Jesse Thorn has been hosting The Sound of Young America in some form or another since 2000. Thorn's day job, TSOYA involves talking with people from every corner of culture in a studio in his Los Angeles home. His dozens of interviews strike a warm tone that's informative in a public radio way but with a humor and winking irony that you don't get from more staid shows. He doesn't necessarily ask the obvious: a recent show with Elijah Wood began with a question about the odor of Wood's hometown, and featured a segment on Wood's record label.
One of Thorn's varied other projects is Put This On, a Web video series on men's clothing and style that Thorn puts together with Adam Lisagor. Both appear in the videos. Web resources on this topic--you may have noticed, dear reader--are not uncommon. But the Put This On team's stuff stands out because of the scale of their work, their professionalism, and their ability to remain enthusiastic without being too "inside." A recent tweet from Put This On's feed: "Tomorrow is patchwork tweed day. Living the dream."
After I met Mr. Thorn at a TSOYA event at the Science Club in DC, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the shows and style.
Pete: Your radio show, the Sound of Young America, began 10 years ago (I’ve been listening for a couple years, but checked the Wikipedia page). When you started, how ambitious were you? You’ve now interviewed over 150 of the world’s finest comedians, artists, musicians, etc., and have a recurring video series on the virtues of dressing well. For reference, 10 years ago I was passed out on a moldy couch in a frat house and hoped that by 2010 I might have a new couch.
Jesse Thorn: My focus was always to do a good job. That simple, pretty much. Everything else came out of that. I'm very hard on myself, and I hate doing a bad job of anything. The good side of that is that if I can actually get myself to do something, I will work really hard until it's as good as I can make it.
Sadly, I still have the same couch.
More from Jesse below...