David Foster Wallace on Ambition

“If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.” - David Foster Wallace.

It’s Episode #3 from our new series with PBS Digital Studios

Interview originally aired on the Leonard Lopate Show WNYC | 1996

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Welcome To Night Vale
Leonard Lopate interviews Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor about creating the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” along with narrator Cecil Baldwin.

The show takes the form of fictional community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, and announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

George Harrison in the Bahamas during the filming of Help!, 1965 - photographed by Robert Freeman

“I like this picture. And it’s only - the only one of that series. You know, usually you think you might have ten; just one. But, you know, he was a Pisces and he liked to be around water and he’s up to his neck in water. And I think that’s very apropos.” - Olivia Harrison, WNYC interview conducted by Leonard Lopate, 4 November 2011

I am a Kenya[n] currently studying in Canada. When my mother was first diagnosed with HIV/Aids in 2002, we all went into denial. The stigma and discrimination was rampant and the ARV’s were too expensive for us.

Thanks to MSF, my mother is alive, beautiful, strong, how can I best describe it! Alive and Kicking. There was not only the treatment, there was the nutrition and support group services.

My mother is now a community health worker in Mathare slum. MSF runs a clinic near this slum called the Blue House clinic, and yes, you thought right, it is painted blue.

The end, in some circumstances, justifies the end.

Happy 40th anniversary MSF.


Wairimu Gitau
from Ottawa

A comment left on the WNYC Leonard Lopate Show website earlier this week from an interview with Michael Neuman. The interview was regarding the new MSF book, Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience.

Listen to the archived Leonard Lopate Show interview with Michael Neuman on the WNYC website.

Love kids’ books? Love discussing them, reading them and sharing them with others, including your kids? Take a listen to this great appearance by our Youth Materials Coordinator Elizabeth Bird on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show yesterday. She talked about a whole host of fun stuff, from her favorite stories to why books become classics. So listen and enjoy! And while you’re at it, check out the Library’s list of the top 100 children’s books of the last 100 years, and plan a trip to our 42nd Street Library to see the free, critically-acclaimed exhibition The ABC Of It: Why Children’s Books MatterIt’s open until Sept. 7, and it’s pretty darn amazing (just ask The New York Times). 

Photographer Stephen Shames began photographing a group of boys coming of age in the Bronx in 1977. They created their own families for protection and companionship on streets ravaged by poverty, drugs, violence, and gangs. Stephen spent the next two-plus decades following the boys, as the crack cocaine epidemic devastated the neighborhood. He captures the danger and violence, but also the love and hope that these boys experienced growing up. You can listen to Stephen talk about his new book of photography, Bronx Boys, with contributor José “Poncho” Muñoz, on The Leonard Lopate Show, and see more of his photos on our website.

New Secrets and Mysteries in "Welcome To Night Vale"
Creators of "Welcome to Night Vale" Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor discuss adapting their popular podcast into a novel.

Joseph and Jeffrey are going to be on the Leonard Lopate show tomorrow and @wnyc has opened up the comments section for you to ask questions.

Not sure you can beat Nicholas though…

Does Longform Journalism Fit Your News Diet?

WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show brought on ProPublica managing editor Steve Engelberg and Frontline’s Raney Aronson to explore longform journalism, and whether we have the patience, attention span and appetite for it.

Audience aside, can longform, investigative journalism be sustainable when a single story can cost anywhere from $50,000 to a half million dollars.

Listen on WNYC or download the MP3 here.

Run Time: 33 minutes (hey, it’s longform).

WNYC's July's Book Pick: Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan

The Leonard Lopate Show Book Club’s July pick is Jennifer Egan’s novel Look at Me. Read it and tune in to the Lopate Show on July 14 to hear Jennifer Egan discuss the book with Leonard. You can participate by submitting your questions!

Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist, is an intellectual thriller that explores the American obsession with image and self-invention. A fashion model named Charlotte Swenson suffers injuries in a car accident that leave her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. When she returns to New York, she is still beautiful but is oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world that was once so familiar to her. Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with the stories of other casualties of our infatuation with image—a deceptively plain teenaged girl who is embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who adopts different names and accents as he prepares a staggering blow against American society.

Do you have questions you’d like to ask the author? Leave them as a comment, here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/articles/web-extras/2011/jun/17/look-me-jennifer-egan/

Lauren Bacall died Tuesday at the age of 89. When she spoke with Leonard Lopate in 2006, she brought her dog Sophie to the studio. She reminisced about her career, her friendship with Katharine Hepburn, idolizing Bette Davis, and being “Bogey’s wife.” She starred in 40 films and worked with many Hollywood legends. She told Leonard, “I still can’t believe I’ve known all the people I’ve known.” Listen to the interview to hear her tell stories in her trademark sultry voice.


Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the death of American Southern Gothic writer Flannery O'Connor. Despite dying at a young age (39), she greatly contributed to the work in this genre, and is still read extensively today. Ms. O'Connor lived briefly in the New York City area before moving to Iowa to attend the prestigious Writer’s Workshop.

Five years ago the Leonard Lopate Show interviewed Brad Gooch, a biographer of Ms. O'Connor. It’s an intimate and funny look at the life of a mysterious yet influential woman.

Open Culture also has a recording of Flannery O'Connor reading one of her most popular short stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)