Joe Donahue

Senior Director of News and Programming

Joe talks to people on the radio for a living. In addition to countless impressive human "gets" - he has talked to a lot of Muppets. Joe grew up in Philadelphia, has been on the area airwaves for more than 25 years and currently lives in Washington County, NY with his wife, Kelly, and their dog, Brady. And yes, he reads every single book. 

Ways to Connect

Book Cover for "Outside Looking In" and author photo of T.C. Boyle
Author Photo - Jamieson Fry

T.C. Boyle's novel, "Outside Looking In," takes readers back to the 1960s and to the early days of LSD.

The book tells the story of Harvard Ph.D. students whose lives veer out of control after they are drawn into the orbit of renowned psychologist and LSD enthusiast Timothy Leary.

Jim Lehrer of PBS.
PBS

Jim Lehrer, the co-founder of "NewsHour" on PBS, a journalism giant and frequent presidential debate moderator, has died at age 85. The network announced the news Thursday. Lehrer was a regular guest on WAMC's Roundtable over the years, discussing both his journalism and fiction. Here are two archival interviews, from 2009 and 2011.

In 2014 in the book "Dog Whistle Politics," Ian Haney López named and explained the coded racial appeals exploited by right-wing politicians over the last half century and thereby anticipated the 2016 presidential election. Now the country is heading into what will surely be one of the most consequential elections ever, with the Right gearing up to exploit racial fear-mongering to divide and distract, and the Left splintered over the next step forward. Some want to focus on racial justice head-on; others insist that a race-silent focus on class avoids alienating white voters.

Can either approach - race-forward or colorblind - build the progressive supermajorities necessary to break political gridlock and fundamentally change the country’s direction?

The new book is "Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America."

Archer Mayor is the author of the critically-acclaimed series of police novels feature Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont, police department.  In Mayor’s latest Joe Gunther novel “Bomber’s Moon,” the murder of a small-time drug dealer snowballs into the most complex case ever faced by Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team. 

Mary Jo McConahay is an award-winning reporter who covered the wars in Central America and economics in the Middle East. She has traveled in seventy countries and has been fascinated by the history of World War II since childhood, when she listened to the stories of her father, a veteran U.S. Navy officer.

In her new book, "The Tango War" she fills an important gap in WWII history.

Beginning in the thirties, both sides were well aware of the need to control not just the hearts and minds but also the resources of Latin America. The fight was often dirty: residents were captured to exchange for U.S. prisoners of war and rival spy networks shadowed each other across the continent. At all times it was a Tango War, in which each side closely shadowed the other’s steps.

Robert Jay Lifton has written over twenty books, including many seminal works in the field such as the National Book Award–winning "Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima" and "The Nazi Doctors." He has taught at Yale University, Harvard University, and the City University of New York.

In "Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindset of Political and Religious Zealotry" he proposes a radical idea: that the psychological relationship between extremist political movements and fanatical religious cults may be much closer than anyone thought. Exploring the most extreme manifestations of human zealotry, Lifton highlights an array of leaders who have sought the control of human minds and the ownership of reality.

In the pages of his new book, "Medallion Status," John Hodgman explores the strangeness of his career, speaking plainly of fame, especially at the weird, marginal level he enjoyed it. He says he was a “famous minor television personality.” His essays offer a thoughtful examination of status, fame and identity.

Hank Green is the CEO of Complexly, a production company that creates educational content, including Crash Course and SciShow. Green co-founded a number of other small businesses, including DFTBA.com, which helps online creators make money by selling cool stuff to their communities; and VidCon, the world's largest conference for the online video community.

In 2017, VidCon drew more than forty thousand attendees across three events in Anaheim, Amsterdam, and Australia. Hank and his brother, John, also started the Project for Awesome.

He joined us to talk about his debut novel "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing."

William Doyle is a New York Times bestselling author and TV producer for networks including HBO, The History Channel, and PBS. Since 2015 he has served as Fulbright Scholar, Scholar in Residence and Lecturer on Media and Education at University of Eastern Finland, a Rockefeller Foundation Resident Fellow, and advisor to the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.

With Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Education Policy at Gonski Institute for Education, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, Doyle has written the book "Let the Children Play: How More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive."

Amy Gutmann the University of Pennsylvania’s eighth president, is an award-winning political theorist. Jonathan D. Moreno is a Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor at the university. They both served on President Obama’s bioethics commission.

Together they've written the book "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Health Care in America."

Jonathan Moreno joined us.

Monique W. Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, is the author of several books, including "Pushout," and "Black Stats." Her work has been featured by NPR, the New York Times, MSNBC, Essence, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Education Week, and others.

Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have been a platform for truth-telling, an underground musical railroad to survival, and an essential form of resistance, healing, and learning.

In her highly anticipated book "Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls," leading advocate Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls. The book reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the thriving of Black and Brown girls at their center.

As humanity marches on, causing mass extinctions and destabilizing the climate, the future of Earth will very much reflect the stories that Homo sapiens decides to jettison or accept today into our collective identity. At this pivotal moment in history, the most important story we can be telling ourselves is that humans are not inherently destructive.

In "Changing Tides" Alejandro Frid tackles the big questions: who, or what, represents our essential selves, and what stories might allow us to shift the collective psyche of industrial civilization in time to avert the worst of the climate and biodiversity crises?

"The First: How to Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump" is a new book from public intellectual and New York Times bestselling author, Stanley Fish.

How does the First Amendment really work? Is it a principle or a value? What is hate speech and should it always be banned? Are we free to declare our religious beliefs in the public square? What role, if any, should companies like Facebook play in policing the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and opinions?

Stanley Fish, “America’s most famous professor” (BookPage), explores these complex questions in "The First."

Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.” His new book, “Letters From An Astrophysicist,” shares his correspondence with people who have sought his perspective on questions about science, faith, philosophy and, of course, Pluto.

Book cover for "Audience of One"

James Poniewozik has been the chief television critic of the New York Times since 2015. He was previously the television and media critic for Time magazine and media columnist for Salon.

His book "Audience of One" shows how American media have shaped American society and politics, by interweaving two crucial stories.

The first story follows the evolution of television from the three-network era of the 20th century, which joined millions of Americans in a shared monoculture, into today’s zillion-channel, Internet-atomized universe, which sliced and diced them into fractious, alienated subcultures.

The second story is a cultural critique of Donald Trump, the chameleonic celebrity who courted fame, achieved a mind-meld with the media beast, and rode it to ultimate power.

William Poundstone is the author of sixteen books, including "Head in the Cloud," "Rock Breaks Scissors," "Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?," "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?," and "Fortune's Formula." He has written for The Believer, The Economist, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Esquire, Harper's, Harvard Business Review, the New York Times op-ed page and Book Review, Village Voice, and many other publications. He won the 2011 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award.

In the 18th century, the British minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes devised a theorem that allowed him to assign probabilities to events that had never happened before. It languished in obscurity for centuries until computers came along and made it easy to crunch the numbers. Now, as the foundation of big data, Bayes' formula has become a linchpin of the digital economy.

Poundstone writes about it in "The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation that Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe."

Michael Korda is the best-selling author of “Hero,” “Clouds of Glory,” and “Charmed Lives” and is the former editor-in-chief of Simon and Schuster.

In his new memoir, “Passing,” he tells the story of his beloved wife’s brain cancer diagnosis and death. The heartfelt and open prose shares the details of Michael and Margaret’s journey to the end of her life. 

Jeff Abraham is a public relations executive who's regarded as one of Hollywood's top comedy historians and go-to pop culture experts. He joins us to talk about his book "The Show Won't Go On: The Most Shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage."

The book is co-authored by award-winning television and film producer, director, writer, and journalist Burt Kearns.

Dr. Matt McCarthy is the author of two national bestsellers, "The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly" and "Odd Man Out." He is an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell and a staff physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he serves on the Ethics Committee.

In his new book "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic," McCarthy shares the story of cutting-edge science and the race against the clock to find new treatments in the fight against the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs.

McCarthy is on the front lines of a groundbreaking clinical trial testing a new antibiotic to fight lethal superbugs, bacteria that have built up resistance to the life-saving drugs in our rapidly dwindling arsenal.

Doreen Dodgen-Magee, PsyD, is a psychologist with over twenty-five years of experience working with individuals and groups in Portland, Oregon. Her main passion is engaging people about how the new digital landscape is shaping humanity.

In her new book, "Deviced!: Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World," Dodgen-Magee uses personal stories, cutting edge research, and anecdotes from youth, parents, and professionals to highlights the brain changes that result from excessive technology use and offers an approach to the digital world that enables more informed and lasting change and a healthier long-term perspective.

Terry Tempest Williams is renowned for her singular body of literature on the environment and our experiences of home.  Her new book “Erosion: Essays of Undoing,” explores this connection, particularly to her home state of Utah, as an evolutionary process and how our undoing of the self, self-centeredness, extractive capitalism, fear, tribalism can also be our becoming, creating room for change and progress.

Paul Tough is the author of "Helping Children Succeed" and "How Children Succeed." He is also the author of "Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America." He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the public-radio program "This American Life."

Tough's new book "The Years That Matter Most" tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy, and frustration, through the application process and into college.

Drawing on new research, the book reveals how the landscape of higher education has shifted in recent decades and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and whom it works for.

As a writer on "Late Night with David Letterman," Steve Young’s duties included scouring through record bins in search of potential subjects for the show’s “Dave’s Record Collection” segments. Little did he know, his hunt for offbeat vinyl would thrust him into the world of Broadway-style “industrial musicals” put on by such companies as General Electric, McDonald’s, Ford, and Xerox at their annual sales meetings in the ’50s through the ‘80s.

These productions dazzled and motivated their only intended audience, each company’s sales-force, which was regaled with lavish productions such as "Lipton on the Move," "Lucite, You and ’72," and "The Bathrooms Are Coming."

The documentary, "Bathtubs Over Broadway," follows Young’s odyssey as he tracks down these shows’ souvenir albums, finds kindred fanatics, interviews the performers, songwriters and directors, and discovers rare performance footage of songs such as “My Bathroom” and “Everything’s Coming Up Citgo.” Bathtubs over Broadway is now streaming on Netflix. The film is directed by Dava Wisenant.

Karen Auvinen is a poet, mountain woman, lifelong westerner, writer, and the author of the memoir "Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living."

Determined to live an independent life on her own terms, Karen Auvinen flees to a primitive cabin in the Rockies to live in solitude as a writer and to embrace all the beauty and brutality nature has to offer. When a fire incinerates every word she has ever written and all of her possessions - except for her beloved dog Elvis, her truck, and a few singed artifacts - Karen embarks on a heroic journey to reconcile her desire to be alone with her need for community.

Book Cover for "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" and author photo of Ocean Vuong
Author photo by Tom Hines

Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, “On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. 

Melanie Joy, PhD, EdM, is a Harvard-educated psychologist, international speaker, and organizational and relationship coach.

In her newest book, "Powerarchy: Understanding the Psychology of Oppression for Social Transformation" Joy examines the common underlying psychology that drives all oppressive systems and enables abusive interpersonal dynamics.

Sharon Olds is renowned for poetry that examines marriage, motherhood, intimacy, and the human condition. She is the author of 13 books of poetry and received both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize.

Her new collection, “Arias,” explores political conscience, race and class in poems delivered with operatic passion, anguish and solo force.


In "All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard - Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy," Phil Keith and Tom Clavin share the story of Eugene Bullard; the first African American military pilot, who went on to become a Paris nightclub impresario, a spy in the French Resistance and an American civil rights pioneer.

Tom Clavin joined us.

Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown has sat on the Senate floor at a mahogany desk with a proud history. In "Desk 88," he tells the story of eight of the Senators who were there before him.

Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide.

In her latest work, "The Fountains of Silence," Sepetys shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in a novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.

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