“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM): Let’s start a discussion together


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About a year ago, I launched PopSmart NOLA as a website dedicated to intelligent coverage of New Orleans culture. It might have sounded like a pretentious line at the time but over the past year I at least hope the site has added to the conversation about the arts, culture and entertainment of the Crescent City. The first post was an impression of my first experience with the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra, the second a review of Cecile Monteyne’s excellent “You Don’t Know the Half of It,” followed by a kooky preview of The NOLA Project’s “Clown Bar,” and then an open question about how to talk to my son about racism in movies.

The feedback has been great, and from time to time it even appears to have started a discussion.

Now, with WHIV’s help, I’d like to make that discussion more literal. On Saturday, I will premiere the radio version of “PopSmart NOLA” as way to bring in and engage the cultural figures of our city to talk about the work they do and help place it in a more focused context with the rest of what’s happening around us. Many of these people will be familiar to lots of listeners, and many will come from my years as an arts journalist at Gambit Weekly (back when it was called Gambit Weekly, my too-brief tenure at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, and subsequent work as a freelance journalist (the New Orleans Advocate, Biz New Orleans and New Orleans magazine, to name a few) – and of course, good old PopSmart NOLA.

To be fair, there’s a lot of good arts journalism being done around New Orleans; it’s just become a bit spread out and around. And it’s a constantly shifting landscape — I found that out the hard way last fall, but even more recently we’ve seen the hiatus of the NOLA Defender, or even the tragic loss of NOLA Vie’s Sharon Litwin. On the positive side, we’ve witnessed the emergence of WWNO’s “Inside the Arts” coverage with Diane Mack, who’s been kind enough to accept my pleas to discuss my work on her show, and both newspapers seem to have adjusted to life after the shakeup of last year. And then there’s NOLA Vie, Alex Rawls’ excellent music site “My Spilt Milk,” and the continued good work being done at OffBeat and Gambit, to name a few.

But yet, there’s still more to cover, and even more to talk about. We’ll start the discussion on Saturday (Oct. 29), from 3 p.m. to p.m. on WHIV-FM (102.3) — community radio dedicated to human rights, social justice, and the end of all wars. Our guests: James Bartelle and Beau Bratcher — the star and director of The NOLA Project’s “4000 Miles” — Jim Fitzmorris (with his latest show, “Things That Go Trump in the Night”) and comedy from The New Movement’s “The Megaphone Show.” You also can listen online at whivfm.org.

The inspiration for “PopSmart NOLA” the radio show are many, and not just the website. There’s also my favorite culture podcast, “The Dinner Party Download,” which structures amazing entertainment coverage around the concept of a party (complete with music, small talk, plenty of food, and a crafty cocktail). I’m also inspired by NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” as well as Slate’s “Culture Gabfest” and (perhaps a bit tangentially, Slate’s excellent sports podcast “Hang Up and Listen.” If you see resemblances of these shows in “PopSmart NOLA,” I hope will be in the form of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

We’ll have lots of guests, occasional co-hosts, look back at the week in culture, and look ahead to what’s on the horizon. And we’ll have lots of music (live and recorded) — hopefully timed to the performances of the week — and plenty of active engagement with our listeners (especially on social media). On that note, you can like PopSmart NOLA on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram (@popsmartnola) and Twitter (@dlsnola). If you’d like to make a comment or ask questions while the show’s going on, I’ll do my best to answer in real time, but definitely ASAP. I want this to be much, much more than a one-sided conversation. As with all things New Orleans, we know that everyone’s got a story to tell.

I hope to apply some of the lessons learned from previous experiences in radio, which include serving as an arts contributor to WABE, the NPR affiliate in Atlanta, as well as appearances on New Orleans television shows including John McConnell’s “The Spudcast.”

If you’d like to suggest an idea for a show, or come on as a guest, or would like to serve as an underwriter for the show, please email me at dlsnola@gmail.com, and I’ll response in as timely a fashion as possible.

Until then, please listen in, and join us in the discussion.