Justin Heckert (2013)

This is a rebroadcast of the original episode of Gangrey: The Podcast, featuring Justin Heckert. It originally aired in January 2013. Heckert talked with host Matt Tullis about his story “The Hazards of Growing Up Painlessly,” which ran in The New York Times Magazine in November 2012. The story is about a 13-year-old girl who has a medical condition that makes it so she can’t feel pain. 

Since joining the podcast, Heckert has reported and written a lot of other amazing stories. His story, “Susan Cox is No Longer Here,” ran in Indianapolis Monthly, and was later republished by River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. It’s a haunting piece that looks at what happens when life, and death, don’t go the way we expect it to. 

In March 2014, he wrote a piece on Puddles the Clown for Grantland. In July 2018, he wrote about the last Blockbuster video store for The Ringer. And in August, he wrote about a year-long quest to save an injured loggerhead turtle. That story ran in Garden & Gun magazine.

Tullis also interviewed Heckert a second time in 2015 when he did an annotation of his Men’s Journal story “Lost in the Waves” for Nieman Storyboard.

Heckert has written for dozens of magazines, including Esquire, GQ, ESPN The Magazine, Men’s Journal, and Sports Illustrated. He has twice been named the City and Regional Magazine Association’s writer of the year.

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Michael Brick Tribute (2016)

On this episode, we’re rebroadcasting an interview Matt Tullis did with Ben Montgomery, Thomas Lake, Michael Kruse, Wright Thompson, and Tony Rehagen, about the late, great Michael Brick.

Brick died on February 8, 2016 after battling colon cancer. We’re approaching the third anniversary of Brick’s death, but his name and his amazing work lives on because a book of his stories — “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name” — was put together by the guests on this show and others, and then published by The Sager Group.

The stories included in “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name” were originally published in The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, Harper’s Magazine, and others. Brick also wrote the book “Saving the School,” which was published by Penguin Press in 2012.

Everyone Leaves Behind a Name is still available on The Sager Group’s website. It’s also available on Amazon.com. All proceeds from book sales go to Brick’s family.

Janet Reitman (2013)

On this episode, we’re rebroadcasting an interview that Matt Tullis did with Janet Reitman in October 2013. During this episode, Tullis and Reitman talked about her story, “Jahar’s World,” which ran in the Rolling Stone. The story was about Jahar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Rolling Stone was criticized at the time because they put a glossy photo of Tsarnaev on the cover. But journalistically, the story that Reitman wrote was lauded as an excellent piece of reporting and writing, including by the New York Times’ David Carr.

Reitman is being lauded again because of a piece she reported and wrote for the New York Times Magazine. The story, “U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.” was published in early November.

A few days after the story was published, Terry Gross interviewed Reitman for Fresh Air on National Public Radio.

Reitman is a contributing writer for the New York Times, and a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. She is also the author of the book, “Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion.”

Episode 63: Pamela Colloff

Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter at ProPublica and a writer-at-large at The New York Times Magazine. She was the third guest on the podcast back in January 2013, when she talked about her Texas Monthly series “The Innocent Man.” That episode has unfortunately been lost. Colloff ultimately won the National Magazine Award in Feature Writing for that story.

On this show, Colloff talks about her two-part series, “Blood Will Tell,” her first project for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. In this extraordinary project, Colloff tells the story of Joe Bryan, a former principal in Texas and a man many believe was wrongfully-convicted of murdering his wife.

Prior to joining ProPublica and the Times in 2017, Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker and has been anthologized in “Best American Magazine Writing,” “Best American Crime Reporting,” “Best American Non-Required Reading,” and “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.”

She is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. Her 2010 story, “Innocence Lost” — about a wrongly convicted death row inmate named Anthony Graves — was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after 18 years behind bars. One month after its publication, all charges against Graves were dropped and he was released from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial.

In 2014, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.

Her oral history “96 Minutes,” about the 1966 University of Texas shootings, served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, “TOWER,” which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film.

Episode 59: Don Van Natta Jr.

Don Van Natta Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN Digital and Print media. He was recently named a finalist — along with his reporting and writing partner Seth Wickersham — for a National Magazine Award in reporting for three stories: “Sin City or Bust,” “Standing Down,” and “Roger Goodell has a Jerry Jones problem.” Wickersham appeared on Episode 28 of the podcast, back in 2014.

Van Natta has had quite the illustrious career. He’s been on three Pulitzer Prize winning reporting teams — two at the New York Times and one at the Miami Herald.

He joined ESPN in 2012, and has since produced many features and investigative pieces centered around the NFL. His profile of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in August 2014 is particularly amazing because of the access he got from a subject who initially did not want to participate.

In 2014, Van Natta started the Sunday Long Read newsletter with Jacob Feldman, a reporter for Sports Illustrated. The two launched the Sunday Long Read podcast in August of last year, and so far has produced more than a dozen episodes featuring some amazing reporters and writers.

Van Natta is currently working on a book with Wickersham. The book, tentatively titled “Powerball,” will be published by Crown Archetype in 2020.

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 14: Susan Dominus

Susan Dominus is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. She’s written about everything from higher education to organizational psychology. She also writes celebrity profiles. The most recent focused on Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter Fame. The other was about Stephen King and family of writers.

The Radcliffe piece — “Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick is to Make Harry Potter Disappear” — followed the Harry Potter star as he promoted the independent film “Kill Your Darlings.” The story shows just how much life as Harry Potter has affected the young actor.

“Stephen King’s Family Business” centered around a family get-together in Maine, where the King family of writers got together to discussion the early days of Stephen’s career and the new generation of writers he raised.