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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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.  


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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Planning to limit your public engagement this Halloween?  If you need ideas for at-home entertainment, this episode of Pop Life promises to help you make it spooky and safe. 

Joe Lee is joined by Kendal R Phillips, professor of Communications & Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University and author of the book Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture, to discuss a few movies and shows to explore for a haunting good time during the global pandemic.

By now you have likely heard about Lovecraft Country, the dark, horror, fantasy series airing on HBO, but how much do you know about the source material?

On the latest episode of Pop Life, host Joe Lee speaks with Lovecraft Country author, Matt Ruff, about his book, its adaptation for television, and his thoughts on HBO’s vision for his acclaimed work.  The two discuss at length the intersection of racism and the science fiction genre and H.P. Lovecraft’s problematic inspiration for this story.


Lovecraft Country, a dark fantasy horror show adapted from the Matt Ruff novel of the same title, premiered on HBO this past Sunday.  It explores the conjunction between the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and racism in the United States during the Jim Crow era as experienced by black science-fiction fan Atticus Turner and his family. 

Pop Life host Joe Lee and guest Kendall R. Phillips, Syracuse University professor of Communications and Rhetorical Studies, explore the mythological universe and the connected themes of H.P. Lovecraft, the Lovecraft Country novel by Matt Ruff, and the new HBO series Lovecraft Country, and what we can expect from the series this season.

The rise in popularity of the true crime genre has given us some memorable and moving content focusing on bizarre crime cases ripped straight from the headlines.  These shows and documentaries often introduce new theories, new evidence, and fresh perspectives on cases from the little known to those that gripped the nation.

What is driving this obsession? Why do we love to consume stories about the dark side of human behavior?

Jeffrey R. Staab

Sports is a deeply rooted part of popular culture in countries all around the world.  From big games like the Super Bowl to tournaments like the NCAA Final Four, sports have a way of bringing us together and creating new tribes like few things do in our society.  From post-game pizza outings in little league baseball to grabbing a brew with your friends at a neighborhood sports bar, sports serve as a popular backdrop for human connection, bonding, and community.  That’s all changing in the face of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

In this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee chats with veteran sports broadcaster Ian Eagle about the return of sports, the impact the pandemic is having on the business of sports, and what the future of the fan experience might be like in a post pandemic world.  

In response to great social change happening in our society, Warner Media decided to temporarily remove the 1939 motion picture classic Gone With The Wind from its HBO Max streaming platform until it could be properly contextualized.  The move has been hotly debated among historians and the entertainment industry, among others.

Boots on the moon.  That is the ambitious goal of the fictitious Netflix comedy series, Space Force, starring Steve Carrell.  The workplace comedy series centers on a group of people led by General Mark Naird (Steve Carrell) who is tasked with establishing the United States Space Force, the 6th branch of the United States Armed Forces.