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. 

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.


Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Back in the ’70s, Steve Jones and his band, Sex Pistols, lasted all of three years and put out a single album, but they helped turn punk from a fringe musical movement to a snarling, international phenomena and gave misfits everywhere anthems like, “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Ava DuVernay Unpacks the Issues at Play in ’13th’

Jan 13, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

In 2012, Ava DuVernay became the first African-American to win Best Director at Sundance and in 2014, she earned raves for her civil rights drama “Selma,” which was up for an Oscar for Best Picture. (Be sure to check out our chat with the film’s star David Oyelowo.)

Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

It sounds like a kid’s fantasy: A giant wave of sugar. The reality was not so sweet.

It was a cold January day in Boston, 1919. And, at a distilling company with the deceptively pleasant name of “Purity,” a calamity was brewing… in the form of a giant steel storage vat full of molasses.

Lopez, Kristina

Natalie Mering makes gorgeous music under the name Weyes Blood. Her new album “Front Row Seat To Earth” sets soaring vocals against lush horns and almost classical-sounding piano.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and sometimes we ask them to wildly unqualified celebrities, but today, we are joined by the veritable “Post-er” guy and gal of etiquette. Get that? See where I’m going with that?

Get a Sweet Taste of Cuba With Guarapo

Jan 6, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Regular listeners of the show may know Brendan and Rico led a tour of public radio fans through Havana back in November. In fact, you can see a few snapshots from their trip here.

Director Mike Mills got his start in the music biz — making videos for acts like Air and Moby, and designing posters for The Beastie Boys. But he’s probably best known for his feature film “Beginners” — which earned it’s star Christopher Plummer an Academy Award.

Vote: Best of DPD 2016

Dec 29, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

This week, we look back on some of the best interviews, meals, music, and more we’ve featured on the show from this past year. But we’d also like to hear what stuck with you in 2016. So, we’ve set up this slew of polls to below find out which moments you loved best.

If you need a refresher, you can click the answers within the poll to hear that particular segment. You can also leave a comment below if you want to explain why you loved a particular guest or moment, and we’ll be sure to feature you in a follow-up post next week. Happy voting!

Listener Letters: The Worst Gifts EVER

Dec 23, 2016
McGovern, Kathleen

This week we released our special holiday episode. Think of it like an audio-stocking stuffed with goodies: fantastic music, Yuletide reflections from Alton Brown and She & Him, whisky (OK, vicarious whisky, but still!). These are our holiday gifts to you, and we really hope that you like them.

Holiday specials are a long-running tradition. Think “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” And there are, as She & Him collaborators Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward told us, beloved holiday albums, too. Now in the age of the Internet, there are holiday memes.

Lopez, Kristina

We think the holidays merited a brand new edition of Guest List, in which an interesting person lists some interesting things. This time around our guest is Richard Lawson.

The DPD audience knows him as an esteemed member of our Small Talk cabinet, providing us with odd news of the week. Early in his career, he was, in our opinion, the most entertaining TV recapper in the world.

She & Him Spin a Sort of Christmas Playlist

Dec 22, 2016

After shedding a little light on their holiday traditions, the duo stopped built a party soundtrack that has just the right amount Christmassy vibes to set the tone for your next holiday soirée.

Zooey Deschanel: We would like to share with you our, sort of Christmas, sort of not Christmas, playlist.

M. Ward: As a gift to you listeners.

Zooey Deschanel: From us.

M. Ward: Are you ready?

Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

New-wave music was mainly known for flashy videos and enormous hair. But in 1984… Bob Geldof used it to fight hunger

It made sense. Bob fronted new-wave band “The Boomtown Rats.” But he’d also been an anti-poverty activist since age 13. So, when he saw a news report about mass famine in Ethiopia, he and Midge Ure of the band “Ultravox” figured they’d raise cash for the cause by putting out a song about it.

A second helping! Entertaining Advice from Alton Brown

Dec 22, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Each week, our listeners send in questions about how to behave, and this time around, Alton Brown is sitting in the etiquette expert hot seat.

He talked with us recently about his new cookbook “EveryDayCook.” He is also a man who, among other things, was the toughest judge on “Food Network Star.” So he clearly has a few ideas about how things should be.

Lucy Dacus Spins a Party Playlist of her Favorite Tunes

Dec 16, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Virginia musician Lucy Dacus has had a pretty sweet 2016. Back in February, she put out her debut album “No Burden” on a local label. Then 20 labels were so floored, they came calling to re-release it. Matador Records won the bidding war, and their reissue is out now.

Here’s Lucy with a playlist for a dinner party that doubles as a listening party.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Guts”

Barry Jenkins Digs Into the Depths of ‘Moonlight’

Dec 16, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Barry Jenkins’s low-budget debut “A Medicine for Melancholy” put him on critics’ radar. But his latest — the meditative coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” — is an indie hit and a major Oscar contender. It’s already up for five Golden Globe awards.

The film, based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells three separate stories about Chiron, a child born and raised in the projects outside Miami. We meet him first as a boy, then as a teenager, and finally as a twenty-something. Each story unspools slowly, focusing on gorgeous imagery and small moments.

Gael García Bernal Waxes Poetic on ‘Neruda’

Dec 16, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Gael García Bernal is one of the most respected actors and producers in the world (just ask Time magazine, which named him one of the year’s most influential people). He first earned raves in films like “Amores Perros” and “The Motorcycle Diaries.” And we talked to him last year about his starring role on the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle” — which earned him a Golden Globe.

Rico and Brendan visit Cuba (Photos)

Dec 13, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

You may have heard in a few recent episodes that Brendan and Rico visited Cuba. Other than having more than enough flan and mojitos for a lifetime, our hosts also had the opportunity to visit a music school for gifted students called the Conservatorio Guillermo Tomás, Finca Vigía (where Ernest Hemingway wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Oldman and the Sea”), a cigar factory, and more.

Get a glimpse of their trip in the photos below and stay tuned for an upcoming main course taped during their journey in Havana. It’s set to air on our December 19 episode.

What’s the Worst Present You’ve Ever Received?

Dec 6, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Looking Back at Toshiro Mifune’s Legendary Career

Dec 2, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

From the 1940s and into the ‘80s, Toshiro Mifune was known around the world as Japan’s answer to John Wayne. He starred in almost 200 movies, including a slew of classics directed by the great Akira Kurosawa.

His life is now the subject of a new film called, “Mifune: The Last Samurai.” It’s from Oscar-winning documentarian Steven Okazaki, and he chatted with us about the unexpected start of Mifune’s on-screen career, his rebellious spirit, and more.

Nora McInerny Recalls Living Life in the Face of Death

Dec 2, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

In 2014, writer Nora McInerny had a year like few others: she miscarried a child, then lost her father and her husband to cancer. Those tragedies are the jumping off point for her new podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” a show about talking honestly — and with humor, too — about the painful things in life. Nora shares a story from her recent memoir, “It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too),” in the audio above.

Lopez, Kristina

In 2000, Anthony Bourdain’s best-selling memoir, “Kitchen Confidential,” gave readers what was then a shocking glimpse at the difficult, dangerous and sometimes hedonistic lives of restaurant kitchen workers.

Anthony Bourdain Gives Tough and Tender Advice

Dec 2, 2016

Each week our listeners send in your questions about how to behave, and answering them this time around is Anthony Bourdain. After talking with Brendan and Rico about his new cookbook and how the culinary world has changed since his “Kitchen Confidential” days, he stuck around to deliver some much-needed straight talk to our listeners.

Dealing with a loud friend in a quiet restaurant

Lopez, Kristina

Actor Mackenzie Davis plays the punk rock coding genius Cameron in the AMC series “Halt and Catch Fire.” She has also appeared in the latest season of the celebrated U.K. anthology show “Black Mirror.” And you may have seen her on the big screen in “The Martian.”

Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner Spins Some Sweet Ol’ Tunes

Dec 2, 2016

Musician Kurt Wagner is the frontman for the Nashville music collective Lambchop and over the course of 12 albums, he’s drawn on everything from country to hip-hop, to create odd, lyrically rich music. With his new album, “Flotus,” he’s added beat-driven electronica into the mix. The Los Angeles Times describes it as, “something really magical.”