Jesse Thorn

The Turnaround: Terry Gross

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Terry Gross

Jesse will be hosting an AMA on Reddit on Friday, August 11th at 12 pm PST to talk about what he's learned from making The Turnaround. Visit iama.reddit.com to join in the conversation and ask Jesse anything you'd like.

On the last episode of The Turnaround, Jesse talks to his all-time interviewing hero Terry Gross! For more than 30 years Terry's hosted Fresh Air from WHYY in Philadelphia, conducting some of the most insightful, fascinating conversations you'll likely ever hear.

Being a radio interviewer came somewhat naturally to Terry. She tells Jesse she prefers the medium to television, where you're expected to look or dress a certain kind of way, and where you can't just disappear behind a microphone. She also goes into the nuts and bolts of how Fresh Air gets made, and why doing a recorded show allows her take risks that often make for wonderful, unexpected moments. They also talk about a not-so-wonderful moment: that infamous 2002 interview with Gene Simmons.

Be sure to check out Terry's amazing interviews on Fresh Air's online archives.

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: Werner Herzog

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Werner Herzog

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 11th.

This week Jesse is in conversation with German filmmaker Werner Herzog, the man responsible for films like Grizzly Man, Tale of Forgotten Dreams and Lo and Behold. If you have not seen one of Werner's films, they might be described as intense, extreme, maybe even dark. But they are also very insightful, and this depth can be credited to the way that he interacts with the people he is interviewing. He chooses his subjects carefully, often times based on whether or not he thinks that they can handle his line of inquiry.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Werner's career spans more than 50 years, and he has released work almost every year since he began. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2009 documentary Encounters at the End of the World, and has been nominated for and won many other awards during his long career. He is one of the most celebrated figures in documentary film making, for both the final product and the processes by which he makes them.

Jesse and Werner talk about how he gets people to talk to him, and why he asks questions that he knows he won't get the answer to. They talk about his 1996 film, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, and why he thinks his dramatizations of his subject's lived experience aren't manipulation, but actually the way to get to the truth of the matter. They also talk about the interviews that take place on, and off camera, and why the latter often involves deeper and more meaningful conversation.

You can watch Werner's Emmy nominated film Into the Inferno on Netflix now.

Jesse will be hosting an AMA on Reddit this Friday August 11th at 12 noon PST to talk about what he's learned from this project. Go to iama.reddit.com/ to join in the conversation and ask Jesse anything you'd like.

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: Ray Suarez

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Jesse Thorn
Guests: 
Ray Suarez

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 11. Also, Jesse will be hosting a Reddit AMA talking about what he's learned from creating The Turnaround on Friday, August 11 at noon PST.

Ray Suarez is a broadcast journalist and news anchor who has done just about everything under the wider "journalism" umbrella. He began his career working for WMAQ in Chicago, covering local and national news. He was a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour, hosted NPR's Talk of the Nation for almost seven years, and most recently, he hosted a show on Al Jazeera America called Inside Story. He is a published author, and is currently a visiting professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts.


Photo: Courtesy of Ray Suarez

Ray is the kind of journalist that you would want to talk to as a private citizen. He's kind, morally adept, and does not try to take advantage in any way. He's still a super fair guy when he's interviewing public figures, but he tries to get them off script -- which he's become really good at in his more than three decades-long career.

Ray tells Jesse about his childhood ambition to be a professional journalist. They talk about his time reporting local news, and what he learned about talking to private versus public people. They also talk about the moral choices that comes with interviewing non-professionals. We also find out what it's like to interview politicians, and how to get the better, less rehearsed interview.

Ray has written three books, the most recent of which is called Latino Americans: The 500 Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation. You can also hear Ray interviewing Desus Nice, the Kid Mero, and Walter Murch on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn this past February 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.

The Turnaround: Katie Couric

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Show: 
The Turnaround
Guests: 
Katie Couric

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 11. Also, Jesse will be hosting a Reddit AMA talking about what he's learned from creating The Turnaround on Friday, August 11 at noon PST.

America's Sweetheart meets America's Radio Sweetheart! Katie Couric visits Jesse Thorn on today's episode of The Turnaround. Katie Couric has worked in TV news for nearly 40 years, an illustrious career that's included hosting duties at the Today Show, CBS Evening News, and most recently, an interview show on Yahoo. Name a famous person, and she's probably talked with them at some point: everyone from presidents, to superstar athletes, to actresses. But her skill as an interviewer also extends to her intimate conversations with everyday people, as seen in documentaries like Gender Revolution. And when she's not anchoring or interviewing people, she's hosting her own podcast.


Photo courtesy of Midroll

Katie talks to Jesse about what it was like being a morning talk show host for years, including dealing with the insanely early call times. She also opens up about tense interview situations, like the time in 2008 when she interviewed then VP candidate Sarah Palin about her foreign policy credentials. Plus: she offers tips on how to exit conversations at parties.

Check out Katie's great podcast on the Stitcher network, simply called Katie Couric.

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: 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 11. Also, Jesse will be hosting a Reddit AMA talking about what he's learned from creating The Turnaround on Friday, August 11 at noon PST.

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.

The Turnaround: 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 15th.

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.

The Turnaround: 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 15th.

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 by 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.

The Turnaround: 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 15th.

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.

The Turnaround: 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 15th.

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.

The Turnaround: 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 15th.

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.

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