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Pop Culture Podcast: The 2014 Essence Festival


Longtime | The Times-Picayune music writer Keith Spera has been at all 20 Essence Festivals. WWNO's Jason Saul hasn't been to any. Music and culture writer Alison Fensterstock is fascinated with the festival's underpromoted — yet somewhat revolutionary — history of stacking more than half its annual roster with female performers. And everyone wants to talk about Prince.

This is the pilot edition of a new joint effort by | The Times-Picayune and 89.9 WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio. Our critics and reporters will get together and chat, unrehearsed, about the art, music, movies, food, television, sports, social issues and more that fascinate us.

The New Orleans Pop Culture Podcast (what do you think of the name?) is recorded live and unrehearsed; sometimes it's just us sounding off, and sometimes we'll bring in special guests from the fields we cover in depth every day to share their own thoughts.

We'll talk New Orleans, and also chat about national and international items of interest. And we'll always be eager to hear your suggestions; email ( or to offer your ideas.

Our first conversation centers on the 20th annual Essence Festival, which kicks off Thursday, July 3. Hear about Keith's memories of two decades of the festival, Alison's unabashed love of Prince, how the festival has fine-tuned its booking to respond to an audience that's grown up with it and why you should bring a sweater.

Jason Saul served as WWNO's Director of Digital Services. In 2017 he took a position at BirdNote, in Seattle.