Why a podcast? Work Stew is a place for people to share their thoughts and stories about their working lives. Essays are one way to do that, and in-depth interviews are another. The hope is to build, over time, a rich collection of distinctive voices, captured in both the written word and the spoken word.
Suggestions? New episodes of the Work Stew podcast are released every two weeks. To suggest an interview subject for a future episode, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the archives…
Episode 91: Bethany Allen
A writer talks to me about work in the broadest sense of the word: the work of being a parent, the work of making a living, and the work of shaping the world in which we live.
Episode 90: Jonathan Crow
A artist explains why he has drawn every U.S. vice president with an octopus on his head–and who he wants to draw next.
Episode 89: Margaret Corvid
A professional dominatrix explains what her work involves, how she got started, and why she’s stayed at it.
Episode 88: Caitlin Doughty
A mortician talks about the thing that is least understood about her work–and it’s not the fact that people transporting bodies are NOT allowed to drive in the carpool lane.
Episode 87: Joe Loya
A former bank robber describes how he came to do what he did–and what’s changed since then.
Episode 86: Karen Lynch
A retired homicide detective on what drew her to the job, what surprised her most–and a little bit about Ferguson.
Episode 85: Leah Lax
A writer whose work finding her own voice involved a 30-year stretch in the Hassidic community, where she had seven children in ten years. A lesbian, she now lives with her partner in Texas.
Episode 84: Beatrice Hogg
A former government employee who wanted to share her story to show people that “being over fifty and long-term unemployed isn’t the end of the world.”
Episode 83: Athena Lark
A writer describes her career path which began with the choice her mother gave her at age 17: Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines?
Episode 82: Amy Hale Auker
An author explains why she ‘cowboys’ for a living.
Episode 81: Jobe Bittman
A game designer gives a glimpse into his world, which is filled with elves, Orks, and monsters—and a fair number of 2:30 am wake-up calls.
Episode 80: Jane Hodges
A writer describes how she chose to make a radical change after she came across “a pile of grief, followed by a pile of cash.”
Episode 79: Wilfred Martis
An entrepreneur on how he’s building a business around his life-long love of cars.
Episode 78: Indira Nair
A KL-based communications consultant (who is also a former employee of Malaysia Airlines) shares her thoughts on the handling of Flight 370’s disappearance.
Episode 77: Antonia Crane
The author of a memoir about life as a sex worker explains what appealed to her about the sex industry and what she would advise a young girl considering following in her footsteps.
Episode 76: Eric Weinstock
A lawyer who turned to dentistry and then to screenwriting explains how his path to date has unfolded—and it all makes perfect sense!
Episode 75: Tim Pratt
A former financial advisor to NFL players explains how he got the job and what it was like.
Episode 74: Michelle Bowman
Save the Children’s new Director of Strategy weighs in on (among other things) whether an MBA was worth it.
Episode 73: Tess Poe
Beehive Sewing Studio’s founder explains how she came to create a space for people who make things.
Episode 72: Dr. Jonathan Finks
A surgeon working to attract Detroit’s best and brightest to a career in medicine describes his own path and the program he founded, Doctors of Tomorrow.
Episode 71: Jessica Gelman
And now for something completely different: a woman who went from professional basketball to Harvard Business School to the New England Patriots.
Episode 70: Former Corrections Officer
Now that she’s moved on to a new job, a former corrections officer reflects on how her 2.5 year stint at a correctional facility compared to what she was expecting.
Episode 69: Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller
The co-founders of the Buy Nothing Project describe why they’re spending so much time focused on the development of hyper-local gift economies.
Episode 68: Ali Ganjavian
An architect by training describes why he works with a muti-disciplinary team to solve design problems—and how they arrived at the Ostrich Pillow.
Episode 67: Gordon Hempton
America’s “guru of quiet” describes how he came to record sound for a living—and why it’s important to save silence.
Episode 66: Tom Lynch
A locksmith encourages entrepreneurial puzzle solvers to follow in his footsteps.
Episode 65: Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
A forensic pathologist and her writer husband discuss their book chronicling two years, three disasters, 247 autopsies, and a new baby.
Episode 64: Chris
A job seeker with a B.A., ten years of work experience, and a Master’s degree on his 18-month-long search for work.
Episode 63: Jennifer DeVore
A cellist explains how her path has unfolded and what it takes to make it as a freelance musician in New York.
Episode 62: Justine Musk
A novelist describes how she became a writer, what constitutes the genre of “urban fantasy,” and how she is using Pinterest to plan her next book.
Episode 61: Joel Simkhai
The founder and CEO of Grindr, an award-winning app that helps gay men to connect with one another, explains how he found his way through various industries and roles to the work he does now.
Episode 60: Lailah Morid
A dating industry entrepreneur, who is currently working multiple jobs, discusses her plans to eventually make a living by helping people to find the relationships they want.
Episode 59: Randy Austin
An environmental consultant describes his job, which sounds like a good choice for people who are just as conservation-minded as Ruben Ramirez, but considerably less enthusiastic about chasing big snakes.
Episode 58: Ruben Ramirez
A python hunter describes how he got into catching “herps.” He also explains the best way to approach a 130-pound python that you’re aiming to wrestle into a pet carrier. Yes, “carefully” is in fact the answer.
Episode 57: Carolyn Edgar
A corporate lawyer reflects on how she’s juggled a challenging job as a Fortune 500 VP, a lifelong passion for writing, and life as a single mom.
Episode 56: Bob Baxter
The longtime editor of Skin & Ink magazine describes what it takes to become a tattoo artist. Bottom line: “You’ve got to know what you’re doing…you can’t just experiment on your kid sister in the garage.”
Episode 55: Oliver Burkeman
A psychology writer discusses the upside of negativity. If you’ve ever been bummed out by a motivational speaker, you’ll be interested in Burkeman’s new book, ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.’
Episode 54: Jed Selter
A globe-trotting clown explains what brought him to clowning. He also introduced me to my new favorite collective noun, a giggle. As in: “Check out that giggle of clowns coming towards us.”
Episode 53: Michelle Paster
A filmmaker who chronicled the lives of three twenty-somethings trying to establish careers talks about her work. We also discussed her most recent project: 365 dates in a single year.
Episode 52: Laura McKenzie
A midlife law student explains why she embarked on law school at age 40, after earning several degrees in religion and spending 10+ years as a stay-at-home mom.
Episode 51: Mich Kemeter
A daredevil who convinces me not to call him that. It turns out he’s not the least bit reckless—he just know what he’s doing in a way that most of us never will.
Episode 50: Richard Fann and Teresa Edwards
Two election judges, one a 20-year veteran of the polls and the other a first-timer, explain what they do…and why.
Episode 49: Rhyne Armstrong
A technical documentation expert reminisces about the gig he once had writing scripts for haunted houses.
Episode 48: Lindsay Moran
A former CIA spy does a reality check on the TV show ‘Homeland’—what rings true, what doesn’t, and the scene that made her tear up.
Episode 47: Kristin Beckstrom Radcliffe
A social worker talks about her recent decision to launch her own practice and, more generally, the viability of making a living by doing good.
Episode 46: David Plotz
The editor of Slate traces his career decisions starting with his first job, which he describes as “soul crushing.”
Episode 45: Tammy Dunakin
A paramedic-turned-goat wrangler explains how she made such a radical career change.
Episode 44: Jonathan Morin
A Cirque du Soleil performer whose work revolves around revolving—in ever more artful and interesting ways.
Episode 43: C. Hope Clark
A writer who managed to convert the darkest days of her time as a government employee into page-turning fiction.
Episode 42: Susan Wloszczyna
A film writer who has interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith explains that her job isn’t really about talking to celebrities.
Episode 41: Evelyn Ch’ien
A professor who got tenure and then walked away from it reflects on life in academia and alternate paths for researchers.
Episode 40: Christine O’Connor
A New York firefighter—one of only 28 women in a workforce of 10,000—describes what it takes to make it as one of the guys.
Episode 39: Hayes Slade
An architect describes her circuitous path to the Barbie store in Shanghai and other high-profile projects.
Episode 38: Hilary Price
A syndicated cartoonist explains what it takes to be funny seven days a week, for more than sixteen years.
Episode 37: Robert Conroy
A bomb squad technician assures me that what he does is really pretty safe.
Episode 36: Gerald and Susan Wong
A husband-and wife team who make their living as long-haul truckers describe their life on the road.
A licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbologist who began her career in TV production, approached Chinese medicine as a skeptic…and now has a thriving practice focused on women’s health.
Episode 34: Lindsay Moran and Jeff Wenker
A former CIA spy and a former PR exec discuss their mid-career forays into teaching. For anyone who liked the banker-turned-teacher interview but felt that it needed at least one Dick Hertz joke, this is for you.
Episode 33: Lisa Weisberg
A lice removal expert on how she got into the business of “nit picking,” why she finds it so satisfying, and—in case you’re tempted to become a franchisee—what it takes to become a delousing pro.
Episode 32: Chris Soldevilla
An actor, who has worked in various roles and as a teacher for more than 20 years, talks about “playing” for a living—and what he advises students aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
Episode 31: Jennifer McDonald
An OBGYN talks about why she does the work she does, the 100-hour weeks she logs on a regular basis, and what it was like to tend to pregnant women, day in and day out, even as she herself was struggling with the pain of infertility.
Episode 30: Amy Gutman
Writer and lawyer Amy Gutman has already had at least four distinct careers. In this interview, she talks about her path to date, the next chapter, and Plan B Nation, the new blog where she’s thinking it all through.
Episode 29: Santa Claus
His duties complete, Santa tells all: how he landed the job, how much it pays, and—mandatory ‘ho ho ho’s aside—whether it’s any fun.
Episode 28: Gabrielle Burton
An independent filmmaker describes how she found her life’s work—and how she came to form a production company with her sisters. All four of them.
Episode 27: Karen Jacobsen
The voice in my GPS describes how she got there and what she’s doing now. Turns out she’s not a robot; she’s a real, live person–and an accomplished singer and songwriter.
Episode 26: Lisa Grey
An entrepreneur explains how her new venture—an organization devoted to healthy cooking—was inspired by her own experiences as a breast cancer survivor.
Episode 25: Ashley Cozine
What is it like to attend funerals almost every single day? What is it like to have death at the very center of your life’s work? A third-generation funeral director was surprisingly cheerful—and not the least bit creepy!—as he answered these questions and more.
Episode 24: Carolyn Nash
A memoir writer discussed the difficulties of telling one’s own story and the even greater challenges of being a foster parent. Nash says of fostering: it was a lot of “hard, hard work, but it was never a job.”
Episode 23: Nancy Gohring
The founder of City Fruit explains how she found her way, in this same crazy world that we all inhabit, to such eminently sensible work: coordinating the harvest of thousands of pounds of fruit from Seattle’s backyards—fruit that would otherwise rot but instead gets donated to food banks and soup kitchens.
Episode 22: Mimi Lee
A cancer diagnosis caused physician Mimi Lee to completely re-think her work life: over the past year, she’s put her successful medical career on hold to pursue her abiding passion for music.
Episode 21: Scott Urner
A writer of closed captioning for adult films explains how he got into such an unusual line of work and how he feels about it. One listener commented, “See, there ARE jobs for English majors!”
Episode 20: Sarah Demers
A particle physicist who teaches at Yale and conducts research at CERN told me what she loves about her work, what the challenges are, and how it feels to be focused on topics (tau neutrinos, for example) that most of the world knows nothing about.
Episode 19: Tom Melancon
A certified mediator explains why he loves getting involved with other people’s disputes. He also addresses the future of mediation as a profession.
Episode 18: Nick Malis
A comedy writer discusses his career path: how he interned for Howard Stern, wrote jokes for Joan Rivers, scripted some porn, and single-handedly launched the online sensation that is Cute Things Falling Asleep before landing his current job on Comedy Central’s hit show Tosh.0.
Episode 17: John Safkow
A long-time flight attendant who recently retired from the airline industry to become…a gorilla caretaker. Seriously. In fact, he looks after none other than Koko, whose renowned ability to communicate using American Sign Language has made her the world’s most famous gorilla.
Episode 16: Alethea Black
An author whose debut collection of short stories has just been published discusses her life as a writer: how she’s managed to make a living, when she began to think of herself as a writer, and how she feels about the hefty marketing responsibilities that, these days, go hand in hand with publication.
Episode 15: Anette Kreipke
A cook at one of the world’s best restaurants describes how hard she works, how little she earns—and how much she loves her new career path.
Episode 14: Jennifer Peters
A socially-conscious entrepreneur who left the non-profit world to start her own business—a venture focused on ethical sourcing, organic ingredients, and sustainable development.
Episode 13: David Schmidt
A high-rise window washer describes how he got into the business of dangling off skyscrapers, what he loves about the job, and why he continues to do it, even though he now owns a thriving bike business.
Episode 12: Dan Gerstein
A veteran political speechwriter and the founder of a ghostwriting business discusses the challenges of writing-for-hire and also weighs in on Anthony Weiner’s crisis response.
Episode 11: Nancy Slotnick
A professional dating coach who managed to turn her favorite activity—counseling people on their relationships—into a successful business.
Episode 1o: Erin Kane
A part-time podcast producer describes how her show got started and why she plans to hang on to her day job.
Episode 9: Bob Richards
An air traffic controller with more than two decades of experience at O’Hare tackles listener questions, including the inevitable: “Have you ever napped on the job?”
Episode 8: Jane Viau
A high school math teacher explains why she left her VP role at Merrill Lynch to work at a school in Harlem.
Episode 7: Mary Egan
Starbucks’ top strategist describes how she went from teaching middle school to a corner office.
Episode 6: Joe Hurd
A political appointee explains why he traded in a Silicon Valley career for a job with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Episode 5: Ben Wizner
An ACLU attorney recalls his NYC joyride with CIA abductee Khaled el-Masri and weighs in on the future of Guantanamo.
Episode 4: Gopi Kallayil
A yoga-teaching Google executive reveals his secrets for achieving a sense of peace in our frenzied, networked world.
Episode 3: Kayla Alpert
A Hollywood screenwriter who compares writing for film versus television by saying, “It’s like your children—whichever one’s not crying is your favorite.”
Episode 2: Mark Britton
A lawyer turned entrepreneur who says being hit with a class action lawsuit was actually a good thing.
Episode 1: Gretchen Peters
An intrepid investigative reporter explains how she went from a job on Rodeo Drive to a hut in Afghanistan.