‘The Interview,’ a ‘Full-Course Dinner’ With the World’s Most Interesting People


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For years, David Marchese’s Talk column was one of the most popular features in The New York Times Magazine.

So why retire it?

“It at first didn’t make sense to me, either,” said Mr. Marchese with a laugh. He has written Talk, in-depth conversations with some of the world’s most fascinating people, since 2019.

But podcasts, as opposed to a print column, would give Mr. Marchese more breathing room to share fuller, extended exchanges with listeners. The Times was developing one with Lulu Garcia-Navarro, an audio journalist who joined The Times in 2021 to host “First Person,” an interview show for the Opinion section. The idea was for the two of them to align their skills for probing, conversational interviews on one program.

“The thought was, ‘How can we do this thing that’s working at an even bigger and better scale and with more frequency?” Mr. Marchese said.

The new podcast, called “The Interview,” will appear every week, with the journalists alternating as hosts. For the first two episodes, which were released on Saturday, Mr. Marchese spoke with Anne Hathaway, and Ms. Garcia-Navarro with Israel’s opposition leader, Yair Lapid. (The conversations will also be published as text interviews online, and regularly in The Magazine, for those who prefer reading to listening.)

“I wanted to show the range of the types of people that we interview,” said Ms. Garcia-Navarro, who previously worked as a foreign correspondent and then as NPR’s Jerusalem bureau chief, covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Arab Spring uprisings and the Libyan civil war.

In a recent video call, Mr. Marchese and Ms. Garcia-Navarro discussed the storytelling advantages of audio journalism, their vision for the new podcast and which celebrities are on their interview wish list.

Like David did in his Talk column, you will both conduct two separate conversations with each person you interview. Why?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO What I always experienced as a broadcaster was this feeling after I left the interview, like, “I should’ve asked these other questions.” It’s such a joy to have the opportunity for a second call. With this one that I just did with Yair Lapid, thank God there was a second conversation, because it was integral to the whole experience.

David, this is your first foray into podcasting, right?

DAVID MARCHESE Yes, other than briefly being interviewed myself a couple of times.

Lulu, did you have any tips for him — about, for instance, finding his podcast voice?

GARCIA-NAVARRO David has a natural podcast voice — it’s rare, but it happens! He has an affable, engaging sound and naturally speaks in the way an audio interviewer would speak.

MARCHESE That’s so nice to say! I found working with her slightly intimidating in the sense that, when we would record things together, it was like, “Holy moly, this person is so good at making this stuff sound good.” I’m used to being very autonomous and off on an island, so I definitely picked up some things listening to Lulu and watching how she works, how she collaborates with the team.

GARCIA-NAVARRO And vice versa. I’ve been looking at his interviews and figuring out how to do this.

David, you have a famously rigorous and thorough preparation process. Do you prepare differently for an audio interview as opposed to print?

MARCHESE I might pay slightly closer attention to the specific wording of questions, with the understanding that, in audio, you don’t have the ability to edit for clarity quite so easily. But the process is not that different from what I was doing before.

How much time do you ask for?

MARCHESE I typically ask for 90 minutes for a first interview and then 30 minutes for a follow-up.

Do you ever get pushback from people who say that’s too long?

GARCIA-NAVARRO One of the things I often tell guests and their publicists is that the idea is to hear from influential and powerful people in their own words. We need time to be able to give nuance. I try to explain that this isn’t time that’s being taken away from you; it’s time that’s being given. If you can think about it that way, you’ll have a way better experience.

MARCHESE When you’re talking to somebody for a longer period of time, it’s harder for the subject to maintain a facade. If you’re talking to somebody for 90 minutes, probably by about 45 minutes in, they’re going to be closer to the normal human version of themselves than they were at Minute 5. Having that time to get to that place goes a long way.

What are you looking forward to?

MARCHESE I’m most excited for listeners to have the same experience I have in talking to a subject. In audio, you can hear inflections, changes in tone, when someone laughs as opposed to reading a parenthetical. In a lot of ways, it’s a richer audience experience.

GARCIA-NAVARRO I used to interview powerful people and celebrities, but it was in a much shorter format, more like an appetizer or a dessert than a full meal. And so what’s exciting about this is making a full-course dinner out of talking to subjects who are some of the most compelling people on the planet, of being able to sit down and dig in in a way they’re often not used to.

Who is on your guest wish list?

MARCHESE Bob Dylan. He’s my favorite musician, so I’d really like to talk to him. The Dalai Lama — that’s never going to happen. And Oprah, that would be awesome.

GARCIA-NAVARRO Taylor Swift, though she would never give as much time as something like this requires.



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