True Crime

    May 29 2018

    In 2012, Bart Layton made his directorial debut with The Imposter — an ambitious true crime story that mixes documentary and narrative filmmaking. His latest movie further blurs the lines between fiction and reality: American Animals depicts a 2004 book heist by interspersing interviews with real people and the fictionalized version of the events. “I found myself thinking maybe there’s a new way to tell a true story,” Bart Layton tells Kurt Andersen. “Where you kind of get to have your cake and ...more

  • Muppet regime

    May 24 2018

    The latest installment in Studio 360’s American Icons series: The Muppets — how the world fell for Jim Henson’s troupe of puppets. Plus, teleprompters were supposed to make cue cards obsolete, but not on “Saturday Night Live,” where “Cue Card Wally” Feresten is indispensable. And singer Angélique Kidjo talks about her new album “Remain in Light,” a track-by-track cover of the 1980 Talking Heads album.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part III

    May 22 2018

    For a long time, mainstream scientists were deeply skeptical about the theory of multiple universes — but comic-book writers immediately saw the creative possibilities. University of Minnesota physics professor (and author of the book "The Physics of Superheroes") James Kakalios pays a visit to Source Comics & Games in St. Paul.Plus, the series finale of the show “St. Elsewhere,” where we learn that the entire show had been a fantasy of a boy with autism named Tommy Westphall.Learn more abou...more

  • Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part II

    May 21 2018

    “The Crawick Multiverse” is a sprawling piece of landscape art tucked into Dumfries and Galloway in the Scottish countryside, on the site of what used to be a coal mine. The artist Charles Jenks took the BBC’s Anna Magnusson on a tour of the site.The landscape is a series of connected paths and landforms, studded with large boulders that make the site feel like a modern Stonehenge. The rocks appear ageless, but the mounds formed in the soil appear contemporary — even futuristic —  with clea...more

  • Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part I

    May 20 2018

    Mark Oliver Everett (AKA "E") is best known as the singer, songwriter, and driving force behind the indie rock band Eels. A lesser-known biographical detail about Mark: his father, Hugh Everett III, proposed the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics. Everett's work raised the possibility that multiple realities could exist simultaneously, with multiple versions of us in them. It was an out-there idea when Everett first proposed it in 1957, but over the years it has gained adherents, ...more

  • Pet projects

    May 17 2018

    A show about how — and why — pets become our muses. Elias Weiss Friedman, the photographer behind the blog The Dogist, shows Kurt how to photograph a pooch and get that cocked-head, raised-ears look. Dog trainer Teresa Miller explains how she trained the canine stars of the Hungarian film “White God” to perform. Jazz legend Charles Mingus’s lesser known masterwork: a book about how he toilet trained his cat. Why Laurie Anderson decided to start performing concerts for dogs. Writer John Haskell’s...more

  • When Bad People Create Good Art

    May 15 2018

    In the MeToo era, so many creative people are being outed as bullies, sexual predators, and worse. And for journalists who cover arts and entertainment, it’s been a bit of a tightrope: How can you write about House of Cards or The Cosby Show ever again without the work feeling hopelessly tainted? And are they still great shows, even if their stars or creators aren't?            How do you investigate claims of harassment if no one will talk, and a star's p...more

  • One mom at a time

    May 10 2018

    The art of motherhood. Gloria Calderón Kellett talks about making “One Day at a Time” and the classic TV moms who influenced how she writes about motherhood. Novelists Louise Erdrich and Megan Hunter, along with Parley Ann Boswell, talk about the artistic choice of featuring pregnant women in dystopian fiction. Isabella Rossellini talks to Kurt Andersen about her short film series, “Mammas,” that looks at different animals’ approaches to motherhood. And listener Beth Greenspan finds inspiration ...more

  • Super humans

    May 03 2018

    Creating superheroes. Kurt Andersen talks with “Superman” writer Gene Luen Yang on “Boxers & Saints” and “American Born Chinese.” Plus, the complicated — and sometimes divisive — issue of cosplay characters dressing up as a character of a different race. And producers Brendan Baker and Chloe Prasinos talk about all the work and (and a 3-D recording gizmo) that went into making their new podcast, Marvel’s “Wolverine: The Long Night.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoic...more

  • Ch-ch-changes: Making the Bowie Mashup

    May 01 2018

    After touring the world for the last five years, the "David Bowie is" exhibit is making its final stand at the Brooklyn Museum. The show features over 400 pieces: diary entries, handwritten lyrics, artwork, and lots of unforgettable costumes.But Bowie's music is on display as well. One of the show's highlights is a mashup of David Bowie songs, created by his longtime producer and collaborator, Tony Visconti.It’s a 15 minute musical tour of Bowie’s career that showcases the incredible diversity o...more

  • One tall woman

    Apr 26 2018

    Kurt Andersen speaks with Laurie Metcalf, the actor who is striking gold everywhere: she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the mother in “Lady Bird,” stars in the Broadway play “Three Tall Women,” and, with most of the rest of the original cast, has returned to the reboot of “Roseanne” on ABC. Wes Montgomery is a legend of jazz guitar, and much of that notoriety first came from a 1960 album, “The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery.” Somewhere between theater and installation art, ...more

  • American Tricons

    Apr 19 2018

    Three stories from the American Icons series. How “Amazing Grace,” a song written by a slave trader, came to be a civil rights anthem. Plus, a novel that featured “Amazing Grace” and helped popularize it, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book helped promote the abolitionist cause, yet the term “Uncle Tom” became a pejorative for people who betray their race. And far from glorifying small-town life, Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” shocked readers when it came out in 1915 an...more

  • The Sound of One Claw Slashing (SNIKT!)

    Apr 17 2018

    Now that it’s conquered the cineplex and Netflix, Marvel is going after your earbuds — with its first scripted podcast,Wolverine: The Long Night. It tells the story of Special Agents Pierce and Marshall, who arrive in a small Alaskan fishing town to investigate a series of mysterious murders and a suspicious loner living in the woods. Producers Brendan Baker and Chloe Prasinos reveal the high-tech and low-tech ways they made this sound-rich audio drama.For now, Wolverine: The Long Night is only ...more

  • A void: The Noid

    Apr 12 2018

    An oral history of The Noid. It was a lighthearted Domino’s campaign, with claymation by the same designers who made the California Raisins — but it drove one man over the edge. Plus, Kurt Andersen talks with TV and magazine writer Nell Scovell about her memoir, “Just the Funny Parts.” And Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie talks to Kurt about how, after his wife Geneviève Castrée died, he couldn’t write songs about anything else, and he performs a couple in our studio.Learn more about your ad choices....more

  • Poets who know it

    Apr 05 2018

    To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’re featuring some of our favorite American practitioners. Tracy K. Smith shares some of her surprising sources of poetic inspiration: David Bowie and the Hubble Space Telescope. And she chooses the winners to our listener poetry competition. Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” gets the American Icons treatment. And Kurt Andersen talks to award-winning poet and “Sexiest Man Alive” Terrance Hayes about his 2015 book, “How to Be Drawn.” Learn more about your...more

  • A Room of Nell Scovell’s Own

    Apr 03 2018

    You might not have heard of Nell Scovell, but you’ve definitely seen her work: she’s written for The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown and co-wrote the 2013 blockbuster book Lean In with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.Her new memoir, Just the Funny Parts, reveals what it was like to break into the male-dominated TV industry. Nell talks to Kurt Andersen about crafting a classic episode of The Simpsons, writing jokes for Barack Obama and reminisces about her...more

  • What Laurie Anderson lost

    Mar 29 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with performer and artist Laurie Anderson about her long career and her new book, “All the Things I Lost in the Flood,” and new album, “Landfall.” Jess Thom used to be kind of in denial about having Tourette syndrome, but then she decided to turn her tics into inspiration for artists. And an oral history of the the Belly Room, which the Comedy Store opened in the 1970s so female comics like Sandra Bernhard could have a room of their own.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...more

  • The art of noise

    Mar 22 2018

    A show about how sounds from household items and nature get turned into something else. First Kurt Andersen talks with Ben Burtt, the legendary sound designer who came up with the iconic noises in “Star Wars,” “WALL-E” and more. Then Kurt gets a lesson on the theremin from a master of this out-there instrument, Pamelia Stickney. Many people find the cacophony that comes from old steam radiators to be aggravating, but the writer Henry Alford hears music in his, and sets to work to make a symphony...more

  • When The Belly Room Grew — and Flopped — for Female Comics

    Mar 20 2018

    In 1978, there were more female comedians in LA than ever before, and many of them were performing at the Comedy Store. But that didn’t mean they were treated fairly, or even given much of a chance to perform.The Comedy Store’s owner, Mitzi Shore, tried to rectify that with an experiment — a room dedicated only to female performers. It was a move that was warmly welcomed by some comedians, and treated with a lot of skepticism by others. It was a great place to develop a unique style that might n...more

  • Babe I’m leaving

    Mar 15 2018

    Just as art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz was about to publish a book about the work of black artists she has championed, she died suddenly, and Kurt hears from some people who will miss her the most. Writer Richard Klin admits his love for one of the more schmaltzy ballads of the ’70s, “Babe” by Styx. Kevin Hall has a rare psychological condition known as the “Truman Show” disorder where he has delusions that he’s starring in a reality show, and he joins Kurt along with journalist Mary Pilon, ...more

  • Late bloomers

    Mar 08 2018

    Some of our favorite artists who hit their stride when the blush of youth was long gone. Hilton Als talks with Toni Morrison, who didn’t write her first novel until she was 39. David Chase was a writer and producer for television for decades, most famously as the creator of “The Sopranos,” but he didn’t fulfill his real ambition, to be a filmmaker, until he was in his 60s. Today Philip Glass is one of the best known living composers, but he tells Kurt Andersen how, until he was nearly 40, he was...more

  • The Brothers Weisberg on The Americans and Trumpcast

    Mar 06 2018

    In 2013, novelist and former CIA officer Joe Weisberg created the FX TV series The Americans. It’s about a pair of Russian spies living as Americans in Washington D.C. Three years later, Joe Weisberg’s older brother, Slate’s editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, created the podcast Trumpcast.At first, it seemed like the creative pursuits of the Weisberg brothers had little to do with each other... until intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential ele...more

  • The shape of Oscar

    Mar 01 2018

    Kurt Anderson talks with Doug Jones, the go-to guy to play creatures and monsters in Hollywood, about his performance in “The Shape of Water.” When it comes to political acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards, it’s a fine line between awe-inspiring and awe-ful, so we check in with some pros, including Barack Obama’s speechwriter, about how to nail them. Why Aisha Harris thinks the Oscars should add a new category: Ensemble Cast. And finally, Kurt Andersen makes a case for narrowing the Best P...more

  • American Icons: The Lincoln Memorial

    Feb 22 2018

    Kurt Andersen looks into how the Lincoln Memorial became an American Icon. Sarah Vowell discusses the battle over Lincoln's memory, which lasted for three generations. Dorothy Height, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, recalls witnessing Marian Anderson's historic concert there in 1939, and hearing Martin Luther King Jr. declare "I have a dream" in 1963. And a former White House aide sets the record straight on Richard Nixon's infamous 4 a.m. trip to the Lincoln Memorial, where he met with ...more

  • Wipe your nose!

    Feb 15 2018

    Irish actress Denise Gough tells Kurt about her lean years before her two big breakout roles in London — both of which came to New York. A listener named Sam Cook left the church, but his love of Christian rock remains. In 1963, “The First Family” broke new ground for comedy by openly mocking — and impersonating — a sitting president. And finally Kurt talks with Melissa Spitz, who took to Instagram to document — and better understand  — her mentally ill mother.Learn more about your ad choic...more

  • Learning to love Comic Sans

    Feb 08 2018

    Kurt talks with Ruth Carter, the costume designer who recreated historically accurate clothing for period pictures like “Malcolm X,” “Selma,” and “The Butler,” but for “Black Panther” came up with a bold look for the future. Randy Levin is one of those Billy Joel obsessives who even has recordings of Joel when he played in a psychedelic rock band in the 1960s, but after Levin had kids, he heard one familiar Joel song in a new — and profound — way. Comic Sans is the most hated font, hands down, b...more

  • Papa was a rolling stone

    Feb 01 2018

    The musical children of musical stars. Sean Lennon on growing up with John and Yoko. Rosanne Cash’s surprising musical guilty pleasure. Joshua Redman on his fellow saxophone player — and father — Dewey Redman. And a performance from Rufus Wainwright. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Will Super Bowl Ads lay off bikini babes for #MeToo?

    Jan 30 2018

    Even in this increasingly fragmented media age, the Super Bowl is one of those rare television events that really captures the country. Nearly one in three Americans -- more than 100 million -- tunes into the game. And while the NFL viewership in past eras has been overwhelmingly male, that’s no longer true: for the Super Bowl, nearly half of television viewers are women. And yet, commercials that air during the Super Bowl are infamous for their retrograde, sexist portrayals of women. But i...more

  • Fantastic women

    Jan 25 2018

    Daniela Vega, who stars in the Oscar-nominated film from Chile, “A Fantastic Woman,” tells Kurt about her own experiences as a transgender woman that she brought to the role. How the artist Linden Frederick got writers including Dennis Lehane and Elizabeth Strout to write short stories based on his paintings. A grieving widow finds comfort in the least likely of places: the cheesy movie, “Practical Magic.” And finally Kurt talks with biographer Walter Isaacson, who says that even though Leonardo...more

  • I killed Captain Kirk

    Jan 18 2018

    Looking back on the half-century-long legacy of Star Trek, including six television series and 13 feature films. First, Slate cultural critic Marissa Martinelli tells Kurt  about the new TV show, “Star Trek: Discovery.” Writer and producer Ronald D. Moore reveals his childhood fascination with Star Trek and his later experiences as a writer for the show. Linguist Arika Okrent explains the fictional Klingon language. Finally, we hear about how the make-believe products on the show inspired i...more

  • Breaker 1-9

    Jan 11 2018

    How the oil crisis of the 1970s inspired C.W. McCall's novelty trucker hit "Convoy," launching a national CB radio craze. Theater designer Joshua Dachs tells Kurt how stages have evolved over the centuries -- and why so many productions are now drawn to unconventional spaces. And June Thomas looks at how sexual harassment is depicted on television.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Staff picks, 2017 (Volume 2)

    Jan 04 2018

    Kurt Andersen talks with Stevie Salas, whose documentary, “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” highlights rockers like Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, and Robbie Robertson.  Bestselling Young Adult author Angie Thomas on how the late TLC performer Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes spoke to her at a very troubling point in her life. And the real story by “Naked Came the Stranger,” the 1969 bodice-ripper which turned out to be a hoax by a bunch of bemused newspaper journalists.Learn more ...more

  • Staff picks, 2017 (Volume 1)

    Dec 28 2017

    Celebrating a year that couldn’t end quickly enough with some of our favorite segments. Academy Award-winner Thelma Schoonmaker, who has edited every Martin Scorsese movie for the nearly four decades, talks with Kurt about editing Scorsese’s latest film, “Silence,” and some classic scenes she edited in movies including “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas.”  Yewande Omotoso’s joins Kurt to talk about her new novel, “The Woman Next Door,” which explores racial tension in post-apartheid South Africa...more

  • Where is Bobbie Gentry?

    Dec 21 2017

    A theater in Memphis decided to stop showing “Gone with the Wind,” and Aisha Harris, a Slate culture writer and host of the podcast Represent, joins Kurt to talk about what many see as a nostalgia for slavery in the movie. At 50, there are two central questions surrounding the song, “Ode to Billie Joe”: Why did Billie Joe McAllister jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and why, decades ago, did the woman who sang it, Bobbie Gentry, disappear from public view? And finally, Kurt talks to another Omah...more

  • That’s What She Said

    Dec 15 2017

    Amid all the recent allegations of sexual harassment, June Thomas takes a look at how the issue is depicted on TV. “Watching television is something that millions of Americans do every night,” she says, “so storylines about sexual harassment can set a tone for our shared ideas on the subject.” How do the writers of Mad Men, Great News, and The Office tackle the issue and mine it for laughs? Have these depictions evolved since the days of The Mary Tyler Moore Show?Learn more about your ad choices...more

  • So you think you're creative?

    Dec 14 2017

    We're always talking about creativity, but what do we mean? Can we find creativity, can we measure it, can we encourage it? Kurt talks with Gary Marcus, a psychology professor about what science tells us about creativity. A researcher puts jazz musicians into an fMRI machine and has them improvise; an intrepid reporter gets her creativity tested and scored; and a little girl introduces us to her imaginary friends (all of them).(Originally aired: November 23, 2012)Learn more about your ad choices...more

  • Gay theater, then and now.

    Dec 07 2017

    New York Times theater critic Jesse Green and playwright Paul Rudnick join Kurt to discuss groundbreaking gay theater over the past 50 years. How will plays like “Angels in America” and “Torch Song Trilogy,” which are being revived, hold up for today’s audiences, and what’s the future hold for plays about the LBGT community? Plus, Barry Blitt, the illustrator whose work is frequently featured on the cover of The New Yorker, gives Kurt a tour of his work studio -- and some insights into how he cr...more

  • Studio360 | New Yorker Cover Illustrator Barry Blitt

    Dec 01 2017

    Illustrator and political cartoonist Barry Blitt is best known for his New Yorker covers. Over the past three decades, he’s paired his signature ink and watercolors with his dry wit. This past fall he published a beautiful coffee-table book that’s a retrospective of his most memorable work. Blitt invited Studio 360 to meet him at his home in Connecticut—which happens to be the former home of Arthur Miller—for a walk-though of his home studio, creative process, and some of his most iconic il...more

  • American Icons: The Disney Parks

    Nov 30 2017

    Generations of Americans have grown up with Walt Disney shaping their imaginations. In 1955, Disney mixed up some fairy tales, a few historical facts, and a dream of the future to create an alternate universe. Not just a place for fun, but a scale model of a perfect world. “Everything that you could imagine is there,” says one young visitor. “It's like living in a fantasy book.” And not just for kids: one-third of Walt Disney World’s visitors are adults who go without children. Visiting the park...more

  • American Tricon

    Nov 22 2017

    This week, a triple header from the series American Icons, which focuses on works of art that changed the way we think about America.First is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”: his 1850 novel about a woman being shamed for having an affair. Anna Sale produced this Icon segment in 2013, before starting her hit podcast Death, Sex and Money. Just four years later, her interpretation of the classic novel resonates very differently in 2017, as the country grapples with how to define consent and ...more

  • I'm the Boss, Baby

    Nov 16 2017

    Alec Baldwin, who these days may be best known for his depictions of President Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” joins Kurt to discuss how he has played many villains in his career, and their points of view might best be summarized by the words of the “Boss Baby” character he voices: “I poop. They wipe. I’m the boss.” Filmmaker Taika Waititi, who is best known for his low-budget comedies like “Eagle vs. Shark,”  talks about how he managed to inject his dry wit, and knack for improvisation int...more

  • The Agonies of Small Talk

    Nov 09 2017

    Sitting down with some of the smartypants whom the MacArthur Foundation just awarded its genius grants. Jesmyn Ward began writing about rural African American life after the horrors of Katrina and the loss of her brother. The playwright Annie Baker’s characters try desperately to connect with one another, but get bogged down by small talk. And Taylor Mac goes where no drag performer—or any performer—has gone before: he produced a 24-hour review of the entire history of American pop music, and pl...more

  • Tracey Ullman is such a character

    Nov 02 2017

    Tracey Ullman is back, this time on HBO, and she talks with Kurt about her new series and her hilarious impersonations of celebrities including Judi Dench and Angela Merkel. An artist finds a use for Hillary Clinton’s unused victory confetti. And Author and YouTube phenom John Green talks about his new book “Turtles All The Way Down,” and how he treats mental health in his life -- and in his work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Dance Studio 360

    Oct 26 2017

    Twyla Tharp is the most celebrated American choreographer working today, but that doesn’t mean she’d hoity-toity, and she talks with Kurt about choreographing to such accessible music at the Beach Boys, Billie Joel and Fran Sinatra. How Yillah Natalie decided to become a belly dancer after seeing the video for U2’s “Mysterious Ways.” A reporter has an illuminating – and awkward – talk with her parents about how they became obsessed with the sexiest of dances, the tango.  A scientist takes u...more

  • Sugar Mouth

    Oct 19 2017

    Artists Agnès Varda and JR were born 55 years apart but have so much in common, and made a lovely film, “Faces Places.” Have horror movies jump scares, like when the axe-wielding maniac lurches out of the bushes, gone from a reliable technique to a hackneyed cliché? When he was an adolescent, his male friends’ favorite movies were reliable dude-fare like “Rocky” and “Jurassic Park,” but Hari Kondabolu fell in love with the romantic weepie, “Untamed Heart.” Why you should prescribe to the slow ar...more

  • American Icons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    Oct 12 2017

    This is the story of America’s fight against authority.Ken Kesey had worked in a mental hospital, but his first novel was really a parable of what happens when you stand up to the Man—a counterculture fable that doesn’t end well. Despite his far-reaching influence, Kesey was shut out by filmmakers who turned the story into an Oscar-sweeping phenomenon. “Cuckoo’s Nest” changed how many people thought about mental illness and institutions. Sherman Alexie debunks the myth of the silent Indian; we v...more

  • Michael Chabon Sings!

    Oct 06 2017

    Danny Strong joins Kurt to talk about how he began his career as an actor, evolved into as a writer of movies like “Game Change,” and just made his directorial debut with “Rebel in the Rye,” which is about the circumstances under which J.D. Salinger wrote “The Catcher in the Rye.” The stunning new animated film, “Loving Vincent,” is a biopic of Van Gogh meticulously painted to appear as if Van Gogh paintings had come to life. Michael Chabon recalls his college years in Pittsburgh, when a post-pu...more

  • Does Laughter Yoga Work?

    Sep 28 2017

    Is the old cliché true — is laughter the best medicine? Kurt Andersen and Mary Harris, a health reporter at WNYC, go to a laughter yoga class to find out. Also, we hear from a neuroscientist who studies laughter and moonlights as a standup comedian. Comic Chris Gethard explains why he resisted getting help for his depression out of fear of losing his humorous edge — and how getting treatment transformed his career. And we find out when medical humor is — and is not — just what the doctor ordered...more

  • Harvard’s Full of Morons

    Sep 21 2017

    Steven Spielberg doesn’t like to talk about filmmaking much, but he talked (and talked, and talked) to documentary filmmakerSusan Lacy, who sits down with Kurt Andersen to discuss her definitive portrait of the master. Any classical musician will tell you the worst place to hear a concert is not from the nosebleed seats – it’s from the stage. And BoJack Horseman” creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg tell Kurt about how cartoon characters can get away with saying particularly despicable things, and why H...more

  • Learning to Love “Fuller House”

    Sep 14 2017

    John McPhee is the godfather of a certain kind of long-form creative non-fiction, and over the past half-century, he’s written over 100 articles for The New Yorker. He sits down with Kurt to talk about his new book, which is part memoir, part tutorial for writers. Then B.J. Novak, the writer and actor who starred on the critically acclaimed “The Office,” makes a rousing defense of a show that has been widely panned: “Fuller House.” A Swedish photorealist painter dupes his government, which doesn...more

  • Back to School Special

    Sep 07 2017

    School is back in session, so Studio 360 is hitting the books. Kurt calls up his favorite teacher from high school to compare notes. The novelist Nicholson Baker signs up to be a substitute teacher. And comedian Aparna Nancherla reveals the shocking secret that destroyed her career in science before it started. (Originally aired September 1, 2016) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Casting ‘Moonlight’

    Aug 31 2017

    Some of our favorite recent stories about movies. Kurt talks with Jenny Slate about how her movie career blossomed long after her inglorious stint on Saturday Night Live. Yesi Ramirez breaks down how she cast the Best Picture winner, Moonlight. A film critic defends – and praises! – the movie film nerds love to hate: The Godfather: Part III. And the film composer who’s scored nearly all of the Coen Brothers’ films, Carter Burwell, fills Kurt in on some terms of his trade. Learn more about y...more

  • Sing your “I want” song

    Aug 24 2017

    Our favorite recent segments about the stage. Kurt talks with Frank Langella about his screen and stage career since his breakout role as Dracula in the 1970s. A budding soprano describes her unusual day job: determining exactly when subtitles should appear during opera performances. And Jack Viertel, a Broadway legend, breaks down the components of a Broadway musical. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Say it loud: “moist”

    Aug 17 2017

    Some of our favorite recent stories about books and the people who make them. Kurt talks with Claudia Rankine about capturing what racism really feels like in “Citizen: An American Lyric,” and to Helen Oyeyemi about her very un-Disney re-imagining of Snow White. The writer Sadie Stein defends the word “moist” against all those who get the heebie-jeebies saying it. And the novelists Richard Russo and Jenny Boylan talk about the big plot turns in their books – and in their friendship. Learn m...more

  • When music punches you in the face.

    Aug 10 2017

    Some of our favorite recent stories about music.What drove Carrie Brownstein to actually punch herself in the face when she was on tour with Sleater-Kinney, the haunting beauty and artistry of the “Twin Peaks” score, and Shamir plays insanely catchy music live in our studio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: Moby-Dick

    Aug 03 2017

    Herman Melville's white whale survived his battle with Captain Ahab only to surface in the works of contemporary filmmakers, painters, playwrights and musicians. Kurt Andersen explores the influence of this American Icon with the help of Ray Bradbury, Tony Kushner, Laurie Anderson and Frank Stella. Actor Edward Herrmann is our voice of Ishmael and Mark Price narrates David Ives's short play Moby-Dude.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius

    Aug 01 2017

    The astounding mad scientist life of Nikola Tesla. Just who was this pioneer of radio, radar, and wireless communication? We discover his legacy in the work of today’s scientists and artists. Samantha Hunt’s novel The Invention of Everything Else is a fictional portrait of Tesla. Monologist Mike Daisey tells us how Tesla X-rayed Mark Twain’s head. And across the country, garage inventors toil in obscurity at the next breakthrough that will change the world.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...more

  • Ready to “Rumble”

    Jul 27 2017

    How many f-bombs and gun shots determine a movie’s rating? Howard Fridkin reveals the process of rating movies. Plus, how Native Americans shaped rock and roll history, and a live performance by NPR Tiny Desk Contest winners Tank and the Bangas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: Native Son

    Jul 20 2017

    This is the novel about racism that America couldn't ignore.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Off Script

    Jul 13 2017

    This week, Kurt goes through the looking glass into the world of conspiracy thrillers. Plus, Matt Walsh breaks down how he improvises comedy on the set of “Veep.” And Jimmy Iovine explains how he sold music in the ever-shifting music industry. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: The Great Gatsby

    Jul 06 2017

    Episodes of false identity, living large, and murder in the suburbs add up to the great American novel.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Bee is for Blondie

    Jun 29 2017

    Should arts organizations accept money from the Koch brothers? Art critic Philip Kennicott weighs in. Plus, Oscar-winning director Errol Morris talks about interviewing Elsa Dorfman and Donald Trump. And Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein share music that inspired their new album. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Tupac and Art Rock

    Jun 22 2017

    This week, an episode about groundbreaking pop music: The music that preceded and followed Radiohead’s landmark album, “OK Computer.” Plus, an exploration of how the life of Tupac Shakur was mythologized — even by Tupac himself. And gospel punk band Algiers plays live in the studio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Across the Multiverse

    Jun 15 2017

    Universe not big enough for you? There’s always the multiverse — many universes, scattered through time and space. In one world, you might drive a bus; in another, you might be a Formula One racer. If the idea sounds familiar, that could be because it has obsessed science-fiction and comic-book writers for decades. But artists and writers aren't the only ones fascinated by multiples — some physicists think the multiverse could be very real.(Originally aired December 10, 2015)Learn more about you...more

  • Homecoming Attractions

    Jun 08 2017

    This week, Kurt talks with “Daily Show” Correspondent Hasan Minhaj about surviving the Trump Administration. Plus, the story behind one of the great literary hoaxes of the century: “Naked Came the Stranger.” And statistician Ben Blatt uses data analysis on classic novels and discovers some surprising patterns.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: I Love Lucy

    Jun 01 2017

    This is where television invented itself.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Manchester, United

    May 25 2017

    This week, a conversation with music journalist Eve Barlow about the terror attack in Manchester and the city’s rich musical history. Plus, “Master of None” co-creator Alan Yang reveals behind-the-scenes stories from the Netflix series, and an expert on con artists dissects America’s fascination with flim-flam men.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Whoa, Canada

    May 18 2017

    This week, as President Trump threatens Canada, we salute our neighbors to the north. Kurt gets his Canadian knowledge tested, k.d. lang talks about her Canuck roots, and Mac DeMarco plays live. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Twin Peek

    May 11 2017

    This week, we head back to “Twin Peaks.” “Fargo” showrunner Noah Hawley talks about the impact of David Lynch’s cult TV show. Plus, what it was like growing up where the show was filmed, and the composers behind “X-Files” and “Breaking Bad” discuss the brilliance -- and influence -- of the show’s soundtrack. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: Buffalo Bill

    May 04 2017

    This was the American spectacle that colonized our dreams.He was the most famous American in the world — a showman and spin artist who parlayed a buffalo-hunting gig into an entertainment empire. William F. Cody’s stage show presented a new creation myth for America, bringing cowboys, Indians, settlers, and sharpshooters to audiences who had only read about the West in dime novels. He offered Indians a life off the reservation — reenacting their own defeats. “Deadwood” producer David Milch expla...more

  • Handmaid in America

    Apr 27 2017

    This week, why Margaret Atwood dedicated “The Handmaid’s Tale” to a woman known as Half-Hanged Mary. Plus, the Kinks’ Ray Davies shares his playlist of his favorite American songs, and the story behind that album with George Carlin’s classic bit, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Fan Overboard!

    Apr 20 2017

    This week, Studio 360 gets obsessed about fandom: a look inside the world of black cosplayers at ComicCon, Kurt visits a Japanese pop culture paradise, and an atheist proselytizes “Jesus Christ Superstar.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • How Sweet the Sound

    Apr 13 2017

    How a church hymn became an American anthem: the surprising and complicated story behind “Amazing Grace.” Plus, a conversation with novelist Yewande Omotoso about her book, “The Woman Next Door.” And Aimee Mann reveals her biggest influences and performs live in the studio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: Superman

    Apr 06 2017

    Disguised as a mild-mannered reporter, Kurt Andersen explores the history of Superman with cartoonists Jules Feiffer and Art Spiegelman, director Bryan Singer, novelists Michael Chabon and Howard Jacobson, and the 1978 Lois Lane, Margot Kidder. Is this strange visitor from the planet Krypton derivative of Jewish mythology? Can one superhero wield ultimate power for a moral good? And what’s up with the blue tights?(Originally aired July 6, 2006)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm...more

  • “Shaft” and Present

    Mar 30 2017

    This week, the story of “Shaft.” Plus, learn the lingo in a TV writers’ room with “Veep” showrunner David Mandel. And Kurt talks to author Osama Alomar about his collection of very short fiction, “The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Pet Projects

    Mar 23 2017

    This week, Kurt heads to a dog park and learns how to take the perfect pet portrait. Plus, the story behind “Share A Smile Becky,” Mattel’s attempt at creating a Barbie doll that used a wheelchair. And Carter Burwell, who scored the music for films by directors including Sidney Lumet and the Coen Brothers, defines the lexicon of film composers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Magnetic Feels

    Mar 16 2017

    This week, Kurt talks to comedians Kate Berlant and John Early about their absurdist new series, “555.” Plus, how filmmaker Garry Fraser went from being a heroin addict in Scotland to working on “T2: Trainspotting” — a movie about heroin addicts in Scotland. And Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields plays live in our studio.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: Monticello

    Mar 09 2017

    The home of America’s aspirations and deepest contradictions.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Getting into 'Get Out'

    Mar 02 2017

    This week, Kurt talks to writer/director Jordan Peele about his new horror film “Get Out.” Plus, how Leonard Bernstein brought classical music from the concert hall to the living room. And Afropop band Sinkane performs live in our studio.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Political Art

    Feb 23 2017

    This week, a look at artists — from the left to the right — getting political.  Conservative painter Jon McNaughton talks about creating art in the era of the Trump administration. Plus, the Black Panthers' brief foray into the music business. And Philip Roth talks to Kurt about his eerily timely novel "The Plot Against America." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Oscar Preview

    Feb 16 2017

    This week, we preview the Academy Awards. The casting director of “Moonlight” talks about the complicated process of finding the right actors for three different time periods. Plus, “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle guides Kurt through the classic Hollywood musicals that inspired his film. And the director of the Oscar-nominated “The Red Turtle” talks about making an animated Studio Ghibli movie unlike any other.    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adc...more

  • Love is on the Air

    Feb 09 2017

    Where do you turn when you’re heartbroken in the dead of night? Delilah, of course — her radio call-in show pairs romantic advice with the perfect song. Plus, we discover the surprisingly sweet couple behind one of history’s naughtiest gag gifts: edible underwear. And Canadian songwriter Basia Bulat used a broken heart to propel her from subdued folk to floor-stomping pop.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Here’s Looking at You

    Feb 02 2017

    This week, Kurt talks to former NEA chairman Dana Gioia about how the Trump Administration may target federally-funded art. Plus, screenwriter Robert D. Siegel reveals how a real-life story becomes a Hollywood movie. And Karina Longworth and Noah Isenberg take a look back at the legacy of “Casablanca.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Scene and the Unseen

    Jan 26 2017

    This week, a conversation with Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, the story behind Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic moment, and a New York Times critic picks the timeliest show on TV.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • American Icons: The Wizard of Oz

    Jan 19 2017

    This is America’s dreamland.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Marilyn Monroe’s Long-Lost Skirt Scene

    Jan 16 2017

    Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic moment — standing over a subway grate as her white dress billows up — was originally filmed in Manhattan in 1954. But a crowd of onlookers forced the producers to reshoot the scene in a Hollywood sound stage, and footage from that night was thought to be lost forever. Until now. Bonnie Siegler, a graphic designer in New York, tells Kurt how she discovered the film — hidden in her grandfather’s house for over 60 years — that captured the moment that became synonymous ...more

  • POTUS as Tastemaker

    Jan 12 2017

    Our inauguration special: A review of Barack Obama's arts legacy, how fashion goes from inside the beltway to the runway, and "Game Change" co-author John Heilemann talks about the cultural tastes of Donald Trump.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • How to Remember

    Jan 05 2017

    This week, Kurt talks to Adam Driver, an architect tries to build a museum in Iraq, how Sly and the Family Stone created a pop music masterpiece, and Taylor Mac does a decade-by-decade revue of American pop.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Kurt's Favorite Conversation of 2016

    Dec 31 2016

    Jack Viertel is a human encyclopedia of musical theater. He’s the producer of hit Broadway shows like “Hairspray,” “Kinky Boots,” and “The Producers.” And he’s also the artistic director of Encores, a New York series that resurrects vintage musicals. Viertel’s book “The Secret Life of the American Musical—How Broadway Shows are Built,” reveals the essential elements of a musical.  This spring, he joined Kurt in the studio to give us all a master class in the genre. (Originally aired April 21,...more

  • Designing Life

    Dec 29 2016

    From "Semi-Living Dolls" to glowing florescent illustrations, artists are using the tools of synthetic biology to grow their own materials and create works of art that are, essentially, alive. It’s one thing to wag our fingers at big scientific institutions for "playing God," but isn't it uncool to tell artists they shouldn't do something, even if it creeps us out?(Originally aired May 28, 2015)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Eerie Familiarity of "Man in the High Castle"

    Dec 26 2016

    The Man in the High Castle, the Emmy Award winning TV series, imagines a world in which the Nazi’s won WWII. Set in the 1960s, the show blends actual pop cultural imagery and artifacts with fictional interpretations of an alternative ending to the war. When its first season debuted, the show’s ad campaign in New York City subways hit a little too close to home. And the show’s second season, which dropped last week, is resonating in a similar way, although this time not so intentionally, just as...more

  • Get a Clue

    Dec 22 2016

    This week, Kurt creates a crossword with a New York Times puzzle-maker, a neuroscientist explains why so many people share the same false memory, and a theater company brings August Wilson back to his boyhood home.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Human Intelligence: A Holiday Tale

    Dec 19 2016

    Kurt Andersen’s version of a Christmas story doesn’t have your typical talking snowman or mistletoe. Instead, this holiday tale involves extraterrestrial surveillance and melting polar ice caps. "Human Intelligence," was produced for radio by Jonathan Mitchell, and stars Melanie Hoopes, John Ottavino, and Ed Herbstman. The unabridged version was published in "Stories: All New Tales," an anthology edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoi...more

  • Close Encounters

    Dec 15 2016

    This week, a stereophonic odyssey into the Amazon, the otherworldly nature of octopuses, and why a theater critic thinks Shakespeare is much ado about nothing.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas

    Dec 12 2016

    Nothing takes the edge off the holidays quite like the soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi. The jazz musician and composer always wanted to write a standard. And since the “Peanuts” holiday special first aired in 1965, its score has become one of the most recognizable jazz recordings of all time. In 2012 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was chosen for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Its story is told by Jean Schulz, the widow of “Peanuts”...more

  • Way to Go, Einstein

    Dec 08 2016

    This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity: how Einstein upended the way we see space and time, his effect on pop culture, and how one of his most preposterous ideas was ultimately proven right. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • It’s Only Post-Natural

    Dec 05 2016

    If you take a trip to your local natural history museum, you’ll likely discover the story of our planet told through vast collections of species, vibrant dioramas and exhibits on the evolution of life on earth. But historically, these institutions have done a poor job of showing where humans have influenced “the natural world.”  Some museums include the story of human impact on the environment — endangered and extinct species on display remind us of the dangers of hunting and deforestation — but...more

  • And Don’t Call Me Shirley

    Dec 01 2016

    An hour about spoofs, parodies, and lampoonery. Mel Brooks and David Zucker talk about the art of mocking movies. Then, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost deconstruct action flicks. And a live, unplugged performance by "Weird Al" Yankovic.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Sharon Jones's Soul Revival

    Nov 28 2016

    Sharon Jones burst onto the music scene about 10 years ago — she was backed by The Dap-Kings, a straight-out-of-the-1960s funk band with a fantastic horn section.  And at just 5 feet tall, Sharon had all of the funk and spark of James Brown. The band was made up of young hipsters, and while Jones was decades their senior, she’d dance circles around them onstage. She’d lead church choirs and had a day job as a prison guard, before finally breaking into the music business. Her swift rise was cut s...more

  • All Shakespeare All the Time

    Nov 24 2016

    On the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, we look at the ways his work continues to change and adapt. In the 19th century, Shakespeare’s work got caught up in minstrel shows — and African-American actors are still struggling to claim the Bard as their own. Also, we find out how a father-son team is changing the way Shakespeare sounds by bringing back his original pronunciation. And we go inside the pioneering immersive theater experience “Sleep No More,” which might be the longest...more

  • Remembering Ultra-American Musician Leon Russell

    Nov 21 2016

    Leon Russell passed away last week — he was 74. During the 1970s, he forged a musical career unlike almost anyone else’s before or since: an ultra-American mix of country, blues, gospel, and rock n’ roll, collaborating with musicians from all those genres. Kurt spoke with Russell in the summer of 2015 when a 40-year-old documentary about Russell’s musical career was finally released. Director Les Blank filmed Russell at the height of his stardom in the 70s, but Russell held the release of the f...more

  • Y’all, Youse, or Yinz?

    Nov 17 2016

    On this week’s show, novelist Brit Bennett reads from her debut novel, “The Mothers.” Plus, Josh Katz gives us a tour of American regionalisms. And Leonor Caraballo and Abou Farman create art in the face of the cancer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • DJ Shadow’s Record-Breaking Album

    Nov 14 2016

    Twenty years ago this week, DJ Shadow set a Guinness World Record for creating an album made up entirely of samples, many of them from LPs he rescued from the 50-cent bin. But “Endtroducing” is also musically and compositionally inventive, and it caught the attention of the hip-hop world. DJ Shadow has moved on, but some of his fans (including Derek John) still haven't gotten over it.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • This Land is Trump's Land

    Nov 10 2016

    This week: How a former reality TV star was elected president. Then, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith writes a poem inspired by a Baton Rouge protester. And we explore the creation of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Live from New York, It’s Election Night!

    Nov 07 2016

    Nobody defined the satirical style of “Saturday Night Live” more than Jim Downey. He wrote for the show for over 33 seasons and was SNL’s head writer for 10 years. Downey gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how SNL crafted political sketches throughout the years — including dealing with reluctant politicians, his favorite jokes that were too risqué for the air, and how cast members like Daryl Hammond developed their pitch-perfect impressions.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/...more

  • Eugenia Cheng, Guilty Pleasures & Jacob Collier

    Nov 03 2016

    On this week’s show, Eugenia Cheng whips up a delicious math lesson for Kurt. Plus, writer Sadie Stein defends one of the most detested words in the English language. Then, an art historian and a scientist explore the connection between bird plumage and air pollution. And Jacob Collier plays live with an instrument built by an MIT engineer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Spooky Scary Studio 360: How to Make Your Skeleton Scary

    Oct 31 2016

    Happy Halloween!Jack Handey, thinker of Deep Thoughts, takes on the ultimate holiday question: If a skeleton’s not scary, what’s the point of having one? He offers a few tips on how to make your skeleton live up to its reputation so you’re not burying just another ho-hum pile of bones.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices