I’ve been on the radio since 1996, when I co-hosted The Marty & Avrum Restaurant & Food Show with Marty Galin. I loved our quirky gig, but always wanted to interview people, especially regular folks, in more depth than we did. I wanted to understand what really motivates people. I was curious about how they constructed their inner lives and their external worlds; how they scaled their walls and how they appreciated the meadows.
Six months ago, I launched my podcast, Hatradio!, to do exactly that – to create an inspirational show that would allow me to schmooze with guests, whether they were plumbers or world-class writers, about their capacity for love, or how they dealt with disappointment.
Hatradio!, which I named after a fedora that was sitting on my table (since I started the podcast, people have speculated on the meaning of the name), goes on for about an hour and a half. This gives me the chance to unravel the complexities of my guests’ lives. We will not speak lashon hara (gossip) about people, as the mainstream media covers that well.
Some of my guests have included: Eli Rubenstein; 106-year-old Kitty (Leah) Cohen; Steve Paikin; community leaders Karen Goldenberg and Bernie Farber; Sadie Domb, my son’s bar mitzvah teacher; David Rheaume, Canada’s Norman Rockwell; Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of the BAYT shul; former world squash champion Clive Caldwell; musician Lynda Kraar; Gabrielle Klein, a physician to a haredi community in Israel; and my buddy, Marty Galin.
My first guest was Lou Berkovitz, who shared many intimate details about the love he and his soulmate, Renee Roth, had for over a decade. He talked about losing her. The show was appropriate called “Having and losing a soulmate.” It was a befitting genesis to Hatradio!, as Lou showed emotional guts and was willing to speak intimately about some of the times he spent with Renee. At one point, he quietly conveyed the moment he leaned Renee up against the fridge and said “I love you” for the first time. It was breathtaking.
Renee was my friend, so it was as if Lou and I were sitting in front of his fireplace, schmoozing about days gone by, about his depth of mourning and his struggle to overcome his sadness and loneliness. I felt it was a worthy show to launch Hatradio!, as Lou reminded listeners about the inimitable spirit of humankind.
When people listened to Cantor Aaron Bensoussan sing his own compositions with passion and verve on Hatradio!, I wanted them to join him, to recognize the sensitive nature of this man and his poetically challenging journey to synthesize Sephardic and Ashkenazic liturgy. Within Aaron’s life lies the lesson of perseverance. Through Hatradio!, I hoped the audience would emulate his drive to maximize life.
“Aha” moments are a big deal for me on the show. As an example, I asked my guest, Nate Leipciger, if he saw kindness in Auschwitz. “Avrum, kindness was everywhere,” he responded. I was blown away by his answer. “Everywhere” – I had never heard it put that way before. “Imagine,” I thought, “kindness was even ubiquitous in hell.” I wanted others to grasp this thought and recognize the goodness inside of us, an appreciation that is paramount today, when neo-Nazis are marching in our streets.
Hatradio! is a podcast with a mission – to encourage people to be critical in their thinking, to bring hope and positivity to our existence, to feel empathy and joy and be inspired to believe that we can fix the world. Hatradio! is the show that schmoozes.