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Host ProFile: 'My Job Is Like The Master Of Ceremonies For A Three Ring Circus.'

"It's the Robert Frost thing: the roads diverge, and you have to make a choice. You always wonder what your life would have been if you'd gone the other way."

That's how host Glynn Washington describes the defining moments and decisions given a voice on his show Snap Judgment. Inspired by its Oakland, Calif., neighborhood, the show has brought a whole new sound to public radio. A sound that has captured the attention of millions of radio listeners and online viewers with moving stories like that of a 15-year-old poet who boldly expressed what it was like growing up with same-sex parents. Today marks Snap Judgment's third anniversary with NPR, so we spent some time with Washington to hear some of his own stories.

<em>Snap Judgment </em>Host Glynn Washington.
Snap Judgment Host Glynn Washington.

My name is... Glynn Washington

Public radio employee since... 2009

Public radio listener since... I was 14 years old!

As host of Snap Judgment, my job is... like the "Master of Ceremonies" for a three-ring circus. Every week I convince a bunch of artists and musicians and storytellers to come under the Big Top and stick their head into the lion's jaws. Snap Judgment storytelling balances precariously on a cultural tightrope of class, gender and race — and we may leap off the high wire at any given moment.

When I go on stage, I always have... my Main Man and co-producer Mark Ristich at my side. I never go on stage without him and neither should you.

I'm not as... lotioned and muscular ...as I sound.

In my suitcase, you'll find... a nerf football, a ballerina tutu, some cheese, a water cannon, and fingerpaintings because my kids took out all the shirts and razors and stuff I packed. That's why my outfit looks exactly like what I wore yesterday.

If I could share a coffee with anyone... no question, I'm sitting down with Prince. And we would not drink coffee.

I always smile when... I get to meet the 'little Snappas.' I was in St. Louis recently, and a ten-year-old girl came up and said, "Hey, you're that storytelling guy. Tell me a story!" She sat down and waited. So I did what I was told."

Ask Me Another question about... how I believe magic and narrative are two sides of the same coin and if one exists the other is bound to exist as well.

When I was young I wanted to be... Shaft ...when I grew up, so I could teach fools a lesson "the hard way."

The fact that we are finally approaching a "universal jukebox" where anyone can listen to any music ...is a breath of Fresh Air.

My next gadget... I like to paint, without all the fuss and bother of brushes and oils and water and stuff all over the place. So my next gadget will be the Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet. It's like a paintbrush for your computer. Pretty slick, right?

One thing everyone should know about Oakland is... that there are over 150 languages spoken within five blocks of Snap studios. Whenever you mix people with traditions from all over the globe into one urban stew — you get great food and fantastic stories.

My favorite Snap Judgment moment is when... we were scrambling to send in our very first Snap Judgment show, and a mail truck crashed into our apartment building, cutting off the internet. The universe wanted us to try something different.

Caitlin Sanders contributed to this post.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glynn Washington is host and executive producer of Snap Judgment. Before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, Glynn worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper. Glynn composed music for the Kunst Stoff dance performances in San Francisco, rocked live spoken word poetry in Detroit, joined a band in Indonesia, wrote several screenplays, painted a daring series of self portraits, released a blues album, and thinks his stories are best served with cocktails . . .