The Dinner Party on WUNC

Sat 4p
  • Hosted by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

The Dinner Party is a culture show designed to help you dazzle your friends at your next social gathering. Launched as a podcast in 2010, The Dinner Party is beloved by audiences for its spontaneity, thoughtfulness and exuberance. The show was lauded by Wallpaper magazine as one of the “Top 40 Reasons to Live in America” and hosts Gagliano and Newnam were named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” list.

Hosts Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano
Credit APM

What happened to your WUNC coffee mug, Rico?
Credit APM

The show unfolds like a dinner party, kicking off with “The Icebreaker”— a joke to warm things up. Next comes “Small Talk,” in which top print and online journalists from around the country share their favorite odd news story of the week.  The “Cocktails” portion of the show features a true tale from this week in history with a handcrafted cocktail recipe themed after that it.

Later, we usually “Eavesdrop” on an author reading from a hot new release or answer listeners’ burning etiquette questions. The marquee segment of the show is the “Guest of Honor,” in which hosts Gagliano and Newnam interview some of the most fascinating celebrities in the world and routinely get them to talk about the most unexpected, dinner-party-worthy subjects.


Depeche Mode: From Synth-Pop to Revolution Rock

Oct 13, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Back in the early ’80s, four lanky Brits calling themselves Depeche Mode, armed only with primitive synthesizers, started churning out pop hits. Nearly 40 years later they’ve sold over 100 million albums and are one of the most popular live acts on Earth.

Lopez, Kristina

Since Brendan was outsourcing some of the segments on the show while Rico was gone, he managed to convince Associate Producer James Kim to do a new segment. And James came up with this idea called “Double Take.”

The Posts Take Over Our Etiquette Segment!

Oct 7, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

So, while Rico is away, Brendan enlisted the help of etiquette ambassadors Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. And he left them this note (written on a coaster) in the studio before taping:

Dear Lizzie and Dan,

Douglas, Emerald

French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is perhaps best-known for directing thrillers and science fictions films like “Sicario” and “Arrival,” which received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director.

His latest film, “Blade Runner 2049,” is a sequel to “Blade Runner,” the science fiction classic that was released 35 years ago. The new film takes place 30 years later, this time with Ryan Gosling playing the replicant hunter. Harrison Ford reprises his role from the original film as former blade runner Rick Deckard.

Little Dragon – ‘Piece of Mind’ (Feat. Faith Evans)

Oct 6, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Douglas, Emerald

Emily Haines is the frontwoman of the Canadian band Metric, which combines rock with gritty electronic music. She also has her own solo project called Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, and her her second album “Choir of the Mind” is out now.

Emily’s dog, Romeo, takes in the singer’s lush backyard space.

Actor Sterling K. Brown won his first Emmy for portraying Christopher Darden in “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” And he won his second, a little over a week ago, for his performance as Randall Pearson in the acclaimed NBC drama “This Is Us.”

His latest role in the biographical drama “Marshall,” which tells the true story of one of the first cases of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Sterling plays Joseph Spell, a man accused of rape and attempted murder of a wealthy socialite, and Marshall chooses to defend Spell.

Shania Twain’s Advice Hits Just the Right Note

Sep 29, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Shania Twain.

Lopez, Kristina

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton started out as rock video auteurs, co-directing classic clips like Extreme’s “More Than Words.” They leapt to the big screen with “Little Miss Sunshine” — which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Emily Haines’ Tortilla Soup Recipe

Sep 29, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

“My tortilla soup recipe is hard to transcribe because I always improvise as I prepare it,” Emily says, “but here are the general guidelines. I’m keeping the measurements pretty general, too, as I have made this soup for dinner parties big and small. I leave the math to you. Also, my version is not heavy on tomatoes or tortillas.”

Lopez, Kristina

For decades now, Margaret Cho has been fearlessly making audiences laugh about race, sex, and gender. Her ABC sitcom, “All-American Girl” was one of the first TV shows to prominently feature an all Asian cast.

Lopez, Kristina

Each week, you send us your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week is comedian and writer Margaret Cho. Before answering your questions, Brendan and Rico chatted with Margaret about her upcoming tour and what it’s like to write comedy in the age of instant backlash. In the audio above, she gives our listeners apt advice on how to handle some oblivious friends and acquaintances.

A Farewell to Michelle Philippe

Sep 15, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Folks, we’re marking the historic end of an era. For years, our friend Michelle Philippe has been our show’s “voice of history,” telling you about all these wonderful tales from the past we dig up. But alas, she’s leaving public radio to pursue her writing and acting career. Big win for the arts, big loss for us. And we wanted to have her on for a final goodbye.

Michael McDonald Spins A Nostalgic Party Soundtrack

Sep 15, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Michael McDonald is a five-time Grammy winner who’s had a career as a singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and producer for over 40 years. In the ’70s, he brought his inimitable soul vocals to the bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. In the ’80s, he launched a solo career, with hits like “I Keep Forgettin.” Decades later, he’s still going strong, collaborating with indie acts like Grizzly Bear and Thundercat.

Lopez, Kristina

The new documentary “Rat Film” examines race — and a slew of other issues — in a way you’ve likely never seen before: It takes Baltimore’s longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It’s an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film, and it’s earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog.

Lopez, Kristina

Annie Spence has spent much of her life lost in books– first as a ravenous reader, and then, for the past ten years, as a librarian in the Midwest. Her first book “Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks” collects dozens of letters she’s written TO the books in her life: the ones she loves, the ones she despises, and the ones that fall somewhere in between. Overhear her note to one of the latter, in the audio above.

Douglas, Emerald

Future Islands is a Baltimore-based band known for synth-driven pop and dark lyrics. Back in 2014, Pitchfork named their song, “Seasons (Waiting On You),” the best of the year. They’re on tour now supporting a new album called “The Far Field.”

Jesmyn Ward Examines A Few Hard Truths About Race

Sep 8, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Author Jesmyn Ward was raised in coastal Mississippi and she was the first in her family to go to college, which is where she started writing. Her second novel “Salvage the Bones,” informed by her experience enduring Hurricane Katrina, won the National Book Award.

Matt Berninger Gets Honest About Encores and Etiquette

Sep 8, 2017

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Matt Berninger, the frontman for the band The National.

A Quick Guide to Portuguese Drinking Culture

Sep 8, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

While on vacation this summer, Rico spent a few days in the Portuguese city of Lisbon — or as they call it, “Lisboa.” And to make sure everyone on the staff didn’t totally resent his good fortune, he decided to do a little work while he was there.

He met up with Martim Vaz Da Silva, a guide with the food tour company Culinary Backstreets — and he taught Rico about Portuguese drinking culture. Tough assignment, but someone had to do it.

Dinner With a Grizzly Bear

Sep 1, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

After a five-year hibernation, the band Grizzly Bear is back with a new album called “Painted Ruins.” To celebrate, we actually asked bandmate — and frequent cook — Chris Taylor to craft his ideal meal… along with some song pairings.

First Course
Song: Dungen – “Peri Banu vid sjön”

Meal: Birth On The Forest Floor

Miso roasted potatoes, pickled dandelion greens, a soft boiled egg, death trumpet mushroom dust. (Pictured below.)

Lopez, Kristina

Punk rock darling Ted Leo has been churning out anthemic, politically conscious music since the ’80s, including six LP’s with his acclaimed band Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

He paired up with Aimee Mann a few years back with a band called The Both. And this month, he releases his first solo album in 10 years called, “The Hanged Man.”

Don’t Call ‘Em Dumplings: A Crash Course on Kubeh

Sep 1, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Recently, Brendan went to a new restaurant in New York City that serves “kubeh,” a Kurdish treat that is essentially a ball of dough made of bulgur or rice and filled with lamb, beef or vegetables. Chef Melanie Shurka opened the restaurant, also called Kubeh, and serves these morsels, Israeli style, in beautiful broths like beet, Persian chicken, chard and more.

Lopez, Kristina

Ane and Georgia in the studio.

For our Below-the-Line special, Senior Producer Jackson Musker met up with costume designer Ane Carabtree (who brought along her dog, Georgia, to the studio).

Ane has designed costumes for shows like “The Sopranos,” “Masters of Sex,” “Westworld,” “Justified,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for which she earned an Emmy nomination. The show, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, is one of the breakout hits on Hulu this year.


Aug 17, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Lopez, Kristina

Folks, it’s about midway through Summer! To mark the occasion, we asked you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to share the song(s) you’ve been enjoying at your soirées. We received a ton of responses.

Kyle Mooney – ‘Banana Banana’

Aug 4, 2017

Kyle Mooney – ‘Buccaneer’

Aug 4, 2017

Whitney – ‘Namaste’

Aug 4, 2017