Humorous Interviews --


P.T. Barnum & Doug Mishler

The Something of Humbug

PT Barnum, sometimes known as the Prince of Humbug, was born in Connecticut in 1810.  In many ways, he personified the American character that Frenchman Alexis De Tocqueville described in his book, “Democracy in America.”  Barnum delighted in making money and telling the truth, as he saw it.  Some truths were told in the political arena, where he was twice a member of the Connecticut legislature and, in the interim, Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Some of his truths were lies when they were told to other people, like the history of some of his circus performers.  Other truths were told in his newspapers.  PT Barnum, ‘PT’ as he liked to be called, was best known as the creator of the ‘Best Show On Earth,’ the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  I spoke with PT Barnum, personified by Doug Missler, in the studios of Radio Curious in July of 1996 when this program was originally broadcast.

P.T. Barnum recommends "My Toils and Struggles," the autobiography of PT Barnum. Doug Mishler recommends "The Culture of Complaint," by Robert Hughes.

Originally Broadcast: July 24, 1996

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Nestle J. Frobish

Fair Play For Frogs, Part 1

Frogs play an important role in ecology of the world and are their occasional demise is sometimes noted as an impending ecological disaster. In 1961, a newly elected member of the California State Assembly, Jerome R. Waldie, introduced a bill that read in full, “frogs may be taken using slingshot.”  Little did he know that this bill would plague him through out his political career in the California Legislature, in the United States Congress, and as a candidate for governor of California.  Our guest is Nestle J. Frobish, the Chair-Creature of the World Wide Fair Play for Frogs Committee, an organization founded in Berkeley, California soon after what became to be known as the “frog murder bill.”   “Fair Play for Frogs, The Waldie – Frobish Papers,” the collected correspondence between Nestle J. Frobish and former Congressman Jerome R. Waldie was published as political spoof in 1977. Around that time some misinformed people, including Congressman Waldie accused me of being Nestle J. Frobish, something I am not now, nor ever have been.   I spoke with Nestle J. Frobish by phone while he was lurking near a pond at Frog Central in northern Vermont on May 21, 2007, so this rather preposterous story could be told.  Jerome Waldie is also a guest and his interview may be found on this web-site.

Nestle J. Frobish recommends "State of Denial" by Bob Woodward.

Originally Broadcast: May 21, 2007

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Dr. Bill Fry

Psychology of Humor

Our guest in this program was Dr. William Fry, a psychiatrist who has done extensive research in the field of humor.  We discussed the psychology and genetics of humor.  Much of Dr. Fry's research has concentrated on Cocoa, the gorilla, and we discussed that as well.  This program was originally broadcast in March of 1992, when Radio Curious was called Government, Politics and Ideas.

Originally Broadcast: March 2, 1992

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Wavy Gravy

You've Got to be Kidding …

Radio Curious is a program of interviews with those we wonder about.  I’ve often wondered about Woodstock of 1969.  I’ve often wondered how it got going and what its ramifications were.  Why does the recollection make some people puke?  So, I thought I’d ask Wavy Gravy, a man with insight on the subject far beyond most other people.  We discussed Woodstock and other stories in July of 2000.

Wavy Gravy recommends "The Laughing Sutra," Mark Salzman & "Angela's Ashes," by Frank McCourt.

Originally Broadcast: July 25, 2000

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Horace Greeley & David Fenimore

Go West, Young Man, Go West!

Newspapers were the primary means of mass communication in 19th Century America.  They not only told the news, but they pervaded social and political ideas of the times.  Horace Greeley was one of the most colorful and outspoken newspapermen of his day.  “Read and judge yourself,” was a slogan of his, almost as well known in his lifetime as his slogan, “Go west, young man, go west,” is known now.  I spoke with Horace Greeley through the personage of Chautauqua scholar David Fenimore during the 1996 Democracy in America Chautauqua series that visited Ukiah, CA.

Horace Greeley recommends "Democracy in America," by Alexis de Tocqueville. David Fenimore recommends "Breaking News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy," by James Fallows & "Who Will Tell the People?" by William Greider.

Originally Broadcast: February 26, 1997

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Terry Gross

Fresh Air

If you like interview programs perhaps you have listened to Fresh Air, produced in Philadelphia and broadcast regularly on this and other public radio stations, and hosted by a woman named Terry Gross, our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.  I wanted to know who she is, and what she does to prepare for and create Fresh Air.  I spoke with her by phone from her home, near Philadelphia, and asked her how she does it, how does she put together so many interesting programs so frequently.

Terry Gross recommends "Self-Consciousness: Memoirs," by John Updike & "U and I," by Nicholson Baker.

Originally Broadcast: March 7, 1994

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Scott McCloud

The Invisible Art

Understanding Comics, A Rather Colorful Display: The Invisible Art

Comics have come to hold quite an important place in contemporary society.  Satire, particularly political commentary, is perhaps closest to its essence when expressed in the visual comic.  However, it also can be argued that comics have played a far greater role in the history of humanity, tracing back to all images depicting a sequential number of actions.  My guest in this program is Scott McCloud, author of “Understanding Comics, A Rather Colorful Display: The Invisible Art,” a book about the history of comics.

Scott McCloud recommends "Jar of Fools," by Jason Lutes.

Originally Broadcast: August 27, 1994

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Ed Reinhart & Earl Dixon

Don't Shoot The Piano Player

Earl Dixon is a veteran traveler, a veteran piano player, and he’s actually a veteran, too.  An interesting story.  Earl Dixon, the man on this show, traveled around the world, and has a lot of familiar stories to tell to those of us here in Mendocino County.

Originally Broadcast: June 11, 2002

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Tim Sanders

A Silicon Valley 'Secret' of Success

Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

Tim Sanders, the author of a “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” is the Chief Solutions Officer at  Knowledge, network and compassion are the themes of his book and the basis for what he believes will bring most success in business.

Tim Sanders recommends "The Third Wave," by Alvin Toffler.

Originally Broadcast: April 9, 2002

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Jerome Waldie

Fair Play For Frogs, Part 2

As a lawyer and a student of political science, I have come to appreciate the anomalies and humor of politics.  One story that fits both of those categories well is the relationship between Nestle J. Frobish, the Chair-creature of World-Wide Fair Play for Frogs Committee and his former nemesis and the former Congressional Representative from the region just east of San Francisco, California, Jerome R. Waldie.  Their dissension arose in 1961 when Waldie was a freshman member of the California State Assembly and chose to introduce what came to be known as the “Frog Murder Bill,” resulting in Frobish organizing what turned out to be a 45 year campaign to get Waldie to renounce, what Frobish called his “vestigial impurities” visited upon him as the “mad butcher of the swamp.”  Waldie finally acceded in 2006 and in this interview recorded in mid June 2007 tells us why.

Jerome Waldie recommends "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis.

Originally Broadcast: June 11, 2007

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