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Local TV host has finger on Iowa City's pulse

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | APRIL 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Yale Cohn lights up his American Spirit cigarette while sitting on a bench waving to someone he recognizes across the street.

"I love the many benches downtown," he said. "I like that there are people that I need to see walking down the street."

Cohn, a Chicago native, is the host of Iowa City's only weekly talk show, "Talking with … Yale Cohn," and he has hosted the show since its development in October 2010.

"The idea actually came from my producer, Tim Tack," Cohn said. "He suggested that I should create a TV show [after he saw me working at the Little Village]."

Cohn was set to be the host of a TV show Little Village was creating; the show didn't take off. After seeing Cohn host, Tack offered him a job. Now, Tack says that he and Cohn are great friends.

"We're like an old married couple," Tack said. "We argue all the time, but it's just that we're trying to make the best show possible. People that don't know us think that we're arguing, but we're just trying to make the best show possible."

Cohn feels that the show has come a long way.

"[My first day on the show], I came right from a bar and I was wearing a Bear's shirt," he said. "It was a great conversation, but I had never done television before, so technically, it was a pigf***."

"After doing more and more shows, he was able to develop my skills, and they were able to make a better show, he said.

"If you listened to [the first show], you never would have known, but it looked horrible," he said. "I'm really grateful we made those mistakes the first day, because then we could have corrected them. Since then, we just got better and better. Live and learn I guess."

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said that when he appeared on the show, in September 2011, Cohn was a great host.

"I enjoy Yale Cohn," he said. "He has a pulse on the issues in our community and has a real interest in exploring them and now he has a venue to accomplish that, his approach to the show is balanced and interesting."

Hayek said that Cohn is also a great conversationalist.

"He doesn't drop softballs, but he doesn't try to trick people, either," he said. "His questions are fair and intended to provoke a good discussion. He's a real asset to our local media."

Cohn said that he has learned something from every person that he has spoken with on his show. Recently, those people have included Jordan Sellergren, a local musician, and the 13 Moon Tribal Bellydance Troupe.

"What I've learned from guests is that I've learned to listen," he said while waving to another person across the street. "I like to talk, but as a result of the show I've learned to listen very well. That's part of the dynamic."

As far as the show moving forward, Cohn said he hopes it goes nowhere. "If I could do what I'm doing [right now] and make a living off of it, that would be spectacular," he said. "I really think this town has enough going on to merit a show like this. I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to do it. We created it so I have a small sense of achievement. If somebody called me tomorrow from Cleveland or some sh**, yeah, gee wiz, would I consider it, but I really don't want to leave this town."

And Cohn said that he wouldn't leave this town.

"I grew up in Chicago; college in New York City. Been there, done that."


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