Amateur Hour at Studio 360

Kurt Andersen has offered the uncut version of his conversation with Harlan Ellison. But what is particularly astonishing is just how much of an ignoramus Andersen comes across as. He constantly interrupts Ellison. At around the 26:30 mark, Andersen cannot get Dreams with Sharp Teeth director Erik Nelson’s name right and must utter the intro again. An embarrassing suggestion that Ellison wrote “Paladin of the Lost Hour” for the original Twilight Zone is there. In short, Studio 360 is a program that is made almost entirely in the editing room and certainly not from the conversation itself. And if this uncut interview serves as a representative rough version of what the editors have to play with, then I wonder just how much Andersen is relying on his editors to salvage the show and make it sound “professional.”

For the record, while there is some editing on The Bat Segundo Show (mostly to boost levels, remove coughs and popped plosives, make people sound a bit sexier, and the like), what you hear on these shows is 98% of the conversation. If I make a referential mistake, I leave it in. If there’s a strange tangent, I leave it in. If a guest and I get kicked out or something strange happens because of a third party, I leave it in. But I compensate for these fallacies by actually knowing the material: reading the book in full, wading through other interviews to ensure that I don’t ask the same questions, making sure I pronounce the author’s name, the book’s title, and the book’s characters correctly (although there have been a few minor slip-ups; nobody’s perfect). I’m determined to get as much of this right in my conversation because it means less editing time for me. And I only have so much time to commit. Perhaps this “one take” sensibility comes from my theatrical background. But apparently Andersen (or his writers) cannot do this.

Just think of all the man-hours that have been expended towards correct Andersen’s mistakes. Consider the labor costs that might have been avoided had Andersen actually bothered to pay attention to his goddam subject.

But what do I know? I’m just some hapless podcaster.

(Incidentally, at the 30 minute mark, it’s also quite funny to hear Harlan Ellison skewer Andersen’s stereotypical remarks about Los Angeles.)


  1. This makes me appreciate Bob Costas’ late-night show even more. At least he could string a few sentences together, and had enough sense to let people like Mel Brooks take over his show when they’re running hot.

  2. I don’t know exactly why, but even the edited versions of Studio 360 kind of rub me the wrong way. I’ve heard some good and some bad, but Andersen’s demeanor, his manner of speaking always sounds like he’s a little too aware of his audience. Perhaps because his part of the conversation is rehearsed and re-recorded?

    I’ve got “Heyday” on my to-be-read pile of books; maybe he’ll come across better in print. (I hope so, at least.)

  3. Yikes. I really, really liked Heyday, but having read about Andersen and his other novel I’ve tried to stay away.

  4. Harlan Ellison! The man responsible for the scary depths of my adolescent imagination! It’s a cruelly qualified love I still feel for his oeuvre (as in: Paladin’s a bit hokey, to be frank, no?), but, still. Reading “Deathbird” and then DV1, DV2 at a young age made all the difference. Can’t believe anyone in the room (or on the planet) with Harlan had the nerve to irk him… must check this out…

  5. Someone needs to create a phrase like “inside the beltway” as it applies to members of the political establishment to decribe someonw like Andersen and the media-entertainment-publishing sphere. I used to listen to Radio 360 when it was scheduled in the afternoon on one of the NPR stations in Los Anfgeles and never heard one thing that was provocative or challenging.

    Thanks, however, for making me aware of the interview.

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