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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Rap artist Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, whose music dominated the charts in the 1990’s and early 2000’s passed away after spending days on life support.  On this episode of Pop Life, host Joe Lee reflects on the artist's career and the impact of his music had on the hip-hop genre. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25, 2021.  Is your favorite feature film of 2020 on the list?  Don’t fret if you haven’t seen all or most of them because on this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee sits with Kendall R. Phillips, professor in the department of Communications and Rhetorical Studies in the College of Visual & Performing Arts at Syracuse University and author of the books Controversial Cinema: The Films that Outraged America and Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture to discuss this year’s slate of nominated films.  The two chat about the films within the context of diversity and inclusion, the global pandemic, and video streaming platforms.


If you have ever suffered the loss of a pet and felt that people did not truly understand your grief, then actress, singer Reagan Pasternak (HBO’s “Sharp Objects”, Netflix “Being Erica”, BET’s “Ms. Pat”) wants you to know that you are not alone.  In her new book, Griffin’s Heart, Pasternak provides readers with interactive tools, healing exercises, and encouragement to help them navigate grief and honor the life of their beloved family pet.


There's been a lot of hype surrounding the Marvel/Disney+  original show Wandavision. Comic book enthusiasts have been soaking up ever episode filled with "easter eggs" and throwbacks to the original Marvel comics. But, for casual fans of the MCU, they've been left asking a lot of questions and unsure of where to turn for answers. 

To help answer those questions Joe Lee welcomes marvel and comic book aficionado Tessa Smith to Pop Life.  They discuss the origin story of lead character Wanda Maximoff, the importance of this series within the future of the MCU, and why the non-geek should dive into this limited series.


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.

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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.