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    Five Things won a 2018 Critic's Choice award in the 2018 Best of Louisville awards. 

    Photo by Jessica Ebelhar 

    Five Things (Louisville Public Media) 

    Tara Anderson describes her podcast Five Things as “show-and-tell for grown-ups.” In each episode, she interviews a guest — Congressman John Yarmuth, ballerina Wendy Whelan, WHAS anchor Renee Murphy — about five important objects in their life, revealed one by one over the course of the 30- to 40-minute show. “I don’t do a ton of research ahead of time and don’t want to know the items,” Anderson says. “I want to be surprised along with the audience.” Over 65 episodes since debuting in October 2016, interviewees have talked about everything from a trilobite and T-shirts to a hairbrush and a dollhouse that serves as a child’s grave marker in Indiana. Without crying, try to get through the episode with Highlands Baptist Church pastor Joe Phelps, who hands Anderson a burnt-orange “Hook ’em Horns” Texas Longhorns rubber wristband that survived a fire.

    Anderson’s inspiration for the show was Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble, the absurdist local troupe that wrote and performed original plays until 2014. The group’s Five Things explored the movies, books and albums the characters would bring to a desert island. “For each person, their last thing was something deeply personal,” Anderson says. “It was this gut punch about what really matters. I sobbed.”

    The show will return in the fall, with guests including a Holocaust survivor, a drag queen from Kentucky who lives in Queens, New York, and Anderson’s former doorman in NYC. She’d like to interview former mayor Jerry Abramson, Gov. Matt Bevin and Sen. Rand Paul. One of the first people she reached out to was My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James. “He very politely said no. He said what other people have said: ‘Oh, I’m not materialistic,’” Anderson says. “But the point is not to talk about your bling. The five things are windows into a life.”

    One Thing

    We asked Tara Anderson to share one of her five things, and she picked this bright-red, Swedish-designed, “Jetsons-looking” Ericofon from the 1960s, with the rotary dial underneath the handset’s base (see above). Anderson grew up in Lexington next door to her grandparents, and the phone, she says, is “the entirety of my inheritance from that side of the family.” (The complicated backstory includes Anderson’s 88-year-old widowed grandfather marrying his 44-year-old house cleaner. “After my grandfather died, my mother was basically fighting to get things like her fifth-grade report card and boxes of old photos,” Anderson says.) She has never used the phone but remembers being in elementary school and telling classmates she had Santa’s number. Soon, kids were calling her grandparents. Anderson hadn’t clued them in. “But they rolled with it,” she says. “This phone is me running in and out of my grandparents’ house as a girl.”

    This originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine as a Best of Louisville Critic's Choice winner. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    To see more Critic's Choices, click here.

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