Jonathan McNicol


Jonathan started at WNPR as an intern in 2010 and was hired later that year as a producer out of WNPR’s New Haven bureau. In his work, Jonathan is always just trying to figure out a little bit of how the world works, while paying special attention to the absurd and the just plain goofy. He is as likely to produce a show on America’s jury system as he is a story on all the grossest parts of the human body. His work has been heard nationally on Here & Now and locally on WNPR’s talk shows, on Morning Edition, and on All Things Considered.

Jonathan comes to radio from a background in, of all things, graphic design. Some foods he detests with every ounce of his breathing guts include peas, blue cheese, and meat loaf. He lives in greater New Haven.

Ways To Connect

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Note: The web version of today's show (posted all the way at the bottom here) includes full, unedited, and unexpurgated film clips (which include some adult language) and runs more than four minutes longer than the show we did live on the air.

From Faith Middleton: If you saw When Harry Met Sally…, there was a wry, riveting exchange between the two main characters, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, sitting at a restaurant table, causing an observing customer to say, "I'll have what she's having."

I can't recall the detailed plot of that movie, but I will never forget that scene, and that's what drew all of us on our show to a new book by one of the great writers on film, David Thomson, film critic for The New Republic, and our interview guest.

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From Faith Middleton: Yale's Paul Bloom is an expert on research showing infants do, in fact, act with moral purpose, if given the opportunity.

Babies, says Bloom and his colleagues, show empathy, compassion, and have a clear understanding of what is and is not fair.

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From Faith Middleton: Starting the New Year with a roar, we examine the pervasive habit of faking it. Think about it… we smile to be polite, or grimace to teach children not to swear. We say nothing when we think a partner's outfit looks odd, or when a pal has given us a gift that makes us wonder, do you know me at all?

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Today's show originally aired December 18 and 21, 2013.

Our Food Schmooze® crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, season four. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.

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From Cree LeFavour's Fish: 54 Seafood Feasts: Toast some seeds in a cast-iron pan for a minute or two, mix with butter and shallots, and you're ready to go. The beauty of this dish, which has some kick, is that a small amount of butter is used as a flavoring agent. (Faith says you could also use it on beef steak or chicken.)

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New Year's resolutions are more successful when willpower is reinforced.

Most of us don't keep our resolutions all year, but this year could be different. Today we'll look at willpower. What is it, how does it work and is there a link to health and happiness through self-control? We talk with Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

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From Faith Middleton: Though it is not widely discussed, there is a science of friendship peopled by academics, psychologists and others studying the earliest references to friendship, why humans began valuing friends, and how we continue these relationships all our lives.

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Today's show originally aired December 26, 2012.

What is Connecticut food? Which crops, livestock and seafood have shaped the complex cuisines that its people have cherished for more than four centuries? From familiar comforts like chicken potpie and fried oysters to curious concoctions like Grape-Nuts pudding and steamed cheeseburgers, Connecticut's food history is long and varied. Eric D. Lehman and Amy Nawrocki, authors of A History of Connecticut Food, join us on The Food Schmooze for the full hour.

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Today's show originally aired December 22, 2011.  

Join Faith for one of our favorite shows on the joys of the holiday season, from family and friends to presents and donations to those in need. In this busy life, we'll pause to appreciate Christmas.

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is… Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

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Our Food Schmooze® crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, Season 4. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.

Across America, fans of the show are getting ready with celebratory foods ranging from a simple bowl of popcorn to dinners worthy of the royal family.

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From Faith Middleton: What was it about good teachers, the ones we'll never forget, that made them good at what they did? We ask this in the interest of understanding what qualities and judgments are necessary to make a great teacher.

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From Faith Middleton: Our check-up on our health care enrollees reveals Connecticut has one of the nation's most successful exchanges. The state doubled what the Obama administration set as a target for Connecticut—more than 14,000 of us have enrolled in the exchange. 

The majority of enrollees are between the ages of 55 and 64, which raises the question of whether the majority are also unemployed. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: What is resilience? To my horror, I stumbled on one dictionary definition saying resilience is “returning to the original shape.” Who, I wonder, had such an idea? How many copy editors read that and agreed it made sense? Was there anyone on staff who'd been traumatized by what life can randomly dish out? Apparently it must be said that it is impossible to be the same after some events, and to expect such a recovery from ourselves or others is both ignorant and cruel. Still, resilience is possible, if by resilience we mean the ability to continue, to go on attached, even by a thread, to hope, to life itself.

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Crack open the champagne… prepare for a mind-blowing experience. Truffle butter lobster combines chardonnay, vermouth, shallots, heavy cream, ginger, mushrooms, and, of course, black truffle butter, available at gourmet stores and markets, or online from D'Artagnan.

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From Faith Middleton: As Republican leaders seek further cuts to food stamp benefits, Connecticut chef Michel Nischan is rowing hard in the opposite direction. His Wholesome Wave organization has been a leader in the movement to double the value of food stamps when purchasing fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.

Melissa Logan

How does your animal companion let you know that you're loved? Has your dog or cat recognized your sadness? Has your animal ever tried to help you, even save you? 

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Today's show originally aired October 7 and 12, 2013.  

If your schedule is rushed, have we got a cookbook for you! The Good-to-Go collection of about 300 recipes is a winner with adults and children. It's also the perfect cookbook for transitioning kids in a first apartment, or for kids in college.

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Today's show originally aired October 16 and 19, 2013.

The queen of slow cooking gives us Beer-Braised Brown Sugar Brisket with Bacon; Cajun Shrimp Chowder; Artichoke Chicken Lasagna; and Thai Peanut Butter Pork Roast. Throw the ingredients in a slow-cooker in the morning, and return hours later to a house full of comforting aromas. Honestly, it's like having staff!

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From Faith Middleton: I'm featuring New York psychiatrist Dr. Mark Epstein's fascinating new book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, because it explains the big pay-off for learning to notice the small and big traumas we all experience daily in an unpredictable world. By comprehending these traumas, he says, we permit their release, which leads to less stress and a greater sense of feeling fully alive. Dr. Epstein is a Harvard trained psychiatrist with a private practice in New York City. He's interested in the interface of psychotherapy and Buddhist philosophy.

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What makes a building worth preserving? Why do we choose some structures, and ignore others?

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Here's our Thanksgiving recipe kit to help make your holiday feast the best it can be. You'll find here all the delicious dishes, ideas for leftovers, and recommended wines and cocktails.

What happens if you cross meatloaf with pizza? You get Meatza… okay, you get food legend James Beard's "Hamburger Pizza," a dish that always delighted his party guests because his "pizza" had no dough. This dish put us in such a good mood, we decided to make up one of our own for parties. It rocks—because it includes a layer of Parmesan mashed potatoes under the tomato sauce and toppings.

We also have some holiday party wines to recommend (listed below), affordable wines for a crowd, and some bubbly for a dinner party or romantic dinner for two.

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Huge question, but try asking yourself. The answer you give might surprise you.

Retirement planners, good ones anyway, have sometimes asked this kind of question of clients contemplating retirement—what do you want in retirement? The question—what do you want?—has a way of focusing the mind, erasing the blurry chatter in our heads. Suddenly, we're faced with the essential question. Want do we really want? To feel safe and secure? To love and be loved in return? Money? Connection? Friends? Power? Here's a big one—what about control?

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Today's show originally aired October 28, 2013.

Barking, fleas, Lyme disease, pet food, biting, housebreaking, shyness, pet insurance, animal rescue. Top flight advice from vet Dr. Todd Friedland. Don't miss his adventures with animals of all kinds.

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Faith's motto on The Book Show is… Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Mark H. Anbinder/flickr creative commons

Want to make your holiday dinner or dinner party memorable and delicious? It's all about creating new flavor profiles for old standby dishes.Try our featured calorie-careful recipe for sweet and sour butternut squash, or, if you prefer, green beans with the ultimate treatment -- brown butter and toasted pecans, from an archive recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.

While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: Wally Lamb's books beat with a human heart.

Many people, especially Wally Lamb's fans, recall that his first novel, She's Come Undone, was selected by Oprah's book club. But what I remember is the experience of riding in the New York subway, and seeing so many people bumping along, engrossed in his story. On one occasion, these subway readers, strangers to each other, started a discussion about the book—possibly the first underground book club. 

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Today's show originally aired October 22, 2013.  

Save money. Avoid long lines. Get better seats.

Check out our best travel tips conversation with Amy Farley, Travel Doctor columnist for Travel + Leisure magazine.