Episode 67: Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery is the author of “The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search For Meaning in the Great Depression.” The book was published by Little, Brown Spark in September, and tells the story of a man named Plennie Wingo, who in 1931, attempted to walk around the world, backward.

This is the third time Montgomery has been on the podcast. He was the guest on Episode 21, when he talked about his first book, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.” That book went on to become a New York Times Bestseller.

He was also one of five guests on Episode 45, which was focused on the work of the late Michael Brick, which was contained in the book, “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name.” The other guests on that show were Wright Thompson, Michael Kruse, Tony Rehagen, and Thomas Lake.

Montgomery created the website gangrey.com, which was the namesake for this podcast. For years, he was one of the top enterprise reporters at the Tampa Bay Times, where he wrote about everything from one of the last spectacle lynchings in Florida to why cops shoot at suspects.

He left the Tampa Bay Times in October 2017 to focus on writing “The Man Who Walked Backward.” Now, he finds himself teaching student journalists at the University of Montana as the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Montgomery’s latest book is his third. His second book was titled “The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II.”

He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting in 2010 for his series of stories on the decades of abuse at a Florida reform school for boys. He won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for the same series.

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Episode 66: Brin-Jonathan Butler

On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Brin-Jonathan Butler. Butler wrote the book, The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match that Made Chess Great Again, which will be released on November 6. The book takes a look at the 2016 World Chess Championship, which was held in New York City just before the 2016 election. It also dives deep into the type of personality needed to be a chess champion.

Butler’s first book, The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing With Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba, was shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Award for literary sports writing, and was a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015.

His story, “Ghost of Capablanca,” published by Southwest: The Magazine, was included in the 2018 Best American Travel Writing. He’s also been a notable selection in that book, as well as Best American Sports Writing, multiple times.

Butler has written for Esquire, Bloomberg, ESPN The Magazine, Playboy, Harper’s, the Paris Review, and Roads and Kingdoms.

John Woodrow Cox (2013)

On this episode, the podcast replays the interview Matt Tullis did with John Woodrow Cox from October 2013. Cox was the 12th guest on the podcast, and, at the time, was a general assignment reporter in Pinellas County for the Tampa Bay Times. On this episode, he talked about the short, narrative stories he was writing for the Floridian Magazine. The series was called “Dispatches from next door.” They were short pieces – just 500 words – but painstakingly reported. He talked about two such pieces; one about a woman who is only able to find peace out on the ocean, and another about a senior citizen who is always on the look for a younger woman who will save him from loneliness.

Cox left the Times in 2014 and went to the Washington Post. He’s an enterprise reporter with a focus on narrative journalism there. This year, his series about the impact of gun violence on children in America was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. He is currently working on a book that will expand on that coverage.

He’s also written about a flawed sexual assault investigation in the Marines and about a 10-year-old who has HIV.

Since joining the podcast, Cox has won several prestigious awards. He has won the Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest in Storytelling, the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Columbia Journalism School’s Meyer “Mike” Berger Award for human-interest reporting, and the Education Writers Association’s Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting. He’s also been named a finalist for the Michael Kelly Award and for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. His stories have been recognized by Mayborn’s Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing contest and the Society for Features Journalism, among others.

Episode 51: Glenn Stout

Glenn Stout is the series editor of Best American Sports Writing and the author of the book “The Selling of the Babe: The Deal that Changed Baseball and Created a Legend.”

Over the last year, Stout has been working with nonfiction writers when it comes to developing book proposals. From July 14-16, he’ll be doing a workshop on that subject at the Archer City Story Center in Archer City, Texas. Stout will also be on the faculty of the story center’s week-long literary nonfiction workshop, which takes place July 23-30.

Archer City is the hometown of Larry McMurtry, and is the inspiration for the setting of his novel “The Last Picture Show.” The story center is just about a year old, and is starting to offer more workshops that aim to help all sorts of storytellers.

Host Matt Tullis will also be doing a workshop on developing a podcast there this summer. That workshop will take place the the weekend of August 11-13.

Episode 45: Michael Brick

This episode is devoted to the life, stories and music of Michael Brick. Brick wrote for the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, Harper’s Magazine. He also wrote the book “Saving the School.”

Brick passed away in February from colon cancer. In Brick’s final days, his friends and fellow reporters scrambled to put together a book that contains so many of his amazing stories. That book, “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name,” was published by The Sager Group and is now available. All book proceeds go to Brick’s family. Everyone Leaves Behind a Name

In this episode, I’m going to talk with some of men who put that book together. On the show we’ve got Ben Montgomery, a senior writer at the Tampa Bay Times, Michael Kruse, a senior staff writer for Politico, Wright Thompson, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, Thomas Lake, who covers politics for CNN Ditital, and Tony Rehagen, a freelance writer living in Atlanta.

For Montgomery, Kruse and Thompson, this is their second visit to the podcast.

During the podcast, we listen to one of Brick’s songs. You can listen to that song here.

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com or at The Sager Group’s website.

Episode 41: Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is the author of six books of nonfiction and two novels. His most recent book, “I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)” was a New York Times bestseller.

In the two most recent issues of GQ, Klosterman has interviewed Taylor Swift and Tom Brady. In fact, he’s done several celebrity interviews this year, including Kobe Bryant and Eddie Van Halen.

He’s written for Grantland, Esquire, GQ, Spin, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Believer, and the A.V. Club. He currently serves as The Ethicist for the New York Times Magazine.

Episode 40: Robert Sanchez and Bradford Pearson

This episode of the podcast features the work of Robert Sanchez of 5280 magazine in Denver and Bradford Pearson.

Sanchez is a senior staff writer for 5280. In 2014, he was named the City and Regional Magazine Association’s Writer of the Year. He also won that organization’s award for best profile in 2015, for his story “The Rise and Fall of Terrance Roberts.” Sanchez has been a finalist for the City and Regional Magazine Association Writer of the Year three times, and is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. His work has been anthologized twice in “Best American Sports Writing,” and has also been included in “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists” and in the “Missouri Anthology of Narrative Journalism.”

Sanchez also contributes features to ESPN The Magazine and has been published in Esquire and Men’s Health. He’s also worked for the Associated Press, the Denver Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Rocky Mountain News.

Bradford Pearson is a managing editor at Southwest: The Magazine. In September, he published his story “My Kidnappers” in Philadelphia magazine. The story is about a time when Bradford was in college, and he was robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint. In the piece, he actually tracks down the men who did this to him. Bradford has also been an editor at D Magazine in Dallas.

In our Required Reading segment, Zack Lemon offers his thoughts on Tom Junod’s classic piece “The Rapist Says He’s Sorry.” Lemon is a senior at Ashland University who has served as the managing editor of the award-winning student newspaper The Collegian. He is now the senior reporter at the paper, where he has won first place in the Ohio Newspaper Association’s College Newspaper Competition for in-depth reporting for a watchdog piece on the university administration. He recently finished an internship at the Columbus Dispatch.