mike pesca

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell and Mike Pesca

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Bullseye
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W. Kamau Bell
Guests: 
Mike Pesca

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W. Kamau Bell on his television show "United Shades of America"

W. Kamau Bell is a stand-up comic with a handful of albums and specials to his name. He's hosted not one but two TV shows.

In 2012, he landed a television show: “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” "Totally Biased" was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. And although he was the show's star, Kamau preferred to put the spotlight on his guests and just ask the questions--funny and serious both.

His latest show is the Emmy award-winning "United Shades of America" on CNN. It's up for another Emmy this year in the "unstructured reality programming" category. "United Shades" is basically a show about nuance, and about asking tough questions. "United Shades of America" is available to stream right now on Hulu.

This week, Kamau discusses his relationship with the South, his childhood, why he loves the television show "Doc McStuffins," and what it was like to be the son of Walter Bell, who served as Alabama's Insurance Commissioner. Plus, why he's really proud of his latest show "United Shades of America."

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


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Mike Pesca on his new book "Upon Further Review"

What if baseball teams only played once a week? What if Title IX never was? Or if basketball rims were smaller than basketballs?

Those are a few of the excellent questions posed in the book compiled by Mike Pesca: "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History." It's a collection of essays from over 30 different writers - people like Robert Siegel, Nate DiMeo, Jesse Eisenberg and more all asking - then answering, thoughtfully - hypothetical questions about sports that range from the trivial to the existential.

Mike Pesca was a sports reporter here at NPR for a time and still contributes every now and then. He also hosts "The Gist," a daily podcast over at Slate, where he covers the news of the day. But most importantly: Mike Pesca loves a good hypothetical, and to argue about it – exploring every possible outcome.

Mike Pesca will talk about his new book, what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters, how he keeps up with the news for his daily podcast, and how his Long Island accent impacted his work in radio. Plus, what it was like to guest host "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me" and the outcry he faced when he interviewed Kim Kardashian West when he hosted.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: Remembering Aretha Franklin

For this week's Outshot Jesse breaks down "Aretha Live at the Fillmore West." This was the second live album by Aretha Franklin recorded in the spring of 1971 in San Francisco.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Henry Bushkin on Johnny Carson

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Bullseye

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Troubled, Brilliant and Intensely Private: A Look Back at American Icon Johnny Carson with "Bombastic Bushkin"

The late night show is still a staple of pop culture. Leno, Letterman, Conan, Fallon all hold their own interviewing celebrities and delivering monologues -- but there's no single late night show that is appointment viewing for all people, no host as essential as Johnny Carson, the thirty-year Tonight Show host and television icon.

He was publicly known by many, Johnny Carson didn't have a lot of close personal friends. Though he was fun and friendly on-screen -- cavorting with celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra -- off-screen, he was very private and hid his emotions well.

It says a lot that Carson once described Henry Bushkin, his lawyer and business associate, as his "best friend". Bushkin came on to Carson's team as a fixer, someone to take care of his problems both professional and personal.

This week, Mike Pesca fills in for Jesse and talks to Bushkin, who served as Carson’s lawyer and closest confidante for nearly two decades. Dubbed ‘The Bombastic Bushkin,’ his relationship with Carson was a mix of professional and personal and he witnessed some of the icon’s darkest moments. Their friendship and business relationship eventually soured, but not before Bushkin collected a wide variety of experiences. This week, Bushkin dives into those privileged moments, from the good to the bad.

Bushkin’s new book, which recounts his time with Carson, is called, simply, Johnny Carson.

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The Dissolve on New Releases: Folk Stories in Inside Llewyn Davis and Fascinating Footage from Narco Cultura

Editorial Director Keith Phipps and Editor Scott Tobias from film site The Dissolve stop by to recommend the best films this winter has to offer. They recommend you check out the new movie from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis and a film that examines both sides of drug cartel culture, Narco Cultura.

You can find both films in select theaters nationwide this week.

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Canonball: Wire’s Pink Flag with Jim DeRogatis

Sometimes we like to take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look. This week, Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ's Sound Opinions guides us through the art-punk band Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag. He'll tell us why you don't necessarily have to have mega-musical talent to make a great song -- just some brilliant ideas.

You can hear Jim DeRogatis weekly on his nationally-distributed public radio show, Sound Opinions, or find his writing at WBEZ.org.

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Lisa Kudrow Talks Friends, Brain Science and Playing the Eternal Optimist

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Lisa Kudrow was part of an elite, six-member group. America tuned in to NBC every week as this tight-knit collective went through the ordinary struggles of twenty and thirty-somethings living in New York City. The show was called Friends and, in its decade-long run, it was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

Kudrow won an Emmy for her role as Phoebe Buffay, the ditzy member of the ensemble who is sometimes optimistic to a fault. Whether she’s singing about her odorous feline or recounting cringe-inducing tales from her colorful past, Phoebe retained a sense of playfulness that brightened even the darkest aspects of her character.

Since Friends, she's played some characters with darker sides -- people defined by their narcissistic tendencies. On Web Therapy, she plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who limits her patients to three minutes a session, since the rest is usually boring filler. The series shows Fiona's professional and personal life through sessions with patients that usually have their fair share of quirks.

Jesse Thorn spoke with Lisa Kudrow in 2012. Web Therapy is now in its fourth season online.

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The Outshot: Keith Olbermann’s Return to Sports

This week, Mike Pesca cheers sports journalist turned political pundit Keith Olbermann's return to the world of sports, with his ESPN2 show, Olbermann.

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Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 241: Ides of October with Mike Pesca

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Guests: 
Mike Pesca

NPR correspondent Mike Pesca stops by to join Jordan and Jesse for a discussion of Jewish baseball, overwhelming heat, ironic bigotry, and buildings that used to be banks.

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