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.


A Final Note from Brendan and Rico

Jan 12, 2018
Lopez, Kristina

Greetings, Downloadians,

Sylvan Esso – ‘Coffee’

Nov 22, 2017

Lopez, Kristina

“Stranger Things” is coming back for season 2 on October 27. If you managed to miss binge-watching it last year, it’s set in the ’80s and it takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. It all starts when a young boy goes missing… and then things get, yes, stranger. There’s an alternate universe called “The Upside Down,” a young girl with psychokinetic powers, and a monster called the “Demogorgon.” Hooked yet?

The Baguette Gets a Shiny New Makeover

Oct 27, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Before The Purging Of The Carbs and the Gluten Wars, there was a time when people unabashedly loved baked dough, believe it or not. And one bakery in Manhattan is making it hard not to.

It’s called Arcade Bakery, and their “laminated baguette” has eaters in ecstasy. To find out what it is, Brendan met with Roger Gural, who owns the Arcade.

The laminated baguette in all its glory.


A few more pastries Arcade bakes up.
An outside shot of the bakery.

Whitney Cummings Teaches Us How to Mind Our Own Business

Oct 27, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week is actor and comedian Whitney Cummings.

Lopez, Kristina

Each week on chattering class, we’re schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. The topic this time around? The creator of Wonder Woman, William Marston. And our teacher is indie filmmaker Angela Robinson.

A ‘Mortified’ Tale Just in Time for Halloween

Oct 27, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

On the “Mortified” podcast, brave adults read aloud the most embarrassing moments from their childhood journals. The show’s inspired a new book — a do-it-yourself journal for adults called “My Mortified Life.”

The Dinner Party Download LIVE in Seattle

Oct 20, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

On Thursday, November 16, we’re heading to Seattle for our first-ever show in the Northwest — at the historic Moore Theatre! Come down a custom cocktail with us, hear your etiquette questions answered in-person, and bask in phenomenal live music.

Lopez, Kristina

Dear friends!

Alas, like all good dinner parties, our party must come to an end. After ten years as a pioneering podcast and six years as a public radio weekend show, on December 1st, we are parting ways with American Public Media.

Willem Dafoe: Not Just ‘The Bad Guy’

Oct 13, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Willem Dafoe has lit up the big screen for three decades, from his Oscar-nominated performance in “Platoon,” to playing Jesus in “The Last Temptation of Christ,” to great character roles in “Wild At Heart” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

His latest is “The Florida Project,” directed by Sean Baker. The story centers around a young girl and her single mom who live in a budget motel in Orlando, in the shadow of Disney World. Dafoe plays the manager of the motel — and acts as landlord, parent, and sheriff to its residents.

Lopez, Kristina

David Litt penned some of former President Obama’s most memorable speeches, including his comic turns at White House Correspondents’ Dinners. The stories behind those speeches are the stuff of his new memoir, “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.”

Douglas, Emerald

Before Carla Hall was known as the co-host of “The Chew,” a “Top Chef” finalist, and the author of several cookbooks, the Nashville native was just a girl who was a deep fan of her grandmother’s cooking, especially her cornbread. When she got older and became interested in cooking, she tried to sleuth out how to make it for her family and catering clients.

Lopez, Kristina

Mackenzie Scott released her first album under the moniker Torres when she was still in college. Her personal lyrics and raw vocals continue to earn her critical acclaim. She’s just released her third album of emotional electronica, called “Three Futures.”

Listen to the audio above as she spins a playlist for a dinner party with a sensual vibe… and well-cooked fish.

Depeche Mode: From Synth-Pop to Revolution Rock

Oct 13, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Back in the early ’80s, four lanky Brits calling themselves Depeche Mode, armed only with primitive synthesizers, started churning out pop hits. Nearly 40 years later they’ve sold over 100 million albums and are one of the most popular live acts on Earth.

Lopez, Kristina

Since Brendan was outsourcing some of the segments on the show while Rico was gone, he managed to convince Associate Producer James Kim to do a new segment. And James came up with this idea called “Double Take.”

The Posts Take Over Our Etiquette Segment!

Oct 7, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

So, while Rico is away, Brendan enlisted the help of etiquette ambassadors Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. And he left them this note (written on a coaster) in the studio before taping:

Dear Lizzie and Dan,

Douglas, Emerald

French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is perhaps best-known for directing thrillers and science fictions films like “Sicario” and “Arrival,” which received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director.

His latest film, “Blade Runner 2049,” is a sequel to “Blade Runner,” the science fiction classic that was released 35 years ago. The new film takes place 30 years later, this time with Ryan Gosling playing the replicant hunter. Harrison Ford reprises his role from the original film as former blade runner Rick Deckard.

Little Dragon – ‘Piece of Mind’ (Feat. Faith Evans)

Oct 6, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Douglas, Emerald

Emily Haines is the frontwoman of the Canadian band Metric, which combines rock with gritty electronic music. She also has her own solo project called Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton, and her her second album “Choir of the Mind” is out now.

Emily’s dog, Romeo, takes in the singer’s lush backyard space.

Actor Sterling K. Brown won his first Emmy for portraying Christopher Darden in “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” And he won his second, a little over a week ago, for his performance as Randall Pearson in the acclaimed NBC drama “This Is Us.”

His latest role in the biographical drama “Marshall,” which tells the true story of one of the first cases of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Sterling plays Joseph Spell, a man accused of rape and attempted murder of a wealthy socialite, and Marshall chooses to defend Spell.

Shania Twain’s Advice Hits Just the Right Note

Sep 29, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send us your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Shania Twain.

Lopez, Kristina

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton started out as rock video auteurs, co-directing classic clips like Extreme’s “More Than Words.” They leapt to the big screen with “Little Miss Sunshine” — which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Emily Haines’ Tortilla Soup Recipe

Sep 29, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

“My tortilla soup recipe is hard to transcribe because I always improvise as I prepare it,” Emily says, “but here are the general guidelines. I’m keeping the measurements pretty general, too, as I have made this soup for dinner parties big and small. I leave the math to you. Also, my version is not heavy on tomatoes or tortillas.”

Lopez, Kristina

For decades now, Margaret Cho has been fearlessly making audiences laugh about race, sex, and gender. Her ABC sitcom, “All-American Girl” was one of the first TV shows to prominently feature an all Asian cast.

Lopez, Kristina

Each week, you send us your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week is comedian and writer Margaret Cho. Before answering your questions, Brendan and Rico chatted with Margaret about her upcoming tour and what it’s like to write comedy in the age of instant backlash. In the audio above, she gives our listeners apt advice on how to handle some oblivious friends and acquaintances.

A Farewell to Michelle Philippe

Sep 15, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Folks, we’re marking the historic end of an era. For years, our friend Michelle Philippe has been our show’s “voice of history,” telling you about all these wonderful tales from the past we dig up. But alas, she’s leaving public radio to pursue her writing and acting career. Big win for the arts, big loss for us. And we wanted to have her on for a final goodbye.

Michael McDonald Spins A Nostalgic Party Soundtrack

Sep 15, 2017
Douglas, Emerald

Michael McDonald is a five-time Grammy winner who’s had a career as a singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and producer for over 40 years. In the ’70s, he brought his inimitable soul vocals to the bands Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. In the ’80s, he launched a solo career, with hits like “I Keep Forgettin.” Decades later, he’s still going strong, collaborating with indie acts like Grizzly Bear and Thundercat.

Lopez, Kristina

The new documentary “Rat Film” examines race — and a slew of other issues — in a way you’ve likely never seen before: It takes Baltimore’s longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It’s an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film, and it’s earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog.

Lopez, Kristina

Annie Spence has spent much of her life lost in books– first as a ravenous reader, and then, for the past ten years, as a librarian in the Midwest. Her first book “Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks” collects dozens of letters she’s written TO the books in her life: the ones she loves, the ones she despises, and the ones that fall somewhere in between. Overhear her note to one of the latter, in the audio above.