Things Not Seen, Radio Interviews

Interviewing Jesse Jackson

When I started my radio show, Things Not Seen, I had modest ambitions. I expected I would mostly get to talk to friends of mine - other academics, mostly - and ask them questions about their work.

It didn't take long, however, for the idea to take hold that maybe - just maybe - we could aim for something higher. In our first season, back in 2012, we managed to get several authors on the schedule who were getting national attention just as their interview with us aired. Probably the best examples of this at the time were Rachel Held Evans and Joanna Brooks, who had both gotten national coverage right as their episode aired.

What I am discovering is that success breeds success. As we demonstrated that the show was a good venue for guests, more editors and publicists took notice. Since our first season, I've been increasingly pleased with the mix of guests - both local and national - we have had.

But this week we kind of hit the big time. Thanks to our friends at Chicago Theological Seminary, I got the chance to interview a truly internationally-recognized figure, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

How It Happened

I was invited to interview Rev. Jackson through the folks who are organizing the upcoming Chicago Theological Seminary conference, Selma at 50: Still Marching. The Sunday Evening club is a co-sponsor of the event. 

So the opportunity came up - at somewhat the last minute - for the interview.

Rev. Jackson was most gracious with his time. It was clear he had not been briefed on what to expect; I mentioned that my interviews usually last about 45 minutes or so and he replied "Oh, I don't have enough to say for that." 

Despite his protestations, however, we had a very good conversation - one which looked backward to the past and forward to the future. 

Mary, who I work with a lot when I record at WBEZ, used to be the chief engineer for Studs Terkel. After the interview was over, i asked for her feedback. She thought I did well, though she did have some constructive criticism about the order of questions I asked.

In a couple of weeks, you'll get to hear for yourself! 

Before I close - what kind of guests would YOU like us to try to interview in the future. The sky's the limit!