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Podthoughts: Allan Gregg in Conversation

Vital stats:
Format: interviews about politics, history, science, and culture, both Canadian and non-
Episode duration: 8-28m
Frequency: 10-20 per month

Though it strays more often than it used to, I do keep an eye on Canadian politics. I do it for the same reason I keep an ear on Canadian media. The products and actions of a country with fewer than 53 million people and little direct influence on world affairs may strike you as less interesting, by definition, than those of a country with over 312 million people and arguably too much influence on world affairs. But since the small country doesn’t face nearly as harsh a glare of attention as the large country does, it can to that extent provide a setting for items of greater interest. So as marginal as Canadian politics and media can seem, I enjoy both because things exist within those systems that feel like they couldn’t exist in the States. Here, burdened with the need to appeal to hundreds of millions of people at once, politics and media get “blanded down.” They certainly haven’t produced anyone like Allan Gregg.

Neither a straight-up politician nor a traditional media figure, Gregg often gets called a “pollster” or a “pundit.” He’s advised politicians and parties, but he’s also run a record label, co-managed several bands, chaired the Toronto International Film Festival, and written magazine columns. But you read about him in Podthoughts today because of his talk show, Allan Gregg in Conversation [RSS] [iTunes]. Though produced as a television show for the Ontario public station TVO, it goes out as an audio podcast as well, and nothing I’ve heard on it suggests that I’m missing out by not getting the visual. From what I can tell, Ontarians sit down every Friday night for a half-hour program comprising a conversation or three between Gregg and noted writers, politicians, artists, and academics. The podcast feed distributes these conversations individually, and sometimes throws in a curveball of a talk from five, ten, even fifteen years ago. Ready to cast your mind back to the personal and professional failings of Bill Clinton? [MP3] [MP3]

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