Length: 30 minutes
Frequency: Daily, available by mid-morning.
Coffee and Markets is Ben Domenech’s answer to progressive public radio shows like Fresh Air and All Things Considered. The intro music is folksy, with a bit of a kick, the tone is calm, and they keep the yelling and beatings to a minimum. In other words, Ben is recreating NRP for a more conservatively-inclined listener. That is a fairly lofty goal in a time when most conservative radio (and the new flood of conservative podcasts) is loud, aggrieved, and apt to delivery random pummelings. Domenech’s show works though, not because it is calm and quiet but because his commentary is incredibly smart. Did I mention the commentary and how smart it is? I did? Good. The intelligence of everyone on the show, the hosts and guests, is the main draw for me. That’s not to say the show is stuffy, like most of NPRs news or political programs are. They are not. Domenech and his main show partner Brad Jackson know pop culture as well as they know public policy and economics and you will hear the random Simpsons reference of song lyric tossed into the show. There are jokes. People laugh. Occasionally, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is mentioned. I’m waiting for the first “Call Me Maybe” reference. Odds are, Ben will make it, but I secretly hope that Pejman (more on him later) is the first to slip one onto the show.
Coffee and Markets is strongest when Domenech and Jackson work with frequent guest Francis Cianfrocca. The talk will inevitably involve economics (the “Markets” part of the show) but won’t restrain itself just to domestic economic talk. Cianfrocca known his way around a number of subjects and when the three of them lock into a good conversational vibe, there are few places the show won’t go. That, by the way, is a good thing. Too many podcasters forget that a meander through a topical tangent can make for some very informative and entertaining radio. When smart and entertaining people get into a groove on a subject, even if it’s not the one on which the show started, it’s always a good idea to let it go for a bit. Domenech and his fellow hosts work together well and know the difference between a good tangent and one that will end in tears and awkward silence.
Let me also mention the other two show hosts. Coffee and Markets has two “teams” of hosts. Domenech and Jackson handle most of the shows, either with Cianfrocca or with a special newsworthy guest. The remainder of the shows are manned by Pejman Yousefzadeh and Kevin Holtsberry. The author interview is their usual “beat” on the show, which in many ways is a more difficult job. It’s not easy to read a book well enough to talk about it intelligently with the author (a truth recently illustrated by Piers Morgan, who bumbled his way through an interview with Jonah Goldberg), but Yousefzadeh and Holtsberry do not stumble and always leave me more interested about their interview subject when they’re done. That takes talent and hard work.
Come to think of it, “talent and hard work” pretty much describes all of Coffee and Markets. It is a strong show that would do well on a terrestrial radio network. It would not surprise me at all if that happened before the end of the year. If it does, remember that you read it here, though. Okay?
Category: The Podcast Profiles