TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rebecca Sugar

Rebecca Sugar is behind some of the most magical shows on Cartoon Network. They started as a storyboard artist on Adventure Time. And went on to create the acclaimed cartoon Steven Universe in 2013. This year is the show’s 10th anniversary! We’re celebrating by revisiting our interview with Rebecca in 2019. They chatted with us about the process behind making Steven Universe and their favorite cartoons as a kid. Plus, how they deal with feedback from fans.

Guests: Rebecca Sugar


[00:00:00] Music: Gentle, trilling music with a steady drumbeat plays under the dialogue.

[00:00:01] Promo: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of and is distributed by NPR.

[00:00:14] Music: “Huddle Formation” from the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team—a fast, upbeat, peppy song. Music plays as Jesse speaks, then fades out.

[00:00:21] Jesse Thorn: It’s Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. There’s a show called Steven Universe. It’s on Cartoon Network. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Very special show. It’s about a boy named Steven, who is about 11 when the show starts. He lives in a seaside town with his dad. Pretty early on, Steven realizes that there’s something special about him. He’s half human, half gem. Gems, in the world of Steven Universe, are these beings from another planet with superpowers. Most of them want to destroy Earth, but three of them want to save it. So, together Steven and those three good gems fight to, you know, save the world.

But the show’s about more than a fight for Earth’s future. It’s about more than even just Steven. It’s about the town he grows up in, the guy who makes pizza, a kid who is an onion. As I said, special show. The whole thing is created by Rebecca Sugar, my next guest. Rebecca is a veteran animator who also worked on the acclaimed Cartoon Network show Adventure Time. She’s earned a total of seven Emmy nominations. When I talked with Sugar in 2019, it was just after the release of the Steven Universe movie and an accompanying soundtrack. Many of the songs were written and composed by Rebecca.

The show just celebrated its 10th anniversary. It’s as beloved as ever. Sugar also recorded an album, their first ever. It’s called Spiral Bound. Let’s hear a song from it, “Good Morning Afternoon”.

[00:01:55] Music: “Good Morning Afternoon” from the album Spiral Bound by Rebecca Sugar.

Good morning, afternoon

Good morning, afternoon

I didn’t think that I’d be seeing you so soon

Wasn’t it just 11 half a minute ago?

I thought the day was moving slow

I thought the day was moving

Wasn’t it just 11 half a minute ago?

(Music fades out.)

[00:02:28] Jesse Thorn: Rebecca Sugar, welcome to Bullseye. It’s so nice to have you on the show.

[00:02:31] Rebecca Sugar: Oh, I’m so glad to be here.

[00:02:33] Jesse Thorn: I have three kids. And they’re all at the beginning of watching a television show age. So, I’ve seen a lot of children’s television lately, relatively speaking. And children’s TV shows, especially animated shows, tend to be pretty short. They tend to have a lot of action that takes up time, and they tend to have really simple conflicts. And especially—these days, the ones for very young kids are a little better about this. They’re almost always about rescuing someone from peril. But almost all of them, like the central conflict is a violent conflict that’s resolved through violence.

(They both chuckle.)

And for a show about a bunch of characters with semi-magical powers—space powers? Somewhere along the line between technological and magical powers—that’s not usually what Steven Universe is about, and I wonder if that was a choice.

[00:03:39] Rebecca Sugar: Oh, yes, of course. I think it’s exciting for me as a cartoonist to be drawing characters that are experiencing really interesting emotions, really human emotions. Cartoons are so expressive. So, from the very beginning, I wanted these characters to have a huge amount of emotional range that you could see on their faces and in their body language. That’s just exciting for me to draw. But also, I think more often than not—oh, how do I put this? I think maybe the reason a lot of kids’ cartoons have conflicts that are that simple is not because kids are interested in conflicts that simple, but because they’re simple enough for adults to understand.

Because these are adults pitching ideas to other adults for what a children’s show should be, and a lot of the time I find it can be hard to pitch to an adult a complicated idea, a complicated emotional idea. Much harder to pitch it to an adult than to explain it to a kid, who I think is more personally connected to wondering how their friend is feeling than being in an out-and-out brawl with laser guns. This just happens not nearly as often, I think, in the life of a child.

[00:04:54] Jesse Thorn: (Laughs.) I guess it depends on how you’re raising your kid and what context and that kind of thing. But yeah, how many lasers are around the house?

(Rebecca agrees.)

What shows did you watch as a kid?

[00:05:06] Rebecca Sugar: Oh my god. Well, how young are you thinking?

(They both chuckle.)

[00:05:09] Jesse Thorn: I don’t know. What are the ones that like really—I mean, like for me, I have the most vivid memories of watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse with my mom every Saturday morning. And I have other vivid memories of watching Batman and Tiny Toon Adventures after school. Like, those were the ones that I remember watching most vividly after school.

[00:05:30] Rebecca Sugar: Uh-huh. I think when I was young I was also very lucky. My dad is a really huge fan of animation, and so he had the whole collection of Looney Toons on laserdisc when I was young, and we would—

[00:05:43] Jesse Thorn: Wait, on laserdisc?! (Cackles.)

[00:05:44] Rebecca Sugar: Yeah. We would pour over them, and I would watch those with my dad, and I found those fascinating. And he also had like Canadian NFB shorts, like independent animation that I would watch when I was young. He had a copy of—you ever see there’s a version of Beauty and the Beast that switches from being animated to storyboards to rough animation?

(Jesse hasn’t.)

It’s like this sort of behind the scenes cut of it. That was the only copy we had. So, I never really got to think of animation as a magical thing that was real. Like, I always understood that it was drawings and that it was a job someone had, even when I was like five. And I really wanted to do it. That’s what I really remember, watching a lot of Looney Toons. My grandparents had a tape of Betty Boop cartoons and Fleischer Superman.

[00:06:29] Jesse Thorn: I was about to ask that. Like, did you ever watch those—I mean, look, I know you were in a laserdisc home. (Chuckling.) But we’re not all quite so fancy, Rebecca. But did you ever watch those cartoons that you bought on VHS tape for $2.99 at the drugstore that were like out of copyright? You know, The Sunshine Makers and then like two Woody Woodpeckers.

[00:06:58] Rebecca Sugar: Not so much as a child, but when I was an adult I did. Ian Jones-Quartey who I ran the show with for many years but also is my significant other, he had this copy of this rip of one of those—of The Snow Queen, the version from the ’50s that it’s just—the quality of it is pretty poor, because it’s this VHS rip, but the movie is so cool. And it was hugely influential to Miyazaki. One of the Fleischers is working on it. A lot of Steven is influenced by it, too. There’s some really good stuff floating around (chuckles) on those bootleg tapes.

[00:07:44] Jesse Thorn: Did you watch the kind of kids cartoons that are hyper-gendered? Things with, you know, pink princesses and guys in robot suits shooting each other?

[00:07:59] Rebecca Sugar: Well, I didn’t like the stuff for girls. And I remember when I was young understanding that that was incorrect. I watched a show called SWAT Kats, which I knew I was not supposed to be watching when I was a kid. And I found at one point a little diary I had where I confessed—tearfully confessed that I’d been watching SWAT Kats.

(They both chuckle.)

But I thought it was cool! I wanted to watch something with action in it. And that was a big goal when I was working on Steven. I didn’t want anyone to feel alienated the way that I had. I wanted people to feel like they were supposed to be watching the show and that the elements of it—when there were gendered elements of it, that it was always coming with a big asterisk that says, “But it’s for you. But this is for you.”

[00:08:52] Jesse Thorn: What does that mean? What’s an example of that asterisk?

[00:08:57] Rebecca Sugar: Ah, oh gosh. Well, there are many, many princess elements to Steven as a character and even pink as his color. None of that is related in his mind to girl or female as a concept. He relates pink to power and now also to danger. And he’s gone through many things that are technically princess tropes that he can’t quite figure out how he fits into. He’s not necessarily against it. He doesn’t have that association with it.

[00:09:35] Jesse Thorn: What’s an example of that?

[00:09:36] Rebecca Sugar: Are people caught up? This is going to be pretty spoilery.

[00:09:39] Jesse Thorn: Yeah, so, spoiler alert, gang.

(Rebecca laughs.)

I think we’re going to have two categories of people listening to this: people who are deeefinitely caught up; they’ve made their voices heard to me. And then people who are pretty chill about spoilers.

[00:09:52] Rebecca Sugar: Right. A lot thematically. A lot of the story in Steven is related to Sleeping Beauty. He’s being raised in his—you can’t see me doing air quotes—“cottage”, you know, by his sort of three fairies, so to speak. And eventually, he’s brought back to the palace, where he finds out that he’s royalty amidst the celebration that just makes him confused. And then he goes through this gauntlet of having mice make his clothes and being locked in a tower and throwing a ball. And all of it is just more and more and more difficult for him, because that’s just not who he is. And a lot of that related to just how much I loved those stories and those movies when I was younger but didn’t really understand how I fit inside of them.

[00:10:47] Jesse Thorn: How did you think about the way that you fit inside of the super-gendered world of children’s entertainment? You’re a nonbinary woman. That’s how I’ve heard you describe yourself. Is that right?

(Rebecca confirms.)

So, like what did it mean to you when you were a kid or even like a teenager? Was it just “something’s wrong about this”?

[00:11:08] Rebecca Sugar: I would find it beautiful and distant. I would feel a sort of yearning like, “Oh, what a lovely thought, what a lovely way to be for someone else.” And I would find myself really interested in all the side characters with the weird designs. Like, I want to know, you know, what that maid is doing. I want to know what the cook is doing. Who’s he in love with? You know? (Chuckles.) The people running around and getting flustered that aren’t in the center of the story. That’s how I would feel.

I wanted to, with Steven, also put more of a spotlight on those characters. The characters in Steven that are equivalent to that kind of royalty are not nearly as important as, you know, the butler and the maid and the characters—the knight, the people who would be side characters are the main characters of my show.

[00:12:09] Jesse Thorn: More with Rebecca Sugar after a short break. Stay with us. Still to come, Rebecca tells us about how she deals with feedback from fans who don’t see things the same way she does. It’s Bullseye from and NPR.

[00:12:23] Transition: Chiming synth with a syncopated beat.

[00:12:29] Jesse Thorn: Welcome back to Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. If you’re just joining us, we are replaying my conversation with Rebecca Sugar from 2019. Sugar is the creator of the hit cartoon show, Steven Universe. That show is celebrating its 10th anniversary. They’re also a singer-songwriter who just released an album. Let’s get back into our conversation.

Do you remember a time early in your career when you got a big feeling from your childhood that you put into story?

[00:13:02] Rebecca Sugar: Yeah! Yeah. I think the one that I keep returning to is that when I was a kid, I left a stuffed animal in the garden. And I didn’t find it until I don’t know how many months later. Maybe it was a year. You know how things feel like a year (chuckles) when maybe it was two weeks. I don’t know. But it must have been a while, because when I found it again, it had been lying upside down. And the sun had faded its belly. It was a black rabbit, and now it had this light gray belly when I turned it over. And it was the first time I ever realized that things could change without me. And it wasn’t that it was worse or better, it was just different, and I wasn’t there to see that happen, and I never really forgot it.

And I also felt bad that I had been so careless. I thought I cared so much about this toy, and I hadn’t even realized that it was gone. And I wrote a song about it called “Everything Stays” for Adventure Time. And then, as we were working on the movie, it slowly dawned on me that I was writing about it again, about this person leaving a toy in the garden. And something about that just really stuck with me. I think it was a turning point as a kid where I had my first existential crisis. But I think I also realized that I could make a mistake—a bad mistake that would—I could leave something behind in that way. I think I realized—is there a point where you’re a child where you realize that you’re childish? That must click at some point. I don’t know; it really must have rattled me, because I keep talking about it (chuckles) in my stories.

[00:14:52] Jesse Thorn: Do you feel like you have to do a lot of work to access those feelings that you had and those memories? Or do you feel like they’re particularly present in you?

[00:15:08] Rebecca Sugar: I don’t know. I think more often than not, I tend to write about what I’m going through at the moment and then try to find some way to connect that with the past if I can. A lot of the show was an interesting process, because it started out with me writing about my childhood with my brother, Steven—my younger brother. And I wanted it to be about this formative time when I was just becoming a teenager, and he wasn’t quite there yet. He was younger, and I was drawing, and I was becoming this role model, and I wanted to be a good role model. And Steven and the Gems are all based off some aspect of that.

But Steven was with me on the show. He’s our lead background designer. So, as the show was becoming more and more difficult, and I was buckling a little under a lot of that pressure, he was there for me in real time. And the story ends up reflecting that a lot as the gems start to unravel and Steven steps up to be there for them. That was very much what was happening at that moment—not necessarily what had happened. (Chuckles.) Although, that also happened when we were that age. You know, being a teenager was a little tough on me, and he was such a reliable source of positivity. And if I was ever having a bad day, he’d just throw on a video game that he knew I liked. And I could always count on him, and it just stayed true. The past, the present, the future.

[00:16:37] Jesse Thorn: What kinds of things about teenagerdom were particularly difficult?

[00:16:41] Rebecca Sugar: Oh gosh. Let’s see. (Laughs.) What a question. I think I had a bit of a rough time as a bi teenager. Because I knew—right from the start, I knew what was going on. But when I would try to talk about it, people would shut me down pretty quick. And that became very confusing. I got a lot of bad advice that just kept living in me really until my late 20s. Things like—oh, you know. Well, mainly like “who cares?”, mainly like the eye rolls, which I was like, “Yeah, I guess—yeah, I guess who cares?” And at that point, I think I internalized—I would stop caring about my own feelings, because I was just like, “Well, who cares?” Like, I really absorbed that.

Which I think was people’s way of saying I don’t mind, you know, at the time. But it wasn’t particularly helpful. And then people saying, “Well, you’ll figure it out when you end up with someone.” Which made me pretty confused, because I felt like I needed a relationship to tell me who I was. And I think I’ve made decisions that would have—I would have made better decisions if I had trusted myself. I learned, I think, from that to not trust myself, because I thought that this made sense. And hearing from everyone around me that it didn’t made me pretty unsure of my own ability to make sense of anything.

[00:18:11] Jesse Thorn: I think it’s pretty, unusual that Steven Universe is a story that is about a boy, whose—you know—main role models and protectors and family members are all—present as women. Basically, the gems are this like—they’re like a space people, aliens, who wouldn’t be female-gendered on their home planet. But on Earth, they present as women and—

[00:18:46] Rebecca Sugar: They’re perceived as women. Yeah.

[00:18:48] Jesse Thorn: Yeah. And that those are not mothers. Like, I think that feels really unusual and significant to me. Like, there aren’t that many stories about that kind of thing.

(Rebecca agrees.)

And like, you’re an older sister and had a relationship that was not maternal but was protective of your little brother.

(Rebecca confirms.)

But like, did you think about anywhere else where that kind of story existed?

[00:19:24] Rebecca Sugar: No, I wanted it! I wanted that visual. And I think it says a lot that you never see just an image or an aspirational story about a young boy looking up to women. You know, even as someone who—I was about to be running a television show. I mean, just how do you navigate a world where no young boy has ever seen an image where the correct thing to do is to just listen to what a woman has said? (Laughs.) I mean, that’s—when you see that zero times. Not that it’s zero times, but it’s rare. And what you get a lot of are boys hanging out with each other and influencing each other and looking up to men.

Which I mean, there are so, so, so many men that I look up to. There’s certainly nothing wrong with looking up to men. But I think it would do a lot of good to just put the idea out there that taking direction from a woman is a sign of strength, and taking direction from a nonbinary person who people perceive as a woman is a sign of strength. (Chuckling.) I mean, that would be great! (Chuckles.) That would just be great! I would like for—and I think that, as someone who’s been leading a team, I feel like we’re all so strong together. I don’t see why that can’t be something that’s out in the world.

[00:21:00] Jesse Thorn: I mean, I think that there’s been a lot of progress in the time since I was a kid—you know, in the last 30 years or so—in terms of having feminist messages in children’s entertainment. But those feminist messages are almost always coming from women to girls. And it feels consequential to me to choose to have a show where the mentors—of different kinds, right? Like, these three characters who are the, you know, fairy godmothers of Steven are all like—you know, they’re all dopey in their own ways in addition to being heroes.

(Rebecca agrees.)

But like, all of them are serving as an example to Steven, who’s definitely a boy. And like, I thought, you know, in my own childhood as a boy, there was no example of that. Maybe there were some great moms, but even those moms were like such a traditional and specific set of mom values. Which are like great values but—you know, like everybody loves nurturing. But like that was generally pretty much it.

[00:22:25] Rebecca Sugar: That’s the thing. And gems are not inherently nurturing at all. That’s actually really, really tough for them. (Laughs.) I actually—I liked the thought of them having to discover that. I mean, Steven is the one who is like that. And that was very much by design. I wanted to give all of the really incredible maternal traits to Steven. You know, his healing abilities and his ability to calm situations and bring people together and unite everyone. All of those things. Because those are wonderful, powerful things, but they don’t have to be gendered, necessarily. They don’t have to be something only a mother can do.

[00:23:04] Jesse Thorn: We’ll finish up with Rebecca Sugar after a quick break. Keep it locked. It’s Bullseye from and NPR.

[00:23:12] Transition: Chiming synth with a syncopated beat.

[00:23:17] Jesse Thorn: This is Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest is Rebecca Sugar, a singer-songwriter and the creator of Steven Universe.

What are the special qualities of animation relative to regular filmed stuff or a book or even a comic that you wanted to take advantage of in making Steven Universe?

[00:23:40] Rebecca Sugar: Oh. Well. Animation, I think—for a long time, I would get frustrated with the fact that people think of animation as a genre instead of a medium. They think of animation, and they think of princess movies, and they think of animated television shows being a certain thing, and they think of shows that are targeted to boys and shows that are targeted to girls. And for good reason, because the reason that those are the way they are is because of a lot of things you were talking about earlier. Because of marketing and because of demographics that are related to advertising and how these things all came to be.

And so, as someone who also got a chance to grow up on independent films and—you know, I thought even from when I was very young, “That’s not—animation doesn’t have to be any of these things! It can be so many other things! It can be so many other types of art.” But when I got closer to the opportunity to make an animated show for television, I flipped on it completely. And I got very excited about the way that people think of what television animation is supposed to be and what animated movies are supposed to be. And instead of trying to avoid all of this trope-y language, I wanted to take it and scramble it and play with it.

To make something for Cartoon Network, there are certain expectations for what a show on Cartoon Network is going to be, what it’s going to mean, and who it’s going to be for. And that became very exciting to me. Because I could say something not only about what I wanted to do but about what people expect, what people take for granted, what people consider to be what you are supposed to see when you watch an animated television show. I wanted to shine a big light on that.

[00:25:23] Jesse Thorn: Because your show represents things and people that are so infrequently represented on television—especially kids television—it is like immensely important to a lot of people. And I wonder—I mean, I’m sure, or at least I hope, that you’re very proud of that. But I wonder how comfortably you wear that knowledge.

[00:25:57] Rebecca Sugar: Ah! Well, I mean, I respect fans. I respect being a fan of something so much. And I respect navigating being alive as a person who is queer and gender expansive. I respect that immensely and relate to it immensely. And so, those two things together, it all makes absolute sense to me. I really try—I say this in terms of what I’m doing, but also the show is so much a reflection of the entirety of the staff. And we’re all really writing about ourselves and our loved ones. And a lot of this is very true in our lives. And I have really felt determined to make sure that we are making the art we want to make, and that that’s not being bent or altered to be what someone might consider to be more accessible. Because what we have to say has not been said, because that happens so often. Or that it’s just simply not been allowed to be possible at all.

So, I don’t know if—I’m proud. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish on the show. And I’m very moved at how the show has been received. And also, it’s been a big arc for me. Because as a bisexual person and a nonbinary person, I was closeted up until really very recently. And it’s because I have—it’s because of the show and people reaching out to me saying, “I relate to these characters. I understand what you’re talking about,” that I have found a community that I didn’t have before. So, when people tell me that the show has done that, that it helped them come out to their families or find people who understood them for the first time—(chuckling speechlessly) I mean, I respect that so much, because it’s also true for me. And I understand how much that’s meant, because my life has changed so much by being able to speak about this openly and being able to understand that anyone might be interested.

Which for a very long time, I just thought no one wants to hear about this. I had just absorbed that. And I’m just very moved. And when I meet people who talk about how it affected them specifically, I just—I love to get to meet people one-on-one and hear about it. Because I understand. And I didn’t really have the tools to talk about a lot of this until… until now. And in part, until making a bunch of cartoon characters to explain how I felt, which is what I was always definitely going to do. Because that’s the kind of art I like. I only like art if it’s coming from an honest place. I just really didn’t know that people would understand. And it’s really life changing.

So, yes, I’m proud. And I’m moved. And I’m grateful. I’m just so grateful that people saw it! Like, they saw that in it. And they understood even at a time—we started this so—we started this in 2012, when so many of these things, we couldn’t actually—it took so long to be able to say these things. And even before we could, people knew. And I was finding people who were already excited, even about what we were able to do then. I mean, there’s so much to say about it. But I understand the gravity that it has, and it really has it for me too. And I’ll always appreciate everyone to whom the show is meaningful. I would have appreciated it even if they were just wacky cartoons, and they just liked them as cartoons.

Even that, I would have understood the immense gravity of that. That would have been—that would be enough, because that’s how I already felt about cartoons. But to also get to know that we, on the other side of this cartoon—that we’re people and that we found each other. Oh my gosh! I never could have imagined that I would get to feel this way.

[00:30:20] Jesse Thorn: When you’re telling really personal stories—which you are on this show; you’re telling your personal stories and your colleagues are telling theirs and, you know, you’re creating the show by weaving these really deep, personal meanings together—you’re also presenting it to people who are different from you, have different experiences, have different ways of thinking about things. You know, whatever. And they experience it differently. Is that hard for you? Especially in the context of those people who experience it differently might still be—you know, a lot of those people are the people who are being profoundly affected by the show. So, like if someone is hurt by it or angered by it, and it’s because they see it differently than you do—(chuckles) because they’re different from you, right? Like, are you able to be okay about that?

[00:31:26] Rebecca Sugar: Yeah, I think it made me very nervous earlier on. I’ve had to really figure out how to navigate that. And I think—at this point, I really think about it as if I am friends with the audience. I think of art as communication, as a cartoon as communication, like I’m speaking to someone across the table. And I’m trying to get them excited about what I’m excited about as genuinely as possible. I’m not going to try and say the thing I think they want to hear, because that’s not a good conversation. I’m not going to only talk about myself, because that’s also not a good conversation. You know, I want the show to feel like a connection that I want to have with my audience.

But at a certain point—you know, there are friends in my life who don’t necessarily understand everything about me, and they’re still my friends, right? And I could trust someone and know that maybe our closeness ends at a certain point, and I don’t do cartwheels trying to explain myself to that person. Because that’s fine. And then there is a certain point where there are people in my life who are not my friends, and I maybe just don’t approach that at all and maybe don’t trust that person. Because maybe I can’t.

So, I understand that if that’s how I’m going to approach a conversation with someone—I’ve really started to speak—if I’m going to speak from the heart, I’m speaking as if I trust the person that I’m speaking to. And if I can’t, I’ve accepted that that interaction was a failure. (Laughs.) But it’s not going to stop me from speaking to people who I trust and who trust me. I have to have that conversation. And if I’m not, where is it going to be? So, I need to just accept that not everyone is having that same conversation with me, not everyone is on the same page 100% of the time. And it can’t stop me from having a meaningful discussion to be afraid of a person that I can’t trust. Because our audience is just so massive.

[00:33:35] Jesse Thorn: Rebecca, thank you so much for taking all this time to come on Bullseye. It was so nice to get to talk to you and get to know you.

[00:33:42] Rebecca Sugar: Oh, yeah! Thanks so much for having me!

[00:33:43] Jesse Thorn: And thank you for your wonderful work, as well.

[00:33:44] Rebecca Sugar: Aw, thanks.

[00:33:46] Jesse Thorn: Rebecca Sugar from 2019. The album they just released is called Spiral Bound. Let’s hear another song from it. This is “Sweet Time”.

[00:33:55] Music: “Sweet Time” from the album Spiral Bound by Rebecca Sugar.

Everybody’s headed somewhere

And they wanna get there faster

But I’m taking my, I’m taking my sweet time

I used to be in such a hurry

So much, so quick, so sick with worry

Now I’m taking my, I’m taking my sweet time

(Music continues under the dialogue.)

[00:34:27] Jesse Thorn: That’s the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye is created from the homes of me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around Greater Los Angeles, California. I’ve got a shed in my backyard that needs flooring. What do you think about linoleum?

The show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our senior producer is Kevin Ferguson. I’m going to check in with him about linoleum as soon as I leave the studio. Our producers are Jesus Ambrosio and Richard Robey. Our production fellow at Maximum Fun is Bryanna Paz. By the way, we are hiring a new production fellow at Maximum Fun! So, if you are a Bullseye listener or a public radio fan or a podcast person and you would like to have a one year paid fellowship making radio and podcasts here at Maximum Fun in LA, just go to And if you know somebody! It’s a great gig. Work directly with the Bullseye team, among other things, here at MaxFun. It’s a lot of fun.

We get booking help from Mara Davis. Our interstitial music is by DJW, also known as Dan Wally. Our theme song is “Huddle Formation”. It was written and recorded by The Go! Team. Thanks to The Go! Team. Thanks to Memphis Industries, their label.

Bullseye is on Instagram! There are interview highlights there, behind the scenes looks, all kinds of stuff. @BullseyeWithJesseThorn. I think that’s about it. Just remember, all great radio hosts have a signature signoff.

[00:35:51] Promo: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of and is distributed by NPR.

[00:35:57] Music: “Sweet Time” by Rebecca Sugar.

Everybody’s selling something

Looking for the highest bidder

But I’m taking my, I’m taking my sweet time

(Music ends.)

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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Senior Producer


Maximum Fun Producer

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

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