“Friends & Neighbors” began as a podcast in 2020, inspired by the wisdom of Fred Rogers, seeking to cultivate depth and simplicity in complex lives. Initial episodes explored guests’ personal insights and approaches to building community, managing possessions, and finding reflection. As COVID-19 raged and host Benjamin Wagner grappled with post-traumatic stress, conversations shifted towards mental health. Dialogues with authors, lawmakers, and advocates about trauma, authenticity, and healing illuminated the power of making the “mentionable manageable.” By creating a space for sharing stories and journeys, the podcast provides roadmaps for healing and strategies for healthier lives, embodying Rogers’ belief that “when we look for the helpers, we know there’s hope.”

A Radical Act


A Radical Act

When the high school I graduated from asked me to speak with students and parents, I decided to go for broke. I addressed the artificiality of contemporary Western culture. And I bookend the speech with a radical piece of audience participation. What happened next may surprise you.

Kelli Rae Powell (Encore)


Kelli Rae Powell (Encore)

As I fly to Des Moines to screen my new film, I revisit my interview with singer/songwriter, music therapist, trauma counselor, and “Friends & Neighbors” helper, Kelli Rae Powell, two years later.

Liane Su


Liane Su

She rehearsed with Pearl Jam, flew private with Korn, sparred with J Lo, and fled the out-of-control, nu-metal-fueled arson of Woodstock ‘99. We talk mic flags, mult boxes, and pd-150s; junkets, red carpets, and festivals; plus Chris, Kurt, and Tabitha. We dodge stereotypes in the studio with Raekwan, and rubber bullets at the RNC with Rage Against The Machine. Keep your hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the 605, this is Liane Su.

Jim Fraenkel


Jim Fraenkel

One-Time VP & EP of MTV News, and The All-Time King of VO, Jim Fraenkel, takes us from the driver’s seat of his Picasso Pizza delivery days and his stint at the legendary Geffen Record (where he was nearly cast in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video), to his nearly two-decade run at MTV News. We’ll travel with Jim from interviewing NSYNC in Orland, Florida, to covering Matthew Shepard’s murder in Laramie, Wyoming, and get lost in Harlem at 3am with a very-pregnant Sandra Bernhard. We’ll listen to R.E.M. rehearse, watch Kurt and Courtney cuddle, and feel all the feels at a private dinner with His Royal Badness.

Merle Ginsberg


Merle Ginsberg

Music and Fashion Writer and Editor turned Rupaul co-star, Merle Ginsburg, talks about sharing a scene with Laurie Anderson, Twyla Tharp, and Eric Bogosian, catching The Clash, Television, and Glenn Branca at Danceteria, Mudd Club, and The Ritz, and parlaying Downtown Avant-garde Art into Midtown Corporate Music Media Business at a then-nascent MTV.

Rhonda Markowitz


Rhonda Markowitz

This week, Legendary MTV News Senior Writer, Rhonda Markowitz, takes us on a wild, star-studded, forgotten New York ride from Bayside, Queens (alongside her childhood friend, a certain Loser’s mom, Bibbe Hansen) to her first concert (yup, The Beatles at Shea Stadium) to her stints at A&M and Polygram Records, and, eventually, the MTV newsroom. We’ll hear about befriending INXS’ Michael Hutchence, Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett, and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe; and tag along at the Concert for Bangladesh, MUSE’s “No Nukes” benefits, and Live AID. And Rhonda walks us step-by-step through her reportage of Kurt Cobain’s final days.

Darin Byrne


Darin Byrne

Onetime MTV News intern-turned-senior producer Darin Byrne takes us into the studio with Beyonce, on-tour with WuTang Clan, on-stage with Biohazard, backstage with Matchbox 20, and on-set at 1515 Broadway. He talks about sharing an office with Sway, the impact of digital video on the newsroom, and a certain 2002 quadruple-bill at CBGBs, MTV Newsapalooza.

Linda Corradina


Linda Corradina

This week, an MTV News Legend behind iconic shows like The Week In Rock, The Big Picture and House of Style, prosocial coverage like Choose or Lose, and fundamentals like the news cube, on-air graphics, and one-sheet, former Senior Vice President of MTV News & Specials, Linda Corradina. From the Rock & Wrestling Connection with Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou and shoots with Hall & Oates, R.E.M., The Replacements, and David Bowie, to the Moscow Music & Peace Festival to Kurt Loder’s audition, this is origin story stuff from a true original.

Kim Stolz


Kim Stolz

Correspondent Kim Stolz takes us on her unexpected journey from studying foreign policy to becoming a contestant on America’s Top Model and, eventually, landing her gig at MTV News. She talks about spending a day on-camera with a very young Taylor Swift, making trouble with Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson at the height of their “Twilight” heyday, and sitting down with Rihanna, Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, and her lifelong, dream interview, Stevie Nicks.

Matt Anderson


Matt Anderson

In the ’90s and early aughts, Matt Anderson parlayed an MTV News internship into a role as Supervising Producer, and eventually, Executive Producer of Series & Development. This week, Matt talks about producing Week in Rock & House of Style, meeting Madonna and Whitney, shopping with Cindy and Sheryl, and what it was like on set when Tabitha Soren famously went toe-to-toe with Mariah’s publicist.

SuChin Pak


SuChin Pak

As an MTV News Correspondent from 2001- 2010, SuChin Pak interviewed everyone from Mariah Carey to Mary J. Blige, helmed daily news on TRL and ten to the hour, hosted Video Music and Movie Award Pre-Shows, and her docuseries, My Life (Translated). This week, SuChin shares her journey from an immigrant, born-again Baptist household in Union City, California to anchoring the VMAs alongside Kurt and Sway, covering 9/11, and interviewing her hero, ​​Gwen Stefani.

Shari Scorca


Shari Scorca

Onetime Supervising Producer and West Coast Bureau Lead Shari Scorca remembers going on tour with 50 Cent; speeding through Yonkers with Jadakiss; and catching an impromptu, unplugged performance from Thom Yorke and David Crosby. She talks about covering the Michael Jackson trial with John Norris and floor producing the VMAs with Kurt Loder, plus backstage moments with Madonna, Bono, Dave Grohl, and more.

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