Conversations with Allan Wolper

Gregory Pardlo
Vaughan Fielder for WBGO

The Poetry Foundation calls Gregory Pardlo, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, “a different kind of Derek Jeter.” Pardlo is the second African American male poet to win the Pulitzer and the sixth African American poet overall to capture the highly coveted honor.

Pulitzer judges praise Pardlo’s prize winning book, “Digest” as literature that is “rich with thought and ideas” and provides readers with a clear vision of the 21st Century. Pardlo’s prose also debunks the theory that African American fathers are disinterested parents.

Roger Sherman: In Search of Israeli Cuisine

Aug 5, 2017
Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman for WBGO

Roger Sherman has produced a documentary that makes an extraordinary journey through Israeli kitchens, restaurants and vineyards. The movie, In Search of Israeli Cuisine, explores the ancient and modern farming and cooking techniques created by the polyglot of people who migrated to Israel or never left.  The film opened March 24th at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York and in theaters around the country.

Sherman says he found a wealth of tasty treasures in Israel:

Sam Schwartz
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Sam Schwartz is known worldwide as Gridlock Sam, a nickname the media gave him for his role in drawing up ways to navigate the congested corners of New York City. He designed the traffic patterns around the Barclay Center in Brooklyn the streets around The World Trade Center, and engineered traffic circles in Aruba.

Schwartz started his life in traffic as a cab driver in Brooklyn, dodging the other yellow cabs before landing a job in city government, eventually becoming New York City’s traffic commissioner.

Choclatt Jared
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Choclatt Jared and his band have played their bucket drums on The Grammy Awards, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Late Show with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live — and in movies with Mel Gibson and Sharon Stone. Later this year he will appear in the movie Breaking Brooklyn, with Lou Gossett, Jr.

Kejal Vyas: Crime and Political Unrest in Venezuela

Jul 14, 2017
Kejal Vyas
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Kejal Vyas is the regional correspondent in South America for The Wall Street Journal, stationed in Bogota, after spending five years in Caracas, considered the most violent city in the world.

Vyas worked in a place where people drove through stop lights to avoid being held up and where residents are urged to stay shuttered in their homes after seven at night, even in the most upscale of neighborhoods.

Dr. Vanessa Neumann
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Dr. Vanessa Neumann has won an international reputation for tracking the movement of terrorists and drug dealers, from Colombia to Southeast Asia. In December, St. Martin’s Press will publish her new investigative book, titled, “Blood Profits: How American Consumers Unwittingly Fund Terrorists.”

Born in the cauldron of Venezuela, South America, she has roamed the world seeking information and sources for the US State Department, the Pentagon, the United Nations, Interpol and numerous Fortune 500 companies.

Judge Pratt
Judge Pratt for WBGO

Victoria F. Pratt, the first judge of Dominican ancestry to become a municipal judge in Newark, New Jersey, has won an international following for her campaign to reform the city’s criminal justice system.

The chief municipal judge presides over a cutting edge program called Community Solutions that offers defendants in minor criminal cases a chance to avoid jail time by obeying specific rules of behavior.

A top New York City judicial official has called her a warrior to improve criminal justice. Why did she want to go to law school?

Steve Seskin
Allan Wolper for WBGO

“Don’t Laugh At Me"

“Don’t Call Me Names"

“Don’t Get Your Pleasure from my pain"

“In God’s eyes we’re all the same"

Grammy award nominee Steve Seskin co-wrote the anti-bullying anthem, Don’t Laugh at Me, with his friend, Allen Shamblin, a song that was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. It inspired the creation of Operation Respect, a foundation that encourages children to get along with each other.

Lacey Schwartz
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Lacey Schwartz is a woman whose personal and professional journey of race and religion has won attention across the country. She grew up white and Jewish in predominantly white, Woodstock, New York only to learn after entering Georgetown University that her biological father was Rodney Parker, an African-American friend of her mother.

Parker, a legendary New York City college basketball scout was featured in a bestselling basketball book, Heaven is a Playground, by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander.

Kathleen Jordan
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Kathleen Jordan, a Los Angeles television writer and producer, completed the unfinished memoir of her late father, Hamilton Jordan, who died of brain cancer . He was the chief of staff of former President Jimmy Carter.

She reads an excerpt from the manuscript in which her father, who was brought up a Baptist in the segregated south was stunned to learn at his grandmother’s funeral that she was Jewish, making him Jewish as well.

Willie Reale
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Willie Reale is the Co-Executive producer of Billions, the Showtime hit series on Wall Street chicanery, and the former supervising producer of Blue Bloods, the CBS cops drama. He won an Academy Award nomination for writing the lyrics to the movie, Dream Girls.

Reale’s 52nd Street Project that created theater projects for inner city children won him a MacArthur Fellowship.

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai
Allan Wolper for WBGO

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received a United States Copyright in 1982 crediting him with being The Inventor of EMAIL, a title he earned as a 14-year-old research scholar at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey.

He said he received a copyright certificate on August 30, 1982 , rather than a patent, because patents were not awarded to software discoveries at the time.

Wil Haygood: Racism and The Academy Awards

Feb 23, 2017
Wil Haygood
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Author Wil Haygood believes that Hollywood is finally becoming emancipated.

Haygood had accused the Academy Awards in 2014 of being “culturally  biased” against African American actors and filmmakers when it declined to give a single nomination to the critically praised ,The Butler, the story based on the life of Eugene Allen, a black butler in the White House who served eight presidents.

Michael Connelly
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Bestselling mystery writer Michael Connelly has brought back his iconic, idealistic, acerbic, jazz loving, Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch back for a third season on Amazon Prime. Bosch, who Connelly named after 15th century artist Hieronymus Bosch, is a is a binger’s delight.

Martin Garbus: A Fierce Fighter for Free Speech

Nov 23, 2015
Martin Garbus
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Martin Garbus, a winner of the PEN First Amendment Award of honor, is one of the country's fiercest fighters for free speech. Garbus also received the James Joyce Award from the University of Dublin for Excellence in Law and the New York University Law Alumni Achievement Award.

Garbus' boldface clients included Robert Redford, Nelson Mandela, Tom Brokaw, Spike Lee, Michael Bloomberg and the neo Nazis. He is writing a memoir of the Cuban Five, a case he calls the worst in American Legal history.

Frank Casey
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Frank Casey was the first investment analyst to blow the whistle on financier Bernard Madoff’s incredible Ponzi scheme that looted more than $65 billion from people around the globe. “This is a story that still has legs,” says Casey, now an analyst at Race Rock Capital in Boston.

Kim Ann Curtin
Kim Ann Curtin for WBGO

Kim Ann Curtin, dubbed the Wall Street Coach by New York media, wants to find the good guys working in the financial district and hope they will create an ethical movement their colleagues would follow.

“We know who the bad guys are,” Curtin says in a Conversation with Allan Wolper interview. “But we don’t who the good guys are.”

Dr. Margaret Haney
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Dr. Margaret Haney, an expert on the impact that marijuana usage has on the brain of teenagers, utilizes human volunteers to conduct her research. She is a professor of Neurobiology in Psychiatry and co-director of the Substance Abuse Research Center at The Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Haney is also concerned that the country’s intense debate on the medical benefits of marijuana.

Julio Medina: From Dealing Drugs To Saving Lives

Oct 13, 2014
Julio Medina
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Julio Medina spent 12 years in prison after he was convicted of running a major New York drug ring. But he turned his life around in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York, one of the most violent institutions in America.

In Sing Sing, he found a way out. He earned a BA degree from the State University of Albany and a Masters of Divinity Degree from the New York Theological Seminary. And when he was finally released, Medina was ready to leave his drug dealing days behind him. Which he did, in a remarkable way.

Gretchen Morgenson
The New York Times

Gretchen Morgenson, an assistant business and financial editor of The New York Times, doesn’t party with the people in the financial world she writes about.

Matthew Bogdanos
Manhattan District Attorney's Office

Matthew Bogdanos, an assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and a Marine Reserve Colonel, has long been angry at the looting of antiquities from museums in the Middle East by terrorists.

He points out that the money the terrorists received from selling the artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq during the war there was used to purchase weapons that were used against American soldiers. “The trade in illegal antiquities funded the insurgency in Iraq,” he said in an interview seven years ago in Conversations with Allan Wolper.