Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIARY | What it is like to be a guest on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

NEW YORK CITY |   She is as classy as she is beautiful.  I was interviewed this morning on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The interviewer was Pia Lindström, the award-winning host of "Pia Lindström Presents," an exclusive weekly interview show on Sirius XM Book Radio, where she gives listeners a glimpse into the world of books, plays, movies, and current issues. 

Pia Lindström and me.
Every week Pia talks with guests from the world of books as well as film directors, producers, literary insiders and more.  Previous guests have included best-selling authors Danielle Steele, Lorrie Moore, Anne Rice; playwrights like David Mamet; musicians such as Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Webb, Judy Collins; Forensic Scientists, Stuntmen and Mystics.  For her first show, Pia sat down with her sister, Isabella Rossellini to discuss Isabella’s new book, Green Porno, based on her Sundance Channel web series. 

I was nervous, but she made me feel at ease. I was anxious, because she wanted me to talk about the world of performing arts, as well as the present state of democracy and the arts in Europe, Asia and Africa, but she wanted me do this in a way that would clearly communicate to a broader audience. Pretty esoteric subjects, I suppose, in our mainstream-only U.S. media. To be honest I lost sleep at the mere thought of losing the interest of her millions of listeners while I had to describe and expound on global experiences and international encounters. After two cups of strong coffee, I dared to go on the radio anyway. I kept breathing to myself my mantra: "Transform your passion into a pop-culture conversation."

My favorite moment was when I got to say "Pussy" on air. I said it twice. In what context? Pia was interested in discussing issues of censorship and repression of artists, and she mentioned Putin. So there it was: my opening (no pun intended). I described the Pussy Riot debacle in Russia as one example of the repression of artists in illiberal democracies after the so-called death of Communism.

Pia Lindström, the first child of actress Ingrid Bergman and Dr. Petter Aron Lindström (a Swedish American neurosurgeon), couldn't have been sweeter and nicer.  It helped that she is an accomplished movie and theater critic, so we shared a common lingua.  I was most especially struck by her anecdotes about what it was like for her when she was starting out in broadcasting. 

Born in Stockholm, Pia began her career in San Francisco at KGO-TV, co- hosting a two-hour morning talk show.  A long time trustee of the Theatre Development Fund, the largest arts service organization in the country, she is also on the Board of Trustees of the American Theatre Wing and a member of the Tony Award Nominating Committee.  Lindström worked in television journalism for three decades in California and New York. She received two Emmy Awards and the New York Associated Press Broadcasters Award for news reporting.

Looking back, I wish we had more time to dig our heels deeper into discussing contemporary Swedish performing arts. Perhaps there will be another time. Who knows?  If our conversation sparks true and deep interest, we might broadcast about performing arts direct from Sweden in the near future. It could happen.

Stay tuned to Sirius XM Radio.  --rg
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