Movers & Thinkers | Nashville Public Radio

Movers & Thinkers

Movers & Thinkers is all about why people do what they do. We take you into the minds of some of the most interesting innovators in Nashville and discuss their motivations, passions and challenges. Each episode is produced from a conversation with Nashville Public Radio's Emily Siner.

*Special thanks to the SunTrust Foundation for providing support for Movers & Thinkers.


Comedians are used to being the funniest people in the room, but that doesn't mean they're the happiest.

DJ Pryor knows all about using stand-up comedy to process the stresses of life — whether it's growing up as the child of a teenage mother, losing loved ones or working menial jobs at Walmart.

Margaret Renkl is a Nashville writer perhaps best known for her regular columns in the New York Times. "Late Migrations" is her debut book, and it's part-essay collection on coming of age and aging in the South, and part-observations of nature. 

Kara McLeland / WPLN

The greatest food innovators don't necessarily start from scratch. Instead, they often incorporate knowledge passed down through generations. Maybe they're recreating their family's longtime favorite meals, but with new ingredients. Or maybe they're using older methods of food preparation that are on the verge of being forgotten. How does tradition add meaning to their work? And what happens when the old timers think they've strayed too far?

Kara McLeland/Nashville Public Radio

Judge Sheila Calloway sees children during some of the worst moments of their lives: right after they've been accused of committing a crime.

But she holds fast to the philosophy that children are redeemable and should be given the opportunity to change. "We as a nation have to make a change from what we think about as justice," she says. "We use incarceration as the answer for almost everything, and it cannot be the answer."

In this episode, she talks to WPLN's Emily Siner about the relationship between empathy and justice.

Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

Unlike most New Testament experts, Vanderbilt Divinity School professor Amy-Jill Levine is Jewish.

Her lessons are sprinkled with Yiddish phrases, and she attends an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Nashville. That's given her a unique perspective on Judaism and Christianity — two religions that have diverged from the same source, took different interpretations of similar texts and collided repeatedly throughout history.

Kara McLeland / WPLN

How does a cold case homicide detective maintain faith in humanity? What makes him so sure that he’s going after the right bad guy? And how can a case with no known suspects be solved? For more than 25 years, retired police detective Pat Postiglione solved some of the most gruesome murder cases in Nashville. This, he says, takes a toll: “If you stay in homicide long enough, it definitely has an effect on your personal life.”

Every human is fortunate to have this organ inside our skull called the brain. It allows us to breathe, create art, develop new technology — and yet there's much that is undiscovered about how these masses of neurons work. Why is everyone's brain a different shape? When the brain starts to deteriorate, what's really happening? And what is thought? 

#16: What Is Love?

Apr 18, 2018
Julieta Martinelli / WPLN

Without a doubt, romantic love is a driving force in our culture — with countless movies, songs and books devoted to finding it, losing it or making it last. Falling in (or out of) love can feel so intense in our own lives, but our fundamental assumptions about what love really is are not always correct.

In this episode of Movers & Thinkers, we talk to three guests who have seen a lot of love, heartbreak and romantic confusion: relationship therapist Jeannie Ingram, divorce attorney Siew-Ling Shea, and Alex Pollack, a writer who muses on modern dating culture.

#15: The Disrupter

Jan 12, 2018
Julieta Martinelli / WPLN

More than 50 years ago, Rip Patton's world changed. He started attending nonviolence workshops in Nashville and learned how to endure abuse during the Civil Rights movement without fighting back. Rip became a Freedom Rider, part of the movement that ended an era of legalized segregation in the South.

Now, five decades later, he looks back on his role as a "disrupter" — sitting, standing and singing to make major societal change.

#14: Demystifying Death

Oct 31, 2017
Kara McLeland / WPLN

For something as ubiquitous as dying, most of us know surprisingly little about it — not just the big unanswerable questions, like what happens after we die. We also rarely think about how to deal with grief, or what to talk about with your family before you go.

So on this episode of Movers & Thinkers, we're facing our fears (and fascination) by talking to three people who come face-to-face with mortality on a daily basis: hospice physician Sasha Bowers, cemetery historian Fred Zahn and Death & Dying professor Andrea Mills.