Get to know Talia Schlanger, new full-time host of World Cafe

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David Dye and Talia Schlanger | photo by Rich McKie for WXPN
David Dye and Talia Schlanger | photo by Rich McKie for WXPN

After 25 years as host of NPR’s World Cafe, David Dye revealed plans to step down from his role this past fall. Today it’s been announced, in an interview with Dan DeLuca of the Philadelphia Inquirer, that she will become permanent host of the show, beginning on Monday, April 3rd.

You’ve heard Talia on the air in the mix with David Dye on World Cafe since October; below, get to know her a little better with a lightning round video interview.

Talia picked out her five favorite World Cafe interviews so far, and told us a little bit about what made each of them great for her. Read and listen below!

Steve Jones

We did this one in person at NPR studios in NYC. It was a “pinch me” moment. I sat next to one of the founders of punk, and he answered my questions. His stories are incredible, and he’s this astounding combination of tough, tender and hilarious. I also loved how the piece turned out, especially thanks to the sound and music added by our Senior Producer Kimberly Junod.

Ian Brennan of Zomba Prison Project

Ian went to Malawi to make a record with inmates at a maximum security prison. These aren’t professional musicians, these are people who will never see the other side of the wall again. The way the prisoners sang their stories, the joy they’re able to find in the darkest moments, their repentance, grief and gratitude – it’s all there in the music. Ian told me when they were recording, there were hardened war journalists in the room who had seen everything and that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Not a dry eye in the WC studio either.

Regina Spektor

This was the first interview I did for World Cafe, and an immediate reminder of how lucky I am to have this job. I’ve loved Regina ever since reading the liner notes on her 2001 album 11:11 where she wrote “When you are listening to this little disk, try to think that you are in on a secret…” Her music has always made me feel that way. Regina recently became a mother, and I asked if she sings any old Russian lullabies to her son. Without hesitation, she launched right into one. It was a gift.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

As one of the founding members of glam rock band Semi-Precious Weapons Aaron Lee Tasjan is responsible for one of my favorite lines in rock and roll: “I can’t pay my rent, but I’m F*%ing gorgeous”. Now he’s a Nashville-based disco-meets-Bonanza Americana artist, who is still as edgy, open and poignant. His performance was stellar and he made me laugh a lot.

Michael Kiwanuka

Michael grew up in North London, his parents were refugees from Uganda and he told me that growing up he felt like he “toed the line of nowhere”. He didn’t know where he fit until he found himself in music. And don’t we all.

Dye will have continued role on World Cafe, but first — to celebrate his 25 years at the helm — two concerts will be held in his honor at World Cafe Live next month. On Friday, March 3rd, Ryan Adams and his band play alongside Sylvan Esso and the Ben Vaughn Quintet; on Saturday, March 4th, Josh Ritter plays with Rodney Crowell and West Philadelphia Orchestra. Tickets and more information on those shows can be found here.

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