When teaching a class one day last semester, I had to use Spotify on my laptop which is then projected onto the big classroom screen. A student noticed that one podcast I listen to is Inglorious Treksperts. It’s a fun show that’s a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the original Star Trek series. Not really about the trivia of Star Trek mythology, but rather insights into how things really got made. For example, where else can you hear stories from the casting director of Desilu?
My student surprised me by explaining he listened to it too!
I guess there’s an interest in the early days of Pop Culture. In fact, I just enjoyed both Being the Ricardos on Amazon Prime and TCM’s The Plot Thickens podcast focusing on the life story of Lucille Ball. And I’m not really a big I Love Lucy fan, either.
I’m so glad I finally read The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman.
It’s an incredible book with dialog from all the key players who were there, as they recount and ruminate on how things happened. Sometimes they are even contradictory and a bit contentious. I caught up with co-author Ed Gross and he had so many insights to share!
Ed Catto: I’m fascinated by your “oral history” format, and it feels so natural and authentic. I’d even venture to say that it’s the perfect format for presenting differences of opinion. How would you describe Oral History, and can you comment on the pros and cons of this format?
Ed Gross: The way Mark Altman and I have frequently described the oral history format is that it’s like gathering a couple of hundred of your closest friends and having an in-depth conversation about something.
The truth of the matter is that I’d barely been aware of the format prior to our writing The Fifty-Year Mission, which we started in 2015. Mark brought the idea up to me and suggested that I read Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s Live from New York and Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks’ I Want My MTV, which I did. Well, I instantly fell in love with the format. For starters, I found them so damn readable; you could pick them up any time you wanted and effortlessly start where you left off or bounce around and still have a satisfying reading experience.