Pop Life

WAER's Joe Lee is joined be a rotating array of expert guests to discuss significant, work, events and milestones in popular culture.

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Discovery

A beekeeper discovers that 60,000 of his bees are dead and have been beheaded and a race against time to track and eradicate the killer ensues.  The new documentary film, Attack of the Murder Hornets, chronicles the search for the newly arrived invasive insect known as the Murder Hornet.  The film’s director, Michael Paul Stephenson chats with Pop Life host, Joe Lee, about the movie, its non-traditional treatment of nature films, and the thrill of tracking down the Asian Giant Hornet.


Legendary American Actress, Cicely Tyson passed away on January 28, 2021 leaving behind a body of work that represents a significant part of groundbreaking productions important to Black television history.  On this Black History episode of Pop Life, television historian Bob Thompson of Syracuse University, joins host Joe Lee in exploring Ms. Tyson’s career and the two discuss other notable Black television shows that have made important contributions to the growth and development of Black images on the small screen.


Des Moines Public Schools photo

Media historian Bob Thompson says of the late Cloris Leachman’s role as Phyllis on the Mary Tyler Moore show, “She was the best 3rd banana in all of American comedy.”  Bob joins host Joe Lee on the latest episode of Pop Life to pay tribute to one of America’s favorite comedic actors. 


Few American families have skyrocketed from relative obscurity to the highest levels of fame and fortune the way the Jenner-Kardashian clan has.  Arguably, the person most responsible for the family’s success is matriarch Kris Jenner.  

In a new book, Dirty Sexy Money: The Unauthorized Biography of Kris Jenner, Authors Cathy Griffin and Dylan Howard take an unflinching look at Kris’s triumphs and losses, her crises and celebrations, famous friendships and family conflicts, and how her blind ambition drove the family’s fame and financial success.  Dylan Howard joins Joe Lee on the latest episode of Pop Life to discuss it all.


Supernatural, the WB network television series about two brothers who follow in their father’s footsteps as hunters fighting evil supernatural beings, has developed one of the most devoted fanbases of any popular American TV show.  For 15 seasons, Supernatural offered its fans compelling storylines, riveting characters, and an abundance of demon hunting.


There is little doubt about social media’s influence on American popular culture.  It influences our culture and our language including how we advocate, call to act, and use language to influence the behavior of others or silence them altogether.  This behavior has come to be known as cancel and callout culture.  On this episode of Pop Life, host Joe Lee visits with Charisse L’Pree, Syracuse University Associate Professor of Communications and author of 20th Century Media and the American Psyche: A Strange Love, to talk about cancel culture’s impact on pop culture entertainment.


Gone are the days when you had to wait for Christmas movies and specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Christmas Carol to get scheduled for a one-and-done airing by the big three networks.  Today, outlets like the Hallmark Channel and streaming services like Netflix combined have more content than you can watch in an entire year.  Does the proliferation of this content make it less special?  Who are the major players?  What are the new classics?  Pop Life host Joe Lee is joined by Syracuse University Newhouse professor and popular TV expert, Bob Thompson, to discuss this and more.  


The recent passing of Alex Trebek, host of America’s favorite quiz show, represents the loss of a major pop culture icon.  The Jeopardy! host most known for his genial style and passion for trivia was a mainstay on television and a 7-time Daytime Emmy award-winner.

On this episode of Pop Life, host Joe Lee speaks with Claire McNear, staff writer at The Ringer and author of the new book Answers In The Form Of Questions: A Definitive History And Insider’s Guide To Jeopardy!  The two speak about Trebek’s success as show host and the impact that Jeopardy! has on American Popular culture.


Noted actor Sir Thomas Sean Connery passed on October 31, 2020 at the age of 90.  The actor, best known for is role as James Bond, left behind a legacy of work expanding 70 years.  On this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee is joined by media scholar Bob Thompson of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University to discuss Connery’s body of work and the problematic nature of the James Bond character.  


HBO

The season finale of HBO’s Lovecraft Country left fans shocked and confused.  In this episode of Pop Life, host Joe Lee welcomes Lovecraft County author Matt Ruff back to the show to discuss the divergence of the television series and his novel in an effort to make sense of the series's shocking ending.  

The two compare and contrast the final chapter of the book, The Mark of Cain, to the final two episodes of the HBO series and discuss where the show might go from here.  


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