Big Talk

Catch Big Mike’s interview series, Big Talk, on The Pencil, on community radio WFHB, and in print and elsewhere online (as noted).

Big Talk features the boss of this global communications colossus going one-on-one with fascinating people. Big Talk is a Thursday Feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News.

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Your Big Talk Links

CATY PILACHOWSKI — Catherine “Caty” Pilachowski is one of Indiana University’s top astronomers. She holds the Kirkwood Chair at IU and has been a staff member at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and is a past president of the American Astronomical Society. Caty talks about the Great American Total Eclipse, coming August 21st, and her love for science.

WFHB Feature: August 10, 2017

Big Track (the complete original interview with Caty)

LIZ WATSON — With the 2018 mid-term election 15 months away, five hopefuls already have declared their candidacy for Indiana’s Ninth District seat in Congress. Four of those candidates are Democrats, hoping to wrest the seat from first-term Republican Trey Hollingsworth. The four will jostle for the Democratic nomination during the May Primary, before going on to face the incumbent Republican in November. Liz Watson is a Bloomington native, and an attorney with experience in Washington DC, where she worked for House Democrats as well as a Georgetown think tank.

WFHB  Feature: August 3, 2017

SPYRIDON STRATIGOS — A man of more hats than a magician, Spyridon Stratigos, better known around town as Strats, was in on the predecessors of Bloomington’s famed vegetarian mecca, the Tao back in the late Sixties and early Seventies. He tells how he and the Uptown Cafe’s Michael Cassady created what is now one of Bloomington’s signature breakfast dishes on today’s edition of Big Talk! with Michael Glab.

WFHB Feature: July 27, 2017

Big Track (the original, unedited interview with Strats)

ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS — WFHB News Director Joe Crawford took a chance on Big Talk three years ago. The idea for a weekly regular feature on the Daily Local News spotlighting compelling people from in and around Bloomington might have been intriguing but carrying it out would be a challenge. After some fits and starts, Big Talk became a Thursday fixture on the DLN a year ago this month. This week producer and host Michael Glab recalls some memorable moments from the show and hopes Joe’s faith in him was warranted. This episode of Big Talk is dedicated to our departing news director.

WFHB  Feature: July 20, 2017

DAN CANON — The son of a single mother, he dropped out of high school and played in a rock ’n roll band for ten years. Then he got serious about life and put himself through college and law school. In 2015 he argued before the United States Supreme Court for marriage equality and won the landmark case. Now, Dan Canon is running for Congress in Indiana’s Ninth District, hoping to unseat first term Republican Trey Hollingsworth. He’s a progressive and he doesn’t think that’s a drawback in what seems to be a rock solid red state.

WFHB Feature: July 13, 2017

Big Track (the mostly unedited, almost complete original interview with Dan)

PEGGY — We call them the homeless, as if they’re all alike and their entire lives can be reduced to a single descriptive word. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, up to half a million people in America may not know precisely where they’re going to sleep tonight or where their next meal will come from. A woman named Peggy is one such person. She has slept in parks and on the streets. She has eaten at free kitchens. She has a story. And she has pride, as well as dreams and goals.

WFHB Feature: July 7, 2017

Big Track (The complete interview with Peggy)

Print Interview: Limestone Post, August 1, 2017

PHIL FORD — The author of “Dig: Sound and Music in Hip Culture” takes the reader on a tour of the cutting edge world of jazz musicians, Beat writers, and style arbiters who make up what is hip. Ford is a professor of musicology at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His interests range far beyond the narrow field of creating rhythmic, harmonic sounds that are pleasing — or not — to the human ear. Music ties countless disciplines together. Now he’s working on a book describing magical thinking and how it relates to music and the greater world.

WFHB Feature: June 29, 2017

Big Track (The unedited interview with Phil)

SHELLY WESTERHAUSEN — Like countless people before her, Shelly Westerhausen came to Bloomington to study at Indiana University and wound up staying here. A vegetarian since she was a young girl, Shelly grew up in a town that didn’t even have a vegetarian restaurant. She was drawn to Bloomington by our town’s diverse and varied eateries. She has blogged about cooking for years and just this week her first book, filled with vegetarian recipes, has been released by Chronicle Books.

WFHB Feature: June 22, 2017

PETE BUTTIGIEG — The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who’s been touted as a potential candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2020, visited Bloomington Wednesday, June 14th, 2017. County Party maven Charlotte Zietlow held a meet-and-greet for him at her home. A who’s who of veteran Party figures attended. He spoke of his city’s rebirth and some of the problems facing the nation and his Party. This is a live recording of the event. Note: During the Q&A session, the volume becomes spotty. Pete’s answers are quite clearly audible even if some of the questions sound muddy or at times inaudible.

WFHB Feature: June 15, 2017

Big Track (Pete’s live talk)

EMMA JOHNSON — Prisons are a big business in America today. A number of recent books have addressed the burgeoning inmate population as well as the growing profits to be had in what many are calling the “prison industrial complex.” A group of activists in Bloomington hopes to remind us that prison inmates still are human beings and they’ve created the radio program “Kite Line” to do just that. Emma Johnson co-hosts the program along with Mia Beach.

WFHB Feature: June 8, 2017

HONDO THOMPSON — The John Hartford Memorial Festival, a celebration of bluegrass music and its many variations, is happening now through Saturday night in Bean Blossom. WFHB’s Hondo Thompson is the new main stage emcee, taking over for the legendary Sam Jackson.

WFHB Feature: June 1, 2017

Big Track (the original, uncut interview with Hondo)

RON EID — An article about a bike ride through New Zealand in an airline magazine inspired Ron Eid to dive into the then-changing world of journalism. Now, more than thirty years later, journalism is still in the process of becoming — although what it’s becoming hasn’t yet been fully determined. Eid is in the forefront of new media here in South Central Indiana now after having launched the online magazine, Limestone Post, in 2015.

WFHB Feature: May 25, 2017

MOHAMMED A. MAHDI & ANTHONY DUNCAN — Five years ago two Indiana University alumni and one student at the time started making their own soap in the kitchen of the apartment the three shared. Now, their soap is sold in grocery and specialty stores around the region and is used in numerous hand-washing stations in restaurants and companies in and around Bloomington. The three, Mohammed A. Mahdi, Mohammed M. Mahdi, and Anthony Duncan, run a growing body care manufacturing operation called Soapy Soap Company.

WFHB Feature: May 18, 2017

Big Track (the full-length interview with Mohammed and Anthony)

JEFF ISAAC — An opinionated scholar and a professor of political science at Indiana University, Jeff has written many books, is a regular contributor to respected journals, and takes to social media to share his feelings and bring political science just a bit closer to the average person. He grew up in a typical New York City neighborhood, playing stickball and hanging on the street corner. He’s found a home in Bloomington where he also plays piano for the Postmodern Jazz Quartet.

WFHB Feature: May 11, 2017

Big Track (the unedited, full-length interview with Jeff)

MICHAEL WATERFORD — Explorer, writer, and adventure entrepreneur, Michael’s hoping to set the speed record for paddling the length of the Mississippi River in a canoe. The Mississippi is the world’s fourth longest river, coursing more than 2500 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. He was drawn to grueling expeditions when he crossed Europe and Asia on a small motorcycle six years ago. Now he helps others test their endurance and strength through his company, The Mountain Folk Adventures.

WFHB Feature: May 4, 2017

Print Interview: Limestone Post, June 1, 2017

STEPHANIE SOLOMON — Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard has been helping feed hungry people in Bloomington for nearly two decades. One in five people in Monroe County is food insecure, meaning they may not know where their next meal is coming from. Stephanie Solomon is the director of outreach and education for the food pantry. She helps clients learn to make nutritious, inexpensive meals and to grow community gardens, all in an effort keep everyone in the county well fed.

WFHB Feature: April 27, 2017

YOUSUF ALI — Researchers at Indiana University’s Lu Lab for the study of neural networks have discovered that caffeine, among two dozen other common compounds, can strengthen brain cells and help ward off Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain diseases. Before you decide to drink a pot or two of coffee every morning in hopes of avoiding these maladies, one of the lab’s key scientists, Yousuf Ali, cautions that the findings are just a step toward developing effective drugs that can prevent the onset of dementia.

WFHB Feature: April 21, 2017

HEATHER BRADSHAW — With medical marijuana gradually becoming a legal norm across the country, questions remain about how it works — and why. Bloomington is one of the world’s centers for research into the effects of the many types of cannabis plant. Heather Bradshaw heads a lab in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences looking into the active compounds in pot and how they may or may not be useful as medicines.

WFHB Feature: April 13, 2017

ANNETTE OPPENLANDER — She was a success in finance and banking as well as public relations and then, late in life, realized she loved writing. Annette has authored three young adult science fiction fantasies and this month has released her fourth novel, a coming of age love story set in World War II Germany entitled, “Surviving the Fatherland.”

WFHB Feature: March 30, 2017

Print Interview: Limestone Post, May 16, 2017

JESS LEVANDOSKI & JESS REED — Launched in 2014, the year’s fourth Middle Coast Film Festival will  bring independent movies from around the world to Bloomington in August. The fest also shows the world what Bloomington filmmakers can do. Programmer Jess Levandoski and business manager Jess Reed talk about movies, stage plays, and 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon as a role model.

WFHB Feature: March 23, 2017

NICCI BOROSKI — Known among the cognoscenti as Nicci B, she co-owns the Back Door and serves as the arts and entertainment director for the local LGBTQ gathering place. She found a home in Bloomington when she was embraced by the town’s queer community. In today’s changing political climate for queer folks, Nicci hopes to provide a safe, comfortable place for people of all gender and sexuality nonconformance.

WFHB Feature: March 9, 2017

DOUG WISSING — The longtime Bloomington journalist and author has been described as an adventurer. His three tours as an embedded reporter in Afghanistan have provided him with enough adventures to last a lifetime. He’s described what he’s seen in two books on America’s sixteen-year battle in history’s chronic battleground. His latest book is “Hopeless but Optimistic: Journeying Through America’s Endless War in Afghanistan.”

WFHB Feature: March 2, 2017

Big Track (almost all of the original interview with Doug):

Print Interview: Limestone Post, April 13, 2017

THUY BOGART — Pronounced TWEE, she was born in Vietnam just after the fall of Saigon and her family left that war-torn land and lived in a refugee camp in Malaysia for a year. They came to America in 1980. When she grew up, she fell in love with tango, the steamy South American couples dance. She met her husband and future musical accompanist, Ben, at a Milonga, the traditional music and dance tango party. She has helped nurture tango communities in several states and now teaches and dances here in Bloomington.

WFHB Feature: February 23, 2017

Big Track (unedited and unabridged, the original interview with Thuy):

EMILY GOODSON — Actor, playwright, and proud jokester Emily Goodson has written the new musical-comedy, “Calling All Kates,” now in pre-production at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. Goodson once played an electric mixer making smoothies in her mouth on stage.

WFHB Feature: February 16, 2017

Big Track (the original, uncut interview with Emily):

NANCY HILLER — Cabinetmaker, furniture designer and builder, author, preservation advocate, and storyteller, Nancy Hiller has been beautifying people’s homes in Bloomington and other cities for years. She’s written the award-winning book A Home of Her Own, a study of the places women live in and own. She’s releasing her fourth book, Making Things Work: Tales From a Cabinetmaker’s Life.

WFHB Feature: February 9, 2017

Big Track (the original interview with Nancy):

Print Interview: Limestone PostMarch 16, 2017

SEAN BUEHLER — A senior studying public health issues at Indiana University, Sean helps clear the air about scientific topics ranging from the environment to the mind as the founder of Science on Tap, a monthly, open to the public presentation of issues in the scientific realm at a revolving set of brew pubs in town.

WFHB Feature: February 2, 2017

Big Track (The uncut interview with Sean)

SUE RALL — One of Bloomington’s grass-roots, do-it-yourself entertainers, she takes to the air on aerial silks and regularly appears at the Back Door as her male alter-ego, washed-up glam-rocker Jamie Spangle. Sue recounts her journey from the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls to the drape-y trapeze and drag king-dom.

WFHB Feature: January 26, 2017

Big Track (The unabridged, original interview with Sue):

JACK DOPP — Founder of Bloomington News, he and his crew have brought the world’s newspapers to Bloomington for decades. He started in the newspaper business as a grade school paperboy in Gary, Indiana, in the late 1950s. He reflects on his life and the changes he’s seen in the business and in Bloomington.

WFHB DLN Feature: January 19, 2017

Big Track (Unedited, the original interview with Jack):

ANNE HEDIN — One of the organizers of “The Fierce Urgency of Now”: Time to Choose, a gathering of environmentalists in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Anne describes the moment she decided to devote herself to working for cleaner air — she has her granddaughter to thank for it. She offers some pretty good tips on how to retrofit your home with solar panels as well.

WFHB DLN Feature: January 12, 2017

FRANCESCA SOBRER — Actor and beloved drama teacher Francesca Sobrer appears in the Bloomington Playwrights Project production, “Home.” Boredom, she says, led her to a life in the theater.

WFHB DLN Feature: December 15, 2016

CYNTHIA BRUBAKER — A restoration architect who’s been key in preserving some of our town’s historical treasures like the I. Fell Building and the old Coca-Cola bottling plant on South Washington Street. Cindy tells us how she got into the building design business and why it’s getting harder than ever for her to get preservation projects in Bloomington.

WFHB DLN Feature: December 8, 2016

Big Track (mostly unedited, the original interview with Cindy):

Print Interview: Limestone Post, January 12, 2017

DAN “CARP” COMBS — The Bloomington legend has been a political institution in these parts for more than 30 years. Perry Township’s trustee since 1987 talks about helping people get through the tough times and touches on American’s tendency to shout at each other in campaign season — and out.

WFHB DLN Feature: December 1, 2016

Big Track (the original, uncut interview with Carp):

Print Interview: Limestone Post, December 5, 2016

STEVE WESTRICH — The founder and owner of The Bishop Bar doesn’t much care for taverns and pubs himself but he’s built up one of Bloomington premier grown-up drinking and live music venues over the last seven years. Together with the Comedy Attic, The Bishop forms a potent nightlife destination just south of Courthouse Square.

WFHB DLN Feature: November 17, 2016

Big Track (complete and unedited, the original interview with Steve):

MARGARET TAYLOR — Daughter of the founders of the Book Corner, she continues to run the independent bookseller, a Bloomington institution on Courthouse Square. Maragaret tells us people still love books and business has never been better.

WFHB DLN Feature: November 10, 2016

Big Track (the unedited, complete, original interview with Margaret):

MARC TSCHIDA — The long-time Bloomington arts advocate has started his own business, Press Puzzles. He makes hand-crafted, fine wooden jigsaw puzzles featuring pictures of Bloomington and South Central Indiana landmarks as well as images of works by local artists. He talks about the history and manufacture of jigsaw puzzles and reveals that jigsaws are not now nor have they ever been used in making them.

WFHB DLN Feature: November 3, 2016

Big Track (the entire, unedited original interview with Marc):

BETHY SQUIRES & DALIA DAVOUDI — Two principals behind Bloomington’s 100th anniversary celebration of the storied Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland that gave birth to the Dada art movement. They and dozens of other local artists perform at the one-night only re-creation of that imaginative scene.

WFHB DLN Feature: October 27, 2016

J.R. BIERSMITH & TYLER FERGUSON — Filmmaker Biersmith’s first feature traces the lives of two young Somali men hoping survive the horrors of their country’s civil war while trying to become world-class soccer players. The intertwined tales of Sa’ad Hussein and Saadiq Mohammed make for a powerful documentary, Men in the Arena. Biersmith and Bloomington promoter Ferguson discuss the making of the film and the two men’s eventually arrival in a safe land.

WFHB DLN Feature: October 20, 2016

BETSY STIRRATT — Director of IU’s Grunwald Gallery of Art, Betsy talks about the exhibit, “(Re)Imagining Science,” a collaboration between research scientists and visual artists.

WFHB DLN Feature: October 13, 2016

DR. GLADYS DeVANE, LIZ WATFORD-MITCHELL & DANIELLE BRUCE — The playwrights and director of Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story employ a distinctive and highly personal “edu-tainment” style in conveying the stories of African-Americans in the Hoosier State.

WFHB DLN Feature: October 6, 2016

Big Track (the mostly-unedited interview with Gladys, Liz & Danielle):

DAVID BRENNEMAN — Born in one of the world’s cultural centers, Vienna, Austria, David fell in love with museums at a tender age. Now he’s director of Indiana University’s Eskanazi Art Museum. He came from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta where he worked with the Musee de Louvre to help that august institution streamline its organization.

WFHB DLN Feature: September 29, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with David):

KRISTIN LEAMAN-MORRIS — Archivist for Indiana University’s Bicentennial celebration, Kristin talks about the more than decade-long effort to preserve the voices, the papers, the images, the videos, and the very heart and soul of the university.

WFHB DLN Feature: September 22, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Kristin):

DANIELLE URSCHEL — Co-founder of the Bloomington Print Collective, Danielle explains what intaglio is (hint: it’s not a pasta) and talks about how BPC fosters the print arts in and around Bloomington.

WFHB DLN Feature: September 15, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Danielle):

PETER LOPILATO — Founder, publisher and film curator of the Ryder magazine and the Ryder Film Series, Bloomington institutions since 1979. Peter talks about the early days of the Ryder, inlcuding its first home in a building referred to at the time as Bloomington’s version of the noted Chelsea Hotel.

WFHB DLN Feature: September 1, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Peter):

JONI MCGARY & JANE KUPERSMITH — Bloomington business owners (Lucky Guy Bakery & Hopscotch Coffee, respectively) talk about the challenges women entrepreneurs face and how they may help each other succeed.

WFHB DLN Feature: August 25, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Joni & Jane):

JASON FICKEL & GINGER CURRY — The blues and Americana duo (Jason plays guitar and writes the songs and Ginger sings) talk about their origins and their music. Their third CD, Some Kind of Love, is available on CD Baby and at Landlocked Music.

WFHB DLN Feature: August 18, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Jason & Ginger):

ADRIA NASSIM — Bloomington’s expert on the autism spectrum. She has capitalized on her own intimate knowledge of the disorder to help others who suffer with it and those who wish to welcome them into everyday society gain a better understanding of it.

WFHB DLN Feature: August 11, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Adria):

CATHI CRABTREE — Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention (pledged to Hillary Clinton), she recounts growing up on a southern Indiana farm with a strictly conservative father and a closet feminist mother.

WFHB DLN Feature: August 4, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Cathi):

TOM FRENCH — Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper reporter who, with his wife Kelley Benham French, has written the heart-wrenching book, Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon, about their micro-preemie daughter.

WFHB DLN Feature: July 28, 2016

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Tom):

Print Interview: Limestone Post, August 25, 2016

JULIA KARR — Author of dystopian Young Adult novels beginning with XVI and continuing through Truth and an as-yet untitled third entry in the series. The books follow Nina, who rebels against her world where 16-year-old girls dream of nothing more than becoming sexual playthings.

WFHB DLN Feature: June 17, 2014

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Julia):

Print Interview: The Ryder, July 2014

CHARLOTTE ZIETLOW — The old pro, Bloomington and Monroe County’s doyenne of the Democratic Party. Charlotte helped remake the local political map in 1971 and hasn’t stopped putting her mark on our town since.

WFHB DLN Feature: May 21, 2014

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Charlotte):

Print Interview: The Ryder, June 2014

TONY BREWER — Poet, actor, sound effects artist, roller derby play-by-play voice, and jack of more trades than you can imagine.

WFHB DLN Feature: March 6, 2014

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Tony):

Print Interview: The Ryder, May 2014 (link not working)

NATE POWELL — The celebrated cartoonist and graphic novelist has drawn the pix for Rep. John Lewis’s series of graphic memoirs, March (books one through three).

WFHB DLN Feature: January 9, 2014

Big Track (the original, full-length interview with Nate):

Print Interview: The Ryder, April 2014

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