Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen


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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.

Episode Date
Extra: New York Icons: The Brill Building
For a few years in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the heart of the music industry was an 11-story structure in midtown Manhattan: The Brill Building. There, and at the nearby 1650 Broadway, a group of very young songwriters including Carole King, Ellie Greenwich, and Cynthia Weil crafted their own take on rock and roll that was heavily influenced by their New York City setting. They churned out hit after hit for artists like The Shirelles, The Crystals, and Little Eva. But when the British Invasion hit in the mid-1960s, the Brill Building songwriters’ moment was over almost as soon as it began. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 10, 2019
‘The Talented Mr. Ripley,’ perfumer Tanwi Nandini Islam, and say “moist,” everybody!
Our latest American Icons feature explores Patricia Highsmith’s series that began with “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and how Tom Ripley fits into an American tradition of protagonists struggling with identity and morality. Kurt Andersen visits perfumer Tanwi Nandini Islam as she concocts a fragrance based on Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” And a favorite from our Guilty Pleasures series: Writer Sadie Stein on the word that so many find icky but that she really likes: “moist.” American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 05, 2019
Extra From ‘Aria Code’: The shattered illusions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
On this Studio 360 extra, we’re sharing a podcast called “Aria Code.” Produced by WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera, it features singers and opera observers revealing the magic of a single song from an opera, followed by the aria uninterrupted. In this episode, host Rhiannon Giddens and her guests explore the power of hope in Puccini's tragic “Madama Butterfly,” as well as in a real-world Butterfly story. Then, you'll hear Ana María Martínez sing the complete “Un bel dì vedremo” aria onstage at the Metropolitan Opera. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 03, 2019
Jennifer Reeder, ‘Naked Came the Stranger’ and ‘Love Actually’
Kurt Andersen talks with director Jennifer Reeder about her path from making short arthouse films in the 1990s to her new film, “Knives and Skin.” Producer Sam Kim has the story of erotic potboiler “Naked Came the Stranger,” which climbed The New York Times bestseller list in 1969 but, it turns out, was meant to be a parody of the very bodice-rippers it was outselling. And Richard Curtis’ 2003 movie “Love Actually” is much parodied for its cheesy gimmicks and accelerated marriage proposals, but screenwriter Oliver Butcher makes a case for why it is actually a deft work of screenwriting and direction. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 28, 2019
Extra: The Symphonic Side of Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis is a jazz icon — a renowned trumpet player and composer, he is also the music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. But since the very beginning, classical music has been a part of his musical makeup. Marsalis tells Kurt Andersen about how a chance encounter on a New Orleans streetcar began his love of classical music and guides us through the composition of his “Swing Symphony.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 26, 2019
‘My Ántonia,’ Lynda Barry and Roger Deakins
Cartoonist Lynda Barry is famous for drawing the darkly funny strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” that appeared in alternative newsweeklies for three decades, but for the latest installment in our Guilty Pleasure series, she makes a case for why she loves perhaps the most mainstream and most mocked comic of all: “The Family Circus.” Our latest American Icon installment is about “My Ántonia” by Willa Cather, and why that novel — and author — have never really gotten their due. And Kurt Andersen talks with Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins about working on so many Coen brothers films, why he still operates the camera himself and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 21, 2019
Extra: New York Icons: West Side Story
West Side Story, the tragic musical about star-crossed lovers from two rival gangs, was a hit on Broadway in the 1950s and then exploded across the country when it came to the silver screen. At the time, New York City’s demographics and landscape were rapidly changing, and choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, author Arthur Laurents, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim wanted an updated Romeo and Juliet that wrestled with what that meant. Who could belong in this new America? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 20, 2019
New York Icons: ‘The Bell Jar’ & ‘Siembra’
Studio 360’s American Icon series has explored dozens of influential works of art and entertainment that have shaped who we are as Americans. Now we turn to our hometown of New York for a new batch of Icons stories about works of art that were born in the city and impacted the lives of people everywhere. This hour: the 1963 book “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, and the 1978 salsa album “Siembra” by Ruben Blades and Willie Colón. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 14, 2019
Extra: Guilty Pleasure: Comic Sans
The childlike, cartoonish typeface Comic Sans is the most hated font in the world. Twenty-five years after its release, it's become notorious for showing up in seemingly inappropriate contexts, from office memos to newspapers and government documents. But librarian and technology educator Jessamyn West argues that hating on Comic Sans is elitist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 12, 2019
Mark Morris, Carmen Maria Machado and ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’
Kurt Andersen talks with the choreographer Mark Morris about how music has always been central to his work. The author Carmen Maria Machado reveals how an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had the unlikely effect of helping her write her new book about domestic abuse. And how the cartoon "Rocky and Bullwinkle" was strangely prescient about the Cold War. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 07, 2019
Why Should Tenors Have All the Fun?
Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is a rising opera star, performing on some of the world’s most venerable classical music stages. In concert halls from London to New York, Barton not only flaunts her velvety rich tone, but also her commitment to social justice as an openly queer performer. Now, Barton and pianist Kathleen Kelly have put together a recital program that celebrates women, currently on tour. The pair perform three songs from the feminist recital tour live in Studio 360. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 05, 2019
American Icons: The tales of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are so familiar they’ve become part of our cultural wallpaper. A raven croaking “nevermore?” An enemy bricked up in a cellar? A heart beating under the floorboards? These images are the stuff of our collective nightmares, but Poe dreamed them all up first. For better and worse, Poe’s themes and obsessions continue to crop up throughout pop culture. He showed us the dark side of the American dream, and that’s something we can’t unsee. American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 31, 2019
Extra: New York Icons: ‘The Bell Jar’
The Bell Jar is often read as a sort of literary suicide note by poet Sylvia Plath. The autobiographical novel memorably follows her first attempt at taking her own life and her experiences living in a mental institution and undergoing electroshock therapy, but its accounts of weeks spent in New York City preceding the breakdown provide a captivating picture, not just of Plath’s mental state, but of the impossible demands made of women in 1950s. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 29, 2019
Michelle Obama’s portraitist and ‘96 Tears’
Kurt Andersen talks with Amy Sherald, who painted the official Michelle Obama portrait, about her strict religious upbringing, the surreal experience of interviewing with the Obamas and why she’ll only ever paint African Americans. Our latest American Icons feature: “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, and how the band of Mexican American teens managed to top the charts and help fuel the growing Latin influence on pop music in the 1960s. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 24, 2019
Extra: Ranky Tanky: Live in Studio 360
Charleston band Ranky Tanky draws on the musical traditions of the Gullah culture from the Lowcountry region of the Southeastern U.S. They perform live in Studio 360 and then break the music down into its essential components, explaining what exactly makes this “Gullah” and how that cultural heritage has informed American jazz.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 22, 2019
‘The Searchers’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
Two highlights from our American Icons special series. First, producer Arun Venugopal revisits “The Searchers,” the John Ford film starring John Wayne that is widely regarded as a masterpiece, but which many see as racially problematic in the way that Wayne’s character pursues revenge against the Comanche who killed his family in a raid. Then, producer June Thomas on the unlikely history of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the movie that flopped in theaters when it was released in 1975, only to become an interactive movie experience where audiences shouted back at the screen, brandished water pistols and delighted in the film’s risqué raucousness. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 17, 2019
Extra: This Woman’s Work: ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush
This Woman’s Work is a series of stories from Classic Album Sundays and Studio 360 highlighting classic albums by female artists who have made a lasting impact on music and pop culture. This time we’re looking at the artist who inspired the name of this series: the singer-songwriter, dancer and producer Kate Bush. With its sophisticated arrangements and embrace of technology, her self-produced 1985 album “Hounds of Love” pushed the boundaries of musical structure and personal expression. Classic Albums host Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy discusses Kate Bush's “Hounds of Love” with singer Julia Holter and Outkast’s Big Boi.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 15, 2019
‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and Liz Phair
Our latest Americans Icons segment is about “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Maya Angelou’s first book broke boundaries when it was published 50 years ago and still profoundly resonates with readers today. And Kurt Andersen talks with Liz Phair, the trailblazing indie rocker who’s just published a memoir. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 10, 2019
Antonio Banderas, the Joker’s makeup and ‘I Want You Back’ at 50
Kurt Anderson talks with Antonio Banderas about “Pain and Glory,” where he plays his longtime friend and collaborator –– and the director of this same movie –– Pedro Almodóvar. With the opening of “Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Kurt talks with Rick Baker, the celebrated makeup artist, about how Hollywood has clowned around with the character over the decades. This week marks 50 years since the release of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” a remarkable pop song recorded when Michael Jackson was so young that, in the wake of the latest allegations of molestation against him, even some people who stopped listening to his solo work still enjoy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 03, 2019
Extra: David Byrne and the birth of Talking Heads
David Byrne’s stage show “American Utopia” is heading to Broadway in October. The show will feature songs from his latest album of the same name, as well as some older works from his former band, Talking Heads. This month also marks the 35th anniversary of “Stop Making Sense,” the brilliant Talking Heads’ concert film, made by Jonathan Demme. Kurt Andersen spoke with David Byrne in 2012 about the group’s early years. In an era of punk decadence, Talking Heads created a pop revolution by combining tight, funk-based rhythms, a clean-cut image, and themes of anxiety and social isolation. Kurt brings up the early song “I’m Not in Love,” in which Byrne wonders, “Do people really fall in love?” “I was just asking all the most super-obvious questions,” explains Byrne, who has said that he may have had Asperger’s syndrome as a young person. “Why do humans, people, we do these things? And how does it work?” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 01, 2019
Fred Wilson, Uta Hagen and ‘The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet’
Conceptual artist Fred Wilson has spent much of his career examining how museum collections are chosen and exhibited, so Kurt Andersen meets Wilson at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a chat and a tour. With this year marking the centennial of the birth of Uta Hagen, the actress who also became a revered acting teacher, we hear from her students and colleagues, including F. Murray Abraham, Mercedes Ruehl and David Hyde Pierce. Plus, the story behind the song known as "The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 26, 2019
Guest host Hari Kondabolu with Hannah Gadsby and more!
Stepping in for Kurt Andersen this week, guest host Hari Kondabolu, the stand-up comic, gets the hour started with a conversation with fellow comic Hannah Gadsby. They discuss the success (and blowback) from Gadsby’s Netflix special last year, “Nanette,” her new show that she’s currently touring in the US, and her hilariously surreal encounter with Jennifer Anniston. Then Hari bravely reveals how in the mid-'90s, when all of his buddies were watching action movies, he at 14 was secretly obsessing over a romantic drama, "Untamed Heart." Finally, Hari closes with a conversation with Sophia Chang, who has a new audio-only memoir on Audible about her remarkable career in hip hop and her decades-long friendship with the Wu-Tang Clan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 19, 2019
Extra: New York Icons: ‘Siembra’
Studio 360’s American Icon series has explored dozens of influential works of art and entertainment that have shaped who we are as Americans. Now we turn to our hometown of New York for a new batch of Icons stories about works of art that were born in the city and impacted the lives of people everywhere. This time: the album “Siembra” by Willie Colón and Ruben Blades, which many salsa fanatics thought was doomed when it came out on Fania Records in 1978. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 17, 2019
Guest host Hanif Abdurraqib!
The writer and poet Hanif Abdurraqib fills in for Kurt Andersen. Hanif talks to fellow writer — and fellow proud Midwesterner — Ashley C. Ford about some of her inspirations, including Toni Morrison (who, yes, was also from the Midwest). Then, with the Notorious B.I.G.’s hip hop classic “Ready to Die” turning 25 this week, we hear from one of its producers, Easy Mo Bee, and music writers Cheo Hodari Coker and Sowmya Krishnamurthy, about how the album first landed — and how its impact is still profound. Finally, Hanif talks with Laetitia Tamko, the indie rock innovator and multi-instrumentalist who performs under the stage name Vagabon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 12, 2019
Guest host Maeve Higgins!
Writer and comedian Maeve Higgins fills in as guest host this week, interviewing playwright Michael R. Jackson about his new musical “A Strange Loop” and artist-journalist Molly Crabapple about her illustrations of ISIS-occupied Syria. Plus, the creators and cast of “Felix Starro,” a new musical from the Ma-Yi Theater Company, which is celebrating 30 years of bringing the work of Asian American theater artists to the stage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 05, 2019
Extra: Day Jobs — Unannounced Standardized Patient
Most artists have to lead a sort of double life: holding down a steady job during the day that allows them to do what they love in their free time. Alex Kramer is an actor who lives in Brooklyn, but he moonlights as an “unannounced standardized patient”: someone who goes into hospital clinics undercover to evaluate residents on their performance. Alex says that at the end of the day, working undercover isn’t all that different from acting on screen. “Ultimately, when it boils down to it, all you’re doing is tricking someone.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 03, 2019
‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ continued
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is getting a sequel, “The Testaments,” so it’s a good time to look at what originally influenced Margaret Atwood, and how the book continues to influence others. First, Atwood herself talks about her inspirations for the book — the rise of the Christian right in the 1980s and a woman in New England in the 17th century who was accused of being a witch. Then Ann Dowd, who portrays the character Aunt Lydia on the Hulu adaptation, talks with Kurt Andersen about how she has spent a career making scary characters so real and recognizable. Finally, Louise Erdrich and Megan Hunter talk about how their dystopian novels also explore the significance of pregnancy.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 29, 2019
Shades of noir
When noir haunts and inspires. Portishead’s seminal album “Dummy,” which came out 25 years ago this week, was inspired by the band members’ obsession with mid-century spy movies. Karen Russell was struggling writing her first novel when she saw the classic noir film “The Night of the Hunter.” It helped her pull off the critically acclaimed “Swamplandia” and has been an inspiration ever since. And Kurt Andersen talks with Carter Burwell, who has scored most of the Coen Brothers films, beginning with their first, the very noirish “Blood Simple.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 22, 2019
Extra: Touring Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore with Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman is an Edgar Award-winning author of detective fiction, most famously for the Tess Monaghan series. And this summer, she has a new book on the New York Times Best Seller list called “Lady in the Lake.” Kurt Andersen recently visited Baltimore to talk to her for another story we’re working on: an American Icons hour about the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is best known for his gothic tales and poems, but he also wrote what are considered by many to be the first detective stories. As a mystery writer and lifelong Baltimore resident, Laura gave us her take on Poe’s legacy and the genre he helped create. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 20, 2019
Taking stock of Woodstock
Fifty summers after Woodstock. First, Kurt Andersen talks with Sha Na Na co-founders Robert Leonard and George Leonard about the utter incongruity of a ’50s throwback band taking the stage at the festival. The Jimi Hendrix version of the national anthem on the last day of the festival that embodies the chaos and distortion of the time. How the Sly and the Family Stone album "Stand!"  dropped at a moment of intense cultural and political change, and provided a soundtrack for that fight. And the surprising power of the other Woodstock — the “Peanuts” character named after the festival. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 15, 2019
Nick Waterhouse, the Los Angeles-based musician who has cultivated a ’50s and ’60s inspired sound, joins Kurt Andersen to perform live and talk about his influences and his self-titled fourth album. For our latest installment of Guilty Pleasures, the writer and “This American Life” producer Bim Adewunmi explains how the “Sweet Valley High” series is kind of preposterous and over-the-top — and completely obsessed her. And producer Lauren Hansen explains how a reverence for Leonard Cohen was passed down in her family, and how a group of artists are honoring Cohen’s memory at a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 08, 2019
Extra: Remembering Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison, the author of books including “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon,” died on August 5 at the age of 88. Her novels won the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize, and in 2012, Barack Obama awarded her a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s work inspired countless readers … and writers, like “New Yorker” critic Hilton Als.When Als guest hosted Studio 360 in 2014, Toni Morrison was his first choice of interviewee. They spoke at Morrison’s home about her writerly habits and why, at age 39, she decided to become a novelist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 06, 2019
Extra: American Icons: ‘Mad Magazine’
After a 67-year run, the “usual gang of idiots” will no longer be serving up the snark. After the August 2019 issue of “Mad Magazine,” old material will be reprinted with new covers, but you won’t find any new parodies or cartoons in those pages, aside from the occasional one-off or special feature. To mark this end of an era, we’re revisiting our story on why “Mad” is an American Icon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 06, 2019
American Icons: ‘Moby-Dick’
August 1 marks the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth. To celebrate, we’re revisiting our Peabody Award-winning American Icons hour on his masterpiece, “Moby-Dick.” 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' short play “Moby-Dude.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 01, 2019
John Leguizamo, Nipsey Hussle’s legacy and re-choreographing ‘Oklahoma!’
Kurt Andersen talks with John Leguizamo about his latest one-man play, “Latin History for Morons,” and his career toggling between film and theater. The revival of “Oklahoma!” took a bold approach to updating the well-known musical, including the play’s famous “Dream Ballet.” The show’s choreographer, John Heginbotham, and dancer, Gabrielle Hamilton, discuss how they took it on, while dance journalist Gia Kourlas explains how the new dance impressed her, but perplexed some theatergoers. And “What Next” host Mary Harris talks with Cindy Chang, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, about how the death of rapper Nipsy Hussle led to a cease-fire among some Los Angeles gangs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 25, 2019
Extra: This Woman’s Work: ‘The B-52’s’
Here’s another edition of This Woman’s Work, a series of stories from Classic Album Sundays and Studio 360 where we highlight classic albums by female musicians, women who continue to influence the world of pop culture and inspire others. This time, we’re looking at the debut album from a band who seems to have landed here from outer space. Four decades ago, the B-52’s arrived on the Athens, Georgia party scene with killer guitar riffs, their silly, but eerie lyrics, and their sky-high beehive wigs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 23, 2019
On a high note
An episode about singers, alone and in harmony. The latest installment of This Woman’s Work, a series from Classic Album Sundays and Studio 360 highlighting classic albums by female artists, focuses on “Lady Sings the Blues” by Billie Holiday, whose role as an innovator we are still coming to grasp. Kurt Andersen talks with composer Eric Whitacre about how his virtual choir is changing the game of choral music. And Aimee Mann explains how she wrote “Easy to Die,” about a friend’s overdose, for The Silver Lake Chorus, which commissions indie rock artists to write songs for them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 18, 2019
Lynn Shelton, Ursula von Rydingsvard and worshipping Cruella de Vil
Kurt Andersen talks with the director Lynn Shelton about how conspiracy theories and improvisation figure into her new film, “Sword of Trust,” which stars Marc Maron. Michael Bowen felt isolated growing up, but then he saw the animated feature film “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” and oddly enough, its villain, Cruella de Vil, gave him hope that he would fit in. And it can be hard to know what to make of Ursula von Rydingsvard’s spectacular sculptures, but the mystery of how they’re made is solved with a visit to her Brooklyn studio.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 11, 2019
Extra: The Craft of John Leguizamo’s Theatrical Schizophrenia
John Leguizamo has a long and successful film and TV career. Early on he had recurring roles on Miami Vice and ER and worked with directors like Brian DePalma, Spike Lee, and Baz Lurhman. And he also provided a voice in the endless animated franchise Ice Age, playing Sid the sloth. But alongside this life on screen, Leguizamo has also built a singularly successful theater career based on a form he helped pioneer — the funny autobiographical one-man play.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 09, 2019
Live with Studio 360!
Our recent live show was recorded in New York on a glorious spring day on the High Line, the elevated park. It begins with Kurt Andersen welcoming to the stage Friends Who Folk, the music comedic duo of Rachel Wenitsky and Ned Risely, who perform and discuss how they’re truly devotees to the folk tradition, even though their songs are satirical. Next to join Kurt is former “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi, who performs a stand-up set before talking with Kurt about his career as both a serious and comic actor. Finally, Yo La Tengo performs and members Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew reflect on the band’s 35 years together. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 04, 2019
‘Los Espookys,’ Stonewall on film and mistaking ‘multiple discoveries’ for stolen ideas
Kurt Andersen talks with Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega — two of the co-creators, writers, producers and stars of the new HBO series “LosEspookys.” Gauging how films have shaped — and skewed — our understanding of the Stonewall uprising, with Mark Segal, who participated in the riots, and Jude Dry, a film and television critic at IndieWire. And the phenomenon of “multiple discovery,” when artists come up with the same idea independently, but tend to suspect their idea was stolen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 27, 2019
Extra: American Icons: Shaft
In 1971 Richard Roundtree stepped out of a subway entrance to the Oscar-winning sounds of Isaac Hayes, and changed American movie-making. The box-office success of Shaft, about a fiercely independent, courageous, and sexy private eye, led to an explosion of black action B-movies, and crystalized a version of black macho cool that hadn’t been shown on the big screen before. And it was all put together by one of the most important American photographers of the mid-20th century, Gordon Parks. The story of Shaft is told by those that made the movie, and those they inspired. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 25, 2019
John Cameron Mitchell, Taffy Brodesser-Akner and a Doom Metal Schoolteacher
Journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner talks with Kurt Andersen about her first novel, “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” a book about divorce that has both humor and bite. John Cameron Mitchell was behind the punk musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and his latest project is “Anthem: Homunculus,” a podcast musical. Mitchell and composer Bryan Weller perform music from the podcast in our studio. And our latest installment of Day Jobs features Steve Von Till, the guitarist in the post-metal band Neurosis, who also has a decidedly more subdued career — as an elementary school teacher.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 20, 2019
Extra: Nick Waterhouse Live on Studio 360
Los Angeles-based musician Nick Waterhouse weaves together classic rhythm and blues, jazz, and soul, lending his songs a ‘50s and ‘60s inspired sound. Waterhouse stopped by Studio 360 to tell Kurt Andersen about his self-titled fourth album. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 18, 2019
The Spektor of performing on Broadway
Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor talks with Kurt Andersen about her upcoming Broadway residency and, seated at a Steinway, performs some songs. The story behind the Empire Zinc strike 70 years ago and the film it inspired, “Salt of the Earth.” And how one scene from “Finding Nemo” inspired Kiki Kienstra to up and move to Mexico. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 13, 2019
Extra: Deadwood Creator David Milch on Swearing and Swearengen
To commemorate Deadwood and its long-awaited conclusion, Kurt Andersen revisits his 2006 conversation with the show’s creator, David Milch. They discuss the show’s reprobate cast of characters and their florid, profane dialogue. “I did a lot of research,” Milch says. “Everyone without exception said that in the mining camps, the language was of an unrelieved coarseness and obscenity.“ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 11, 2019
‘Booksmart’ besties, and ‘Ishtar’ reconsidered
In 1987 Elaine May’s comedy “Ishtar” was savaged by critics and flopped spectacularly, but it turns out that the movie is actually pretty funny — and the reason it failed is pretty complicated. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, the stars of “Booksmart,” tell Kurt Andersen about how they became friends after they were cast as friends — and they bring a playlist of some of their favorite on-screen friendships. The final episode of the original “Star Trek” series aired 50 years ago this week, and Ronald D. Moore reveals how watching reruns of the show made him a science-fiction fan and ultimately led to becoming staff writer for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and, in a movie for the franchise, to killing off his hero, James T. Kirk. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 06, 2019
American Icons: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ — Part Two
A half century later, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is still shaping our future. With no help from CGI, the movie predicted private space travel, artificial intelligence and much of Apple’s product line. It showed the promise and perils of technology and explored life’s biggest mystery: Are we alone in the universe? In Part Two of our look at the movie in our American Icons series, we visit the same IBM research lab that helped inspire HAL. We meet CIMON, a real-life AI robot on the International Space Station and Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who blasted the “Blue Danube” in the space shuttle. Plus we speak to New York Times critic Wesley Morris, filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Tom Hanks, artist James Turrell and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 30, 2019
How the Stars of Booksmart Became Best Friends to Portray Best Friends
Booksmart is a new movie directed by Olivia Wilde, about two smart young women, Molly and Amy, who are best friends finishing at the top of their class because they spent high school doing homework and volunteering instead of partying so they could get into good colleges. Only to realize that their hard-partying classmates also got into those same good schools. Queue the wild, wacky, booze-fueled odyssey to get to the mega-party. But the depiction of the two girls and their friendship is not generic, but specific, and fresh, and believable. The stars, Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) and Kaitlyn Dever (Justified), talk with Kurt Andersen about stereotypes, role models, and how they decided to become roommates before shooting the film and actually became friends before portraying them.  They also share their favorite on-screen friendships that inspired the enchanting bond between their characters.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 28, 2019
Drama club
Theater magic, starting with “Tootsie” composer David Yazbek and musical theater obsessive John McWhorter on the art and wonder of tongue-twisting patter songs. Kurt Andersen talks with performance artist Taylor Mac on writing the new Broadway play, "Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus." And the odd mixture of religious fervor, class concerns and gender politics that made performing Shakespeare outdoors so popular in the United States.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 23, 2019
This Woman’s Work: Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues
This Woman’s Work is a series of stories from Classic Album Sundays and Studio 360, highlighting classic albums by female artists that have made a lasting impact on music and pop culture. This time, we focus on Lady Sings the Blues by legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. It was released in 1956 to coincide with her autobiography of the same name. By this point in her career, when she was just in her early 40s, Holiday’s voice had taken on a fragile and worn quality. Hardship, abusive relationships, and addiction had taken their toll on her famous instrument.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 21, 2019
Why Werner Herzog loves cat videos
Kurt Andersen talks with filmmaker Werner Herzog about his latest documentary, "Meeting Gorbachev," his unusual approach to narrating documentaries and their mutual obsession with cat videos. One of the busiest directors of TV comedy, Beth McCarthy-Miller, tells Kurt how she has gone about directing “SNL,” sitcoms and that notorious Super Bowl halftime show that popularized the term “wardrobe malfunction.” And 35 years ago, Prince went from a popular musician to a phenomenon, with the release of “When Doves Cry,” and the movie he wrote it for, “Purple Rain.” Two members of Prince’s band, Wendy Melvoin and Matt “Doctor” Fink, as well as music journalist and author Alan Light, tell the story of that remarkable song. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 16, 2019
John Cameron Mitchell’s Genre-Defying Podcast Musical
In Anthem: Homunculus, John Cameron Mitchell and composer Bryan Weller have taken the podcast musical to new heights. They join Kurt to discuss the shows origins, and perform a song live in our studio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 14, 2019
American Icons: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ — Part One
A half century later, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is still shaping our future. With no help from CGI, the movie predicted private space travel, artificial intelligence and half of Apple’s product line. It showed the promise and perils of technology and explored life’s biggest mystery: Are we alone in the universe? In Part One, we look at the movie’s origins in 1960s New York and how it went from opening night bomb to counterculture icon. We’ll hear from effects wizard Doug Trumbull, actor Keir Dullea and superfan Tom Hanks, who has seen the movie more than 200 times. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 09, 2019
Karl Ove Knausgård and the musical activism of Ani DiFranco and Pete Seeger
Kurt Andersen talks with novelist Karl Ove Knausgård about his nonfiction book about Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. Ani DiFranco’s new memoir chronicles the ups and downs of being a feminist folk hero. Pete Seeger would have been 100 this week, and Kurt revisits a lovely afternoon he spent with the singer in the home he built himself along the river. And a site-specific art project, “Romantic Songs of the Patriarchy,” exposes misogyny in popular music in a grueling yet entertaining way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 02, 2019
Ali Smith’s great post-Brexit novel
Ali Smith’s 2016 book Autumn was heralded as the first great post-Brexit novel. Kurt talks with her about politics, art, and the very nature of time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 30, 2019
Patti Smith’s ‘Horses,’ Susan Choi and a police poet
Kurt Andersen talks with Susan Choi, whose engrossing new novel about on- and offstage drama at a performance arts high school is called “Trust Exercise.” How Edward Doyle-Gillespie ended up writing poetry about being a Baltimore cop. And This Woman’s Work, our new series in collaboration with Classic Album Sundays that highlights classic albums by female artists, kicks off with Patti Smith’s groundbreaking first album, “Horses.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 25, 2019
Daveed Diggs and Suzan-Lori Parks, ‘In the Pines’ and supernumeraries
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
Apr 18, 2019
In the Footsteps of Merce Cunningham
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
Apr 16, 2019
Portraits of the artists
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 about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 11, 2019
This Woman’s Work: Patti Smith’s Horses
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 history. Classic Album Sundays founder Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy explains how the word "freedom" defines the album through and through: the social and sexual freedom of the era, the artistic freedom born of a city in crisis, and the freedom of rock n’ roll. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 09, 2019
Mob mentalities
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
Apr 04, 2019
Susan Choi’s Surprising Side Project
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
Apr 02, 2019
Remembering Agnès Varda
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 a tour of the French countryside, creating a series of public art projects everywhere they stopped. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 31, 2019
Let’s do the time warp
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 one of Hollywood’s most famous monsters but didn’t get credit for it. And how author Helen Phillips’ life was changed when she read Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 28, 2019
Cracking cases
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
Mar 21, 2019
Jia Zhangke’s Empathetic Eye
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 much about the effects of the rapid growth of China’s economy on its society. The dramatic changes led some working-class Chinese to form criminal brotherhoods for support.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 19, 2019
Why Yanni happened
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 currently playing Cole on-stage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 14, 2019
The Playbill of Rights
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 by klezmer music. And how Broadway productions are hosting special performances that take into account some of the heightened sensitivities and needs of audience members who are autistic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 07, 2019
Arresting Poetry
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 choices. Visit
Mar 05, 2019
These go to 11
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
Feb 28, 2019
The Oscar hour
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 “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 21, 2019
The Crack Monster: The Mystery Behind Sesame Street’s Creepiest Cartoon
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, Sesame Street Executive Producer Ben Lehmann talks about the cartoon’s disappearance and uncovers some of its elusive mysteries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 19, 2019
Sex seen
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 the City” and “Orange is the New Black.” Plus a look back at how “Reality Bites,”which hit theaters 25 years ago this week, helped channel the Gen X zeitgeist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 14, 2019
Honky tonk angels
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
Feb 07, 2019
Behind the Curtain at Autism-Friendly Broadway Shows
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 that Broadway was kind of responding the King & I incident even before it happened. Theater leaders were working to create a safe environment for families with autistic children — a place to enjoy art free of discrimination — with special autism-friendly performances at musicals and plays.   “It just takes away all the stress of taking her to a typical show where, you know, she might yell a little too loud or clap a little too loud or want to jump up and down and it may not be acceptable,” says Carmen Mendez, whose daughter is autistic. “Here she can be herself.”   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 05, 2019
Found in translation
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
Jan 31, 2019
Shall we dance?
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
Jan 24, 2019
From Aria Code: Dalila, the Femme Fatale
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 removing her clothing, one note at a time. Plus, you'll hear mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča sing the complete aria from the Metropolitan Opera stage. This podcast was produced by The Metropolitan Opera and WQXR. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 22, 2019
The mother of all abstraction
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 Coward. When Shane McCrae was a depressed teen in the ’90s, he found inspiration and hope in the strangest of places: the poetry of the famously tragic Sylvia Plath.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 17, 2019
Digging into ‘Doug’
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 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 10, 2019
Tales from the Script
John August, the host of Scriptnotes, explains his approach to screenwriting. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 08, 2019
Best of 2018, part 2
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 history of how, in ’90s New York,  hip-hop pirate radio station WBAD rose — and fell. This episode is brought to you by Doctors Without Borders. Donate today at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 03, 2019
Best of 2018, part 1
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 Talking Heads classic “Remain in Light.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 27, 2018
Welcome to The Jungle
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
Dec 25, 2018
A movie hallmark, and Hallmark movies
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
Dec 20, 2018
Art that grows on you
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 lawyers and bureaucrats have ruined fun. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 13, 2018
Can You Ever Forgive Lee Israel?
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
Dec 11, 2018
Unhung heroes
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 your ad choices. Visit
Dec 06, 2018
My fair lyricist
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 workers reeling from layoffs won over New York audiences. So how’d it go over when its New York cast toured the production in the Rust Belt? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 29, 2018
Aha Moment: An Odd Path to Plath
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 home and wrote some more. From there, McCrae dived deeper into Plath’s life, checking out a book of her poems from the library and never returning it. Today, McCrae is a professional poet. And even though Plath is no longer his “central poet,” she remains his emotional and creative bedrock. We talked to McCrae to learn how a long-dead, white, East Coast writer known for her depressing verse gave purpose and uplift to a young black teenager living in suburban Oregon. This podcast was produced by Justin Glanville for Studio 360. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 27, 2018
American Tricons: Harley, Hendrix and O’Keeffe
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 your ad choices. Visit
Nov 22, 2018
Settlers, unsettled
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 art heist ever — at Boston’s Gardner Museum. And conceptual artist Rutherford Chang’s delightfully obsessive art project — buying as many original copies of the Beatles’ “White Album” as he can get his hands on. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 15, 2018
To Distill a Mockingbird
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. Psychologist Mufid James Hannush weighs in on Atticus Finch’s parenting methods. And indie rocker Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot explains how the band found inspiration in the novel. Lastly, Kurt talks to book critic David Ulin about the controversy surrounding the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman in 2015. This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Zoe Saunders, along with Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, Jenny Lawton, Becky Sullivan, and Lynn Levy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 13, 2018
The deal of the art
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. Visit
Nov 08, 2018
Done and doner
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 a key member tragically wasn’t there to finish it with them.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 01, 2018
Home, Sweat Home
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-Monsalve. Invaluable production assistance on the ground in Minnesota was provided by Allison Herrera. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 30, 2018
Scents and sensibilities
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 meanings and long life of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 25, 2018
Pure speculation
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
Oct 18, 2018
Day Jobs: Respiratory Therapist
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
Oct 16, 2018
All most famous
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
Oct 11, 2018
Mind the Generation Gap
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 musician Juana Molina performs songs from her album, “Halo.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 04, 2018
Don McLean's "American Pie"
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 love for the song, and performing it onstage with McLean. “American Pie” was recently chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. This podcast was produced by Jennie Cataldo/BMP Audio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 02, 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 describe as “music that you can sleep to while dancing.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 27, 2018
Pacific Northbest
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
Sep 20, 2018
BoJack Horseman’s Raphael Bob-Waksberg
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 people who go to Harvard are dummies, the genius of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the underappreciated poignancy of The Simpsons. This podcast was produced by Schuyler Swenson. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 18, 2018
Apocalypse, wow
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. Visit
Sep 13, 2018
EGOT to have it
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
Sep 06, 2018
Link Wray’s “Rumble”
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 Me” and The Who’s “I Can See for Miles. “ On this podcast extra, Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and James Hutchinson, who plays bass guitar with Bonnie Raitt, weigh in on Wray’s technique and influence. “It’s got to be one of the most basic and yet fundamentally moving songs that have ever been recorded for the purposes of rock music,” says Brian Wright-McLeod, author of The Encyclopedia of Native Music. Guitar player Stevie Salas says Wray was proud of his Native American heritage, and the song’s success turned Wray into an inspiration for other Native American musicians. In fact, the song is in a title of a documentary about Native Americans in rock that Salas produced and appears in: Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 04, 2018
A room with a viewfinder
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 “Blindspotting,” “BlacKkKlansman” and “Sorry to Bother You.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 30, 2018
Framing the debate
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
Aug 23, 2018
The Remarkable Bounce of Blindspotting
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 also grew up together and share a background in music, theater, and poetry makes the sometimes surreal moments of rap monologues not only believable but also, remarkably, effective. But, as poet Maya Phillips points out, there’s more meaning behind the pretty bounce language. “Rap was a black form and it was commodified,” she tells Kurt Andersen. “It’s very much involved in this aesthetic. We have this idea of a black man who is a rapper and that is packaged and that is sold.” Blindspotting isn’t the only summer movie to uniquely use language and manners of speaking to talk about race. Phillips digs into the linguistics of Blindspotting, BlacKkKlansman, and Sorry To Bother You and considers the inflection point of the future of black cinema. Read more of Maya Phillips’ poetic takes on film at and her website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 21, 2018
The golden age of anonymous music
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
Aug 16, 2018
Studio 360 Presents: Hit Parade
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 episodes that explain how some of music's biggest acts became a smash, along with shows that will test your knowledge of music trivia. Find Hit Parade in Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. Subscribing is the best way to support the show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 15, 2018
Walden pondered
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 Gaynor’s label released “I Will Survive” as a B-side, but it managed to become a hit — and an anthem.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 09, 2018
Happy Bernstein to You!
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
Aug 07, 2018
Everyone’s a comedian
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
Aug 02, 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 friends, and to a psychology professor about how those invented characters reflect well on the imagination of the kids who conjure them. And the surprising — and controversial — history of Barbie, who has become an obsession both for the kids who play with her and the artists who feature the dolls in their work.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 26, 2018
A Wild and Crazy Anniversary
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 comic spectrum – high-concept surrealism, as well as broad comedy that simultaneously made fun of broad comedy.   Forty years ago this summer, it was the singing voice of Martin that was bellowing out of many car windows He had debuted the novelty song, “King Tut,” in a hilarious performance on Saturday Night Live that spring, and then it was released as a single and peaked at 12 on the Billboard charts in August.  And then that single was released on the comedy album,“A Wild and Crazy Guy.” The album went on to  win a Grammy, and hit Number 2 on the Billboard pop album chart.  If you’re a fan of vintage Saturday Night Live, you know the name of the album is the punchline to a sketch he performed there. The Festrunk [FEH-strunk] Brothers – two very 70s Czech immigrants with tight plaid trousers looking to swing with American women. This podcast was produced by Ben Manilla and BMP Audio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 24, 2018
Making it in Cleveland
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
Jul 19, 2018
Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part III
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 authentic animal behavior provides all the plot an artist needs. In his short, hand-drawn films, Trainor supplies narration from the animals’ perspective. But instead of the high drama of Laline Paull’s work, Trainor’s protagonists are utterly deadpan, even in grim situations.  In one film, a lion taking over a pride remarks drily, "I killed my girlfriend's children — which is to say, I killed all the children of all of my girlfriends."  Both Paull and Trainor get most of their facts right, but that’s not what’s important about their work. The artist’s role is to imagine how others feel — other people, other creatures — and try to share that empathy.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 17, 2018
Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part II
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, including Judy Collins. In 1970, Collins used the recordings on her album Whales and Nightingales, which went gold and introduced millions to whale song. Collins devoted the royalties of those songs to Payne’s conservation work.  Just as Payne hoped, these strange, evocative sounds inspired the growing Save the Whales movement, and by 1972 the US had banned whaling and whale products. Plus, “seasons” of whale songs. Researchers looking at how the songs of whales change over time have learned that a new song can catch on and spread across populations of thousands whales in a matter of months, in much the same way that a hit song spreads across a country. Biologist Ellen Garland joins us in the studio to tell us more about that.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 16, 2018
Science and Creativity: Do Animals Have Culture? Part I
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 audiences. Plus, we hear from Richard Prum, an ornithologist at Yale University, who discusses his latest work — the philosophy of aesthetics. It stems from his earliest research studying small South American birds called Manakins. Manakins are known for outlandish mating displays in which males perform an elaborate dance and to Prum’s eye, the diversity and complexity of these dances could only be explained as an appeal to the birds’ aesthetic preferences. In other words, it’s art. “My hypothesis,” he explains to Kurt Andersen, “is that ornament in manakins evolves merely because it’s popular, or merely beautiful.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 15, 2018
Drawn from experience
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
Jul 12, 2018
Here Comes the Pitch
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 — these were people she was just around as a kid and learned to play piano from.” Kurt talks with Jones about the making of the new season, their partnership with Audible, and the interplay between politics and music.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 10, 2018
American Icons: Monticello
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 Stephen Colbert, filmmaker James Ivory and artist Maira Kalman. (Originally aired October 22, 2010) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 05, 2018
Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part III
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 interests to develop a workshop in “Medical Improv.”  Later, WNYC’s Health Reporter Marry Harris and Kurt Andersen return to Laughter Yoga to give us the scoop on their experience.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 03, 2018
Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part II
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/Anonymous, talks a lot on his shows and in his standup about his own struggles with addiction and depression. He talks with Kurt Andersen about why it’s so important for him to discuss those issues openly, and how mental illness has affected his comedy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 02, 2018
Science and Creativity: Your Brain on Laughter Part I
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
Jul 01, 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 your ad choices. Visit
Jun 28, 2018
Behind the Harlem Sound of Luke Cage
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 will feature jazz, reggae, R&B, and neo soul music, with a mix of old and new releases. “We’re just showing how it’s like Harlem itself,” Coker says. “When you’re walking down the street, when you’re walking down Lenox Avenue, you will hear all different types of music coming out of cars or coming out of store windows or coming out apartments. And we have that same approach, the same eclectic approach to music on the show.” Because music is so integral to Luke Cage, we asked Coker to break down exactly how music is used in a few scenes in the first episode of the brand new second season, which is available now on Netflix. This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Lauren Hansen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 26, 2018
Rebels without a pause
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
Jun 21, 2018
Shadows in the Sunshine State
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
Jun 14, 2018
The Director of Hereditary on Family, Kids and Other Horrors
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 situation, as opposed to the people serving as devices for the horror.” Aster also talks about the movies that influenced the making of Hereditary and working with Milly Shapiro, who plays Toni Collette’s creepy young daughter, Charlie. “While we were shooting, [Millie] was asking, ‘Is it creepy? You think I’m gonna creep people out?’” This podcast was produced by Studio 360's Sam Kim. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 12, 2018
‘Fahrenheit 451’ rekindled
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
Jun 07, 2018
Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part III
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
Jun 05, 2018
Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part II
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 time travel. And they see Einstein as their arch-enemy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 04, 2018
Science and Creativity: Way to Go, Einstein Part I
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 these patent applications and wondering: is it really true, as Isaac Newton had said, that time is the same for everyone, everywhere? So, he came up with a thought experiment which became the idea known as “special relativity.” And it rocked the foundations of physics.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 03, 2018
American Icons: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
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 became a sacred place for veterans and their families, and it influenced later designs like the National September 11 Memorial. We’ll visit a replica of the wall that travels to veterans’ parades around the country, and hear from former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel how this singular work of architecture has influenced how we think about war.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 31, 2018
American Animals: Bart Layton’s New Breed of True Crime
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 eat it.” Layton breaks down how he made one of the inventive, meta moments of the film, and discusses the possible motivations behind the senseless crime. “We’re all inhabiting a culture where we’re told that we have to be special,” he says. “It came from a place of wanting to leave a mark on the world.” American Animals opens in theaters on June 1, 2018. This podcast was produced by Studio 360's Sam Kim. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 29, 2018
Muppet regime
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
May 24, 2018
Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part III
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 about your ad choices. Visit
May 22, 2018
Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part II
“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 clean, geometric lines and a green carpet of grass. “Everything about this site shouts ‘cosmic,’” says Jenks. “What I’ve tried to do here is unpack that idea bit by bit. Landscape is the art form where we’re using nature to represent nature.” Two large mounds at the site represent the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy, with other landforms that represent a Supercluster and comet path. A corkscrew walkway of mudstone represents the whole ensemble of universes — the multiverse. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 21, 2018
Science and Creativity: The Multiverse Part I
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, among physicists and Hollywood screenwriters alike. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 20, 2018
Pet projects
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 tribute to the Soviet space dog Laika. And Sean Cole examines whether animals can ever really be creative. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 17, 2018
When Bad People Create Good Art
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 publicist won't let you near their client? What excellent works of art or storytelling were never made because bad men got in the way? A few weeks ago Kurt Andersen participated in a panel to talk about some of these questions with other journalists and critics. The panel was called “When Bad People Create Good Art: Writing About Culture in the #MeToo Era.” It was held at the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. The panel was moderated by Janice C. Simpson, director of the Arts and Culture Reporting Program at CUNY, and also included: Nekesa Moody, Global Entertainment and Style Editor of the Associated Press; A.O. Scott, film critic of The New York Times. "I like to think about the people who didn't get a chance, people who were in their path who were harmed, how they're doing,” said Maureen Ryan, Chief TV Critic at Variety, who also was on the panel. “I think a lot about that.” This podcast was produced by Studio 360's Jocelyn Gonzales. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 15, 2018
One mom at a time
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 in a poem by Mary Karr about when sons go from being boys to men. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 10, 2018
Super humans
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
May 03, 2018
Ch-ch-changes: Making the Bowie Mashup
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 of his music. Initially, Visconti had been asked to make a short audio piece featuring three David Bowie songs.  "Something just came over me, and I realized that I couldn’t decide on three songs,” Visconti explained. “So the three songs evolved into 49 songs." We stopped by Visconti's studio to learn how the mashup was made. This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Tommy Bazarian. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 01, 2018
One tall woman
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, “Flight” tells a story of child migrants entirely through miniature models. Kurt talks with Jamie Harrison, co-creator of the piece. And Yesika Salgado breaks down her poem “What I Know,” a love letter to her home of Los Angeles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 26, 2018
American Tricons
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 and tackled subjects like suicide and sex.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 19, 2018
The Sound of One Claw Slashing (SNIKT!)
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 available on Stitcher Premium, so you’ll need to join to listen. Because even superhuman claws can’t tear through a paywall. Listen free for one month with code “MARVEL” This podcast was produced by Studio 360’s Zoe Saunders. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 17, 2018
A void: The Noid
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. Visit
Apr 12, 2018
Poets who know it
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 ad choices. Visit
Apr 05, 2018
A Room of Nell Scovell’s Own
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 first gig: writing for the magazine Kurt co-founded, Spy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 03, 2018
What Laurie Anderson lost
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
Mar 29, 2018
The art of noise
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 from the clanks and hisses. And then it all goes to the birds: Artist Nina Katchadourian replaced her car alarms with recordings of bird calls … and Ben Birin fuses birdsong with beatboxing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 22, 2018
When The Belly Room Grew — and Flopped — for Female Comics
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 not have played with mainstream audiences, because audiences rarely showed up. Here’s the story of the ups and downs of the Belly Room. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 20, 2018
Babe I’m leaving
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, who just wrote a book about him. And finally, Joe Weisberg, co-creator of “The Americans,” and his brother Jacob Weisberg, host of “Trumpcast,” join Kurt to talk about how both of their projects were jolted by the Trump-Russia imbroglio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 15, 2018
Late bloomers
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 driving a cab to make ends meet. And a listener, Maureen Sestito, reveals how a novel inspired her to begin med school — when she was already in her 30s. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 08, 2018
The Brothers Weisberg on The Americans and Trumpcast
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 election. Kurt Andersen talks with Joe and Jacob Weisberg about the genesis of their shows and the unexpected ways they overlap.”Were Donald Trump not been such an important character today,” Joe Weisberg says, “we might have actually had the idea of putting him in [The Americans].” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 06, 2018
The shape of Oscar
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 Picture category, because he thinks some of this year’s nominees are overrated. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 01, 2018
American Icons: The Lincoln Memorial
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 student protesters there to denounce the Vietnam War. Actor David Strathairn reads the Gettysburg Address, which is engraved on the Memorial, for Studio 360. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 22, 2018
Wipe your nose!
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 choices. Visit
Feb 15, 2018
Learning to love Comic Sans
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, but Jessamyn West likes it and says you should, too. And John McWhorter tells Kurt why he hates the book that every writer and nitpicky grammarian loves: “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 08, 2018
Papa was a rolling stone
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
Feb 01, 2018
Will Super Bowl Ads lay off bikini babes for #MeToo?
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 in this year of Me Too, will commercials finally reflect a more enlightened view of women? Jeanine Poggi from AdAge joins Kurt to review some of more sexist spots from recent Super Bowls -- and a few feminist moments.  Poggi says that advertisers -- and their agencies -- should be on notice. “Any advertiser who this year goes into the Super Bowl with an ad that’s showing women half-dressed or any of the stereotypes we’ve seen in the past, like the nagging woman,” Poggi says, “will get a lot of blowback.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 30, 2018
Fantastic women
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 da Vinci is known as the original Renaissance man, one of his occupations is often overlooked: theater producer.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 25, 2018
I killed Captain Kirk
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 inventors to make them real, and how the Enterprise starship prop from the original series came to be displayed so prominently in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 18, 2018
Breaker 1-9
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
Jan 11, 2018
Staff picks, 2017 (Volume 2)
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 about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 04, 2018
Staff picks, 2017 (Volume 1)
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. And “The Godfather: Part III” is a movie everyone loves to hate, but critic Ted Gioia believes the film is actually a masterpiece.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 28, 2017
Where is Bobbie Gentry?
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 Omahan done good, the director Alexander Payne, about his new movie, “Downsizing.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 21, 2017
That’s What She Said
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. Visit
Dec 15, 2017
So you think you're creative?
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. Visit
Dec 14, 2017
Gay theater, then and now.
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 creates his brilliant and hilarious illustrations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 07, 2017
Studio360 | New Yorker Cover Illustrator Barry Blitt
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 illustrations. “What you're looking for is life in the line” he says about finding his finished product, “sometimes you'll do a drawing that doesn't look enough like Hillary and you draw it a second time the second time it looks more like her but the first time there was some magic or discovery in the actual line work and it's better drawing and that's the one you use.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 01, 2017
American Icons: The Disney Parks
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 parks, according to actor Tom Hanks, is like a pilgrimage—the pursuit of happiness turned into a religion. Futurist Cory Doctorow explains the genius of Disney World, while novelist Carl Hiaasen even hates the water there. Kurt tours Disneyland with a second-generation “imagineer” whose dead mother haunts the Haunted Mansion. We’ll meet a former Snow White and the man who married Prince Charming—Disney, he says, is “the gayest place on Earth. It’s where happy lives.” (Originally aired October 18, 2013) Special thanks to Julia Lowrie Henderson, Shannon Geis, Alex Gallafent, Nic Sammond, Steve Watts, Angela Bliss, Todd Heiden, Shannon Swanson, Katie Cooper, Nick White, Marie Fabian, Posey Gruener, Jason Margolis, Chris DeAngelis, Jenelle Pifer, Debi Ghose, Maneesh Agrawala, and Tony DeRose. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 30, 2017
American Tricon
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 sexual misconduct. Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” on the other hand, celebrates the opposite tendency in American culture: the devil-may-care slide towards looser morals. And in “Untitled Film Stills,” Cindy Sherman captured the way that being a woman—or maybe being a person—is just playing a role. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 22, 2017
I'm the Boss, Baby
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 into his  big-budget superhero movie,  “Thor: Ragnarok.” And Eve Ewing joins Kurt to talk about the many hats she wears: poet, sociologist, artist and Twitter star. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 16, 2017
The Agonies of Small Talk
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 plays some delightful samples of it in our studio.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 09, 2017
Tracey Ullman is such a character
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
Nov 02, 2017
Dance Studio 360
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 up ballet in his forties – and applies scientific principles to get better at it. And Christopher Wheeldon shares how he helped bring “An American in Paris” to the stage.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 26, 2017
Sugar Mouth
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 art mindset, and spend a lot more time parked in front of one particular work of art.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 19, 2017
American Icons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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 visit Oregon State Hospital, where the director played himself on screen; a psychiatrist explains how the movie gave mental hospitals a bad name, with tragic consequences; and actress Louise Fletcher takes us into the mind of one of the most fearsome movie villains, the sweet-faced Nurse Ratched. “She doesn’t see her behavior as it really is. Who does? Who sees that they’re really evil?” (Originally aired September 20, 2013) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 12, 2017
Michael Chabon Sings!
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-punk band called Carsickness fueled his own coming-of-age story. And Bruce Handy, Kurt, and both writers’ kids sit down in the studio to talk about the enduring power of children’s literature, which Handy writes about in his new book, “Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 06, 2017
Does Laughter Yoga Work?
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. (Originally aired July 14, 2016)  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 28, 2017
Harvard’s Full of Morons
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 Harvard Lampoon alumni are not always the smartest or the funniest.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 21, 2017
Learning to Love “Fuller House”
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’t realize that the painting on his license is really a painted self-portrait. And the Malian blues duo Amadou & Mariam perform live.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 14, 2017
Back to School Special
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
Sep 07, 2017
Casting ‘Moonlight’
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 your ad choices. Visit
Aug 31, 2017
Sing your “I want” song
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
Aug 24, 2017
Say it loud: “moist”
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 more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 17, 2017
When music punches you in the face.
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
Aug 10, 2017
American Icons: Moby-Dick
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
Aug 03, 2017
Nikola Tesla: Strange Genius
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
Aug 01, 2017
Ready to “Rumble”
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
Jul 27, 2017
American Icons: Native Son
This is the novel about racism that America couldn't ignore. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 20, 2017
Off Script
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
Jul 13, 2017
American Icons: The Great Gatsby
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
Jul 06, 2017
Bee is for Blondie
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
Jun 29, 2017
Tupac and Art Rock
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
Jun 22, 2017
Across the Multiverse
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 your ad choices. Visit
Jun 15, 2017
Homecoming Attractions
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
Jun 08, 2017
American Icons: I Love Lucy
This is where television invented itself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 01, 2017
Manchester, United
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
May 25, 2017
Whoa, Canada
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
May 18, 2017
Twin Peek
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
May 11, 2017
American Icons: Buffalo Bill
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 explains why the myth of the West still resonates; a Sioux actor at a Paris theme park loves playing Sitting Bull; and a financial executive impersonates Buffalo Bill, with his wife as Annie Oakley. (Originally aired November 5, 2010) Bonus Track: Indian or Native American?   Artist and scholar Arthur Amiotte offers his opinion on the names given to — and chosen by — his people.   Video: "Buffalo Bill's Wild West"   There's not much video of Buffalo Bill; William Cody couldn't quite figure out how to adapt his "Wild West" show to the new technology of film. But Thomas Edison used the developing medium to capture some amazing footage of the show.    Video: “La Légende de Buffalo Bill”  The "Wild West" show has history in Europe. The original stage show spent perhaps a third of its run across the Atlantic, touring as far east as the Ukraine. As shown in the promotional video below, a current French incarnation — "with Mickey and friends" — draws heavily on the mythology created by Buffalo Bill.    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 04, 2017
Handmaid in America
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
Apr 27, 2017
Fan Overboard!
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
Apr 20, 2017
How Sweet the Sound
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
Apr 13, 2017
American Icons: Superman
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
Apr 06, 2017
“Shaft” and Present
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
Mar 30, 2017
Pet Projects
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
Mar 23, 2017
Magnetic Feels
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
Mar 16, 2017
American Icons: Monticello
The home of America’s aspirations and deepest contradictions. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 09, 2017
Getting into 'Get Out'
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
Mar 02, 2017
Political Art
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
Feb 23, 2017
Oscar Preview
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
Feb 16, 2017
Love is on the Air
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
Feb 09, 2017
Here’s Looking at You
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
Feb 02, 2017
The Scene and the Unseen
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
Jan 26, 2017
American Icons: The Wizard of Oz
This is America’s dreamland. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 19, 2017
Marilyn Monroe’s Long-Lost Skirt Scene
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 with Marilyn Monroe. Watch a clip of the lost footage at The New York Times Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 16, 2017
POTUS as Tastemaker
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
Jan 12, 2017
How to Remember
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
Jan 05, 2017
Kurt's Favorite Conversation of 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, 2016) More of Kurt’s favorite conversations of 2016 can be found here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 31, 2016
Designing Life
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
Dec 29, 2016
The Eerie Familiarity of "Man in the High Castle"
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 white nationalists gain exposure in the lead-up to the Trump presidency. “But if it would be hyperbole to treat the series like a documentary, it would be denial to say it plays no differently now than it did before,” says James Poniewozik the chief television critic for The New York Times. He joined Kurt in the studio to talk about his most recent article on the series which points to the parallels between fiction and reality. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 26, 2016
Get a Clue
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
Dec 22, 2016
Human Intelligence: A Holiday Tale
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
Dec 19, 2016
Close Encounters
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
Dec 15, 2016
Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas
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” creator, Charles M. Schulz; Jerry Granelli, the drummer who played with Guaraldi; and Lee Mendelson, the producer who worked closely with Schulz on the Christmas special. (Originally aired December 14, 2012) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 12, 2016
Way to Go, Einstein
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
Dec 08, 2016
It’s Only Post-Natural
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 humans have played an even more direct and intentional role in the evolution of certain organisms. And there’s a quirky museum in Pittsburgh that is finally telling that story. Richard Pell is the director of the Center for PostNatural History. He defines post-natural organisms as ones that have been altered by people intentionally and heritably. “Heritably meaning we’ve altered its evolutionary path in some fashion. It affects its offspring, it’s not just a dog with a weird haircut. It’s we’ve bred dogs that have weird hair,” he said. By including and preserving these often neglected species, the Center for PostNatural History interrogates the question of where what’s truly natural ends and what is influenced by humans begins. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 05, 2016
And Don’t Call Me Shirley
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
Dec 01, 2016
Sharon Jones's Soul Revival
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 short by cancer — she died Nov. 18 at age 60. We’d recently featured Sharon in a story about “This Land is Your Land” (she and the Dap-Kings did a terrific cover of the song). In it she explained how Woody Guthrie’s spoke to her in a surprising way. Today we’re releasing a special extended cut of her part of the story — plus her 2007 interview and performance in our studio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 28, 2016
All Shakespeare All the Time
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-running Shakespeare adaptation ever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 24, 2016
Remembering Ultra-American Musician Leon Russell
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 film until after Blank’s death. “Les Blank is a wonderful documentarian, but I felt like it had a lot of coverage that didn’t have to do with me — you know, a lot of sunsets,” he explained. Russell also told Kurt about how a childhood injury influenced his artistic development, the provenance of Mick Jagger’s famous dance, and his collaboration with Elton John. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 21, 2016
Y’all, Youse, or Yinz?
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
Nov 17, 2016
DJ Shadow’s Record-Breaking Album
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
Nov 14, 2016
This Land is Trump's Land
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
Nov 10, 2016
Live from New York, It’s Election Night!
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
Nov 07, 2016
Eugenia Cheng, Guilty Pleasures & Jacob Collier
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
Nov 03, 2016
Spooky Scary Studio 360: How to Make Your Skeleton Scary
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
Oct 31, 2016