In “The Bookcase” by Charlie and Kate Gibson

Retired ‘ABC World News Tonight’ and ‘Good Morning America’ anchor and his daughter have a new podcast dedicated to their shared love of books

Books and reading have always been an important part of good times in the Gibson family. Charlie shares memories of Kate and her sister reading to them when they were young before school and work, but more on that later.

However, Kate has additional memories of these sessions. During a Zoom call, she mimicked licking her hand and smoothing her hair. “You do that to our hair when we’re getting ready for school. I feel like a cat,” she said. Her father smiled.

Kate and Charlie Gibson, hosts of “The Bookcase” | Credit: ABC Audio

Charlie, 79, retired ABC News anchor of “World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America”, and Kate, 46, a former executive producer of PBS in the Twin Cities (where Next Avenue is located), are currently studying library and The Master of Science in Informatics brings their riveting father-daughter banter and deep appreciation for books and authors to ABC Audio’s podcast “The Bookcase.”

“We learned that there is no one way to make a podcast, and from our authors, we learned that there is no one way to write a book.”

Launching in May 2022, the weekly podcast features book expert Oprah Winfrey as its first guest and releases new episodes every Thursday. (“As we like to say, every free podcast is available,” Charlie quipped.) Featured writers to date include Delia Ephron, David Gergan, Sue Miller, Evelyn Hernan Diaz, Julia Glass and Anna Kundlen.

The pair also enjoy introducing audiences to lesser-known writers. Charlie and Kate have nothing but praise for Neil Williams, Irish author of This Is Happiness: “It’s a beautiful, beautiful book in terms of his ability to put together incredible sentences ,” Charlie said.

If you love to read and love to hear authors talk about writing, Charlie and Kate Gibson are with you in The Bookcase.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Julie Fisinger: Your idea of ​​launching a “bookcase” was born during a pandemic. Can you tell us more about how it went from an idea to a reality?

Charlie Gibson: It really stemmed from a wild idea from Kate. She called and said, “Dad, we have to get you off your ass and retire, and we should do a podcast together on the subject of books.” I don’t know what a podcast is. I’ve read a few books about it, but I could have saved myself a lot of time if someone just told me it was radio on demand. We took this down a few dead ends. ABC decided to sponsor it, which was great for them. They don’t know what they’re doing, and we don’t know what we’re doing.

Kate Gibson: I think one of the things that really scares us about talking to the author is that we’re going to be on air with a lot of introverts, but that just didn’t happen. Not only are the authors very nicely present on the show, but they are also very generous when it comes to talking about their creative process and inspiration. We learned that there is no one way to make a podcast, and from our authors, we learned that there is no one way to write a book. John Owen starts with the last sentence, Sue Miller starts with a character. Everyone has his own method of sowing seeds in the field.

What was your process for deciding which books to show?

Charlie: We haven’t really figured it out yet. We do have a single veto, which means one of us will read a book, and if we like it, we’ll tell the other to read it. If another person says no to a podcast, this is it.

Kate: We try to stay away from politics. We want everyone to feel like they are listening to the show at home. We don’t want to alienate anyone. There are also some authors that we like each other. For example, if something were to happen to John Irving, we’d probably go after his publicist. So did Stephen King.

Charlie: We just finished John Owen’s last big novel (The Last Cable Car, coming out in October), and oh my gosh, it’s huge. 912 pages.

Kate: That really felt like a marathon read. We’ve been calling each other – ‘Where are you? where are you? ‘

Charlie: I will read and read, the bookmarks will not move.

Kate: I’ve been driving my father crazy. When we first started (podcasting), I called every publisher in the world and said, “Send me all your stuff.” We only had this wall of books — we were reading what we could get everything. But I also don’t want to be rude in that approach. That’s how we found Sidik Fofana (his first book, “The Downstairs Tenant’s Story,” featured in “The Bookcase”), who is very much like a rough diamond.

Once you decide on a book, do you talk about it before recording the podcast?

Kate: I think it depends on the book. For example, with Sidik, we were all so moved by the book that we didn’t talk much about it beforehand. We hope others find it. We said to each other, “This is a story written by a public school teacher that really touched me — tell me what you think.”

Charlie: Many times a day we talk about what we’re reading and how we’re reacting to it. Now, there’s a biography of Robert E. Lee – I haven’t convinced Kate to read it yet. How to write a traitor?

About the format of “bookcase”

Charlie: We are pairing each author [conversations] Owns an independent bookstore. We wanted to give them a spot to talk about how they operate and talk about which regional writers they’re promoting. [Featured independent bookstores have included Women and Children First in Chicago and Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California.]

Kate: We wanted to do some concept demonstrations. One of the topics that interests us is book challenges, which are very popular in this country. We’re reading Amy Sarig King’s “Attack of the Black Rectangle,” a great way to get into book review.

How do you think Bookcase is different from other podcasts about books and reading?

Charlie: They are all bad. They are not worth listening to. (laughs) We had a great time. It’s not a job for us – it’s enjoyable. I’m a little concerned that we’re not in the typical crowd for podcasting. Podcasts are usually aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 35.

Kate: While these listeners are very popular…

“I don’t know I’ve read Good Night Moon and Alexander and the Horror, Terrible, Bad, Very Bad Day and Babar hundreds of times.”

I listen to a lot of book podcasts, and when it comes to book podcasts, I think more. The more the better. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. If you’re not engaging in positive or difficult literary conversations, you’re missing out on important points. I think all reading shows have the same goal: to get people to read more. Read more, people. Please. Thank you.

Is reading an important part of your family life?

Charlie: Absolutely. For a while, when we lived in Washington DC, Kate’s mother worked in Baltimore. For the long commute, she would leave early. Kate and her sister would crawl on my bed. I wasn’t doing “Good Morning America” ​​or getting up at stupid times at the time—I was a dumb reporter for ABC. There is reading before you go to school, and then there is reading before you go to bed. You are allowed to read three books. I don’t know I’ve read Good Night Moon and Alexander and the Terrible, Terrible, Terrible Days and Babar hundreds of times.

Kate: We like to travel to bookstores. This is a place where you don’t have to fight with my dad to get your wallet out. This is unfamiliar in our house. My parents didn’t spoil us. Within reason, the only place my dad said ‘yes, whatever you want’ was in bookstores.

Charlie: Every summer we spend two weeks at the beach. Before we go on vacation, we’ll go to Crown Books in Washington, where everyone can pick four or five books.

Kate: Watching my parents and my kids read together is amazing. We have some books reserved for them. My mom wanted to read The Cricket in Times Square, and my dad just finished Charlotte’s Web with his daughter. When we got to the end where Charlotte died, he made it through, but at the same time I was sobbing. The meaning of this book changes as you get older.

The “quick fire” problem

On each podcast, Charlie and Kate ask the author a series of “quick-fix” questions. Here are two questions I asked them:

Have you ever read a book more than once?

Kate: many, many. “Pray for Owen Meaney” (John Owen). I read it every other year or so. I like to reread books. Now that I do what I do, I’m not sure if it’s a luxury I’m going to have, but I hope so.

Image from Kate and Charlie Gibson's Bookcase Podcast. next avenue, good morning usa, gma

Credit: ABC Audio

Charlie: “The Catcher in the Rye” (JD Salinger). When I was younger, I read it every few years. I’ve read “Franny and Zoe” (also Salinger’s) many times. I’ve read The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak) several times because I have a personal relationship with it – it’s a book we actually found in Good Morning America. This is an extraordinary book. I’ve read a lot of Pat Conroy’s books (“The Great Santini”, “The Water is Wide”) many times because I think the way he phrases it is incredible. He is a gentle man. We miss him.

What is a book you will never forget?

Charlie: “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe. I often think of that book. As you know, this is a book about astronauts — when one of them “burns out” or dies, the others say, “Well, he doesn’t have anything right.” But almost every profession The structures are pyramid-shaped. When you go up, people get knocked out, but sometimes those who go up to the top think, well, they just don’t. I think it’s an unfortunate attitude, but one that exists in a lot of people.​​​ This book presents a very interesting principle, which, I think, is the way people move forward in their careers.

Kate: I will never forget to read “Deacon King” (by James McBride). When we talked about doing this podcast, my dad said ‘Let’s read this book and see how we’re going to talk about it. It was a great discussion when we realized we could do this podcast.

For me, books are a window into the biography of my life. I know it sounds pretentious and I didn’t mean to. During the pandemic, I thought “I’ve never read Infinite Jokes (David Foster Wallace’s)”, so I read it. That will always be my epidemiology book. It’s so long and so complicated, that’s how I feel about the pandemic.

Photo by Julie Fisinger
Julie Fisinger is editor of lifestyle coverage on the Next Avenue Life and Technology Channel. Her journalism career includes writing features for the Star-Tribune, as well as several local parenting and lifestyle publications in the Twin Cities area. Julie also serves as editor-in-chief of nine local community lifestyle magazines. She joined Next Avenue in October 2017.Contact her by email [email protected] read more

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