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.


Charlamagne Tha God Explains ‘Black Privilege’

Apr 28, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Millions of listeners tune in to hear Charlamagne co-host the nationally syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club.” It’s considered one of the most important shows in the hip-hop world. He’s known for his long, sometimes combative interviews with everyone from Kanye West to Hillary Clinton.

Douglas, Emerald

Each week, our listeners send in their questions about how to behave, and answering them this time around is Charlamagne Tha God. He is an outspoken giant of terrestrial radio, co-hosting the morning show “The Breakfast Club,” which is syndicated by iHeartRadio. He’s also got an MTV2 show.

Feist Mixes Up A Wintry Party Playlist

Apr 28, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Over the course of four albums, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Leslie Feist has delved into everything from anthemic rock to hushed chamber pop. In 2008, her record “The Reminder” earned her a couple of Grammy nominations. She’s also part of Canadian indie rock collective Broken Social Scene.

“I Am: Heath Ledger” Giveaway

Apr 27, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This week, five (5) winners will receive two (2) tickets to a Fathom Events screening of “I Am: Heath Ledger.” (Retail value is $14-$15 per ticket). This movie is playing in select theaters in the US on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 only. See the list of participating theaters here. Each winner will be asked when notified to select a showing from the list of participating theaters. Tickets will be sent to winners via email.

Thomas Middleditch Shows Off His Nerd Range

Apr 21, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Improviser, actor, and all-around funny fellow Thomas Middleditch has earned an Emmy nomination for playing Richard Hendricks, the hero of the HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley.” The character is a shy computer genius who invents the greatest data compressor ever… but in the weird, cutthroat world of Silicon Valley can’t quite seem to earn the billions he deserves for it.

Tell Us About Your Party Fouls!

Apr 12, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Lopez, Kristina

Ah salt. It’s the magical seasoning that brings out flavors and spices in food and makes it palatable. We were talking about this around the office, and realized we didn’t know much about how salt does what it does.

To fix all that, Rico sat down with Eric Schulze, a science writer and Senior Scientist at Memphis Meats in the Bay Area. They’re developing cruelty-free meat grown in a lab.

Alex Kapranos DJs a Globe-Trotting Party Playlist

Apr 7, 2017

Alex Kapranos is the frontman of the beloved Scottish dance-pop band Franz Ferdinand and a member of the new supergroup of sorts called BNQT. The band includes Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. Their new album comes out later this month.

We actually caught up with Alex the last time Franz Ferdinand dropped a record and he gave us a soundtrack with international sounds.

R.M. Hubbert (with Aidan Moffat and Alex Kapranos) – “Car Song”

The Many Voices of Hank Azaria

Apr 7, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Hank Azaria has had a huge career with character roles in films like “The Birdcage” and TV shows like “Ray Donovan” and many more. But he’s probably best known as the voice behind a slew of character on “The Simpsons,” including Moe, Chief Wiggum, and Apu.

His latest TV project finds him back in front of the camera: he stars in “Brockmire,” a comedy about a disgraced, old-school baseball announcer attempting a comeback after a public meltdown goes viral.

Aimee Mann-splains Etiquette

Apr 7, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Aimee Mann.

In the ‘80s, her band Til Tuesday hit the charts with the now classic song, “Voices Carry.” She’s since become a hugely respected solo artist with Grammy and Oscar nominations under her belt. She also recorded and toured with fellow pop maestro Ted Leo.

Martini Madness: And the Winner Is…

Apr 3, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

After a month-long battle that pitted cocktail against cocktail (and host against guest co-host at the end) the polls have closed and the winner of the Martini Madness bracket has been crowned.

And the winner is…

Gin and Tonic!
How did the G&T pull off this win?

Lopez, Kristina

UPDATE: Find out which cocktail won Martini Madness here.

Usually in the show, Brendan and Rico tell you something that happened this week in history, then pair it with a fitting boozy beverage. But this week, we’re doing something different.

Prentice Penny Swaps Politeness for Public Embarrassment

Mar 31, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time around is Prentice Penny.

He’s the showrunner for HBO’s Golden Globe-nominated series “Insecure.” He also wrote for network comedy shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Scrubs,” and “Happy Endings.” And on his new show, he steps in front of the camera.

Jens Lekman DJs A Middle Eastern Dance Party

Mar 31, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Swedish musician Jens Lekman has become a legend in the indie world for his wry, alternately hilarious and heartbreaking pop tunes. Last year, he challenged himself to write a song a week… some of which evolved into tracks for his new album, “Life Will See You Now.” It’s his first record in five years.

Here’s Jens with a playlist mailed from the other side of the world.

Ahmed Fakroun – “Yumma”

World-renowned journalist Katie Couric is best known from her years as a news anchor for every major TV network and as a former correspondent for “60 Minutes.”

These days she is Yahoo’s global news anchor and she hosts her own interview podcast. When our guest co-host, Lauren Ober, met with Katie, she started things off by asking Katie where she got the super bizarre title of her podcast: “Katie Couric.”

Alan Tudyk Celebrates His 3 Favorite Robots

Mar 24, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Alan Tudyk is one of the stars of NBC’s new superhero sitcom “Powerless.” After honing his chops at Julliard, he’s spent most of his career in outer space. He starred in the cult TV hit “Firefly” and lent his voice to a slew of films, including “i, Robot” and “Star Wars Rogue One.” Fun fact: Alan’s movies have made $2.1 billion dollars at the box office… that’s more than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Check out his list, in which he sings the praises of his robot heroes.


Blondie – ‘Long Time’

Mar 24, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Is Wine Tasting at Restaurants Losing Its Flavor?

Mar 24, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

You know when you’re at a restaurant, and you order a bottle of wine, and the waiter shows up with it and offers you a sip first? That tradition might be going out of style.

Lopez, Kristina

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is RuPaul. Not sure he needs an introduction, but suffice it  to say he’s probably the best-known drag queen in the world —

RuPaul: Best known drag queen in the world?! I am the most famous drag queen in the history of the world!

Brendan Francis Newnam: We were just about to say that!

Danny Boyle Reflects on 20 Years of ‘Trainspotting’

Mar 24, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Back in 1994, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge made the hit indie thriller “Shallow Grave,” then followed it up with an adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel “Trainspotting.” With it’s hurtling energy and Britpop soundtrack, it was an international hit, made a star out of Ewan McGregor, and became one of the cultural milestones of the ’90s.

Our Podcast Picks for #Trypod

Mar 22, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam (Co-Host)

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect

Martini Madness Round 1

Mar 17, 2017

(Click to enlarge)

Wait, what is this?

It’s the perfect time of year for a totally made up poll we’re calling Martini Madness! Think of it like a basketball tournament, except with booze instead of athleticism.

Playlist 356

Mar 17, 2017

The Sea & Cake – The Argument

Aphex Twin – Girl/Boy Song

Tipsy – Liquordelic

Cyril J. Mockridge – Main Title (From “The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes”)

David Arnold & Michael Price – “Sherlock” Theme Song

The Sugarcubes – Coldsweat (DB/BP Mix)

Candi Staton – He Called Me Baby

J.J. Cale – Cherry

Listener Letters: Jeopardy Players Buzz In

Mar 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This week, we took a moment to gaze into the dark heart of our mailbag/inbox/voicemail aka listener comments.

First up Carl from Dearborn Michigan chides Rico and Brendan for their pronunciation of “restaurateur.” Duly noted, Carl.

Jay Som DJs an Anachronistic Get-Together

Mar 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Jay Som first gained attention with songs she wrote in her bedroom and posted online. Not long after, revered indie label Polyvinyl signed her and her debut album of smart lyrics and pop hooks called “Everybody Works,” comes out on March 10.

Here she is to spin music for a Halloween party in Spring… because why not?

Andy Shauf – “To You”

Gillian Jacobs Fakes Love and Tipsiness

Mar 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

For six seasons, actor Gillian Jacobs played the wannabe activist Britta Perry in the cult hit comedy show “Community.” She also did a star turn on Season four of HBO’s “Girls,” playing Mimi-Rose — a foil to Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah.

Gillian now stars in “Love” — a show about dating and relationships in modern Los Angeles. She plays Mickey, a program manager at a satellite radio station who struggles with alcohol, romance and just being a good person.

Sam Richardson Gains Confidence Through a Bad Joke

Mar 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Comedian and actor Sam Richardson has become a standout on HBO’s “VEEP” as a White House staffer who “fails up” better than anyone in history. Sam also stars in the new series Comedy Central series “Detroiters” with “Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Robinson. The show is about two best friends trying to eke out a living in advertising in the Motor City. In the audio above, Sam shares a tale about another best friend… or is he?

Why Rorschach’s Inkblots Are Still the Best Blots Around

Mar 10, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Our topic for Chattering Class this week: Psychology’s infamous Rorschach test. And our teacher is author Damion Searls.

VOTE: Martini Madness

Mar 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

(Click to enlarge)

Wait, what is this?

It’s the perfect time of year for a totally made-up poll we’re calling Martini Madness! Think of it like a basketball tournament, except with booze instead of athleticism.

Lopez, Kristina

Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s first novel “The Sympathizer” won a raft of awards — including the Pulitzer Prize. He’s just published his second book to great acclaim. It’s a collection of short stories called, “The Refugees.”