On Friday, March 5, Jad Abumrad, the host and creator of “Dolly Parton’s America” and “Radiolab,” a public radio program broadcast on nearly 600 stations across the nation and downloaded more than 12 million times a month as a podcast, will sit down with Pride Source editor and journalist Chris Azzopardi. Brought to virtual audiences everywhere by Detroit Public Television and PBS Books, the event is part of the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, which was created by University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design in 1998 as an educational opportunity for students.
For this speaker series event, entitled “Making Dolly Parton’s America,” Abumrad will discuss with Azzopardi the genesis of the nine-part series, which features footage from 12 deeply personal interviews conducted by Abumrad and producer Shima Oliaee, that expand Parton’s life story while also exploring her unifying powers in a divided America and touching on issues of race, politics and identity.
Since its WNYC Radio premiere in 2019, “Dolly Parton’s America” has received the prestigious Peabody Award, which recognizes stories notable for their excellence as well as their resonance, and won Best Music Podcast at the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. In addition to his in-depth series on the Supreme Court, “More Perfect,” Abumrad also worked on “UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America,” which was produced in conjunction with the 2018 drama “Boy Erased.”
Azzopardi, a journalist and celebrity interviewer for Pride Source and Q Syndicate, the national LGBTQ wire service, has interviewed Parton several times since he began interviewing high-profile entertainers in 2009. His 2014 interview with Parton was published in an anthology of interviews spanning her life and career, entitled “Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton.”
In addition to Parton, Azzopardi has interviewed Beyoncé, Meryl Streep, Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey.