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by Peter Moskos

February 11, 2014

Flogging on Sunday Night Safran

This is the best radio show you've never heard of (unless you're Australian, in which case it might just be the best radio show). Where else do you get a smart-alec Jewish boy from Melbourne and an (almost) 80-year-old Catholic priest shooting the shit? (pardon my language, Father Bob.) I was on it last week. I really love being on shows I know and enjoy.

I first heard about John Safran at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney last November. Actually, I had heard of his black-faced experience in Chicago's Wiener Circle, where I've eaten a few hot dogs in my days. Was what he did racist? Certainly as an American I wouldn't do what he did. But, as to an Australian doing it? As the Pope said, who am I to judge? Certainly his intentions were good and the end result interesting (in a gonzo-journalism black-like-me kind of way, which I rather enjoy as a TV viewer).

Anyway, that was five years ago.

Meanwhile I'm on my flight back from Sydney and start reading Murder in Mississippi by John Safran. It was in my swag bag coming back from the festival in Sydney. (Alas, the book isn't available yet in the US, but eventually it will be.) It's a great book. Safran conducts some fine investigative journalism while delving into the murder of a white supremacist. Sometimes you need an outsider to appreciate the oddities of one's own culture. On the same flight I happen to be listening to podcasts of his show, Sunday Night Safran, as recommended to me by an Australian friend (when I asked about some Australian culture I wouldn't know about, but should, like in the same way he listened to This American Life and Radio Lab).

Turns out Safran (pronounced with two strong A's that sound odd to the American ear, like the ass in, er, sassafras) is one smart and thoughtful Aussie. (It also turns out that in the course of researching his book, he spent some time with Yolande Robins, my 7th-grade history teacher and now dear family friend, who returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi to run the family funeral parlor.)

Listen to the show. Download the podcast, expand your cultural horizons, and don't worry, we do speak their language (though with the occasional stumble).

(And the techies out there might be impressed, as was I, at the pretty good audio quality, albeit with a slight delay, that came with skype and my new fancy microphone.)

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