Public Radio Program Directors

Welcome to the Dinner Party Download, a fresh hour of culture and food that gives you all the talking points you’ll need to dazzle your friends. Below you’ll find our weekly menu of segments, with some favorites from past shows. Enjoy!

The Icebreaker

To get things started, a celebrity tells a joke. We’re not gonna lie, it’s usually bad. But charmingly bad. Also short and (always) clean — so listeners can remember and repeat it in mixed company.

Small Talk

Public radio listeners are smart; by the time they get to our show, they already know the headlines of the week. So we quickly fill them in on a quirky, under-the-radar news story they undoubtedly haven’t heard — with the help of journalists from publications like The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Onion A.V. Club and more.

Cocktails (A History Lesson with Booze)

It’s a two-part trick: We tell you something fascinating that happened this week in history … and then have a bartender whip up a custom drink inspired by the historical event.

Guest List

In this segment a celebrity guest provides a list of three favorite items, related to their work. Like director Steve (“Hoop Dreams”) James’ list of Three Documentaries For People Who Hate Documentaries. It’s a unique look into an artist’s creative process, influences and passions … and also fodder for dinner party arguments about what *should* have made the list.

Guest of Honor

This is our marquee interview; an informal but in-depth chat with one of the world’s top filmmakers, actors, writers, artists or musicians. Best part: Every single interview concludes with our guest telling us something surprising we didn’t know. How do we do it? By ordering them to tell us something surprising we didn’t know.


Here, our hosts step back and let a guest tell an engrossing tale, solo. It’s like listening to a great anecdote at a dinner party … if your dinner party was attended by music legends or Pulitzer-winning authors.

Main Course

Food is the new rock-n-roll, and every week Brendan and Rico dive into the culinary moshpit, heading out to restaurants and shops to sample the newest, oddest, or just tastiest food of the moment.


Listeners submit questions about how to behave politely, and we pose them to etiquette experts Lizzie Post & Daniel Post-Senning (great-grandkids of Emily Post herself) … or, more often, to a totally unqualified celebrity. The result is either good advice or big laughs, and often both.

Chattering Class

We bring in scholars, documentarians and authors to “school” us on their area of expertise — from the contents of the air we breathe, to the history of influential rock bands.

Dinner Party Soundtrack

No party is complete without some music to spin — so we close out the show by inviting musicians of all stripes to play party DJ. They serve up sometimes surprising song suggestions, along with a sample of their new work. Bon appetit!


Full Episodes