… to make way for Bullseye. That is, The Sound of Young America is undergoing a name change.
The Sound has been one of the best American public radio shows out there for years. Covering comedy, music, movies, and all that cultural noise, host Jesse Thorn brings out the best in his interview subjects and makes a super entertaining show, week after week.
Thorn recently posted a letter he sent out to stations back when he first signed on with Public Radio International where he gave a great description of the show:
The guests are sometimes unusual for public radio — relatively few folkies like artists on their way to house concerts or authors talking about the Middle East, and relatively more rappers and comedians — but at the heart of my show is a pretty simple idea. There’s no reason not to show a rapper the same respect we’d show a singer-songwriter as a matter of course, and there’s no reason not to have fun while we’re doing so.
Problem is, the name The Sound of Young America has caused some confusion. In the past, Thorn has said it was tough getting station programmers to understand that this wasn’t a show for the youths and was instead an cultural interview show that the fogies could dig too.
Before I actually started listening to the show, I don’t think that thought ever occurred to me, but it kinda makes sense. Public radio programmers are a funny group of people, really set in their ways in some things. For example: “I asked someone at a big public radio show what the booking secret was. They said, ‘Say: “Hello, I’m calling from Fresh Air,”‘” Thorn observed on Twitter recently. So yeah, despite all the love I have for the original name, I can’t blame him for the change when he’s trying to break into a somewhat insular world. I suppose he’s gotten impressive mileage out of a name he chose back when he was in university.
The show takes the new name, Bullseye, in the new year, giving new listeners a good opportunity to jump. It’s always neat to say you’ve been with something since Episode 1, right?
Alternatively, you could start in with Thorn right now; the most recent episode of The Sound features an interview with Nile Rodgers, best known as one of the dudes behind Chic. I never knew I wanted a 45-minute interview with a disco pioneer until I listened to this one. There’s no Bootsy Collins moment, but it’s still fascinating.