Luke and Elena. Photo by Jennifer-Baker.

Wires Crossed

Popular public radio show and podcast Live Wire tapes an episode live in Eugene

Luke Burbank, host of Live Wire Radio, an independent variety radio show and podcast produced in Portland, says he thought his given name was the best-suited of all for his profession. That is, until Burbank heard the name Love Cross, the Weekend Edition and Morning Edition host at Eugene public radio station KLCC. 

Produced weekly in front of a live audience at Portland’s Alberta Rose Theatre, Live Wire features guests drawn from popular culture, the performing arts and current affairs, handled with a light but tough and offbeat sensibility. The show comes to Eugene for a taping April 29 at the Hult Center. The show broadcasts locally on 89.7 KLCC-FM and 1600 KOPB-AM.

Joining Burbank at this in-person Live Wire will be New Yorker writer Kathryn Schulz, author of Lost & Found, a memoir about memory and loss. She also wrote “The Really Big One,” a New Yorker article on the potentially catastrophic Cascadia fault line earthquake that will one day come to this area. Joining Schulz as a guest is Sasha Lapointe, author of Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk, a memoir of punk rock music and the role that it played in her Native American upbringing. 

There’s also New York comedian Sean Patton, supporting his third comedy album, King Scorpio, released last December. (Catch a bonus set from Patton, the next night, April 30 at Whirled Pies, downtown.) Rounding it out is Portland musician Laura Veirs behind her new single “Winter Windows,” and her last album, My Echo, released in 2020.

When booking an episode of Live Wire, Burbank says his team “seeks to bring together the energy of a live room and a balance between well-known names and people you may not have heard of yet, but leave the experience thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I found out about them.’” 

The goal, he continues, is to curate “this event where you’re going to hear and see a bunch of things you haven’t heard or seen before, handled with an intelligence and humor that people are used to from public radio.”

The goal of a live taping, Burbank continues, is to incentivize attendance with added bits that may not make it into the broadcast, or a few hours of show that gets boiled down to just 40 minutes.

Live Wire, rebroadcast on public radio stations in numerous states and in several foreign countries, has been on tour before to places like Chicago, New York, Seattle and Arizona. This is the first time it’s come to Eugene, and it’s also the first live taping outside Portland since the pandemic. 

“This is going to be exciting for us but also a little bit, getting back on the bicycle, staging the show somewhere that’s not our home theater. It will be fun and interesting but it will be a bit of a relearning experience for us,” Burbank says.

While recording an episode, Burbank says, “I always want to try and interact with the people sitting in the seats right in front of me. Half of the show is me, making jokes that I know will never make it on the radio, just to get the audience in the room to enjoy themselves.”

“If they’ve listened to Live Wire on the radio, they’ll enjoy seeing it live,” Burbank adds. 

And is there anything in particular Burbank would like to accomplish on this trip to Eugene? Burbank would love to meet his public radio colleague Love Cross and “get to the bottom if that’s a made-up name or not,” he says.

(Cross’s Twitter followers will attest that her handle is “Love (yes, that’s my name) Cross.”)

Public radio show and podcast Live Wire with Luke Burbank tapes a live episode in Eugene, 7:30 pm Friday, April 29, at the Hult Center. Tickets from $28, all-ages.