Studio 360

Each week on PRI's Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, guests and the host entertain listeners while examining, commenting on, and providing insight into cultural ideas and trends.
American newspapers and general-interest magazines today devote less and less of their coverage to the most ambitious and important new literature, filmmaking, music, dance, theater, visual art, and design. If it isn't a current mass-media phenomenon — a Hollywood movie, a hot TV show, a big videogame, or pop music release — it probably isn't covered at all on the airwaves.
This is the context in which PRI's Studio 360 rises to fill that gap left by mainstream media. No other U.S. broadcast program covers the whole culture — "high" as well as "low," classical and vernacular, the challenging and the pop — in such fresh, smart, deep, incisive, idea-driven fashion.


Sunday 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM on WUSF 89.7

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Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen is a novelist. His latest book, Heyday, has been called "delightful, intelligent," and "a true novel of ideas" by Publishers Weekly, and "a terrific," "utterly engaging novel" by Library Journal. His earlier novel, Turn of the Century, was a New York Times Notable Book that Times reviewers called "wickedly satirical," "outrageously funny" and "the most un-clichéd novel imaginable," and that The Wall Street Journal called a "smart, funny and excruciatingly deft portrait of our age." 

He is also author of The Real Thing, a book of humorous essays. He has written and produced prime-time network television programs and pilots for NBC and ABC, and co-authored Loose Lips,... Read More...

From Studio 360

  • The Oscar hour
    The annual Oscar hour. Kurt Andersen starts it off with his takeaway from this year’s crop of nominees: some actors delivered great performances in films that overall were not so great. Then Kurt talks with Richard E. Grant about his nomination for "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" and some of his other memorable roles, including in “Withnail &amp; I.” Finally, the invaluable yet seldom acknowledged job of a movement director, namely Polly Bennett, who helped Rami Malek embody Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • The Crack Monster: The Mystery Behind Sesame Street’s Creepiest Cartoon
    In the mid-1970s, Jon Armond was traumatized by something he saw on <em>Sesame Street</em>. It was a cartoon about a little girl who encounters creatures formed by the cracks on her bedroom wall — including a horrifying, screaming face who called himself “The Crack Master.”<br>Decades later, Armond wasn’t sure if the cartoon actually existed… until he discovered a subculture of obsessives who remembered the exact same thing. Armond details the bizarre rabbit hole he fell into trying to track it down. Plus, <em>Sesame Street </em>Executive Producer Ben Lehmann talks about the cartoon’s disappearance and uncovers some of its elusive mysteries.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Sex seen
    As Cupid takes aim this week, a look at how sex and sexuality are handled — and mishandled — on-screen. Kurt Andersen speaks with Slate’s Jeffrey Bloomer on depictions of first-time sex. Intimacy-scene consultant Alicia Rodis describes how she helps actors who are virtual strangers seem like they are deeply and lustilly in love during sex scenes. Desiree Akhavan’s show “The Bisexual” takes on what she sees as an anti-bisexual bias, a bias she demonstrates with clips from shows including “Sex and the City” and “Orange is the New Black.” Plus a look back at how “Reality Bites,”which hit theaters 25 years ago this week, helped channel the Gen X zeitgeist.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Honky tonk angels
    An hour on country music: past, present and future. Nashville-based music reporter Jewly Hight gives Kurt an update on how women artists in country music are forging new paths in an industry that’s become unwelcoming. Dolly Parton reflects on her long career. Willie Nelson shares an Aha Moment about the song that changed his life. And the incomparable Dwight Yoakam performs live in studio.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Behind the Curtain at Autism-Friendly Broadway Shows
    In 2015, an autistic boy disrupted a performance of <em>The King &amp; I</em> on Broadway, reacting loudly to a scene where a slave is whipped. He and his mother were asked to leave the theater. <br>After the performance, one of the actors from the ensemble posted a reaction to the incident on Facebook. He wrote: “When did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?”<br>The Facebook post went viral. <br>What’s interesting is that Broadway was kind of responding the <em>King &amp; I</em> incident even before it happened. Theater leaders were working to create a safe environment for families with autistic children — a place to enjoy art free of discrimination — with special autism-friendly performances at musicals and plays. &nbsp;<br>“It just takes away all the stress of taking her to a typical show where, you know, she might yell a little too loud or clap a little too loud or want to jump up and down and it may not be acceptable,” says Carmen Mendez, whose daughter is autistic. “Here she can be herself.” &nbsp;<br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Found in translation
    Natasha Wimmer, whose translations of Roberto Bolaño are extraordinary, tells Kurt Andersen about her rules of the road. Plus, the play “Behind the Sheet” helps to expose and reassess J. Marion Sims, a pioneer in gynecology whose advances came at the expense of the slaves on whom he conducted brutal experiments. And Kurt talks with artist Jessica Campbell, who for her first solo exhibit&nbsp; created work almost exclusively out of carpet.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Shall we dance?
    An hour on continuing innovations in American dance. Choreographer Donald Byrd uses dance to illuminate what it means to be black in America. Elizabeth Streb speaks with Kurt Andersen about how she defies gravity with her “extreme action” techniques. And how the salsa pioneers Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco got the world on its feet.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • From Aria Code: Dalila, the Femme Fatale
    On this <em>Studio 360</em> extra, we’re sharing a great new podcast called <a href=""><em>Aria Code</em></a>. Produced by WQXR and the Metropolitan Opera, it features singers and other thinkers decoding the magic of a single piece from an opera, followed by the music uninterrupted.<br>In this episode, host <a href="">Rhiannon Giddens</a> and her guests reflect on the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, the trope of the <em>femme fatale</em>, and how composer Camille Saint-Saëns created this unforgettable moment that sounds as if Dalila’s slowly removing her clothing, one note at a time. Plus, you'll hear mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča sing the complete aria from the <a href="">Metropolitan Opera</a> stage.<br><em>This podcast was produced by The Metropolitan Opera and WQXR.</em><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • The mother of all abstraction
    Thanks to a new exhibit at the Guggenheim, the art world is rediscovering Hilma af Klint. How was this Swede so ahead of her time, and will she finally get her due? Lee Israel’s memoir about forging letters by famous writers, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” is now a terrific movie starring Melissa McCarthy. Israel died in 2014, but here she is in an interview with Kurt Andersen in 2008, where she talks about how — and why — she decided to start impersonating the likes of Dorothy Parker and Noël Coward. When Shane McCrae was a depressed teen in the ’90s, he found inspiration and hope in the strangest of places: the poetry of the famously tragic Sylvia Plath.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>
  • Digging into ‘Doug’
    The story of “Doug,” the Nickelodeon cartoon from the ’90s that used a minimalist approach but had a profound impact on young viewers. Kurt Andersen talks with Rina Banerjee, who makes enchanting installations and who is the subject of a retrospective show at just 55. And the breathtaking backstory and staging for “The Jungle,” the play that replicates an Afghan restaurant in a migrant camp.<br><br>This episode is brought to you by Doctors Without Borders. Donate today at <a href=""></a>.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href=""></a>