W. Kamau Bell and Mike Pesca

20th August 2018

This week, we’ve got another Emmy-nominated guest – W.Kamau Bell! He’s known for his stand-up comedy, but he might be even more beloved for the television shows he’s hosted. “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. But unlike, say, “The Daily Show” Kamau wasn’t inclined to be the star. He preferred to put the spotlight on his guests and just ask the questions–funny and serious both. W. Kamau Bell’s, “United Shades of America,” airs on CNN and is up for three Emmys. He’ll tell us why he’s particularly proud about the series.
Then, we’ll talk to Mike Pesca about his newest book: “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. They all ask hypothetical questions about the most pivotal moments in sports history… and what would have happened if things had gone differently. Pesca also talks about what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters and about the time he was the guest host of “Wait Wait.. Don’t Tell Me!” (including the outcry he received for having Kim Kardashian-West on that program).
And finally, 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.

Episode notes

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Photo: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images
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!


Photo: Andreasilenzi via Wikimedia Commons
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.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

In this episode...

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Guests

  • W. Kamau Bell
  • Mike Pesca

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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