PopTalks is about pop music - issues, ideas, trends, new sounds, old sounds - all the things that make our music so great.

Each month we'll be talking to a special guest from the world of popular music and together we’ll explore the inner workings of both the business and creative side, with the goal of making you a more knowledgeable listener while at the same time narrowing the gap between the artist and their audience.

Hosted by Bob Santelli

Presented by the OSU College of Liberal Arts and the OSU popular music program.

Season 1

October 26, 2020

Welcome to the premiere of PopTalks, a monthly podcast produced by Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Popular Music studies program.

PopTalks is about pop music, issues, ideas, trends, new sounds, old sounds, the things that make our music so great. Each month I’ll be talking to a special guest from the world of popular music and together we’ll explore the inner workings of both the business and creative side, with the goal of making you a more knowledgeable listener while at the same time narrowing the gap between the artist and his audience.

Today’s guest is Tom Morello, a founding member of the legendary rock group “Rage Against The Machine” and with Chuck D, “Prophets of Rage.” Tom is also an honorary member of Bruce Springsteen’s "E Street Band" and a spiritual son of Woody Guthrie, the great American folk singer who taught us how music can affect political and social change in this country.

With the 2020 presidential election nearly upon us, that very topic – music as a means of social and political protest – is quite relevant today, especially when you consider how many contemporary artists have embraced that idea.

Tom Morello is one artist that has always seen value in using rock and roll to muster the masses into political action. His music is revolutionary, incendiary and incredibly powerful.

Listen to the episode:

November 18, 2020

Our guest today is the great singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie, who recently announced his retirement from touring after more than a half-century of making music and playing concerts around the world. 

It’s fitting that we speak to Arlo in November, with Thanksgiving just a couple weeks away. After all, Arlo’s landmark song “Alice’s Restaurant” has become the Thanksgiving song of all time. 

We’ll discuss that song of course, but also Arlo’s roots and influences, his legendary father Woody Guthrie and his long and varied career in the music business. 

Listen to the podcast episode:

Listen to the full interview:

About the host

Bob Santelli served as the executive director of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles from 2008 to 2016, and was instrumental in helping OSU become an official university affiliate of the Los Angeles-based museum. He is currently the director of popular music and performing arts in the College of Liberal Arts.  

A noted blues and rock historian, Santelli is the author of more than a dozen books on American music, including “Greetings from E Street” and "The Bob Dylan Scrapbook.” He has contributed to Rolling Stone and the New York Times, among other news outlets.  In 1993, he was one of the original curators of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, eventually moving to Cleveland to become the museum’s first director of education and vice president of public programs. 

In 2000, he became the chief executive officer of the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the first interactive music museum. Santelli also developed the UK’s first pop music museum, the British Music Experience. Named executive of The GRAMMY Museum in 2006, he created “An Evening With…” series that featured in-depth interviews with artists such as Dave Matthews, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Nicks and Clive Davis. 

Since arriving at OSU in September 2016, Santelli has brought a group of students to the White House for a special music education program, created programs for songwriters across campus and in the community, taught classes on popular culture, and maintained a partnership with the GRAMMY Museum. 

OSU Director of Popular Music and Performing Arts Bob Santelli


PopTalks is produced by the Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts

Artistic Director & Host: Bob Santelli        Producer: Erin O’Shea Sneller
Audio Engineer: Justin Smith        Graphic & Web Design: Zachary C. Person