Some names stick in the brain a little longer than others, so if you’ve heard of Dr. Zorba Paster, but you’re not quite sure why, it’s not just because of his uncommon name. In many ways, you have Wisconsin Public Radio Host Tom Clark to thank. Paster was a regular – and charismatic – guest on Tom Clark’s popular morning show before the two spun off their occasional conversations into a successful national radio show – “Zorba Paster On Your Health” – that’s heard across Wisconsin and more than 20 other states.
Now, after more than 30 years of playful banter and barbs, Clark is retiring from the show he helped create. WPR will broadcast his final segment on the show – a tribute to his work with Paster – on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 8 a.m. with a repeat at 1 p.m. on The Ideas Network. Karl Christenson, who has served as a regular fill-in for Clark over the years and has been executive producer of the program since 2013, will now officially take on the role of co-host with Paster each week.
“Tom and I are like brothers,” Paster said. “Every week for more than 30 years we chatted, laughed and had lots and lots of fun entertaining and educating people about health and wellness. He brought a unique talent, insight, charm and charisma that made the show spectacular. It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to work with him – I shall sorely miss him and wish him the best of luck in his retirement,” he added.
While the chemistry and laughter between Clark and Paster have been compared to another popular public radio duo, “Car Talk” hosts and real-life brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, “Zorba Paster On Your Health” is different because it focuses on a topic some people find intimidating, their health and well-being. Whether it’s fielding questions about a cancer diagnosis or Tik Tok diets, the show succeeds with a bedside manner that offers sound medical perspective with compassion and humor.
“Karl was the perfect person to take over from Tom as co-host,” WPR Director Sarah Ashworth said. “He has worked wonderfully with both Tom and Zorba as a producer and he’s built his own compelling connection with listeners as fill-in host this summer. I’m excited for Karl and the future ahead for “Zorba Paster On Your Health,” she said.
In addition to producing the show for the past decade, Christenson has been a contributing producer to WPR’s “Wisconsin Life” and “Central Time.” His original music has been part of numerous award-winning podcasts at the station, including “Derailed,” “Mapped Out” and “Open and Shut,” a partnership with Wisconsin Watch.
“The work that Tom and Zorba did together was incredible. I am grateful for all that I’ve learned from working with Tom. I look forward to keeping the show fun, fresh and meaningful to listeners,” Christenson said. As a father of two young children, listeners might also notice that Christenson brings a different perspective to his conversations with Paster and the issues on the show.
“Karl’s warmth, his approachable demeanor and his genuine empathy for people shines in every episode,” Paster said. “And his laugh is contagious. Karl is the best choice I could ever imagine. Listeners will love him,” he concluded.
Tom Clark’s tribute and final segment will air on “Zorba Paster On Your Health” on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on WPR’s The Ideas Network stations. Listeners can also hear it via the WPR app and via the “Zorba Paster On Your Health” podcast. Find the latest on the show, including recommended recipes, at wpr.org/zorba.
“Zorba Paster On Your Health” is produced by WPR and distributed by PRX. Its weekly, one-hour episodes are heard on stations in more than 20 states and parts of Canada.