I'm only half-kidding. Like King, Margolin is a great interviewer. But in many ways, he's also a lot better than Larry King, because Howard doesn't usually ask softballs. No offense intended to Mr. King.
For nearly a quarter century, Dr. Margolin has been hosting his radio talk show on Friday nights at 11:30 pm, transmitting from Stony Brook, Long Island. The bailiwick of Destinies is anything genre-related, and Margolin has featured telephone interviews as well as recorded one-on-ones over the years with novelists, musicians, comic-book artists, actors...you name it.
Howard brings to the table (and the recording studio...) two characteristics that any audience would desire in a talk show host, whether on TV or radio: knowledge and honesty.
On the former front, Howard is literally one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met. His brain is an encyclopedia of facts, figures, dates and intricate cross-genre connections. Although Destinies explicitly concerns science-fiction, Howard is just as likely to know the minute details of Broadway musicals, comic-books created twenty-five years ago, superhero movies, soundtrack details, and on and on. He could probably host a different radio show each night of the week, if he had the inclination. Cuz he's definitely got the chops. I always tell him he's the one who should be writing books!
So Howard has the knowledge - and also, importantly, a passion, for this work. But equally critical, I think, is his intellectual honesty as a host. I've known Howard Margolin since the year 2000, when my wife and I met him and Richard Hatch for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. So it's fair to state that we're good buddies now. Yet the great thing about Howard is that he's never less-than-intellectually honest about his guests and their work. Before each show he prepares an extensive script (replete with detailed questions,), and if the subject of the interview is a new book, he'll read that book carefully from front to back before the show. And let's just say he won't let you get off easy if he senses you've written something weak, unmotivated, or contradictory.
Like I said, I've known Howard for over five years, and I've appeared as a guest on Destinies - I believe - six times, and on every such occasion, he manages to hit me with a difficult question that I hadn't really thought much about, thus illuminating some new aspect of my work. As opposed to being off-putting, this approach actually stimulates the discussion, and makes the interview very substantive. And that's a far cry from most "fluff" entertainment shows out there. One of the best interviews I've ever listened to Margolin conduct was with Richard Matheson a few years back. As a host, Howard is always polite, but - even when dealing with a legend like Matheson - asks the questions you'd like to hear answered.
So this week, I just wanted to direct all the readers on the blog to Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. It's a genre radio show with a great host, but also - I hasten to add - great guests. Howard has interviewed cast members from Andromeda, Earth Final Conflict, Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Trek, all generations of Battlestar Galactica, and more. He's featured writers like Keith De Candido, Scott Nicholson, and Peter David. And I really admire this aspect of the show: Howard is open to new talent and "established" talent alike, and so his time on the air races by for the listener.
Sometimes, Destinies consists of panel discussions with in-studio guests (like a show two Fridays ago looking at the films of 2005), and this week, the program celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Adam West Batman series and the 30th anniversary of The Bionic Woman with a Destinies Radio Theater Double Feature.
So if you get the opportunity, check out Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. Dr. Margolin ends all of his broadcasts with the unique sign off "best of all possible destinies..." and he's been making that promise come true for listeners and fans of talk radio for a long time now.