The Wavemaker Podcast — for the Insanely Curious

In-depth conversations with the most creative thinkers, respected leaders, and preeminent authors in a wide variety of fields including sports, the arts, business, history, politics, parenting, psychology and medicine. Subscribe for free on ITunes or Podbean

Rachel Held Evans: The Girl With A Magic Book
This is my conversation with Rachel Held Evans – RHE – from 2012, after the publication of her A Year of Biblical Womanhood, a provocative and entertaining account of her experiment living the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible. Evans died on May 4th, 2019 at the age of 37. Through her blog, books, and conferences, she built a large following challenging conservative evangelical thought on issues of women in church leadership, LGBTQ inclusion, and more. In our conversation, she opened up about the empowering example set by her parents, the driving question that shaped her reading of the Bible, what she learned from Jewish tradition, and her use of humor. #BecauseofRHE The Bible Belt meets The Borscht Belt.

Introducing the Feminist on Cellblock Y
This is the story, and backstory, of a workshop on feminism, led by men, for men, in an all-male prison. The Feminist on Cellblock Y is an immersive and memorable CNN documentary shot inside a California state prison. In this episode, we speak with the two inspired journalists behind the doc – CNN’s Emma Lacey-Bordeaux and Cocomotion Pictures founder Contessa Gayles. With a cameo from President Obama, who made news last week on the very subject at the heart of Cellblock Y.

Calling All Leaders Part 2: From Zero to Hero
What is your superpower? Is it writing, speaking, communicating with power? It could be if you listen to this conversation with Joseph Romm, author of How To Go Viral and Reach Millions: Top Persuasion Secrets from Social Media Superstars, Jesus, Shakespeare, Oprah, and Even Donald Trump. This episode is like a short master class. If you want to get the most out of it, I advise you start by listening to my October 29th episode, featuring one of the greatest speeches you’ll ever hear: Admiral William McRaven’s 2014 University of Texas Commencement Address. You’ve already done that? Now listen to Romm walk us through some of the highlights of McRaven’s speech – to point out what makes it so powerful and teach us techniques we can employ the next time we want to write or say something that matters.

How to Watch Super Bowl 53 Better Than Your Friends (feat. Terez Paylor)
@YahooSports Senior NFL Writer and Hall of Fame Voter Terez Paylor joins me in Atlanta for a Super Bowl seminar and Football 101 combined – making it the perfect prep for those across the football spectrum: from super-novices to those who follow the NFL all year – all in under 25 minutes. Paylor’s show on Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio & has been a destination for Chiefs fans.  Even though his Chiefs missed this Super Bowl by one drive, Paylor got over the heartbreak long enough to give us a primer on the Patriots v Rams.  His crystal clear guidance might make us the smartest people in the room this Sunday.

Yoka Verdoner & The Child Separations
Yoka Verdoner was separated from her parents when she was only 8 years old. Now 84, her life story is a window into the trauma that has been inflicted on so many migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border of the U.S. I spoke with Yoka over the summer, at the height of those separations, after she’d published a piece in The Guardian that was widely shared. Her story has urgency again, following last week’s news that the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy has led to the separation of many more children than we believed – perhaps thousands more. This is Yoka’s journey from her childhood in The Netherlands to the United States and the trauma that follows her to this day.

Charlottesville (feat. Prof. Henry Abraham)
A Charlottesville, VA jury today convicted a white supremacist of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer. He intentionally drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally for neo-Nazis and white nationalists. A week after that rally, in August 2017, I visited Charlottesville to speak with Henry Abraham. Abraham, now 97, spent his Jewish boyhood in Nazi Germany. He tells stories of anti-Semitism and how his mother made his survival and life in the United States possible. Armed with her optimism and his love of teaching, he became a scholar of the U.S. Constitution and an esteemed professor at the University of Virginia. We spoke about his life’s journey and the déjà vu he experienced during the rally. He has much to teach us.

Calling All Leaders (feat. Admiral William McRaven)
America is hungry for the voice of an honorable leader. So Wavemaker brings you the voice of Retired Admiral William McRaven, former Navy SEAL and Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. He was the architect of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. This episode features McRaven’s viral University of Texas commencement address: 10 memorable lessons from Navy SEAL training for those “who want to change the world” – aka the “Make Your Bed” speech. It’s 20 minutes of uninterrupted inspiration that parents can be proud to share with our children. My thanks to the Texas Exes, the University of Texas alumni association, for permission to post the speech.

The Environmental Voter Project (feat. Nathaniel Stinnett)
Environmentalists don’t vote. At least not nearly as much as the general population. They have a turnout problem. By Nathaniel Stinnett’s estimate, 10.1 million registered voters who consider climate change or the environment as one of their top two priorities, sat out the 2016 presidential election. An even larger number stayed home for the 2014 midterms. But for Stinnett, those big numbers mean a big opportunity. Right now, his Environmental Voter Project is targeting 2.4 million environmentalists in Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Pennsylvania – registered voters who are considered unlikely to vote. Stinnett employs an unusual messaging strategy to get them to the polls – which he explains in our conversation. If he succeeds, he believes no candidate will be able to get their name on a ballot without talking about the environment.

Jane Alexander: Live @ The Nantucket Book Festival
Jane Alexander’s illustrious acting career was launched in 1968 by her breakthrough performance in the Pulitzer Prize winning play (and later movie) The Great White Hope. She then took the political stage as Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, when the NEA was on the political right’s hit list. She and her husband had virtually all their money stolen by an accountant who did a convincing job acting like their friend. And now, after dozens of movies and TV shows, including Kramer vs. Kramer and All the President’s Men, and some one hundred plays, she puts the spotlight on the men and women leading the conservation battle in her book Wild Things, Wild Places. So much fascinating ground to cover in this conversation, which was recorded live at the 2018 Nantucket Book Festival, courtesy of @NCTV17. We begin with an angry outburst…

Punching Up (feat. Pete Dominick)
Standup comic Pete Dominick joins me to dissect Michelle Wolf’s routine at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Why now? Because this Sunday, May 27th, Wolf’s new series, The Break, debuts on Netflix. That’s just as good an excuse as any. Dominick, with Wolf as a launching point, helps make us all more astute observers of the art of comedy. Among the issues we discuss: using the P word, punching up versus punching down, and what it was like being in the room during Wolf’s speech. Pete also takes a swing at my tennis coach in Georgia, who didn’t like Wolf’s routine. I gave Coach Ross air time to swing back. Is that punching up or down? Warning: contains some explicit language.

Michelle Wolf: Raw
Here is Michelle Wolf’s entire performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Most people have only heard clips. Here is all of it – 19 minutes and roughly 50 jokes – unedited. This is the beginning of a broader mission on Wavemaker: exploring the deeper significance of comedy – from ancient Greece to the 2018 mid-term elections and beyond. What’s funny? Why? Can comedy enable Americans of divergent political perspectives to laugh – together? Should that even be its goal? Those are just a few of the questions I’ll be pursuing with future guests (one of whom you’ll get to sample at the end of this episode) from my perspective as both a journalist and the son of a standup comic. Warning: the language in this routine gets very explicit.

Boots on The Hill (feat. Jeremy Teigen)
There’s a new surge of military veterans running for Congress. And they’re split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Do veterans have a competitive edge over those who have not served in the military? Are they better equipped for the job? Can they help bridge the hyper-partisan divide? This Wavemaker episode begins looking for answers with Jeremy Teigen, veteran, professor, and author of the new book Why Veterans Run: Military Service in American Presidential Elections, 1789-2016.

Paper Ballots, Or Else… (feat. Barbara Simons)
Some people recognize potential threats to our democracy before others. My guest, Barbara Simons, is one of those people. 15 years ago, not long after the infamous “hanging chads” threw the Bush v Gore vote count into turmoil and computerized voting became the new rage, Simons, a computer scientist, and some of her colleagues, concluded that in order to protect the integrity of the vote count, we would have to move to paper ballots – everywhere. Simons became a co-founder of VerifiedVoting.Org, which is racing to inoculate America’s voting systems against hackers. In the beginning, Simons got nowhere. But she persisted. With 228 days until the mid-term elections, her voice and message need to be urgently spread. And for those of you who may not find your calling early in life, Simons will share her journey from college dropout to Ph.D.

Arming Teachers: A Good Guy With A Purple Heart Weighs In
Introducing former Army Sergeant Matt Martin, author of “I’ve Been Shot In Combat. And As A Veteran, I’m Telling You: Allowing Teachers To Be Armed Is An Asinine Idea.” Since writing it two weeks ago for his new hometown’s website,, Martin’s story has been viewed more than 2-million times on Facebook. “When I saw the news flash of another school shooting,” he said of the Parkland massacre, “I couldn’t help but think of the firefights I had been involved in and how these students and teachers just encountered their own version of Afghanistan.” Listen to Matt Martin share the insights he drew from those firefights in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and why he believes they’re so relevant as Americans assess how to move forward after Parkland, Florida.

“Show More Cleavage” – Stories from Sexual Harassment’s Front Lines
Introducing Saru Jayaraman. Millions of Americans caught a glimpse of her at this year’s Golden Globes, where she was Amy Poehler’s guest – recognized for her role in the battle against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Jayaraman, who was accepted to Harvard at the age of 16 and said no thanks, is the co-founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Her organization’s extensive research into the restaurant industry has documented pervasive sexual harassment. It often begins with managers insisting waitresses show more cleavage. As you’ll hear, it often does not end there. Saru’s solution? Listen on.


Michael Schulder: From a Researcher at ABC News; To a Writer at The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour on PBS; To my five years as a Writer for Peter Jennings at ABC World News Tonight; And 17 years as a Senior Executive Producer at CNN.


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