"Live Wire" is a public radio variety show hosted by Luke Burbank ("Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me") and taped weekly in front of a live audience in Portland, OR. The show artfully blends unpredictable conversation, live music, and original comedy from all types of cultural talent and creative minds, from emerging artists to established acts. "Live Wire" reaches over 150,000 listeners via over 100 public radio stations across the country as well through a podcast.

Now in its fifteenth year, Live Wire is committed to bringing friends and artists together to celebrate and capture the intimacy and energy of live theater for radio listeners everywhere. An independently produced non-profit in Portland, Ore., the show turns people on to an eclectic cadre of artists, musicians, writers, comedians and cultural observers. With momentum driven by host, Luke Burbank at the helm, the show is now the fastest growing entertainment offering on public radio.

NOTE: This program is available to PRX affiliates. For more information please email memberships@prx.org.

Live Wire Radio

Feed schedule via Exchange
Available every Friday by 1200 ET

Luke Burbank


Number of programs
Ongoing, weekly

Broadcast rights
Available to all PRX affiliate stations on a time-period-exclusive basis. Stations may air each program two times within seven days of the feed. The series must be carried on a regular, weekly basis. Excerpting permitted for promotional purposes and with network attribution. In order to excerpt for purposes other than promotion, station is required to air the full episode as fed. Simulcast streaming rights are available for this series. See terms and conditions here on the InfoSite. Prior to carrying this series, stations must contact their PRX Station Services representative.

Program Website

Message from Luke Burbank - Live Wire at Home

Mission Statement:

Live Wire's mission is to harness the intimacy of the theater experience and the power of the public airwaves to enliven, inspire, and engage audiences—connecting communities through live music and performance, unpredictable conversation, and original comedy. Live Wire! delivers old school variety with a modern twist to you, wherever you may roam.

We believe life is filled with inspired people doing fascinating and sometimes ridiculous things. We want to introduce you to those people. 

We believe artists are critically important to the world, and should be rewarded for their work. 
We believe "culturally relevant" and "funny" aren't mutually exclusive. 
We believe that through the shared experience of live theater and the intimacy of radio, we can tell great stories, introduce new ideas, spark conversations, and hopefully, elicit a belly laugh or two. 

15 Years of Great Guests

"Live Wire" has a history of drawing great names to the program since 2004. Recent guests have included Portlandia's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, authors Cheryl Strayed, Dan Savage, Sherman Alexie, Chuck Palaniuk, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Stephen Tobolowsky, film Directors Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes, performers/comedians Marc Maron, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts, Mike Birbiglia, John Hodgman. 

Some of past musical guests have included Blitzen Trapper, Michael Kiwanuka, Blind Pilot, Helio Sequence, Menomena, Jonathan Coulton, Black Prairie and The Dandy Warhols to name a few.




Host Bio 


Luke Burbank

Luke Burbank is a comic, former NPR host and former producer. In addition to being the lead voice of "Live Wire," he continues to host his highly successful podcast, "Too Beautiful to Live" (over 2 million downloads/month). 

Luke's experience with NPR includes "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" in 2006 when he was a panelist and fill-in host, and the morning show "The Bryant Park Project" in 2007 which he hosted. His appearances on "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" have been marked by the audience chanting "Luuuuuuuuuuuuuke!" as the show comes back from a break. Through various other media projects, Luke has also appeared on "This American Life," "All Things Considered," and "Morning Edition." 

Praise for Live Wire


"KUT 90.5 is very happy to have Live Wire on our air waves. When it comes to variety shows, finding a program with a fresh sound that appeals to many audiences is becoming more difficult in the public media landscape. Enter Live Wire! The music, performances and interviews have a vibrant sound that our audience has taken to. Host Luke Burbank does what is most important in a variety show, he is the thread that stitches the program together and does not get in the way of the performances. This is a show that will entertain and hopefully, grow your audience."
— Keith Neisler, Program Director, KUT/Austin

"... It is an expertly produced, gratifyingly eclectic and coherent show. The music and other performance bookings are terrific and fresh and surprising. The interviewing is first rate, to my mind in that perfect sweet spot of thoughtful-and-serious but good-humored. And it does that extremely difficult thing, comedy performance, as well or better as anyone else on radio today..."
— Kurt Andersen, novelist and host of "Studio 360"

"What started out as an entertainment show 10 years ago has become an audio adventure that travels from hilarious absurdity to intense emotion and back in the course of an hour."
— Portland Monthly, Jan 2014

"...Such a great show. Just everything and the kitchen sink. Great music and comedy and commentary."
— Stephen Toblowsky, Actor/Writer/Storyteller

"Live Wire is the type of experience that activates my romance about the beauty of live recorded variety shows. It's smart, well written and performed by a cast of sweethearts. The music is also top notch. So when I am part of the show listening to the audience completely enjoying themselves I feel proud to be a part of such a passionate undertaking as Live Wire."
— Reggie Watts, Actor/Performer/Humorist 

I can’t say enough about Live Wire. It’s perhaps the only radio program I’ve ever been on in which the host actually reads the books by the authors, and has the audacity to ask intelligent questions...Live Wire is the smartest, funniest, coolest radio show I’ve ever listened to, let alone made an ass of myself on.” 
— Steve Almond, author & essayist

Live Wire! is my favorite radio show in America. And it's been a great influence on me, particularly with regards to my Cabinet of Wonders [variety] show in NYC. All radio should be so much fun.
— John Wesley Harding aka Wesley Stace



Last Updated 7/22/2021

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