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.

Ways to Connect

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.


In the fall of 1997, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls allowed a film crew to follow them as they went for their 6th NBA title in eight seasons.  The collected footage resulted in a dazzling depiction of one of sport’s most iconic athletes and celebrated teams.  The Last Danceproduced by ESPN, follows the Bulls’ 1997-98 season from start to finish, while also covering the rest of the chapters in Michael Jordan’s career.  

The 10-part documentary has been immensely popular with nearly 24 million people viewing it.  Pop Life host Joe Lee was not one of them.  On this episode of the podcast, Joe welcomes Seth Everett, veteran sports broadcaster and host of the popular podcast Sports With Friends, back to the show and invites Seth to convince him to watch The Last Dance.  

Dystopian movies and novels have been all the rage recently, and you might feel like if you've seen or read one of them you've seen all they have to offer. Well here's a twist that might pique your interest. What if I told you this one takes place during the second ice age and is set on a train that travels the world?

On this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee chats with Dr. Kendall R. Phillips, Professor of Communications and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University about the movie and now televistion series, Snowpiercer. Can the plot from the movie survive as a series? How do the two compare? What should we expect if we're tuning into the series without having seen the movie? You'll hear that and more on this episode of Pop Life.

The story of Jason Diakite into pop culture prominence isn't one that many will have heard before.  The Swedish hip hop artist wasn't discovered waitng tables and he wasn't regarded as a child star. Despite his less than conventional path, his music rings as true as any on the scene.

On this episode of Pop Life, Joe Lee chats with Jason Diakite about his journey from America to Sweden, what inspires his music, and what he's learned along the way.


The coronavirus known as COVID-19 is now a pandemic and causing major disruption to our lives in ways we haven’t experienced before.  With many of us being encouraged to practice social distancing, major events and cultural gatherings are being postponed and cancelled.  Concerts, movies, sporting events and more, have been cancelled.  It's requiring many of us to find other ways to entertain ourselves amid self-quarantine efforts. 

On this episode of Pop Life Joe Lee is joined Dr Kendall R. Phillips, Professor of Communications and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University to reccomend some worthwhile pop culture items to help pass the time.