The Sound of Young America
The Sound of Young America is a public radio program and podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

 based in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and distributed by Public Radio International
Public Radio International
Public Radio International is a Minneapolis-based American public radio organization, with locations in Boston, New York, London and Beijing. PRI's tagline is "Hear a different voice." PRI is a major public media content creator and also distributes programs from many sources...

 (PRI). The weekly show is currently heard on 25 public radio stations in 19 markets and can also be heard weekly on XM Radio's "XM Public Radio
XM Public Radio
XM Public Radio is a 24/7 Sirius XM Satellite Radio channel dedicated to public radio programming. Broadcasting in stereo, XM Public Radio is one of two talk channels on the XM platform which broadcasts 2-channel audio—the other being the ViRUS...

" channel.

The program features host Jesse Thorn
Jesse Thorn
Jesse Thorn is an American public radio show host/creator. He is the host and producer of the radio show and podcast The Sound of Young America, which is distributed by Public Radio International to 25 public terrestrial radio stations in 13 states and is also broadcast weekly on XM Radio's "XM...

, who refers to himself as "America's Radio Sweetheart," interviewing personalities in arts and culture, with a special focus on comedy. Past guests have included Chuck D
Chuck D
Carlton Douglas Ridenhour , better known by his stage name, Chuck D, is an American rapper, author, and producer. He helped create politically and socially conscious rap music in the mid-1980s as the leader of the rap group Public Enemy.- Early life :Ridenhour was born in Queens, New York...

, Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman is an American comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book memoir, Maus. His works are published with his name in lowercase: art spiegelman.-Biography:Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, to Polish Jews...

, Shelley Berman
Shelley Berman
Sheldon "Shelley" Berman is an American comedian, actor, writer, teacher, lecturer, and poet.- Early life :Berman was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Irene and Nathan Berman.- Career :...

, David Cross
David Cross
David Cross is an American actor, writer and stand-up comedian perhaps best known for his work on HBO's sketch comedy series Mr...

, Ira Glass
Ira Glass
Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.- Early life :...

, Patton Oswalt
Patton Oswalt
Patton Oswalt is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice actor. He is best known for portraying Spencer Olchin in the popular sitcom The King of Queens, voicing Remy from the film Ratatouille and Thrasher from the Cartoon Network original series Robotomy.-Early life:Oswalt was born...

 and others.

The show's title derives from a former slogan for Motown Records
Motown Records
Motown is a record label originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit...



The Sound of Young America began in 2000 on the college radio station KZSC
KZSC is a public radio station broadcasting from the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California. It is a non-commercial college radio station that serves as a training ground for UCSC students interested in broadcasting, as well as an outlet for many members of...

-FM, based at the University of California, Santa Cruz
University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California, Santa Cruz, also known as UC Santa Cruz or UCSC, is a public, collegiate university; one of ten campuses in the University of California...

. At first, The Sound of Young America was a variety college radio show featuring Thorn and two other cohosts, Matt Dobbs (who soon dropped out in favor of Jordan Morris) and Gene O'Neill. Initially a morning show, it later ran from 5-6 PM each Thursday. O'Neill left in 2003, and Brian Lane filled in periodically thereafter. Upon Morris' departure in May 2004, the show began to use rotating co-hosts. That autumn, Thorn went solo.

Past contributors to the show include Jordan Morris, "Boy Detective," and "Big Time" Gene O'Neill as co-hosts, and regular appearances from Thorn's joke-telling and sometime rock-and-roller younger brother, the Master of "Would You Rather?" Jim Real, Brian "Back in Business" Lane, and artist/musician Dan Grayson. In 2003, the show staged a radio drama
Radio drama
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story...

 of Sad Dad, an original play
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

 written by Morris and O'Neill. 2003 also saw the debut of the show's theme song, Maximum Fun
Maximum Fun
Maximum Fun is an independent podcast and radio show production organization founded and run by Jesse Thorn. The organization originated with Thorn's college radio show The Sound of Young America which continues, in adapted format, to this day...

, written and performed by Thorn and Grayson.

Near the end of 2004 the show became available as a podcast. Thorn and the show were mentioned in The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

, TIME Magazine, and, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

.'s Audiofile wrote, "If you've never heard of The Sound of Young America, The Sound of Young America is the greatest radio show you've never heard of," and described Thorn's interviewing style as combining "the civility and preparedness of [Terry] Gross
Terry Gross
Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, an interview format radio show produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio....

 leavened with the good humor of [Conan] O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and performer. Since November 2010 he has hosted Conan, a late-night talk show that airs on the American cable television station TBS....

." In January 2006, TIME selected the show in a column entitled "Pick of the Podcasts." The Wall Street Journals "Blog Watch" column described the show as "a popular podcast where Mr. Thorn interviews some of the nation's top talent and comics occasionally perform sketches, and noted that Thorn produced the podcast "from his living room."

During this time, Thorn received a call from the director of programming at PRI, who had heard one of the podcasts and expressed interest in distributing the show. In 2006 WNYC-FM, a public radio station in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, picked up the show, and PRI decided to distribute it. As of September 2008 the show was carried on 18 public radio stations, in addition to the podcast.

Market availability

According to the show's website, in addition to the podcast the program is currently heard on 25 public terrestrial radio stations in 19 markets in 13 states. The show is also broadcast weekly on XM Radio's "XM Public Radio
XM Public Radio
XM Public Radio is a 24/7 Sirius XM Satellite Radio channel dedicated to public radio programming. Broadcasting in stereo, XM Public Radio is one of two talk channels on the XM platform which broadcasts 2-channel audio—the other being the ViRUS...

" channel.

Other projects

In April 2006, The Sound of Young America launched a second podcast, The College Years, chronicling the pre-podcasting history of the show.

In December 2006, Thorn and Morris reteamed to launch the podcast-only program Jordan, Jesse GO! (The first two episodes were released as "The Untitled Thorn/Morris Project".) The show is a return to the free-form radio that they did in Santa Cruz, before The Sound of Young America became almost exclusively an interview show. The first episode featured the return of former staple "Hang It Up/Keep It Up". The second episode saw the return of "Would You Rather?" and the introduction of "Judge John Hodgman" a mock-trial presided over by author/raconteur John Hodgman
John Hodgman
John Kellogg Hodgman is an American author, actor, and humorist. In addition to his published written works, such as The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All, he is known for his personification of a PC in contrast to Justin Long's personification of a Mac in...

. Later shows often feature guests such as author Sarah Vowell
Sarah Vowell
Sarah Jane Vowell is an American author, journalist, essayist and social commentator. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has written five nonfiction books on American history and culture, and was a contributing editor for the radio program This American Life on Public Radio...

, actor Rob Corddry
Rob Corddry
Robert William "Rob" Corddry is an American actor and comedian. He is known for his work as a former correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and for his starring role in the comedy film Hot Tub Time Machine...

, and various contemporary comedians .

In March 2007, Thorn launched the podcast-only program "Coyle and Sharpe: The Imposters", documenting street pranks and put-ons performed by Mal Sharpe
Mal Sharpe
Malcolm Sharpe is an American television and radio personality with roots in San Francisco, California.In the early 1960s, Sharpe teamed with Jim Coyle to create a series of comic on-the-street interviews for San Francisco radio station KGO. Armed with a tape recorder, Coyle and Sharpe confronted...

 and Jim Coyle in the early 1960s.

External links

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