In Re-Praise of 'West Coast Live'

Four years ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live, described thus:

The show is like Prairie Home Companion in the sense that live music, and the host's personality, are two central elements of its appeal. It is different in that it simply seems cooler. (It is usually broadcast live from a louche place called the Empire Plush Room in San Francisco.) Instead of skits and monologues it has interviews conducted by Thomson -- and at the moment I can't think of anyone who is his equal at getting guests off their normal schtick and talking about something interesting and surprising. (Ie: the opposite of Larry King.)

Sorry in retrospect for the little dig at Big Larry (who was then seemingly ensconced for all eternity at CNN). But don't regret anything about praising an interviewer and ringmaster who really is great. Even if you're not in California (or some other places, including my spiritual home of Duluth MN, listed here) you can get it on streaming audio plus archived podcast from KALW, here. So listen in today, or find the archives. The jazz pianist Michael Greensill, a regular, is always wonderful to listen to. And they have a bunch of good writer-guests* lined up too.  Two hours, starting at 10am PDT / 1pm EDT.

(*Not to be too cute about it: this is the next stop on the gala Dreaming in Chinese world tour. And, update, I should have remembered to mention that Michael Greensill's wife is the also-wonderful jazz singer Wesla Whitfield. Like me, he married well.)

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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