Sometimes, I admit, I worry that podcasts are encouraging my lazy, selfish tendencies. Would it kill me to read Slate stories for myself instead of waiting for Andy Bowers to turn them into podcasts? Couldn’t I listen to Democracy Now or watch The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer along with everyone else instead of time-shifting them for my own convenience?
One podcast that I never miss induces no such guilty feelings, because the original version appears on a satellite radio network I don’t subscribe to. The hosts of Downstage Center (Web site here; iTunes feed here), XM Radio’s John von Soosten and the American Theatre Wing’s Howard Sherman, are both knowledgeable, poised interviewers who bring years of theater expertise to the conversation. Their guests are the cream of Broadway and beyond. Recent visitors include actors Patti LuPone, Jill Clayburgh, Cherry Jones, and Jonathan Pryce; directors Doug Hughes and Susan Stroman; composer/lyricist Jerry Herman; authors John Patrick Shanley and Paula Vogel; and the Public Theatre’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis.
Because the interviewers seem to have seen every show and memorized every cast album from the last few decades, the guests always appear completely at ease as they chat for 35 to 50 minutes about their careers and their latest gigs. It’s a master class in interview technique as much as anything else. I feel positively virtuous downloading it to my iPod.