Roben Farzad parlayed his experience as a Wall Street correspondent at Businessweek into the opportunity of a lifetime – his own radio show and podcast, Full Disclosure, which airs on NPR Member Station Radio IQ. He is also a contributor to NPR, PBS, MSNBC, and C-SPAN.
“It was my dream to have a public radio show,” says Farzad who launched Full Disclosure in 2014. “I fell in love with NPR and wanted to build my own show.”
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School, Farzad was born in Iran and raised in Miami. He met his wife, who is a Richmond native, in New York.
He moved to Richmond in 2012 because he saw the city as a location with “strong, creative DNA. I also wanted to raise a family here,” says Farzad who is a journalist-in-residence at University of Richmond at the Robins School of Business. “I realized there is a lot going on here.”
At first he was anxious about leaving New York, but once he moved to Richmond his only regret was “that I didn’t move sooner,” he says.
Farzad’s show broadly focuses on the business of culture and the culture of business. He interviews everyone from rock bands to political heavy hitters. In 2019, he interviewed the alternative rock band Nada Surf at The National, the historic theater on Broad Street.
“It was a dreamy night, getting to do that and having an audience, a show, the intimacy of the conversation, followed by the concert. It remains such a warm, pre-pandemic memory,” he says.
Farzad’s dream interview is singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks, known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and in her solo career. He also would like to interview pro basketball legend, businessman and now co-owner of the Washington Commanders Magic Johnson, and Chef José Andrés.
“I put a lot of pitches out. I would like to bring [Grammy award winner, singer] Pat Benatar back to Richmond. This is where her music career started. I have my fingers crossed I can pull it off,” says Farzad, adding his guests realize radio isn’t just a New York- or Washington, D.C.-centric world. “They want to go to places like Richmond, especially when the interview lives [forever] on YouTube or podcasts.”
When you combine the national renown of University of Richmond with a live public radio element, it creates a nice “Richmond hug for radio guests and for an audience to come to here,” he says.
Up Next for Farzad’s Full Disclosure
On November 2, Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC, a graduate of Henrico High School, will be in Richmond to talk with Farzad at the Robins School. The event is free and open to the public, but you do need to register.
In December, Farzad will host Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The interview will be free and open to the public at the Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond.
One of his favorite interviews was during an event at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture (then the Virginia Historical Society) ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections. Farzad spoke with top correspondents from ABC, CBS, and NBC News; there were red and blue cocktails by Belle Isle Moonshine and Richmond chefs and Nightingale Ice Cream teamed up for refreshments. “It was a magical night. There was a big crowd and politics was in the air,” he says.
Farzad conducts his interviews remotely and in person. He loves the interaction that takes place during in-person interviews. “In the live shows, I am blessed to have the UR Business School help me welcome guests,” he says, noting he uses different studios around the area for interviews.
While it takes a lot of time and energy to get the show together and book the guests, the work is worth it, Farzad says. “The night of the interview when the microphone is hot, there is no where else professionally I want to be.”
When he’s trying to land an interview, he puts on the charm. “I like to think that I try harder – like Avis,” he jokes. “I am not Terry Gross. I will give you the hour and the university welcome. That’s so novel and different that people generally say yes.”
Richmond is a Great Place to Live and Work
A father, Farzad loves his family and this city. “When I became a father, I had to have passion for my work. If you have to say goodbye to your kids in the morning, you have to do something you are passionate about and that’s what drives me,” he says.
Whenever he does a live show, he is grateful that people, both interviewee and audience, travel to Richmond. “Richmond is worth fighting for,” he says about getting interviews for Full Disclosure. “I really, truly love what I am doing.”
To reserve your spot to the next live show of Full Disclosure, visit the Robins School of Business.