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October 25, 2022 38 mins

The multitalented Colin McEnroe is a radio host, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, author, playwright, lecturer, moderator, college instructor and even an occasional singer. He’s also one of Alec’s favorite broadcasters, as host of the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio. McEnroe’s show unpacks the week’s events in news and pop culture, as well as covering some truly eccentric topics, like zippers, punk rock and neanderthals. He’s the author of three books, including the memoir, My Father’s Footprints – and his writing appears in The New York Times, Men’s Health, The Connecticut Post and Stamford Advocate. When not writing or hosting his radio show, McEnroe teaches in the political science department at Yale. McEnroe shares with Alec how he found his way to public radio, how the intimacy of radio is unparalleled, and details of his father’s influence on his life.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
This is Alec Baldwin, and you were listening to Here's
the Thing from My Heart Radio. My guest today wears many, many,
many hats. He's a radio host, columnist, author, playwright, college lecturer,
and has even written incidental monologues for a symphony. He's
also one of my favorite broadcasters on public radio, the

(00:26):
host of the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio.
It's the man himself, Colin McEnroe. On his show, McEnroe
unpacks the week's events in news and pop culture, in
addition to covering some truly eccentric topics like Neanderthal's zippers, tambourines,

(00:47):
and punk rock. McEnroe's writing has appeared in The New
York Times, Men's Health, McSweeney's, and even Cosmopolitan. As a
columnist and hometown hero of Hartford, his work has appeared
in low cool papers like the Hartford Current, Stanford Advocate,
the New Haven Register, and the Connecticut Post. Of all

(01:07):
the paths Commin McEnroe could have taken, I wondered how
he found his way to public radio. Radio was never
the plan. The plan was to be a writer, and
what happened actually was in I was a newspaper columnist.
And that was right around the time that Limbaugh and
Hannity and all those people, they had taken over what

(01:27):
was the vast wasteland of AM radio and turned it
into a different kind of wasteland with the kind of
show that they were doing. But they took the A
M Ban, which was almost useless at that point, and they,
you know, they revived it. And I was interested in that,
and I was offered an opportunity as a newspaper columnist
to guest host on two different radio stations, and to

(01:50):
my dismay, they both offered me jobs on the spot.
When I got off the air, I mean, I thought
this was like a horrible industry full of bullies and morons.
So it was disappointing to discover that I was a
natural at it. You fit right in, Yeah, But the
truth of the matter is that that's another thing that
struck me as all your credentials. You know, you went

(02:11):
to Yale, you went there on a scholarship, and then
you wind up teaching in the political science department. Now,
I studied policy at George Washington University for three years
before then took off and uh went to n YU
to study acting. But what specifically do you teach at
the Policide Department there. I teach a seminar in the
spring term that's about political media. I mean, it's called

(02:35):
Century Political Journalism. I feel like more and more it's
about political media because there's such a blurring of all that.
I will say this also, I'm relatively confident at this
point about being, you know, a pretty okay radio host.
I have terrible imposter syndrome when I'm teaching in the
Policide Department of Yale and when the seminars over every week,

(02:56):
I step out under Prospect Street and I think I
am a freaking fraud. These kids should get their tuitions
pro rated and get there. And why do you feel
that way? Why? I really don't know the answer to that,
except that it's, you know, it's a little bit out
of my comfort zone. I wasn't a policy major at Yale.
I just think there's something about the classroom. I mean,

(03:17):
they're looking right at you. I mean I went into radio,
so nobody would ever see me, so that could be
part of the problem. But I also think that I've
taught acting intermittently. You know, I did a full semester
in at n y U with a teaching partner, Daniel Specter,
who was a fully accredited faculty there. I taught an
acting class with a friend of mine in the summertime

(03:38):
at the old l i U Southampton campus before Stoneybrook
took it over, and my friend Michael Disher, who taught
full time at the faculty there, he and I taught
a class and I must say I didn't care for
it because I don't think I have that skill to impart.
I mean I kind of look at them at the
end and I'm like, well, either you've got it or
you don't. You know, And I can make you a

(03:59):
better actor than you were when you walked in, but
I can't make you a good one. So the teaching
thing for me, I felt uncomfortable teaching acting per se.
Is there something you think you can teach? Oh? No,
I think I can teach this, and I do. I mean,
it's one of my favorite things in the world to do.
I get a tremendous amount of gratification from it, and
my students come out of this almost invariably saying I

(04:22):
didn't really think about journalism that way before. I didn't
think about media that way before. What I say to
them at the beginning of the semester is I will
have succeeded if for the rest of your life rather
than simply consuming journalism political journalism, you think about all
of the questions that we brought up here. That's a
win for me and I'm I'm thrilled during the semester

(04:44):
when they do that too. It's very, very exciting. So
what's your journalistic diet meaning when you wake up in
the morning, where what do you are you? David Remnick
said he just reached the Times cover to cover, That's
where he begins. But about you, Um, it's a pretty
diverse one. And of course part of the problem with
our show, our show, we do typically four new episodes
of our show a week, and so we're kind of

(05:06):
hungry for ideas all the time. So yeah, I mean,
I do all the conventional stuff. I read the Times,
I read the Washington Post, I read a lot of
odd little publications on the internet. I read a lot
of newsletters these days. For example, the one that I
like right now is by a guy named Mark Slutsky,
and I think he's like an independent filmmaker based in
Montreal and it's called his newsletter is called Something Good,

(05:29):
and it's just anything he thinks of, and he clearly
thinks a little bit the way I do. I think
I want to do something with Mark Slutsky. I want
to have them on my show. I want to do something.
And so I don't know much about him, but I'm
fascinated with the way his mind works. But there's one
by a young guy, this one called Tangle, by young
guy named Isaac Saul, and he is doing, I think,
maybe the best job I've seen of anybody, trying to

(05:52):
really look at both sides of issues, of issues. The
newsletter is nearly daily, and he takes an issue nique.
Here's what the right is saying about it, Here's what
the left is saying about it. Here's what I think
about it. And it's a very useful crucible, I think,
for for looking at something that way. When I do
the show that I've done for a while, there's a

(06:12):
part of me I didn't really think very much about
it in terms of why I did it. I said,
to these are people that I'm fans of. I admire
their work. I've always wanted to meet them and talk
about their origin story and the path of their career,
people who I am interested in what they have to say, topically,
writers and so forth. I rarely sit there and say,

(06:35):
who's this show for? I mean, I kind of have
an idea about that. But when you're talking about politics,
for example, when you're talking about Isaac sol and Mark
Slutsky and people like that you follow, who do you
think shows that you craft in that way are aimed at?
Who do you think is listening to your show? In
some ways, I have no idea, But we also we

(06:55):
try not to think about that too much. I mean,
the show really is the product of a group of people,
just me, and our whole philosophy is we're going to
do something that really interests us, and we're gonna try
to do it in a creative enough way so that
you'll enjoy it if you're open to that kind of thing. Now,
sometimes out of sheer perversity, we will deliberately pick a

(07:16):
really bad idea just to see if we can do it.
Could we possibly do for example, well, I did a
whole show about yodeling. Uh, And you know, yodeling more
than five minutes of yodeling is kind of intrinsically annoying
at a certain point. I mean, and I got a
yodeling lesson for you to let that stop. If you
did not stop, you know, my thought is, if I
can make you stay with me, stay with me all
the way through this, this is gonna make you love

(07:37):
ye And I sort of think that was a bad
show in some ways, but it was also a really
good show. I mean, people would back away from me
if I when I said I want to do an
entire episode about yodeling, they would make excuses to leave
the room. We even have a thing with a kind
of an internal term within our show called the Bad
Ideas Department, where we will work really hard on an

(08:01):
idea we know is bad, just to see if we
could possibly do it. Now. This also leads to some
epic failures. I mean, people in the business will bring
up shows we did ten years ago that were such disasters.
But you can't be afraid of that, you know. I mean,
I know you interviewed Ira Glass, and he and I
spoke about this, and we were both kind of saying,
you know, you can't break public radio. You can do

(08:23):
a bad episode. It's only we have a patient on
the table. We're gonna lose. The worst thing you're gonna
do is do an episode that's not great, And in
my case, I gotta do another show tomorrow anyway. So
the mothership for you is the Colin McEnroe Show itself,
which is on twice a day. Yes, it's on at
one and at nine. Yeah, And what other shows are

(08:45):
you doing there? One of the duties do you have? Their?
At public radio in Connecticut. I'm in and out as
a political analyst. I have sort of a background in
doing that kind of stuff. We on occasion. First of all,
I don't I do for shows a week. I feel
like I don't need any more jobs. But one thing
we did is at the beginning of the first Trump impeachment,
as it was clearly coming, first of all, we thought, well,

(09:06):
we're gonna get preempted, so what should we do? And
we decided that we would invent a new podcast that
would be sort of a stealth brand podcast, and we
called it Pardon Me, Another damn Impeachment Show. And we
decided to do it as usual as differently from everybody
else as we could. So we we made it sort
of more cross disciplinary. I mean, we would have legal

(09:29):
experts on, but we would also maybe have Dave Eggers,
who's a novelist on, or we'd have a musician on
who's writing protest music, or just attack it from as
many different angles as we could. And so two things happened.
One of them was that, if you recall, Pelosi held
the impeachment articles for an unusually long time, so we

(09:49):
didn't get preempted, which means we were working around the
clock on this new podcast and having to do our
daily show, and there are people involved in that who
never recovered, I think. And then the other thing happened
was there was another damn impeachment, so we had to
revive the brand all over again. So a lot of
projects like that within I'll just tell you one other
thing that we did. We invented a format called radio
for the deaf, which I know sounds almost like a joke,

(10:11):
but it's not. We realized that deaf people obviously have
no experience of radio. I was talking to this deaf
woman who works at a school near here, and she said,
you know, I know you as a writer, but I
don't know you as a radio post. I don't know
what that is really, And so we figured out how
to do a show that was simultaneously transmitted using video streaming,

(10:35):
was simultaneously translated using to as L interpreters. And it
was really, really hard. It took a little a lot
of work. But we're trying to see if we could
create a radio product that deaf people could use, which
is once again kind of an insane thing to dry
and and it was. We did it. We ran out
of money eventually, but we we did do that. So yeah,
I think maybe my other job at the company's to

(10:57):
come up with improbable projects and trying to make them work.
The public radio I was there with my show at
NYC for a while. For you, why public radio and
not something more commercial, Well, I mean one answer is
I got fired from commercial radio. So I have to
back up and say so, remember I was telling you
my origin story and how I did this kind of

(11:19):
guest hosting thing, and I wound up at a pretty
big CBS owned radio station here in Connecticut, where you know,
the Limba style was the dominant style and content of programming.
I was sort of the house liberal there and so,
I mean the audience was overwhelming Allen Combs. I was
the Alan Colmes. I guess, yeah, I mean there are

(11:40):
a couple of other analogies, but you know, the audience
was there for that, and almost everybody on the air,
with a couple of other exceptions, was either Rush Limbaugh
or somebody trying to be Rush Limbaugh. And then there
was me. And so I worked there for sixty and
years and the audience just hated me so much. I mean,
I had a Connecticut audience. Connecticut. Yeah, but if the

(12:01):
Connecticut still has conservatives and that's who this the programming
on the station. I mean I had a lot of
people who liked the show, obviously, but just it was
I always felt like the sort of damocles was hanging
over me. One of these days, they're just gonna fire
me because the show is too wrong for the the
overall vibe of the station. And I'll just quickly tell you,
in commercial radio, as you perhaps know from your your

(12:22):
previous Explorer, from your other experiences, so ratings are really important.
Arbitron is the big ratings company, and they don't like
us to ever talk to anybody from Arbitron because they're
worried about the appearance of tampering. So one day I'm
standing there in the studios and there's this guy walking
towards me. He's pulling a suitcase, and my boss is
kind of hopping up and down behind him, saying he's

(12:42):
from Arbitron and he wants to meet you. And he
came to me. This is when they were I was, yeah,
it's kind of a little nerve wracking. And he was
kind of an ominous looking guy too. This is back
when Arbitron was really relying heavily on written diaries. And
he said, you know, I travel all over the country
and I read all these diaries, and he said, I've
never seen anything like you. People hate you, and they

(13:04):
listen for like minutes hating you. Said, usually if people
hate the host, they just turned the show off. People
don't do that with you, because in commercial radio, you
win the game if you keep somebody more than fifteen minutes. Uh.
And I was regularly doing that with people who just were,
you know, on the verge of vomiting over everything that

(13:25):
I sat, which that was one of the most thrilling
days of my life out because I thought, well, that's great,
because you know, we're so siloed in this country, you know,
I mean, we tend to listen, to read and consume
media and content that kind of reinforces our brandforce. Yeah,
and so that I could actually get people who think
very very different from me to listen for protracted periods.

(13:48):
It really felt like a real win. So I liked
commercial radio for that reason. I mean, if there were many,
many days where the primary job of the operations manager
was to take phone calls from people who wanted me fired,
but it was still exciting and fun and really kind
of different. You know. When I went over to public radio,
it was a big adjustment. Everything was so much more

(14:09):
civilized and I wasn't used to it. And that was
when what year it was, I started in two thousand nine.
And who brokered that arrangement? How did that come to pass?
It was mainly a guy named John Dankowski, who was
also a host at the time but also kind of
the leader of the newsroom. He'd been listening to me
on this other station for a really long time. But
I will say that at one point I was in

(14:29):
a little meeting with the big bosses and one man,
very very nice man. He had this huge binder and
he said, these are the public radio standards and practices.
This is the handbook for public radio. So I'd like
you to spend some time reading that, and he kind
of pushed it across the table to me, and in
the nicest way that I could, I pushed it back

(14:52):
to him and I said, I'm not looking at that.
I don't want to know what the standards and practices are.
If I did read it, it would be for the
purpose of violating those standards at every opportunity. And they've
been very patient also with that aspect of me. Colin McEnroe.

(15:12):
If you enjoy conversations with talented broadcasters from public radio,
check out my interview with w n y C S
Brian Larr of The Brian Larr Show. The other thing
about live radio as opposed to podcasts, people are constantly
coming and going, so you have to reset right. This
conversation has to make sense if you tune in at

(15:34):
ten o'clock or if you tune in at ten oh eight.
We have to constantly be thinking, okay, if this person
tuned in to this half hour segment seventeen minutes through.
We wanted to be able to make sense for them,
but at the same time be able to progress for
the people who have been there since the beginning. It's
just sort of a whole other layer of presentational awareness

(15:56):
that you don't have on television and they don't have
on podcasts. Here the rest of my conversation with Brian
Larr in our archives that Here's the Thing dot Org.
After the break. Colin McEnroe on terrestrial radio's potential extinction.

(16:25):
I'm Alec Baldwin and you're listening to Here's the Thing.
Host Colin McEnroe has been a compelling an uninhibited presence
on the radio since I was curious if the pressure
and restrictions of the public airwaves ever constrained his instincts
on the air. First of all, I totally grant the

(16:45):
premise of your question, and I certainly see that around me.
But the direct answer to your question is no. I mean,
my whole goal really has been to create a situation
where I can do what I want to do and
people buy and largely of me alone, and that's the
management where I work has been great about that. I mean,
probably just it's such a pain and they asked to

(17:07):
have a conversation with me that they're just they'd rather
not do it. But also they've just they've been very
generous about that and they know that whatever it is
that I'm doing. It's reasonably successful. They don't try to
tamper with it. And no, we don't really get that
thing about. You better not talk about, you know, car
automobile safety because we've got some underwriters at Buick or

(17:27):
something that well, that just doesn't happen without You're untouched
by that. I'm totally untouched by it. Do you have
any fear about the long term prospects for public media
public television and public radio. I mean, as we are
going to have, I think people's charitable donations. I wonder
I go to philanthropy conferences every now and then because
I work with the New York Philharmonic, and they talk about,

(17:50):
you know, they have people speak about not just how
to raise money, but how to spend it. They talked
about the long term arc of public giving decreasing for
public media as it become is a lower priority on
their giving list. Do you fear that in public radio?
I think we have to keep changing and evolving. And
one of the things that's I mean, public radio is
a battleship. It's hard to turn a battleship. You don't

(18:13):
do it in twenty four hours. So one thing that
I say all the time is every day it becomes
a little less important that we have transmitters like it is.
It's great to have transmitters, So Alec Baldwin listens to
my show. But it's increasingly the case that we'll be
moving to digital that we are. My show is now.
I think it's fair to say more popular and more

(18:35):
listened to as a podcast than it is in it's
it's broadcast time slots, and that's one thing the public
broadcasting is going to have to understand. Then. I never
go to the conferences, but the one conference I went to,
I was pleased that there was an entire workshop on
the automobile dashboard, because you know, you get lazy in
radio and you think, okay, everybody's got a radio in

(18:57):
their car and they're driving down the road at one
o'clock and they're in it's not on the Colin mcinroe show.
But increasingly, of course, their dashboard is far more complex
than that, and it often has smart speaker features where
they can say, well, I know, put on here's the thing.
I don't want to listen to Colin mcinron. So we've
got cert of things uff to that. I know. It's
your voice that comes on and says that, which I'm

(19:19):
I'm very I'm gonna talk to Subaru about that. I
want that change. But but you know, we've got to really,
we've got to rethink all of those paradigms all the time.
You cannot continue to do the same thing you've been
doing and expect that to work. And in terms of
the fundraising part, I don't know. I think that's on us.
If we do the right kind of programming, it's pretty
easy to go to a funder and say, look at this,

(19:39):
look at what they're doing, would you like to underwrite? Now,
I don't need massive amounts of money to do my show,
so I can't speak for you know what it's like
for you know, here and now or something like that. Now,
writing was the plan, as you mentioned, and you've written
for quite a deck of publications, The Times, Men's Health, Cosmopollen.

(20:00):
What did you write about for Cosmopolitan? You know, I'm
going to answer this question, but with great reluctance, I'll
just quickly say that I was. I had a little
downtown office from my freelance writing career. This must have
been back sometime in the nineties, and the phone rings
one day, and this woman says, Hi, I'm Katherine Rano
from Cosmopolitan and Helen Gurley Brown is retiring and we're

(20:22):
about to kind of transform the magazine and we've been
reading your work and other magazines. We really like it.
We think you're a great fit for our new look
and our new style, and we'd like you just to
get going with us right away. And I said, okay,
which is what I say that pretty much everything. And
they said, we have an idea we think you'd be

(20:42):
perfect for. And I said, okay, well what is it?
And she said it's what is it? Like? A thousand
word essay? What do you men feel about women touching themselves?
And to my credit, I screamed into the phone and
then I said, you don't even know me. Why am
I perfect for this? How did you deciding? I said,

(21:03):
I'll do it, but I mean, why am I perfect
for this? And so I really I wrote a whole
series of pieces for Cosmopolitan where I was terrified that
my mother would pick up the magazine, you know, at
the hair salon, and start reading some you know something
that by the way, she's not anymore, no, but I
was going to send her a copy, but it's no, no, no.
I had so many other ways of disappointing my mother

(21:24):
that I didn't need Cosmopolitans help. So is there a
phase where it's writing and only writing? Are you going
back and forth between radio and writing? Well, since I
once I started in radio in ninety two, I mean,
I've never stopped doing radio except for the nine months
after I got fired. So it's good to have something
to fall back on at times like that, but I'll

(21:47):
probably never entirely stop writing. Let me just say this,
this goes back to pretty much your first question. There's
something about radio, something about the intimacy of it and
something about the immediacy of it. I mean, alec I
bet if I asked you, you could tell me the
names of two or three disc jockeys you listen to
in fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade when you were trying

(22:08):
to listen to Top forty radio. You know that, you
know they're fake names. You know it's not really Sandy
Beach or whatever the person's name was. You know, I mean,
because those were voices that were really important to you
at the very beginning. In some ways, they might be
like the first grown ups who were talking to you
and specifically to you. They weren't talking your parents didn't
care about Herman's hermits, so they were talking just to

(22:31):
you and and and they were kind of famous, and
it was kind of exciting, right to listen to them.
And and that's the relationship that people have with radio.
It's a friend, it's somebody they feel like they kind
of know. And you can do that in radio so
much more powerfully than I love writing. But you can't
do it the same way in writing well, to take

(22:51):
people into a dimension, that's the only way I can
think about it. I've gone back to segregating time in
the day now that my kids are in school and
the summer is, you know, is behind us, and I'm
and I'm getting back to where I'm reading more devotedly.
And some of what I'm reading is dry, but I
soldier on because I want to get to the parts

(23:13):
of it that I'm reading. I think it's Gean Herbert
Smith is the writer, his biography of Eisenhower. To have
a writer engage you and draw you into that dimension
where all of a sudden, you stop counting pages, you
stop thinking about time, and you're really into the reading
and it's you're really engage that requires a talent I
don't have. I've written three books. But for me, if

(23:34):
you have any success in radio, the human voice is
a very much quicker way to get in. You know,
people will let you in quicker if they develop some
relationship with you in your voice. You and I are
very different, but but I get the sense for you
that you genuinely are interested. For the most part of
the guests that come on to people who I'm dying

(23:55):
to have them on the show is really couldn't wait
to sit down and talk to them. Do you feel
that way as well? I do. I mean, I'm I'm
the enthusiasm is still there. Yeah, I'm pretty excited most days.
One of the ways that you and I are different
is you're very good at interviewing people that you admire
and people who are pretty famous, and I tend to

(24:16):
be interviewing people more. I don't think I'm very good
at that. In fact, I think I'm actively bad at
interviewing people I admire, and I almost now try to
avoid it because I know how bad I am at it.
And so for me, what drives it more is this,
we pick a subject, you know, we pick an idea
and then we try to put the voices in with it.
Just you know, we did a show about Acam's Razor,

(24:37):
you know, which is the concept that begins in the
Middle Ages. But for the most part, for me, it
starts with the idea, you know, when I'm interviewing somebody
really famously, somebody I admire, I'm you know, I don't
have the kind of detachment it takes to make that
a good interview. Colin McEnroe. If you're enjoying this conversation,

(24:58):
be sure to subscribe to Hear Is the Thing on
the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you
get your podcasts. When we come back, Colin McEnroe tells
us how he inherited the playwriting gene despite his father's
intentions to steer him anywhere else. I'm Alec Baldwin and

(25:30):
this is Here's the Thing from my Heart Radio. Colin
McEnroe is the author of three books, including a memoir
and a collection of his hilarious columns. His writing also
found its way to the stage. He co wrote the
play A Woman of a Certain Age with Steve Metcalf
and Larry Bloom. I'd sort of avoided playwriting my father

(25:51):
was a playwright, and he had two shows on Broadway,
and then he had a lot of trouble getting produced.
And his goal in life was to make or I
did almost anything other than that. He wanted me to
stay out of the theater in every possible way. So
I hadn't really done too much like that. And these
two other gentlemen who I knew pretty well, were at
a point where they realized that they had songs, but

(26:14):
neither one of them was really able to write the
so called book of the musical, and so they brought
me in with There was not a lot of time
to do this. We thought we would be working on
this for two or three years. We we wanted a
place to kind of workshop it. And there's a beautiful
theater in connected called the Ivoryton Playhouse, And if you
go there and you look at the walls, it just
turns out everybody you know has appeared there at some point,

(26:35):
I mean like Groucho Marx performed there. So we said, look,
can we just come in during a flat time in
your schedule and just, you know, scripts in hand workshop
this show. And they their board men and they said, no,
we want you to actually put the play on with
real actors and costumes and sets, and we're going to
give you a budget and here's some money. And we
really weren't ready to do this at all. So yeah,

(26:57):
that was sort of the story of that, and it
was it took maybe I'd save four years off my life.
I was approached a couple of years ago to write
some material for a symphony orchestra that was going to
do lists Faust, which is a very very difficult symphonic piece,
and it's too long and there are a lot of
problems with it. So they said, what if you could

(27:18):
write the kind of interstitial dramatic interludes, And so the
orchestra would stop playing, and some actors would come on
and they would you know, they'll perform your material and
then the orchestra will come back. And I was working
with a very good conductor and very good director, and
I was writing the stuff and I just thought, this
is crap. I am terrible, And I was actively discouraging

(27:41):
friends from college from coming to this. You know, people
have known me for forty years. And and then the
actor showed up and they hired really good actors from
New York and we had a table read and I
got up from the table read. At one point I
kind of excused myself and went into the hall and
I called my partner, my significant other, and I said
to her, it turns out I am Tennessee Williams. I am.

(28:05):
I am a genius at least Oscar levant you're Oscar. Yeah,
but that's only so I can get on the Jack Parka.
That's not nutty enough. You got fun. But I mean,
when really good actors read your stuff and then they
also ask you questions, I'm sure you do this all
the time. Why is God saying this line here? Why
is it? Why did you word it that way? What?

(28:26):
It's inevitably as the writer, it's stuff you never thought about.
But it's a really good question that you have, and
that's so stimulating and exciting that, Yeah, if I had
more time, I'd probably do more of that kind of thing.
I find oddly that over the years, there's strategy and tactics.
There's what you want to do and how you go
about doing it. What do you want your screenplay to

(28:47):
be about? What story do you want to tell? And
how effectively do you tell it? I mean, there there
are people who have like really stupid ideas like The Hangover,
but they execute it brilliantly. They get every drop of
juice out of the rind that they can. Then there's
people who have fabulous ideas and the execution is poor.
But I found very often when I was working in

(29:09):
the movie business, and especially I'd say that the writing
is good and the ideas in this scene, the ideas
are just in the wrong order. Now talk about your dad.
Your dad was a playwright. He was a playwright. He
had kind of a big hit. It was called The
Silver Whistle that started jose Fire. It actually got turned
into through a very painful process. I think it got

(29:31):
turned into one of the Mr Belvidere movies. It's Mr
Belvitere rings the Bell with Clifton. But so that was
his big hit. And then he did a show called
Donnie Brook, which was a musical. It was a musical
adaptation of The Quiet the movie The Quiet man Um
and it was less successful. He wrote the book for that.
Johnny Burke wrote the music. I will say that over

(29:53):
the years, I've become friends with Frank Rich. Frank is
one of the few people I know who actually saw
Donnie Brook, not as the New York Times film creator
because he was way too young for that. But Frank,
when Frank was young, he just yeah, he went and
saw everything. So yeah, he he saw Donny broke and
then after that he really struggled a lot, you know,
And there were you when the struggles began. I was

(30:14):
still in elementary school, I think, you know, and yeah,
I saw writing is this thing that was really really
hard to do, and where you were. I mean, one
thing about the theater, as you know, is, you know,
it's not like writing a novel. There are a lot
of people involved, and some of those people are going
to make you better. It's what like what I said
about writing the faust stuff. You know, two actors show up,

(30:35):
they start reading your lines, and you think you're a
genius because they're making you better. But also in theater
there's just a lot of stakeholders, a lot of collaborators.
And I think seeing that and seeing him get very close,
you know, to have a really prestigious director attached to
the project. They were like really famous producers who would
almost produce one of my dad's plays and then it

(30:55):
would fall apart. And I realized I didn't want that.
I didn't want to spend three years of my life
writing a script that was eventually not going to make
it to the stage ignored. Yeah, I'm I have a
pretty short gratification span. Like I really like being on
the radio because I do it every day and whatever happens,
it happens over a twenty four hour arc. And I

(31:18):
don't have a lot of patients. One reason I'm not
more of an author is I don't really want to
work for two years on a book and then, you know,
I have to deal with all that work if they
have to be a certain kind of person. And your
father passed away when you were how old he passed away?
So I guess I was. Yeah, I was forty four.
He's a lot of the reasons I am the way

(31:39):
I am. He was a very funny guy. He was
in a lot of pain, a lot of emotional and
psychological pain, and it took me a long time to
understand that how much pain he was in. Because of
I wanted writing an entire book about it. It's called
My Father's Footprints. This is why I don't write books,
Alex So I had this project. Warner Books came to
me and they said they read an essay that I

(32:00):
had written about my father. They said, we want you
to turn it into a whole book, and I said, okay.
And so the book was called The Last Time My
Father Died. And it was very much based on the
idea that, you know, this is sort of true with
our parents. You kind of watched them die in different
ways over the course of their lives and or almost
died from some real medical cause or whatever. So it's
called The Last Time My Father Died. And I think

(32:22):
they were this is kind of a right around the
time of Tuesdays with Mori, and I think they were
thinking they'd read this essay and they thought, oh, yeah,
this will be like Tuesdays with Mori, but it's his
father and his father dies, And it wasn't anything like that.
It was this kind of big Irish book about Irish
American dysfunction. And it wasn't a big book, but it
was a lot of big dysfunction in it. And at

(32:43):
a certain point they changed the title without telling me.
It's like somebody looked it up on a border's computer.
One day they said, you know, your book is not
called The Last Time My Father Died anymore. And I said, no,
first t exactly. Now you're born maised in Connecticut. Did
you spend any length of time living anywhere else? Not
really No, I mean I made it worse by going

(33:03):
to Yale, so I didn't get out of the state
that way either. I'm very similar, which is I used
to tell people my dream, and it remains my dream.
I've abandoned it for practical purposes, but in my heart
it still lives. Which is, I get a nice little
house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and I can walk to the
Red Line and have lunch every day, and then I can,

(33:24):
you know, read a book or whatever. I just love
the Berkshires. I love Tanglewood. That's my favorite place in
the world. And I love the area in Vermont where
my wife and I just bought a home. But to
stay somewhere and to and to live somewhere for maybe
not your entire life, but much of your life, mean
large chunks of your life. I've kind of fond of
that idea. Is there anything that you wish you'd done differently?

(33:47):
Or there are places that you wanted to live? May
forget about your career. Are the places you wanted to
experience and live there for a while? And did you
ever contemplate that yeah. I mean, I mean I'd like
to live in Paris for a year, but then I'd
like to come home to Connectic It. I mean, this
is really hard, you know, I'd like there's a lot
of places I like to live for a year, but
I'm fine here, you know. I mean, this really is home.

(34:08):
It's a beautiful state. I agree about the Berkshires. We
used to do our show every year from the Berkshire
Film Festival, which is a really fun, you know, way
to do something, and everybody's there and so Peter Reager
comes and sits down at your microphone and start talking whatever.
You know. Karen Allen has like a shop. I love Karen.
So I mean, in Connecticut, I've been able to do

(34:29):
most of the things that I want to do. And
I mean, thanks to the miracle of the Internet. Yeah,
I can have an active magazine writing career. I can
write filthy articles for a Cosmopolitan. But I think also
because I think part of your question is why am
I at a smaller market, a medium sized market, whatever?
And there is something fun about punching above your own weight,

(34:50):
and that's what I think we do on our show.
And maybe I give us too much credit, but on
any given day. We field as though we can do
as good as show is just about anybody. We don't
have of the kind of you know, phalanx of producers
that that some shows have, but we feel that we
can compete with anybody. And it's always kind of thrilling
if you're from Connecticut and you've got a small staff

(35:10):
and you're doing a show, if like Adam Gopnik, who's
from the New Yorker, who has been on our show
a few times, If like Adam will call up my
producer or email my producer at the end of a
book tour and say, you know, I just did a
lot of radio shows. Your show is the best one
I did. That was the most thoughtful interview anybody did.
That's really thrilling to us when people have that reaction

(35:32):
and they want to come back to the show. I
mean that means we're sort of the mouse that roared
a little bit. There was a day when I got
on my computer in the morning and there was this
email that was, you know, purportedly from Ira Glass, and
it said, high, I've been listening to your show for
a while and I have some questions about you know,
what it is you're doing, why you do it? And

(35:53):
I'm just looking all over to figure out how am
I being pranked, which one of my friends from college
has figured out how to make it seem like he's
sending me an email from Ira Glass. But it did
turn out it was from Ira and you know, he
did have something. He'd been listening pretty carefully and he
had some very specific questions about this. Now, the humiliating
part about this was he was gonna be giving a

(36:14):
speech at a public radio conference. He wanted to talk
about somebody who's doing really creative, innovative programming at the
local station level, produced out of a you know, a
local station, and he was going to use us as
the example. And I wasn't going to be at that conference,
and I decided I'm not going to be this desperate
guy who needs to watch this speech to see what

(36:35):
Ira Glass says about me. And then of course I
lost all my willpower and I did exactly that, and
I'm watching and watching it comes to the end of
the speech and he goes and for example, there is
this one show. It's very unusual. It's done out of Connecticut.
The host is a guy named Chris McEnroe, and I went, Chris,
this is my moment of fame. Ira. Yeah. Do you

(36:58):
ever think of doing a show with someone else? Or
do you feel you're the lone ranger you need to
it's you being you? Or do you ever thought about
partnering with somebody? I think when you're alone, you want
a sidekick, and then if you have a sidekick, you
start thinking why did I want to? Well said, I'm
a huge fan of yours. Thank you, Colin mcamron, Thank you,

(37:23):
My thanks to Colin McEnroe. This episode was recorded at
c DM Studios in New York City. Were produced by
Kathleen Russo, Zack McNeice, and Maureen Hoban. Our engineer is
Frank Imperial. Our social media manager is Daniel Gingwich. I'm
Alec Baldwin. Here's the thing is brought to you by
my Heart Radio two.
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