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Mike Kaspar | Film School Radio

30 March 2019 Host Spotlight

Film School has been on the air, how long now?
I have lost track of exactly when Film School started, but it is at least 12 years. Since KUCI does not always have enough hosts/DJs during the summer semester, Nathan and I agreed to co-host a summer show.  During the first year or so was very tough getting filmmakers to come on the show. We were relying on our Weekly Signals booking agent connections to get people on Film School. I remember during the first few months we interviewed people who had written books about film. Eventually we started getting indie and documentary filmmakers on the show. At first it was one filmmaker per show, with Nathan and I using the rest of the time to talk about films we had seen. The big breakthrough came when we got a legendary documentary filmmaker, Errol Morris, on the show to talk about his film Fog of War. That was huge! Not only was Morris interesting and thoughtful, but having him on the show gave us a level of credibility that made it much easier to attract other filmmakers to the program.

Nathan left Film School after about four-and-a-half years. I have been doing it for the last seven years under the name, Film School Radio. Currently I do three interviews per show. In 2018 more than 160 interviews were posted to filmschoolradio.com and the Film School Radio iTunes podcast. Between Nathan and me, more than 1,200 filmmakers have appeared on Film School and Film School Radio.

How’d the show come about and how’d you two end up together?
I lost a bet. Nathan and I doing like working together on radio programs at KUCI.

Which shows that you’ve done stick out for each of you?
There have been a number of memorable interviews that jump out for different reasons. Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers, Julian Donkey Boy) because he did the interview from his flooded basement; Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) because she had just been nominated for an Academy Award; Richard Linklatter (Boyhood), because he had just been nominated for an Academy Award; and Errol Morris (Wormwood), Albert Mayles, (Grey Gardens), Frederick Wiseman (Titicutt Follies), Barbara Kopple (Harlan County), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Darkside) because all of them are the best at what they do.

How’s the show changed, or stayed the same, since its inception?
Film School has evolved mainly because I am now able to get the majority of the filmmakers I want. That has always been my goal, get the people whom I believe are doing the most interesting and challenging work in documentaries, foreign and independent filmmaking.

It’s the remained the same because most of my guests are filmmakers who are just starting their careers, maybe two completed feature films under their belt. That is how I got Ava DuVarney (Middle of Nowhere) who later directed Selma, or Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) who later directed Moonlight, or Damien Chazell (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) who later directed La La Land.

Memorable shows?
Lots and lots of trainwreck shows and lots of shows where I left the studio completely elated.

What’s on your nightstands?
Right now I am reading The Misinformation Age.

Three things in your fridge that you will not do without.
Mustard! Weird but I love mustard, Frenches!

Last great book you read.
I recently re-read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and flirting with taking another go at Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. Thompson was a great chronicler of his time. His passion, often masquerading as rage and humor, went straight from his heart into his prose. He is one of my favorite writers.

How do politics wend its way into your shows, if at all?
Mostly through the documentaries and the filmmakers. Seventy percent of the documentaries I have on the show are political. I love documentaries with a point of view.

Something listeners would find surprising about each of you.
Deathly afraid of large ships.

— March 30, 2019


Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is host of Writers on Writing, Wednesdays at 9 a.m., and a contributor to USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (Akashic, 2013). Watch the book trailer at penonfire.com.