The Dinner Party on WUNC

Sat 4p
  • Hosted by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

This program's final broadcast on WUNC was November 26, 2017. This page remains here as an archive.

The Dinner Party is a culture show designed to help you dazzle your friends at your next social gathering. Launched as a podcast in 2010, The Dinner Party is beloved by audiences for its spontaneity, thoughtfulness and exuberance. The show was lauded by Wallpaper magazine as one of the “Top 40 Reasons to Live in America” and hosts Gagliano and Newnam were named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” list.

Hosts Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano
Credit APM

What happened to your WUNC coffee mug, Rico?
Credit APM

The show unfolds like a dinner party, kicking off with “The Icebreaker”— a joke to warm things up. Next comes “Small Talk,” in which top print and online journalists from around the country share their favorite odd news story of the week.  The “Cocktails” portion of the show features a true tale from this week in history with a handcrafted cocktail recipe themed after that it.

Later, we usually “Eavesdrop” on an author reading from a hot new release or answer listeners’ burning etiquette questions. The marquee segment of the show is the “Guest of Honor,” in which hosts Gagliano and Newnam interview some of the most fascinating celebrities in the world and routinely get them to talk about the most unexpected, dinner-party-worthy subjects.


Samin Nosrat Convinces Us to Go to Therapy

Jun 30, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time… is celebrated chef and cooking teacher Samin Nosrat.

Beth Ditto DJs a Potluck Party Worthy of Great Gravy

Jun 30, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Beth Ditto made a name for herself as the lead singer of indie-rock group Gossip, and her standout voice has been compared to Janis Joplin and Etta James. Her debut solo album “Fake Sugar” was released this month. Here she is with some tunes to play at your next potluck.

Handsome Boy Modeling School Feat. Cat Power – “I’ve Been Thinking”

Giancarlo Esposito Channels a Murderous Mindset

Jun 30, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Giancarlo Esposito landed his first Broadway role at age eight, and he grew up to become one of the most celebrated character actors in America. He’s recently starred in not one but THREE TV shows: As the fiery pastor on “The Get Down.” As the Narrator of the Netflix show “Dear White People.” And, of course, as the murderous criminal genius Gus Fring on “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad.”

Alison Brie Gets Slammed to the Mat on ‘GLOW’

Jun 30, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Actor Alison Brie played Pete Campbell’s long-suffering wife Trudy on the hit drama “Mad Men,” and straight-laced Annie Edison on the cult sitcom “Community.” But this month, she takes on a very different starring role in the Netflix series “GLOW.”

Brie plays Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress in the 1980s who joins an all women’s pro-wrestling league. Marc Maron co-stars as a sleazy, but somewhat lovable, director

Your Customizable ‘Look Up and Listen!’ Invitation

Jun 23, 2017

Instructions: Copy and paste everything below the dotted line into an email to your invitees. Then customize the text, hit send, and party!


Guess what! You’re invited to an outdoor listening party for one of my favorite podcasts, The Dinner Party Download! Come enjoy food, drinks, activities and an auditory tour of nature and the night sky with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Fleet Foxes, Feist and more!

Lopez, Kristina

While you set out on your own journey into nature to hear our “Look Up and Listen!” audio adventure, we want to make sure that you’re not lacking in inspiration!


Jun 22, 2017

A Daring Trapeze Artist and How The Leotard Got Its Name

Jun 14, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

The History Lesson

Jules Leotard was born to fly.

You wouldn’t have guessed it when he was a teen. Back then, he studied law and was on his way to becoming some kind of barrister. But his father taught gymnastics, which may explain why, in his spare time, Jules started practicing acrobatics, specifically, spectacular stunts on the trapeze. Instead of using a net, he swung around over his Dad’s swimming pool.

Lopez, Kristina

Damon Lindelof co-created the ABC series “Lost” — widely considered one of the greatest TV shows ever. He also wrote installments of the “Alien” and “Star Trek” movie franchises. But most recently, he co-created HBO’s “The Leftovers” along with Tom Perrota, who wrote the book it’s based on.

Lynn Castle Recalls a Proposal She Was Wise to Turn Down

Jun 2, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

In the ’60s, Lynn Castle was the go-to hairstylist for Los Angeles’ music scene. The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, and the Monkees came to call her “the lady barber.” But in addition to heads, she also cut a few tracks. Only two of her songs ever got a release. That changes Friday when Light in the Attic Records releases the first-ever LP of her music. Lynn’s also starting to share some stories from her life. In the audio above, she recalls two of her early loves.

Phoenix Spin Us a Très Cool Soundtrack

Jun 2, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Phoenix‘s blend of rock, disco, and abstract lyrics has made their music the soundtrack for dance parties from Tokyo to their hometown of Paris. In 2009, their album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” went gold and won them a Grammy.

Lopez, Kristina

“Lawrence of Arabia” is one of the most lauded films of the 20th century and it also cemented the legacy of archaeologist and diplomat T. E. Lawrence. While his involvement in the Middle East during World War I was legendary, another person of equal influence has kind of been forgotten.

The War on Drugs – ‘Holding On’

Jun 2, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

The Dinner Party Download Presents: Look Up and Listen!

Jun 1, 2017
Lopez, Kristina


“Look Up and Listen” is an hour-long podcast and a live event designed to encourage you to go outside and reacquaint yourself with the wonders of nature. Follow along as hosts Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano lead you on an aural adventure through forests, deserts, and beaches where they’ll encounter Neil deGrasse Tyson, Fleet Foxes, Feist, and more. You’ll hear chats on the influence of nature on creative work and suggestions, wisdom, and songs to enhance your experience.


Lopez, Kristina

Writer Samantha Irby is known for her hilarious personal essays and deadpan storytelling style.  You can read some of her work on her blog, of the B**ches Gotta Eat. FX is turning her memoir “Meaty” into a TV show.

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and returning to answer them this time, our etiquette royalty Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. They are the great-great-grand kids of etiquette queen Emily Post herself, and they’re the co-host of the podcast, “Awesome Etiquette,” which lives up to its name.

Paul Feig is beloved for creating and producing the cult-favorite tv show “Freaks and Geeks,” along with his friend Judd Apatow. In addition to its excellent writing and direction, the show was known for launching some huge Hollywood careers: including those of Jason Segel, James Franco, and Seth Rogen.

Douglas, Emerald

The brightest idea in major league baseball first occurred in the minors.

This was back in the great depression when baseball fans didn’t have a ton of discretionary income to spend to see games and often had to work through the afternoon when games were played.  Minor league attendance tanked.

Shabazz Palaces – ‘Shine a Light’

May 19, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Lopez, Kristina

Along with his catchy, hazy guitar-rock, Mac DeMarco has become famous for his sense of humor… and for antics, like putting his home address at the end of a track from his mini-LP, “Another One,” and inviting fans to visit him and his girlfriend to their home.

Lopez, Kristina

What if we told you these two words: Vegan butchers.

Tituss Burgess Plays Matchmaker with Our Listeners

May 19, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week, you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is singer-songwriter and actor extraordinaire, Tituss Burgess.

Tituss Burgess: Hello.

Brendan Francis Newnam: I have to talk you up, though, Tituss. So give me a second here. I’m gonna-

Anne Lamott Tells Us How to Be Merciful to Ourselves

May 19, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Anne Lamott’s spunky, soul-bearing non-fiction has made her a best-selling author many times over. Her books sometimes investigate spiritual themes and sometimes they’re about very human triumphs and tribulations, like overcoming alcoholism or raising a son as a single mother.

James Elkington – ‘Wading the Vapors’

May 12, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

May 9, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Live | Participate | Stations

Coming June 23 via podcast, broadcast and possibly a volcano near you.

Lopez, Kristina

Brendan and Rico will host a listening party and unveil an original treat for the ears, playing an hour of audio that celebrates the wonder of the night skies and how nature has the ability to restore our creativity.

The evening will include live appearances from our intrepid hosts, an al fresco barbecue, and an audio program including conversations with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Feist, Fleet Foxes and more TBA.

Douglas, Emerald

Critics have praised Joan Shelley’s poetic lyrics and minimalist approach to Appalachian folk music. She caught the attention of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who produced her latest album. Here she is to set the vibe for an al fresco gathering.

Roger Miller – “My Uncle Used to Love But She Died”

The Prime Rib Renaissance

Apr 28, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This week, Rico had the tough assignment of eating freshly carved prime rib in Beverly Hills. (The struggle is real, folks.) But he did have a good reason: Prime rib, that staple cut of beef favored by many a mid-century restaurant, is enjoying a comeback. It’s been showing up on menus in trendy eateries in New York City and elsewhere.

Lopez, Kristina

John Ridley is one of the busiest guys in Hollywood. After winning an Oscar for writing the film “12 Years a Slave,” he created the award-winning series “American Crime” and the new Showtime miniseries “Guerrilla.”