Podcast of the Week: THE TURNAROUND! WITH JESSE THORN
Podcasts have so thoroughly and quickly risen to the forefront of the the media landscape, that it’s easy to forget the amount of work that goes into each production and the kinds of people who actually set out to make audio narratives as a career. THE TURNAROUND! WITH JESSE THORN attempts to rectify that, in part, by interviewing some of the greatest living radio journalists and podcasters about just that, interviews, why and how they do them, and what they look for in a compelling audio story. It’s both a masterclass in radio journalism and a brief glimpse into the private lives of people who are usually asking all the questions.
For fans of the of the form, this podcast is a must, offering the inside baseball discussions about technique you’d expect, while also getting into the personal reasons why interviewers and journalists do what they do. All of it is anchored by host Jesse Thorn, himself a successful interviewer/podcast impresario (BULLSEYE! WITH JESSE THORN is an equally enjoyable podcast about pop culture and the people who make it) who is humble to a fault and fascinated with each of his guests, finding a way to be a friend, a student, and a critic all at once. For those less experienced with podcasts, (those who hopped aboard when SERIAL blew up) THE TURNAROUND! is an excellent example of the diverse kinds of experiences podcasts can provide, while giving a brief education on the people who make them and the stories they have told.
The first episode (and the only one currently available) features Ira Glass, the creator of THIS AMERICAN LIFE and a giant in public radio. He discusses structuring stories and the often conflicting feelings of affection he feels towards his subjects. It’s enlightening and naturally meta, as Glass attempts to guide his own interview into a narrative arc he finds more compelling. It even features him live mixing an old segment from THIS AMERICAN LIFE, which as a fan, had me amazed. The podcast and its content seems like it will vary from interviewee to interviewee (both Larry King and Terri Gross are upcoming subjects), but is almost guaranteed to be interesting, a sort of ouroboros of interviews and radio hosts, making their art as they discuss making it. A closed loop of storytelling that expands outwards at least for this brief summer.