The Conversation's Top 5
1:00 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Top 5 Shows In 2012: Ross Reynolds' Favorite Conversations

So many great interviews and call-ins to choose from! Novelist's Jennifer Egan and John Irving, William Broad on the science of yoga, Sam Harris on free will, Charles Duhigg on the power of habit, Portlandia's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, director Lynn Shelton, actor Gary Oldman, our Sub Pop Records tour with Megan Jasper.

But if I had to boil it down to my top five (and I do!) here they are in no particular order.

Charles Royer, Greg Nickes, Norm Rice, KUOW's Foursquare Mayor Ross Reynolds, and Paul Schell.

1. Mayorapalooza parts 1 and 2. There were 40 years of Seattle history in the talk show studio as we wrangled a joint interview with last four mayors of Seattle: Greg Nickels, Paul Schell, Norm Rice and Charles Royer. I've interviewed them all in the past on specific issues, but it was fun to hear them in a more relaxed atmosphere talking the failure of Seattle mayors to achieve higher office, dealing with the media, what they learned about running the city, and beards on ex-politicians.

Guitarist Laurence Juber
Credit Laurence Juber.com

2.   Guitarist Laurence Juber got off a plane, drove up to our studios and sat down ready to play. He  won a Grammy for his work with Paul McCartney's band, Wings, but did a short unplugged performance for us. He's been a session artist for everyone from Barry Manilow to Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. Readers of Fingerstyle Guitar magazine voted him guitarist of the year and Acoustic Guitar magazine called him one of the top acoustic players of all time.

3.  Living Off The Banking Grid: I was surprised to learn that more than 8 percent of US households don’t use bank accounts. And more than one in five households is considered “underbanked,” meaning they use bank accounts but still opt for payday loans, check-cashing services and other alternatives. In this call-in we heard from people explain why.

Mao Zedong and Sidney Rittenberg.
Credit personal archives of Sidney Rittenberg

4. Sidney Rittenberg is the only American to have been a member of the Chinese Communist Party. He knew the major figures of the Chinese revolution from Mao on down, served two terms for a total of 16 years in a Chinese prison camp, often in solitary confinement, and finally returned to the US where he worked with US companies wanting to do business in China. A fascinating first-person witness to history.

Cheryl Strayed
Credit Cheryl Strayed.com

5. I spoke with novelist and advice columnist  Cheryl Strayed twice in 2012, but the first time was my favorite. She had lost her mother and her marriage — and developed a heroin habit. She decided to do something about it, so with little experience, a poorly fitting pair of hiking boots and a notebook she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods on the Columbia River. The resulting memoir, "Wild," is a terrific adventure story and portrait of renewal.

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