The Colin McEnroe Show

Weekdays at 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Note: Rather than try to explain the show ourselves, we’re asking the people who listen to describe what it sounds like to them. Josh Dobbin, our unofficial ombudsman and possibly most prolific commenter, is taking the first crack.  Here’s Josh:

“The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately.”
Thomas Paine

The Colin McEnroe Show endeavors to prove Paine correct, every weekday. While the topics are unpredictable from one day to the next (previous show topics include whistling, placebos, politics, the nature of divinity, Barbra Streisand, bedbugs, human hydration, dinosaurs, unreliable narrators, ugliness, and raccoons), what is always assured is that a thoughtful, smart, and interesting exploration and conversation with amazing guests will take place about something.

Colin McEnroe is an author, playwright, professor, columnist, and blogger, who is allergic to penicillin and enjoys photographing his dog wearing hats and publishing those photos to the internet. He heads up a team that includes three inquisitive producers (see below) plus the comedy performers Chion Wolf and Greg Hill, who double as the show’s technical producer and tweetmaster respectively.

You can stream us live or subscribe on most podcasting platforms. While we are live, call us at (860) 275-7266, or email us anytime at colin@wnpr.org. We're also on Twitter @wnprcolin.

Contact producers:

The executive producer is Catie Talarski. The digital editor is Heather Brandon. The technical producer is Chion Wolf.

Maxppp / Creative Commons

Natalie Cole struggled to step out of the shadows of R&B icon Aretha Franklin and the longer shadow of her father, singer Nat King Cole. But she did it with her stellar voice and lasting, if under-appreciated, contributions to R&B, soul, and jazz. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I assembled seven Nose panelists and asked them to pick a topic we used during 2015 from my list of twelve.  

Of the five left over, four of them were connected to the modern cycle of internet shame: Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official who was pretending to be black, the drunk profane kid demanding jalapeno bacon mac and cheese at UConn, the aunt who sued her nephew for jumping on her, and the dentist who sued Cecil the lion.

CircaSassy / Creative Commons

Many of our ideas about history are drawn from historical fiction. 

Who, for example, is Thomas More? Is he the tragic hero of the play and movie, "A Man For All Seasons"?

Senado Federal / Flickr

It goes by many names: the sharing economy, the collaborative economy, the peer economy, just to name a few. Whatever you want to call it, one thing's for sure: this new way of doing business -- where idle assets equal big profits, and the hard-earned currency of trust comes through user reviews -- is changing the economic landscape of our country.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

On the surface of things, there would seem to be little connection among the following: two small daily newspapers in central Connecticut, the wealthy owner of a multinational casino and resort chain, the Chinese crime gangs known as triads, and the sale of the largest newspaper in Nevada to an undisclosed owner. But they do all fit together somehow

Willle Stark / Flickr Creative Commons

Coincidences happen to everyon, wwhether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio, or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

Steup / Flickr Creative Commons

To the list of things you can't avoid -- death and taxes -- we now add losing your job to a machine. A worry typically reserved for those in manufacturing, automation in the workplace is now a reality of nearly all occupations, and it's only getting worse... or is it?

Pedro Ribeiro Simões / Flickr Creative Commons

It's a yearly tradition: Jazz critic Gene Seymour releases his list of the best jazz albums of the year, and musicians Jen Allen and Noah Baerman gather 'round the table with their own picks. If you're buying a last-minute gift for a finger-poppin' hep cat, this episode will solve your problem.

Chion Wolf

For the second year, we welcome singer/songwriter extraordinaire "Big Al" Anderson and Emmy Award-winning producer and musician Jim Chapdelaine in studio for songs and stories.

Nathan Rupert / Creative Commons

Fans are flocking to J.J. Abrams's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in droves. The film is set to break box office records. It drew $14.1 million in Europe when it opened this week, and is expected to post world record sales of $600 million this opening weekend.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't love "Star Wars"? You might be surprised

Mike Grauer Jr, Creative Commons

Vin Baker was an Olympic basketball player and four-time NBA All Star. The journey from University of Hartford to professional basketball got him rich quick, but it was a lifestyle he couldn't keep up with.

Baker's struggle with alcoholism is well-documented, as is the fact he blew through $100 million. He lost his home and restaurant.

Tim Green / flickr creative commons

For most shows, I’d use these first paragraphs to explain why we’ve chosen to spend an hour on its particular topic. I’d remind you of events in the news. I’d site a publication date. I’d point out a trend that we’ve maybe noticed that you maybe haven’t.

For today’s show, for instance, I could type a list of towns here — international towns, domestic towns, Connecticut towns — and you’d recognize them all as spots on a map that share a wound, as place names that represent a raw, unhealed sore in our shared memory.

GM / Flickr

Bill Murray has been involved with some of our favorite movies of all time: Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Moonrise Kingdom. He doesn't like managers or agents and rumor has it, once agreed to play Garfield because he thought it was a Coen Brothers film.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the University of Texas at Austin can consider race when deciding who can come to their school. It's the second time the high court will decide this case. But like the rest of the country, the court is having a hard time talking about race without shouting at each other. Justice Scalia is making what some say are racist comments.

newsarchive.medill.northwestern.edu

The New York Times  and Washington Post are adding new forms of address and pronouns for people who haven't chosen a single gender. Research indicates that ending a text with a period seems insincere. Dictionaries are throwing open their doors and letting in all kinds of slangy words that have been living on the internet. 

Jonathan McNicol / WNPR

Before Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, before Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, before "The Simpsons," before David Letterman, before "Saturday Night Live," before The National Lampoon… before all the great subversive American satirists that we’ve all grown… used to — before all that, there was MAD magazine.

Walking With Dante

Dec 9, 2015
Freeparking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of "The Divine Comedy," poet Dante Aligheri's, 14,000 line epic poem. It's where Dante must face his sins before moving beyond an eternity in hell, where the doomed can still find redemption in the acceptance of their humanity. 

Alphaville / Flickr Creative Commons

Justin Lifflander wanted nothing more than to become a spy for the CIA. Growing up during the Cold War, he practiced spying on friends, family, and schoolmates in preparation for what he thought would be a career full of high-tech gadgetry and secret rendezvous. When Lifflander was finally assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1987, he thought his dream was coming true.

What followed was something Lifflander could never have predicted. He was a mechanic at the embassy, then an inspector of Soviet missile sights, and then a suspected American agent followed at every turn by the KGB. Lifflander found himself living in a world which very much resembled his childhood dream -- but he was never a spy.

Pete Souza / White House

Dozens of reporters rushed the apartment of the San Bernardino shooters on Friday. They live-streamed their tour through the home for 15 minutes, holding up everyday items that included personal photographs and private documents.

They were roundly condemned on social media and by neighbors concerned by the frenzy. Where is the line between what people need to know and voyeurism? How does the drive for speed and ratings affect journalistic integrity?

Harley Pebley / Creative Commons

Two married shooters with a six-month-old baby rushed a social service agency this week in San Bernardino, California. They killed 14 people and injured another 21.  It's an all-too familiar scene, including the heartfelt prayers that followed. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I first met cartoonist Bill Griffith back in the 1980s. I arranged for us to tour a Boston-area Hostess Twinkie plant, which sounds like a weird first date but makes perfect sense if you're familiar with his creation "Zippy the Pinhead," an unwitting surrealist who swims happily through a sea of taco sauce, processed cheese and, well, Twinkies.

Leland Francisco / WNPR

Long before evangelicalism became associated with the mostly white, conservative followers aligned with the Republican Party, a long line of progressive evangelicals led reforms to abolish slavery, give women the vote and improve public schools.

But the history of evangelicalism is complicated. It has a rich history of social activism on behalf of the marginalized, mixed with deep discomfort with the very people it seeks to help.

The Placebo Effect

Dec 1, 2015
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better for a long time. They've been working since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight, after all hope for a medical cure had been lost.  

Doctors have long dismissed the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments that sometimes fail where placebo works well, including in surgical procedures like arthroscopy, a popular procedure that relieves the pain of arthritic knees. 

Gretana / Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a question: If the things we’re made of — the particles, the fundamental elemental irreducible bits, the most basic littlest chunks of us — if those things are literally, actually indistinguishable from one another, from the tiniest simplest bits of everyone else, from the tiniest simplest bits of everything else… then what makes us us?

What even makes us anything at all, really?

The Trouble With Changing Your Mind

Nov 25, 2015
Jose Maria Cuellar flickr.com/photos/cuellar / Creative Commons

Changing our mind on an issue is something we're all free to do. But that doesn't mean it comes without a cost. What would it cost a lifelong liberal to suddenly turn conservative, or a career scientist to suddenly start denying climate change? As we typically associate with others of like mind, chances are the costs could be high.

Dan McKay / flickr creative commons

When I hear the word "diorama," the first thing I think of is Mr. Mack’s fifth grade class and painting hills and grass and clouds and a fence into a shoebox and making little cardboard cut outs of Lassie and the boy she loved. God, I hated that stuff.

The second thing I think of is a place like the Peabody Museum in New Haven and their incredibly, obsessively, over-the-toply detailed dioramas of the plant and wildlife of Connecticut.

Robert Scoble / Creative Commons

Lawrence Lessig recently ended his pursuit of running for president as a Democrat. But his mission to take money out of politics and fix corruption is not over. He recently slammed Connecticut Democrats who proposed suspending the state’s Citizens Election Program. He joins us to discuss his experience and struggles in running for president and Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Wicker Paradise / Creative Commons

Speaking on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, actor Charlie Sheen revealed he is HIV-positive and has spent millions trying to hide it. This hour, we take a closer look at the words Sheen used in discussing his actions and illness. 

Aida Mansoor / Muslim Coalition of Connecticut

In his latest book, author and scholar Moustafa Bayoumi takes a critical look at what it means to be Muslim-American in post-9/11 society.

The Re-Emergence of Socialism in America

Nov 18, 2015
Andrew Walsh / Flickr Creative Commons

After decades of being dismissed as a radical movement, socialism in America is back in the spotlight. What's fueling the newfound attention? Some point to Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, while others say it's an increasing public distaste for the economic inequality our capitalist system has lead to.

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