019: Interview: Jesse Thorn, Part 1

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Running Time:
00:09:35

Merlin talks with The Sound of Young America’s Jesse Thorn about his roots in radio at UC-Santa Cruz and how having to borrow his Mom’s car led to him putting his radio shows on the web. We also learn some surprising things that Jesse has in common with basketball superstar, Manute Bol.

Note: This is the first segment in our six-part interview with Jesse Thorn. Stop back soon for more.


Jesse Thorn (a/k/a, “America’s Radio Sweetheart”), is a nationally syndicated public radio host, raconteur, and podcaster who’s best known for The Sound of Young America and several other podcasts under the aegis of his “Maximum Fun” site:


  • Also mentioned in this episode: Bob Odenkirk (TSOYA episode), The Human Giant (TSOYA episode), Manute Bol, Ira Glass, Terry Gross
  • Jesse has dibs on the term “The New Sincerity” - “A perfect example of the New Sincerity is Evel Knievel. There’s no way to take Evel Knievel literally. It’s impossible.”
  • Merlin’s personal picks for a few Sound of Young America episodes to get started with:
    • October 13th, 2006 — Best Friends - “Guests John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton. Our guests were college classmates, and remain close friends today. Hodgman is an author and is regularly seen on The Daily Show. Coulton is a comic singer-songwriter.”
    • April 10th, 2007 — Jack McBrayer - “We talk with Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth, the lovable NBC Page, in the NBC sitcom ‘30 Rock.’”
    • August 26th, 2006 — The Impostors - “Guest Mal Sharpe. Mal Sharpe was half of Coyle & Sharpe, a ground-breaking team of put-on artists who terrorized 1960s San Francisco.”
  • Merlin Show/Jesse Thorn trivia: Jesse and TSOYA are mentioned in the first sentence of Merlin’s first interview with Jonathan Coulton.
  • Super-nerdy Merlin Show trivia: This is the first set of interviews shot with our new HV-20s (amazon). That film look comes from the tasty new 24p functionality. Hope you all like the new fanciness.