The Turnaround

The Turnaround is a new show about our greatest living interviewers, hosted by Jesse Thorn and produced by Maximum Fun and Columbia Journalism Review. Featuring conversations with prominent interviewers about their careers and their craft, the show is a perfect resource for a new generation of storytellers and journalists. You'll hear Jesse speak with Larry King, Terry Gross, Werner Herzog, Audie Cornish, and so many more!

Louis Theroux

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Louis Theroux

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Today Jesse is joined by Louis Theroux, a British documentarian whose work frequently brings him into intimate contact with some of the most fascinating subcultures in our society.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

For more than fifteen years, Louis has been a BBC presenter, covering some of the most extreme groups in the world today, including the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and the leader of the White Aryan Resistance. In recent years, he has also covered a plethora of public interest issues, including crime, disability, and alcohol addiction.

Louis talks to Jesse about what it's like to go into seemingly hostile environments and interview people he deeply disagrees with. He also shares some interviewing insights, including why a non-response to a question can almost be as interesting as an actual response.

Louis' latest feature film is called , which follows his attempts to delve into the Church of Scientology's inner workings. You can find it on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever else you watch movies.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Reggie Ossé (Combat Jack)

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Combat Jack

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Joining Jesse on The Turnaround is Reggie Ossé, also known as Combat Jack. He's a founding partner of the Loud Speakers podcast network and host of The Combat Jack Show, one of the best hip-hop podcasts around -- some might say the best, period. On his show Reggie chops it up with a veritable who's who of the rap world -- people like Dame Dash, Big Daddy Kane, and Lord Finesse -- not only about music, but also about race, politics, and a whole lot more.

Reggie has led a truly fascinating career. He's a lawyer by training and used to represent some of the biggest hip-hop stars, including guys like Jay-Z. He also worked for MTV and was managing editor of The Source. But as he tells Jesse, he kind of fell into what he does now, which is interviewing people for a living.

There's no denying that Reggie is a true New York hip-hop head. He grew up in Brooklyn during the '70s and early '80s, where he had a privileged front seat as rap was quite literally being invented before his very eyes. His deep respect for the culture shines through all his interviews, paving the way for some amazingly real moments.

You can find the latest episodes of the Combat Jack Show on Soundcloud. Reggie is also the host of the excellent new podcast Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty, a collaboration between his podcast network Loud Speakers Network and Gimlet Media.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Anna Sale

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Anna Sale

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Anna Sale is the host of WNYC Studio's Death, Sex, and Money. As she puts it, her show is about "The things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more." Anna sits down with celebrities like Kevin Bacon or Mahershala Ali, but more often than not she's talking to someone you've never heard of. She is interested in the stuff that sometimes gets skipped over in other interviews. The downfall before the success, and poverty before the wealth.


Photo: Amy Pearl

Before Death, Sex & Money Anna was a political reporter for 9 years. She worked for news outlets like CNN and MSNBC, covering elections and talking to voters and elected officials alike. She was interested in learning why people vote the way that they do, which was one of the inspirations for her show. Since its debut in 2014, Death, Sex, & Moneyhas been on all sorts of "Best Of" lists, and Anna herself won a Gracie Award for best podcast host in 2016.

Anna and Jesse talk about her past career covering politics and elections, and how her decade doing that work aids her in the kind of interviewing that she does now. They get into how to ask really sensitive questions without it feeling exploitative, and why it is important to talk about the hard or shameful parts of a person's life.

New episodes of Death, Sex & Money come out every other Tuesday. You can listen and subscribe here.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Jerry Springer

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Jerry Springer

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

This week's Turnaround guest is the one and only Jerry Springer! You might be surprised to know that Jerry didn't begin his career in broadcasting an intern for a TV station, but instead as a politician and lawyer. He was a city councilman in Cincinnati, OH and even served as mayor of the city for a one-year term in the late 1970s.


Photo: Courtesy of Artist

Later on, Jerry was hired by Cincinnati's NBC affiliate WLWT as a political correspondent and commentator. He won numerous Emmys for his nightly commentaries on WLWT. He eventually began anchoring the news desk, after which he was asked to host his own daytime talk show, Jerry Springer, in 1991.

You may know what Jerry Springer is now, but the daytime talk show used to be a lot more anodyne. In fact, it was originally modeled after Phil Donahue's show. In 1994, Jerry Springer's producers revamped the program to boost its popularity by planning shows around sensationalist topics and conflict-driven interview segments that often resulted in chaos. The show became a ratings smash, and the rest is more or less history. Jerry Springer is now in its 26th season.

What you know about the Jerry Springer show is probably correct, and Jerry would agree with you. But as he explains to Jesse, he sees his show as a way of empowering his guests. Jerry wouldn't trade his job for anything, mainly because he's got some really great stories. He also shares about his fascinating past jobs, including his stint as mayor.

Jerry's daytime talk show, Jerry Springer, is in its 26th year. Jerry also hosts a weekly podcast, simply called The Jerry Springer Podcast.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Errol Morris

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Errol Morris

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Jesse's guest this week is documentarian Errol Morris.

Errol Morris is a critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker who has dozens of film and tv credits to his name. He won an Oscar for his 2003 film, The Fog of War, and has taken home many other awards for his films.


Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Morris has a really unique interview style that becomes very apparent to anyone who has seen one of his films or television ads. He invented a machine called an interrotron to assist him when interviewing, which allows his subjects to see him to look into his eyes while being filmed straight on. He is also known for yelling questions off screen, and those moments making it into the final edit.

Errol's films often transcend the barrier of the theater screen and jump into reality. One of his most well known films Thin Blue Line, which was about a young man convicted of shooting a police officer and was maintaining his innocence, has been attributed to the man's release the from prison the next year.

Errol and Jesse talk about how he got into interviewing, and in particular his time spent interviewing mass murderers, before he was a documentary film maker. Errol tells Jesse about the impact Truman Capote had on his career. Finally, they discuss his other career, making television commercials, and about how he learned his greatest interviewing tip: to shut the fuck up.

Errol has a new Netflix program Wormwood debuting which is being called a "hybrid series" of real life interviews and dramatizations set to come out later this year. You should also check out one of Jesse's favorite projects from Errol's, a docuseries made in partnership with ESPN called It's Not Crazy, It's Sports.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Brooke Gladstone

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Brooke Gladstone

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

This week on The Turnaround Jesse sits down with Brooke Gladstone of WNYC Studio's On The Media.

Brooke began her career working for NPR, as an editor on both Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, and All Things Considered. She also worked as a foreign correspondent for NPR in Moscow. Now she co-hosts and edits the weekly show On The Media. The award winning show has been around in its current iterations for over 15 years covering, you guessed it, the media. She and co-host Bob Garfield cast a critical eye on their peers in the media, asking questions that are larger than that week's headlines.


Photo: Janice Yi

Brooke interviews all kinds of people on the show. She and Bob make an effort to represent many points of view on any given topic, to give the listener a better understanding of all the issues involved. Her interview style is direct and respectful, though you never feel like she hasn't asked the question that you want answered.

In her conversation with Jesse, Brooke shares how such a tightly edited weekly show gets made, and how she and her team choose to edit their show when cutting down for time and content. She also talks about journalistic objectivity, an ideal that she believes has no business dictating any part of the relationship between the media consumer and producer.

Brooke has won two Peabody awards among many others, and she has written two books. One of them is a non-fiction graphic novel starring Brooke herself that covers changes in the media over the last 2,000 years. It came out in 2011 and is called The Influencing Machine.

Her most recent book, The Trouble With Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time came out earlier this year. It deals with the proliferation of "fake news" in our time, examining how the Trump administration uses these lies to shape reality. You can listen to On The Media every week on your local public radio station, or you can download the podcast. If you're not already subscribed, do it! Seriously.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Larry King

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Larry King

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

It's Larry King! You know, the real Larry Legend -- the guy so famous that all you'd have to do is draw a stick figure with a pair of glasses and suspenders, and you'd know it was him. Otherwise you know him from Larry King Live, CNN's most watched show ever that ended in 2010 after a remarkable 25-year run. Larry's pretty much interviewed everyone over his 60 years in broadcasting: actors, world leaders, superstar athletes, UFO experts, even Eleanor Roosevelt.

Prior to his CNN show, Larry did a bunch of different things in broadcasting: he had a nightly radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting System that ran for many years. Larry was also a sports color man for the Miami Dolphins during their perfect season. But interviewing has been the main thing that has held together his career.

For this episode, Jesse visited Larry King at his palatial home in Beverly Hills. They sat in his trophy room, literally surrounded by bookcases full of Emmy awards and letters from U.S. presidents.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Despite his rise to celebrity from humble beginnings in Brooklyn, Larry has always considered himself an every man. He explains to Jesse why being "dumb" -- knowing relatively little about his subjects and asking them simple, obvious questions -- has been his greatest asset as an interviewer. Very much a creature of live broadcasting, he loves the thrill of going into an interview cold and not knowing what's going to happen next.

Larry's a natural storyteller, and he tells Jesse about what it was like to interview guys like Richard Nixon and Frank Sinatra. He gets introspective too, talking about both his proudest accomplishments and deepest regrets, as well as his biggest fear: death.

You can catch Larry still doing his thing after 60 years on his new show Larry King Now, available on Ora TV and Hulu.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

The Turnaround: Audie Cornish

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Audie Cornish

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Audie Cornish co-hosts NPR's All Things Considered. On NPR, she's often doing live interviews on breaking stories, interviewing reporters and newsbreakers who are on the scene after huge, sometimes really scary events took place. In a world where news moves so quickly, it's gotten easier and easier for hosts like Audie to slip up, maybe get a fact wrong. Honestly, the whole thing kind of terrifies me. But when Audie's covering a breaking story, she's careful, she's unflappable, and prepared.


Photo: Stephen Voss/NPR

This week, Jesse sits down with Audie to talk about how she got into broadcasting and the difference between working in broadcasting and print journalism. She tells us what it's like to work at such an established news institution like NPR, and why the word "dispassionate" does not describe her and her fellow broadcasters.

You can listen to Audie Cornish every weekday on NPR's All Things Considered on your local NPR affiliate station.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

The Turnaround: Marc Maron

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Marc Maron

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Marc Maron is a standup comedian, actor, and host of one of the biggest podcasts ever: WTF with Marc Maron. Recording in his garage in Highland Park, Los Angeles, Maron has long, free-wheeling conversations with every kind of famous person you can think of, from comedians, to actors, to musicians -- even President Barack Obama when he was still in the White House.

When you listen to WTF, though, you aren't just listening for the guest. Maron has a big personality, and it shows in his interviews. He's not rattling off a list of questions, but instead he's having a really intimate and revealing conversation. It doesn't always go great, but it always reveals a lot about the guest, even if they aren't into it.

Marc and Jesse talk about what it's like recording his very popular show in his garage, his tactics for getting people to open up to him, and the differences between his standup and podcast personas. They also discuss two very different people who loom large in their consciousness: Terry Gross and Chris Hardwick.

Marc's podcast WTF with Marc Maron comes out twice a week. He also has a book called Waiting for the Punch coming out this fall.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

The Turnaround: Susan Orlean

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Susan Orlean

New to The Turnaround? Subscribe in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get two new interviews a week through August 18th.

Susan Orlean has been a journalist for over 30 years, writing for publications like The Rolling Stone and Vogue. In 1992 she was made a staff writer at The New Yorker and has been contributing ever since. She has also written eight books. One of them, The Orchid Thief, was the basis of Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman's 2002 film starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep.

Susan talks to Jesse about how some of her best pieces start as one thing and end up as another, especially once she begins talking to living, breathing human beings. She did just that in her 1994 piece about disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, which she wrote by talking to locals in Harding's hometown of Clackamas, Oregon. She also shares about her experiences interviewing celebrities, including the valuable lesson she learned when profiling Tom Hanks for Rolling Stone.

Visit Susan Orlean's website to learn more about her work, including the many articles and books she's written.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.