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The Gist

By Slate

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Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca. A daily afternoon show about news, culture, and whatever else you'll be discussing with friends and family tonight.

Customer Reviews

A Star for Each: Smart, Weird, Clever, Hilarious, Insightful

The gist of The Gist: This is a young radio natural finally given the chance to fully come into his own:

The full meat & po-taters, or "What We Have Here" (it's articulately *not* a failure to communicate):

I've always enjoyed Mike Pesca as the competent stand-in host for, well, pretty much everyone ever in public radio. But I never realized how brilliant and weird and hilarious he is when left to his own devices.

First, to summarize the format, this show is interviews and commentaries about current events. If you're a news & politics junkie, and/or a fiend for smart radio, read on.

Now for his tone, which is what really makes this show stand out: Imagine the earnest, thoughtful ire of a Frank DeFord editorial wrapped up in the freewheeling wit of a Radiolab interview. Given his own element, Pesca shines: He's got great radio presence, excellent guests, and best of all, a shrewd, quicksilver mind.

The pilot episode is a perfect example of what to expect -- moreover because it might be the best first ep I've heard to date. I've heard a lot, and generally the best you can hope for is that the pilot isn't too clumsy, and maybe sounds like the actual show. Pesca wastes no time with such bumbling; he hits a home run on his first at-bat, replete with a hilarious interview: Jad Abumrad of Radiolab interviewing Pesca about his own show. Hah!

By radio standards, he's a bit crazy to do a daily podcast (particularly if this is a side item to his main work), but with this level of talent and intelligence, he's clearly up to the task. This is a young radio natural finally given the chance to fully come into his own: Don't miss it.


I was very excited for Mike Pesca's daily podcast as someone who listens to the suite of Slate podcasts and who enjoyed his contributions to the sports talk podcast "Hang Up and Listen" -- I didn't come in a hater. But a few weeks in, I've unsubscribed, and would advise those who like Pesca not to start listening. This podcast is just infuriating.

Pesca, with two fellow panelists on "Hang Up and Listen," sees his particular energy diluted -- he has people to bounce off of and with whom to share the spotlight. On "The Gist," Pesca's evident pleasure in himself and his own ideas devolves, every episode, into ranting, most frequently about why people are talking about news events the wrong way, which is to say, differently from the way Pesca himself would.

Pesca is a legend in his own mind. His questions to his guests follow this format, each and every time: "Here's what I think [forty-five second statement of opinion]. So, what do you think?" And it's truly strange that he styles himself as a meta-media commentator because he's so prone to error -- he did two segments about how misguided was the social-media campaign he called #SaveOurGirls. (It's #BringBackOurGirls, as someone speaking at length about it ought to know.) He recently did an interview with Hendrik Hertzberg, whom he characterized as a New York magazine senior editor. (It's, um, The New Yorker.) A segment during which Pesca invited on comedy rappers in order to demonstrate just how easy rap was was regrettably tone-deaf -- with Pesca repeating at length just how much better a group of white people speaking nursery rhymes were than actual hip-hop music (you know, made by black people with historic ties to that music).

Left to his own devices, apparently guiding the show by whim, Pesca is often interesting -- hence why it gets two stars. But even more often, he's bulldozing his guests and hectoring his listeners.

Delicious Daly Dose of Associative Logic and Incisive Reporting

Mike Pesca is The Question Man. He know who to talk to and what to ask. The topic choices are interesting, his style fun, and his spiels ridiculous and resonant (RE: signatures? So true.) I love listening every day. My only complaint is that the podcast is to funny I have been forced to stop and laugh uproariously in the middle of my neighborhood sidewalk holding two bags of groceries. The white picket fencers are not pleased.

The Gist
View in iTunes

Customer Ratings