Help me find more great radio interviewers!
September 7, 2014 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I will listen to any subject under the sun (radio or podcast) that has a great interviewer. Terry Gross rules this genre. Anyone else of this calibre I should know about?
posted by nanook to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I think Kurt Andersen is fantastic, but there's a good chance you know of him. Marc Maron's pretty great too.
posted by lownote at 1:01 PM on September 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Personally I love Evan Kleiman who is the host/interviewer for KCRW's Good Food. For anything food related, she rules -- with a very eclectic, intelligent and insightful approach. Since KCRW has fans from all over the world who stream the station, her show is not strictly Cali-centric, but covers the gamut of everything food intriguing. Each Saturday at 11 am for 60 minutes. Or, you can listen to it at any time at KCRW's website. Not sure if it can be downloaded on iTunes.
posted by zagyzebra at 1:06 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

(metafilters own) Jesse Thorn and Bullseye.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:25 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Eleanor Wachtel, from the CBC show Writers & Company, is also a very good interviewer.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:27 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think that Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist Podcast is a great host and interviewer. He keeps the conversation going, he is well-prepared, and really thoughtful and honest. He used to focus on comics and actors but as he's gotten more popular he has branched out and gotten bigger and more diverse guests. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple great ones - Joan Rivers, Alex Trebec, William Shatner. But really there are *so many* good ones as he's done over 500 episodes.
posted by radioamy at 1:45 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Warren Olney, of PRI's To the Point.
Am I the only person on earth who is irritated by Terri Gross?
posted by mmiddle at 1:47 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding Eleanor Wachtel. Even if you may not have much interest in international literary fiction, her guests are almost universally engaging as they discuss their characters, the writing process, their own lives and the societies they grew up in. I have friends who listen to her show weekly even though they have never and probably will never read any of the books her guests have written.

In addition, not all of her guests write literary fiction. In 2013 alone, her guests included Fran Lebowitz, Simon Winchester, Gloria Steinem, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jane Goodall, Patti Smith, and Robert Hughes.
posted by maudlin at 2:03 PM on September 7, 2014

Second Marc Maron. He really gets a lot of interesting things out of people.
posted by sweetkid at 2:09 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I find Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing to be surprisingly good. He mostly talks to showbiz people about their careers and experiences in the industry. I've heard him tease some surprising stories out of people. His interview with David Letterman is a fun listen.
posted by jessicapierce at 2:18 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Milt Rosenberg had a program on WGN-Radio in Chicago called Extension 720. He's putting a mix of new and archived programs up as well. Extension 720 was a mix of interview, discussion and call-in, kind of like Fresh Air. (Mostly, I remember him being exceptionally even-handed. I'm far more progressive than that show ever was, I think, but I remember being willing to listen to it in the run up to the Iraq War, which has to count for something.)
posted by hoyland at 2:19 PM on September 7, 2014

These are very niche specific, but all excellent in their field:

Russ Roberts of econtalk is one of the most thoughtful/philosophical thinkers I know of. When he talks to other economists the interviews can get quite technical, but most of his hour+ episode are accessible and deeply thoughtful, really cutting to the heart of what economics is about -- not money but how to live your live, how to make choices give limited resources/knowledge, the tension between Liberal urges to control/perfect life and Conservative wariness about the limits of knowledge and the corruptibility of power structures.

Jesse Brown's Canadaland podcast is excellent for dissecting the state of Canadian culture, politics, technology and society.

David Livingstone's The Space Show is an unmatched resource if you're interested in anything space related. It's one of those deals where the production values are inversely proportionate to the content quality. He's a bit of a grumpy fart, but his 1300+ (!) episodes cover everything to the history of Apollo/Nasa/ the space shuttle to the most cutting edge independent commercial space corps, to policy, to scientific research, to legal concerns, to human factors.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History and Common Sense aren't really interviews, but he's the most amazing story teller and also incredibly smart, thoughtful and humane.

And... The New Yorker has a bunch of great podcasts, too.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 2:30 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Michael Enright on the CBC's Sunday Edition.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Steve Paikin on The Agenda on TVOntario.
posted by H21 at 3:44 PM on September 7, 2014

It's such a question of taste. I will take your love of Terry Gross to indicate a preference for well-prepared, a bit more formal, friendly, non-hostile, but not overly chatty interviewing. (There is a lot of overly chatty interviewing around these days IMHO.) That made me think of Radio New Zealand's Kim Hill, the BBC's Kirsty Young and Brian Lehrer.
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:53 PM on September 7, 2014

I will take your love of Terry Gross to indicate a preference for well-prepared, a bit more formal, friendly, non-hostile, but not overly chatty interviewing.

Yes, thank you. Providing coherence and emotional intelligence, and leading the interview in a subtle, clever way, a fierce kind of focus. Marc Maron has this on good days. And an auteur of the radio interview was Art Bell from Coast to Coast. (As I said, it is not the subject for me).

Thanks for all the great suggestions, as a dislocated Canuck I appreciate all the homeland references.
posted by nanook at 5:24 PM on September 7, 2014

Krista Tippett is an excellent interviewer, and I highly recommend On Being's unedited episodes as hearing the interview free of cuts shows just how excellent she is at navigating conversations and drawing insight from the people she's speaking to. Her recent interview with Yo-Yo Ma is particularly great.
posted by lunch at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am also a fan of Terry Gross and listen to lots of podcasts/public radio. The closest thing (content/inteview style) to Terry Gross in my opinion is Leonard Lopate of WNYC.
posted by Jego at 6:22 PM on September 7, 2014

Oh, jebub! These are on NPR, so you might already know them, but I can't believe I forgot:

- Pop Culture Happy Hour, which, while more of a round-table than an interview is just delightful -- the hosts just have the most lovely warmth and friendship. They talk about a lot of stuff I don't give a hoot about, but I love it anyway.

- On The Media is good for contemporary analysis of.. the media.

- tl;dr is On The Media's shorter, cooler, quirkier, more interesting, more irrelevant/irreverent little brother.

- Radiolab has had some fantastic seasons. I was a huge fan of seasons 1 - 4 or so, then the show's focus seemed to shift a bit and I didn't follow along, but they still produce a lot of content.

Oh, and another space related, non-npr popcast: Astronomy Cast. More a conversation based format than interview based, but also very good, very focused, very technical but approachable.

[I list to a lot of podcasts]

[If you want recommendations for programming/web design ones, I can unload a bunch of those, too.]
posted by slipperywhenwet at 6:39 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also of NPR, I love Tom Ashbrook. He's on WBUR in Boston. He might be on other NPR stations. I enjoy the way he interviews, but he does tend to interview guests as part as a topic or theme whereas Terry Gross is trying to get to know her subject. Ira Glass of This American Life (also NPR) does good interviews, but as I'm sure you know, the format of the show is less him interviewing guests and more often straight storytelling from his guests.

Surprisingly, if you can look back some of his shock jock stuff, Howard Stern is an excellent interviewer. I recently listened to his interviews with Anderson Cooper, Pharrell Williams, Steve Carell, Katie Couric and some others I can't remember right now. They're all on YouTube. He asks great engaging questions and no sex questions in these interviews (or he'll try one and the guest will rebuff him). Some of his guests I think he does ask gross personal questions, but I think it depends on the guest because none of the interviews I've listened to have been like that, even though I am well aware that he does it. I think his ability to interview well is probably why he's had the success he's had, other stuff notwithstanding.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:53 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh I had forgotten about Here's The Thing. Baldwin is a great interviewer and the shows are well-done and well-edited. None of the babbling and poor recording that unfortunately plagues a lot of podcasts (Marc Maron I'm looking at you).
posted by radioamy at 9:08 PM on September 7, 2014

Just had a long post that got eaten. Ok

Warren Olney is great. No frills, good guests, good interviewer. His Which Way LA? is a local treasure here in LA.

Tom Ashbrook is also no-frills. He has good guests. There is no smugness in Ashbrook, unlike with a show like "on the media."

Ian Masters on KPFK has the best guests on public radio.

"in Our Time" on BBC 4 is amazing. It's my favorite show on public radio. It's not strictly an interview show. He has three guests on it one time. See also "Start the Week" on BBC.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:20 AM on September 8, 2014

Seconding Milt Rosenberg. He's my definition of articulate and eloquent.
posted by qsysopr at 3:57 AM on September 8, 2014

2nding Leonard Lopate on WNYC, he can speak intelligently to anyone on any subject. He never ceases to amaze me.

I also think Tavis Smiley is a terrific interviewer, and quite possibly underrated for that skill. He never interrupts his guests and really listens to what they're saying; he's never in a rush in interject his thoughts. Sort of the opposite of Charlie Rose, who I find to be irritating for that reason, but am often compelled to watch as he has a great guest list.

Tavis has both a radio and TV show with podcasts and streaming of the past TV broadcasts.
posted by PaulBGoode at 12:28 PM on September 8, 2014

Kyle Risdall from Marketplace money is one of my favorites for the short interviews he does on his program. I agree whole-heartedly with Terry's mastery of understanding the guest and getting guest to reveal much more than pre-memorized spiels.
posted by radsqd at 1:51 PM on September 8, 2014

Alton Brown's podcast has great interviews, and they aren't all food-related. I thought his interview with the owner of Taylor Guitars was really interesting!
posted by exceptinsects at 4:54 PM on September 8, 2014

Lewis Lapham has (had?) his moments.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:04 PM on September 8, 2014

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