Rep. Ricky Hurtado, newly-elected NC House member and changemaker

Tune in on Friday, July 2 @ 3pm PST on KZSU-FM Stanford

Support Hearsay Culture’s influential new path and growth by checking out our Indiegogo campaign!

In 2020, running for office in North Carolina’s House District 63 as a Democrat was not easy. A solidly Republican district in eastern Alamance County, he was running against a Republican incumbent. Hurtado nonetheless won his race with 50.6% of the vote, becoming the first Latino to be elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as a Democrat, in a year when Democrats saw fewer legislative victories than many had predicted.

Endorsements from former President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are uncommon in state races, but Hurtado is an uncommon elected official. Raised in rural North Carolina by El Salvadorian immigrant parents, he attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Princeton University. Soon thereafter, he became an instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill and director of a first-generation college students and immigrant families educational opportunities program.

In Hearsay Culture fashion, we dug deep into the hard unexplored realities that make up our lives in 2021, translating them for a wide audience. Hurtado, as an intelligent and rising expert in state policymaking and representation, was a perfect guest for this task. For this interview, we focused on Hurtado’s experience growing up in rural North Carolina, Alamance County’s unsettling amount of racist acts and conflicts, the challenges of being in the political minority in the NC House, as well as the first elected Latino NC House Democrat, why inequality is his focus, and his take on the identifier “Latino.”

We hope that you enjoy the interview and consider making a donation to our Indiegogo campaign! [Disclosure: The host, Dave Levine, made a personal low double-digit donation to Hurtado’s 2020 effort].


Jeremy Pelt: Griot, Jazz, and the Power of Personal Narratives

Tune in on Friday, June 25 @ 3pm PST on KZSU-FM Stanford

Support Hearsay Culture’s influential new path and growth by checking out our Indiegogo campaign!

Jeremy Pelt, 2018 Photos by Kasia Idzkowska

What can resonate even more than the truth? The story. And so, Jeremy Pelt, renowned trumpeter (who has played with one of my favorite groups, the Village Vanguard Orchestra) and musical story-teller, has a new book that is inspired by the West African oral “griot” tradition. In Griot: Examining the Lives of Jazz’s Great Storytellers, Pelt interviews jazz colleagues with fascinating backgrounds and insights to share. He speaks with musicians spanning several decades, from Paul West to Bertha Hope to Wynton Marsalis to Robert Glasper. His questions are direct and open up deeply personal conversations.

Jazz is known as the first American art form, and this book is Pelt’s first volume looking at the maestros of the genre. Pelt seems to have an unquenchable passion for this search for meaning in music culture, delivering surprising perspectives and important insights into how we relate to each other in our endlessly-networked world. Tune in for a dynamic discussion of culture, music, civil rights, whether jazz should be still be streamed from clubs after Covid, and the controversy around the name “jazz” (and check out the accompanying album!)


Rational Funk: Dave King, YouTube, and how the film Whiplash gets it all wrong

Originally aired March 11, 2016, re-airing Friday, April 2, 2021 @ 8pm pacific on KZSU!

I was informed overnight that Stanford athletics had a canceled event, so Hearsay Culture was no longer bumped. It was way too late to record a new show, so I dove quickly into the 260+ show archive, and pulled one of my more recent favorite interviews: My 2016 interview with acclaimed jazz drummer Dave King of The Bad Plus.

Dave King is a world-renowned musician who has taken an abstract and comedic approach to music. His YouTube show Rational Funk included instructional drum videos with commentary on his unique creative approach (my favorite was his tip to work military drumming in as a jazz solo in order to land a gig). Listen to learn about how King’s technological undertaking has created a space for him to connect with musicians and fans, and not take himself too seriously. Along the way, pick up on his sense of the music industry during a time of immense change.

Listen on Friday, April 2, at 8pm pacific on KZSU-FM!


Is Your Computer (Really) on Fire? A chat with Ben Peters

Friday, March 26, at 8pm pacific on KZSU-FM (Stanford)

Co-editor of the book Your Computer Is On Fire (MIT Press 2021), with Thomas S. Mullaney, Mar Hicks, and Kavita Philip

Technophilia, the dread of technology infringing on and disrupting human life, is a topic Professor Ben Peters covers in depth in his new co-authored and co-edited book, “Your Computer Is on Fire.” Acknowledging the power to enable society, Peters and his fellow co-editors and contributors nonetheless broadside what they call the “large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley.” Its a remarkably broad and timely endeavor.

On today’s show, Dave examines what’s really burning, and where is it out of control? Using clips from from Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard commencement speech, as well as raising issues about how consumers and the government might address the many concerns raised by the authors, Hearsay Culture pushes for accuracy on this crucial topic — a goal shared by the authors themselves. In a broad discussion with return guest Ben, who has a vast and deep background in technology theory and practice, the 2021 state of tech play is developed and translated.

Listen in!


The Power of Transparency

Interview with Michael Schudson of the Columbia School of Journalism
Friday, March 12, 2021 at 8pm pacific on KZSU
Note: Originally Aired May 13, 2016 [Show #255]
Michael Schudson, Twitter @mschudson2

“I would simply say that government power has become more and more important to the everyday lives of American citizens, [as opposed to the past when] the department of government an individual citizen was most likely to encounter was the post office!”

Discussion with Prof. Michael Schudson of the Columbia School of Journalism, author of The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945–1975. Michael is one of the leading media historians writing today, and this conversation highlights lessons of the 20th Century that apply to new media in the 2020s. His books have helped shape the media studies field and explored developments in public access to government operations. The post-war era was marked by the passing of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In this interview, the focus is on FOIA and other open government laws, its challenges and the impact of this history on our understanding of the Wikileaks-Snowden era.


Is Everything A Game? The Role of Gamification in Society

An Interview with Profs. Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter, authors of For The Win: The Power of Gamification and Game Thinking in Business, Education, Government, and Social Impact

Friday, February 26, 2021 at 8pm pacific on KZSU

Should life – and business – be turned into a game? This question highlights this week’s discussion on Hearsay Culture. As games present a great attraction to trainers, and business marketers, do we really want games to infiltrate so many aspects of our world? If not (and we don’t), then where do they work? What are the guardrails, if any, for governments, businesses, and other institutions to engage in gamification?

On this week’s show, Dave takes a close look at these questions with two leading thinkers in this space. The authors lay out the practical and theoretical underpinnings for and concerns about inserting games into a range of activities, from Uber’s disturbing efforts to promising health and medical uses. What kind of gamer are the authors, and what kind of gamer do we want games to reward?

Exploring the notion that “fun” is at gamification’s center, Hearsay Culture digs deep to bring expert viewpoints into plain speak for the rest of us to understand. Tune in tonight at 8pm pacific on KZSU to hear about a step-by-step practical guide to gamification. Reach out if you have comments at!


Holography: How It Might Change Your Life

A Conversation with Visby founder Kris Chaisanguanthum, Friday, February 12 @ 8pm pacific on KZSU

(c) Kari Orvik Tintype Studio

On tonight’s show, Visby CEO Kris Chaisanguanthum calls holography “the next step in the evolution of image quality.” Holography will dramatically affect everything from business, education, and politics, to movies, concerts, and sports broadcasts. Imagine a 3-D object in front of you instead of a flat computer screen; Kris argues that this is the future of displays and why his company is among its pioneers. The building blocks of this revolution are being developed now, but will holography dominate later this decade? If so, how will the public have any say in its deployment?

Building on the last 20 years of rapid computer technology advances, holography is the next frontier of consumer device displays that imparts new meaning to the term “virtual.” In the interview, Kris explains why new computer and smart phone user interface features will change the way devices and communications work, and whether private companies can handle this monumental responsibility. Tune in for a fascinating discussion about one of the most cutting edge innovations of our time—as well as some personal insights on the journey and how to enter this exciting new field.


Rock is Here to Stay, But is Adapting Fast! Interview with the Bad Penny band

Top (L-R): Bad Penny guitarist/songwriter Mike Holtzman; Host Dave Levine. Bottom (L-R): Bassist Danny Miranda (formerly of Queen); Drummer Jules Radino (Blue Oyster Cult)

Has the global pandemic killed live performing and rock and roll dreams?

On tonight’s show (January 29 @ 8pm pacific on KZSU), Bad Penny, made up of former band members from Journey, Queen, and Blue Oyster Cult and newcomer/songwriter Mike Holtzman, discuss collaborative recording spun from historical metal styles.

As technology has continued to flood our lives, it’s become a standard medium for business, shopping, and economics. However, technology has increasingly upended the arts world, providing new kinds of tools, social media outlets, and streaming business models. It’s inevitable that we turn to electronically-mediated music and its future on Hearsay Culture.

What is the professional musicians’ routine and prospects for a livelihood?

We discuss making a living, the economics of the new digital music landscape requiring higher ticket prices, and the different generations of format – like the LP record album – an art form with its liner notes, jacket, pictures of the band, credits and lyric sheets. Of course, we also hear bits of the band’s first three explosive tunes; one of which that was released today! Join us as Hearsay Culture expands beyond its traditional topics, but in its own signature style.


Congress under siege: Lorelei Kelly on lessons from January 6

Lorelei Kelly, Georgetown Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation Fellow, Friday, January 22 @ 8pm pacific on KZSU-FM

Lorelei Kelly (Photo: Georgetown Beeck Center)

Lorelei is an expert on Congress and its operations, as well as civilian-military relationships. On this timely show, we discuss the events of January 6, 2021 (the Congressional attacks). Is it appropriate to declare it a “coup attempt?” (You may be surprised by her answer). We also explore ways to fix Congress, what Senators can and cannot do with technology, smuggling books across the Berlin Wall, and Lorelei’s book shelf of favorite reading.

As Hearsay Culture expands its content offerings, expect us to delve into conversations that allow experts to share knowledge normally reserved for those closest to power. Lorelei Kelly’s unique perspective, deriving as it does from her beginnings in rural New Mexico, offers a compelling and grounded expert take on the nearly unfathomable events of the past three weeks. Listen in!