Mike Pesca

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Mike Pesca
Mike Pesca, host of The Gist podcast from Slate
Born (1971-12-29) December 29, 1971 (age 49)
Oceanside, NY
EducationEmory University
OccupationRadio journalist for Slate
Notable credit(s)
Morning Edition, All Things Considered , Weekend Edition, Hang Up and Listen
Spouse(s)Michelle Hunter Pesca

Mike Pesca (born December 29, 1971) is an American radio journalist and podcaster based in New York City. He is the host of Slate magazine's daily podcast, The Gist,[1] and the editor of Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History.


Pesca first appeared on radio as a ten-year-old caller to a local New York City sports program, offering his opinion on the New York Jets.[2] In 1997, Pesca got his first job in radio, as an intern at the station working on New York & Co, which would later become The Leonard Lopate Show.[3]

Pesca went on to work as Producer-At-Large for the WNYC and NPR program On the Media (OTM). He had a recurring segment on OTM called "Mike's Pockets", in which he would "disgorge little bits of media fluff" he encountered.[4] In late 2005, he became the first NPR reporter to have his own podcast, On Gambling with Mike Pesca on which he discussed topics related to gambling.[2] He served as a reporter for NPR and Slate's mid-day show Day to Day, on which he also occasionally filled in as host. Other public radio programs he has guest hosted include The Bryant Park Project, Talk of the Nation, On Point, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and The Brian Lehrer Show.[3]

Since 2014, Pesca has served as host of Slate's daily podcast The Gist. Prior to joining the Slate staff, Pesca served as a National Desk correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR). Pesca's reports have been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He covered mainly sports and pop culture for the network,[2] and previously he has covered a wide range of topics including politics, economics, and the arts.[3] He also appears on the WBUR-FM/NPR program Here and Now as well as CNN, PBS NewsHour, and MSNBC. He is a regular contributor to the NPR program Weekend Edition Sunday.[5]

He has also written for Slate and the Washington Post.[2]

In addition to his weekly duties as a panelist on Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast, Pesca has appeared as a guest on many popular podcasts including NPR's Planet Money,[6] Slate's Culture Gabfest,[7] Luke Burbank's Too Beautiful to Live,[8] The Sporkful[9] and Maximum Fun's Jordan, Jesse, Go!.[10]

In February 2014, Pesca announced that he was leaving NPR to join Slate magazine. In announcing the hiring, Slate podcasts executive producer Andy Bowers called Pesca "one of the most interesting, exciting on-air personalities working today."[11] Pesca has also filled in as host of the NPR radio program Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me when Peter Sagal was away.

In May 2018, Pesca edited and published Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History, a collection of essays in which authors explore alternative histories in the world of sports. That month, Slate started releasing Upon Further Review, a weekly podcast based on chapters from the book.

In February 2021, Slate indefinitely suspended Pesca after he debated colleagues over whether people who are not Black should be able to quote a racial slur in some contexts. Slate's announcement stated that "this was not a decision based around making an isolated abstract argument".[12] On September 3, 2021, Pesca and Slate "mutually agreed to part ways", and Slate sold The Gist to Pesca, who announced plans to take the show to an independent platform.[13]

Personal life[edit]

In his podcast, The Gist, Pesca has described himself as "the son of a Catholic and a Jew"[14] and as someone who "grew up Catholic, a little bit."[15] Pesca attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and served as vice-president of the school's intra-fraternity council. He graduated from Emory in 1994.[16]'

Pesca has two sons (Milo and Emmett) with his ex-wife, Robin Dolch, a public relations executive.[17][18][19] He is a fan of the New York Jets, New York Mets, New York Knicks and St. Johns Red Storm.[2] In 2006, Pesca appeared as a contestant on the game show Jeopardy!,[20] where he led going into the Final Jeopardy round, but finished in third place.[21] In 2020, Pesca became engaged to Michelle Hunter with the assistance of Buddy the Rat.[22]


Pesca is a two-time Edward R. Murrow Award winner. The Murrow awards are presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (formerly the Radio and Television News Directors Association) for excellence in electronic journalism.[23]

He most recently was awarded the 2010 Murrow for audio sports reporting in the Radio Network/Syndication Service category.[23] He received the award for the season-long weekly series, Friday Night Lives, on "the phenomenon of high school football"[24] which Pesca created with NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.[25] The series aired throughout 2009 and 2010 on All Things Considered.[24]

Pesca won the 2001 Murrow Award for Best Radio Feature Reporting for his report "Cracker Jack" that aired on On the Media on August 4, 2001.[26] The feature's premise was that Cracker Jack's inclusion by name in the song Take Me Out to the Ballgame amounts to the "most successful product placement in history".[26]


  1. ^ Andy Bowers tweet, April 26, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Mike Pesca, NPR Biography". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on January 22, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "People – Mike Pesca". WNYC. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "Mike's Pockets (transcript)". On the Media. April 27, 2002. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  5. ^ "Remembering When A Teacher Had His Back," Weekend Edition Sunday November 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "Pesca on Planet Money". National Public Radio. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Culture Gabfest, "How Does That Make You Feel?" Edition". Slate. March 9, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  8. ^ "This Year – recapping the best podcasts". Too Beautiful to Live. April 22, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  9. ^ "Episode 14: Gum (with NPR's Mike Pesca)". The Sporkful Blog]. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  10. ^ "The Complete Episode Guide". Jordan, Jesse, Go!. Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  11. ^ Taube, Aaron (February 12, 2014). "Slate Hires NPR Sports Reporter To Boost Its Podcast Business". Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  12. ^ Robertson, Katie; Smith, Ben (2021-02-23). "Slate Suspends Podcast Host After Debate Over Racial Slur". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  13. ^ Wemple, Erik (2021-09-03). "Opinion: Slate and Mike Pesca have agreed to 'part ways'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286.
  14. ^ Mike Pesca (October 13, 2014). George Carlin Gets His Way (Podcast). 28 minutes in.
  15. ^ Mike Pesca (June 30, 2015). Will Gay Marriage Upend Gay Culture? (Podcast). 1.6 minutes in.
  16. ^ "Testing the bonds of brotherhood, Apes embodies the fraternal spirit". The Emory Wheel. February 11, 2003. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  17. ^ "Robin Dolch, Michael Pesca". New York Times. 6 March 2005. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  18. ^ "The Founder". Hundred Stories Public Relations. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  19. ^ "Bob Weinstein has a new lady friend". New York Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  20. ^ "J-Archive: Mike Pesca". [J! Archive]. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  21. ^ "Show #5036- Monday, July 3, 2006". [J! Archive]. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "VIDEO: Buddy The Rat returns – not to the subway, but to help a New Yorker with a marriage proposal". www.radio.com. 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  23. ^ a b "2010 National Edward R. Murrow Award Winners". Radio Television Digital News Association. Archived from the original on June 17, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  24. ^ a b "NPR News kicks off "Friday Night Lives"". August 26, 2009. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  25. ^ "NPR won four national Edward R. Murrow Awards in this year's RTDNA contest honoring excellence in electronic journalism". Current. July 4, 2010. Archived from the original on December 24, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  26. ^ a b "NPR's On the Media Wins 2001 Edward R. Murrow Award For Best Feature Reporting, for "Cracker Jack"". On the Media (website). June 20, 2002. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.

External links[edit]

Selected stories by Mike Pesca: