Live Wire Radio

Last updated

Live Wire Radio
Live Wire Radio logo.png
GenreComedy, music, interview, variety
Running time1 hour
Country of originUnited States
Home station Oregon Public Broadcasting
Starring Luke Burbank
Created byKate Sokoloff and Robyn Tenenbaum
Executive producer(s)Laura Hadden
Edited byMelanie Sevcenko
Recording studio Alberta Rose Theatre
Portland, Oregon
Original release2004 – present
No. of episodes300+

Live Wire Radio is a radio variety show that was launched in 2004 in Portland, Oregon, United States.


Live Wire was initially hosted by Rob Sample, followed by Courtenay Hameister, with current hosting duties covered by Luke Burbank. [1] [2] Burbank has a podcast called Too Beautiful to Live and is an occasional guest-host on the nationally syndicated NPR quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! . [3]

Live Wire is built on various elements such as standup comedy, guest interviews, and musical performances. [4] [5] Its emphasis is on the quirky local character of Portland. [4] Each show is recorded in front of a live audience, every other week, which is then edited into material for two weekly shows. [6]


In February 2003, [7] Kate Sokoloff approached Robyn Tenenbaum with the idea for Live Wire, a younger, "hipper" version of Prairie Home Companion, [8] in a format similar to West Coast Live . [8] Tenenbaum had worked on rock concerts with Bill Graham Presents, [9] and for four years had helped produce West Coast Live for NPR in San Francisco. Sokoloff was producing local theatre. The two women started a production company called Moxiefish, and put together a demo of Live Wire in September 2003, which they shopped to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). About 150 people watched the first taping in March 2004 at the Hollywood Theatre, hosted by Rob Sample. The first broadcast was at 7 pm on Saturday, March 27, 2004, over the OPB network. [10]

At first, the show was produced monthly. By 2005, the taping was held primarily at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, with 350 to 500 in the audience. [8] [11] One show was taped at the Mission Theatre & Pub in October 2005. [9] The Gerding Theatre in the First Regiment Armory Annex was used for a summer show in 2013. [12]

Because of Sample's other commitments, head writer Courtenay Hameister replaced him as host after four shows. [5] [13] Hameister was working as an advertising copy writer, and she had helped to produce the sketch comedy show The State which aired on MTV in the early 1990s. [4] Live Wire consulted with Bill Oakley, known for his writing credits on the television shows The Simpsons and Portlandia . [4]

Live Wire started airing weekly in Autumn 2010, taping four shows in two live recording sessions every month except January and July at Portland's Alberta Rose Theatre. [6] [12] In March 2012 the show reached its 100th episode. [4]

In September 2013, Luke Burbank became the show's official host, after filling in as guest host after Hameister stepped down in March of that year. With his podcast audience and appearances on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! , producers hoped Burbank would bring Live Wire a higher national profile. Hameister stayed with the show as head writer. [2]

Broadcast coverage

Live Wire first aired on OPB in 2004. In early 2009 it was beginning to have a national audience. [5] The show uses Public Radio Exchange for delivery to markets outside of Oregon. [4] It airs on a delayed/recorded basis on six National Public Radio stations outside of Portland, including Spokane and Indianapolis, and seven volunteer-run community radio stations. [14] According to the Portland Monthly , by January 2014 it was carried by 40 US stations and one in England, with some 80,000 listeners each week. [6] It is also available as a podcast. [11] As of February 2014 the show's website listed only 14 stations on which it aired and explained that its airing in England was limited to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, an acute care facility. [14] In 2014, Live Wire was picked up by Public Radio International. [15]

Corporate sponsors

Major underwriters for the show include the Fully (ergonomic chairs and desks), Alaska Airlines, and Whole Foods Market. [16]


Notable guests on the show have included radio host Thom Hartmann, local politician David Bragdon, author Jonathan Raymond, [5] author David Shields, [2] author Katherine Dunn, writer David Carr, alt rocker Chris Ballew, [17] author Daniel Handler (known as Lemony Snicket), comic book artists Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, [18] sex advice columnist Dan Savage, and Michael Powell of Powell's Books. [11] In 2008 for Portland's Wordstock festival, Live Wire hosted cartoonist/author Lynda Barry, cartoonist Alison Bechdel, indie rockers the Long Winters from Seattle, singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, musician McKinley of the band Dirty Martini, writer and performance artist Sandra Tsing Loh, radio journalist/producer Jay Allison, author/actor John Hodgman, and poetry slam champion Anis Mojgani. [19] Other guests have included political satirist and radio show producer Lizz Winstead, journalist Tom Bissell, writer David Oliver Relin, Burgerville CEO Jeff Harvey, rock band the Moondoggies, singer/songwriter Bobby Bare Jr., actor Daniel Stern, puppeteer Michael Curry, cartoonist John Callahan, rock band the Dandy Warhols, singer/songwriter Storm Large, punk blues band Hillstomp, [12] and Peter Sagal host of the NPR and WBEZ Chicago news quiz Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Wait Wait... Dont Tell Me!</i> American news panel radio game show

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is an hour-long weekly news radio panel show produced by WBEZ and National Public Radio (NPR) in Chicago, Illinois. On the program, panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week's news. It is distributed by NPR in the United States, internationally on NPR Worldwide and on the Internet via podcast, and typically broadcast on weekends by member stations. The show averages about 6 million weekly listeners on air and via podcast.

Oregon Public Broadcasting PBS and NPR member networks in Oregon

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) is the primary television and radio public broadcasting network for most of the U.S. state of Oregon as well as southern Washington. OPB consists of five full-power television stations, dozens of VHF or UHF translators, and over 20 radio stations and frequencies. Broadcasts include local and regional programming as well as television programs from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and American Public Television (APT), and radio programs from National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI), American Public Media (APM), Public Radio Exchange (PRX), and the BBC World Service, among other distributors. Its headquarters and television studios are located in Portland.

Shanghai tunnels

The Old Portland Underground, better known locally as the Shanghai Tunnels, is a group of passages in Portland, Oregon, United States, mainly underneath the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood and connecting to the main business section. The tunnels connected the basements of many hotels and taverns to the waterfront of the Willamette River. They were originally built to move goods from the ships docked on the Willamette to the basement storage areas, allowing businesses to avoid streetcar and train traffic on the streets when delivering their goods.

Luke Burbank American radio host and podcaster (born 1976)

Luke Burbank is an American radio host and podcaster who hosts the Portland, Oregon-based syndicated variety show Live Wire Radio and the Seattle-based former radio program and current podcast Too Beautiful to Live. He was most recently co-host of "The Ross and Burbank Show" and host of "The Luke Burbank Show" on Seattle's KIRO-FM radio station. Burbank is also a correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning.

Rick Emerson, formerly known as Rick Taylor, is a radio personality most known for The Rick Emerson Show, which was broadcast from Portland, Oregon, in one form or another, from 1997 to 2012. Emerson also co-hosted Drive-By Radio as "Rick Taylor" in Salt Lake City. He hosted the public affairs television show Outlook Portland. And he co-authored the book Zombie Economics. On January 2, 2012, Emerson announced his retirement from the broadcasting industry.

Brian McFayden is an American television personality. He has worked as an MTV News anchor and an MTV VJ. He worked at KGW, the NBC affiliate station in Portland, Oregon, from December 2016 to October 2017.

Ari Shapiro American radio broadcaster

Ari Michael Shapiro is an American radio journalist. In September 2015, Shapiro became one of four rotating hosts on National Public Radio's flagship drive-time program All Things Considered. He previously served as White House correspondent and international correspondent based in London for NPR. Shapiro is married to former White House advisor Michael Gottlieb.

<i>Too Beautiful to Live</i>

Too Beautiful to Live is a podcast originating from Seattle, Washington and Bellingham, Washington, co-hosted by Luke Burbank, CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent, host of Live Wire Radio and frequent NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! panelist, and veteran radio producer and one time radio host Andrew Walsh. The podcast originated as a radio show on KIRO-FM which aired from January 7, 2008 to September 11, 2009. Upon its radio broadcast cancellation, it immediately transitioned to a podcast on September 14, 2009, and is still produced Monday through Friday.

Mike Russell (author)

Mike Russell is a writer and cartoonist who currently lives in Portland, Oregon. His best known work, Gossip girlCulturePulp appears regularly in The Oregonian. In addition to writing articles for the publication, his work has appeared nationally in a variety of mediums including: comic books, newspapers, posters, college lectures and magazines.

Welcome to That Whole Thing was a weekly podcast based in Portland, Oregon. It debuted in February 2013 and was hosted by Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts. New episodes were posted semi weekly.

Independent Publishing Resource Center

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is a resource center for zine creation, letterpress printing, book binding and printing, based in Portland, Oregon, United States. The center was founded in 1998 by Chloe Eudaly, owner of Reading Frenzy and Show & Tell Press, and Rebecca Gilbert, worker-owner at Stumptown Printers.

Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge

The Gypsy Restaurant and Velvet Lounge was a restaurant and nightclub established in 1947 and located along Northwest 21st Avenue in the Northwest District neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Popular with young adults, the restaurant was known for serving fishbowl alcoholic beverages, for its 1950s furnishings, and for hosting karaoke, trivia competitions and goldfish racing tournaments. The restaurant is said to have influenced local alcohol policies; noise complaints and signs of drunken behavior by patrons made the business a target for curfews and closure. Concept Entertainment owned the restaurant from 1992 until 2014, when it was closed unexpectedly.

Ron Funches American comedian

Ronald Kyle Funches is an American comedian, actor, voice actor, and writer. Born in California, Funches spent his early life in Chicago before relocating to Salem, Oregon, as a teenager. He began his comedy career in Portland, Oregon, at age 23. After moving to Los Angeles in 2012, he began appearing as a guest on several comedy series, including @midnight, Mulaney, and Kroll Show.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival

The Bridgetown Comedy Festival is a stand-up comedy festival located in the Hawthorne district of Portland, Oregon that took place every spring from 2008 to 2017, featuring standup comedy showcases, live podcasts, panel discussions and improv comedy. It was created in October 2007 by comedians Andy Wood and Matt Braunger and filmmaker Kimberly Brady.

Stumptown Comics Fest was a comic book convention, held annually in Portland, Oregon from 2004–2013. In the model of the Alternative Press Expo and the Small Press Expo, Stumptown was a forum for artists, writers and publishers of comic art in its various forms to expose the public to comics not typically accessible through normal commercial channels.

Movie Madness Video

Movie Madness Video is a video rental shop and museum of film history in Portland, Oregon's Sunnyside neighborhood, in the United States.

<i>Shrill</i> (TV series)

Shrill is an American comedy streaming television series, based on the book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, that premiered on March 15, 2019, on Hulu.

Cafe Nell

Cafe Nell is a restaurant in Portland, Oregon's Northwest District, United States. The restaurant was owned by Darren and Van Creely, as of 2014, and serves French cuisine.

Fullers Coffee Shop Diner in Portland, Oregon

Fuller's Coffee Shop is a diner serving standard American cuisine in Portland, Oregon's Pearl District, in the United States. Established in 1947, the restaurant has operated from its location in downtown Portland since 1960. It serves breakfast all day and has a cheeseburger with an unchanged recipe since the diner's establishment. Described as a greasy spoon, Fuller's has received a generally positive reception and appeared in an episode of the television series Grimm in 2017.


  1. Hudson, Genevieve "Courtenay Hameister Steps Down as Host of 'Live Wire!'", Portland Monthly Mag 3 April 2013, accessed on 20 January 2014
  2. 1 2 3 Turnquist, Kristi (September 6, 2013). "Seattle's Luke Burbank talks about hosting 'Live Wire' – and Portland's virtues". The Oregonian.
  3. Paynter, Susan, "NPR host proves what falls down can pop back up" Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 2006, accessed on 20 January 2014
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lapin, Andrew (September 10, 2012). "New youth-flavored variety entries move genre out of its Prairie Home". Current. Takoma Park, Maryland: American University School of Communication.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Williams, Heidi (March 12, 2009). "Plugging into 'Live Wire!': Behind the scenes of the locally produced radio variety show". The Oregonian.
  6. 1 2 3 Scott, Aaron "Live Wire Radio Goes for National Glory", Portland Monthly Mag 4 January 2014, accessed on 20 January 2014
  7. "Live Wire! Radio: Behind the Dial". Stumptown Coffee. April 30, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  8. 1 2 3 McDowell, Maureen (May 27, 2005). "Taking Live Wire to a national stage". The Business Journal: 23–24.
  9. 1 2 Turnquist, Kristi (October 28, 2005). "Portland's got it 'Wired'". The Oregonian.
  10. Nicholas, Jonathan (March 10, 2004). "Lake Wo... Be Gone, Here Comes 'Live Wire!'". The Oregonian.
  11. 1 2 3 Rake, Miranda (May 2006). "Radio Daze". Portland Monthly: 157–158.
  12. 1 2 3 Vondersmith, Jason (September 22, 2013). "And now, live across the nation..." Portland Tribune.
  13. Bartels, Eric (December 13, 2005). "Portland-produced show offers up a singular voice – Host and crew of 'Live Wire!' hear the call of national radio". Portland Tribune.
  14. 1 2 "Broadcast Schedule". Live Wire Radio. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  15. Public Radio International® Brings Live Wire! To Stations Nationwide, Welcomes the Perspective of Host Luke Burbank
  16. "Sponsors". Live Wire Radio. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  17. Turnquist, Kristi (May 11, 2009). "'Live Wire!': No Show in May". The Oregonian.
  18. Young, Chris (October 2, 2012). "Robyn Tenenbaum: Live On Stage For An Airwave Audience". About Face Magazine. Choose Local Media.
  19. Lopez, Luciana (November 9, 2008). "Review: Live Wire! Wordstock edition". The Oregonian.
  20. "Live Wire 257 Encore: Peter Sagal, Chelsea Cain, Eef Barzelay". Live Wire. Live Wire! Radio. Retrieved February 6, 2017.

Further reading