Roqe

Roqe Media

Conversations from, to, and about the Iranian diaspora.

Roqe is hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.

Theme from Roqe (full version)
Trailer 2 min 10 sec

All Episodes

“The Rise of Opium” - Part 9 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How is it that opium became an extremely popular substance for the citizens of Iran in the Qajar era, and reached a zenith in consumption and production in the early 20th Century? Was opium use always a negative? And when did it shift from a medicinal product that was eaten, to a recreational and dangerous drug that is smoked? Historian Dr. Rudi Matthee, author of, “The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from the University of Delaware to shed light on the dramatic rise of Persian opium use and cultivation in the 19th Century, and the roots of the current crisis of opioid addiction in modern-day Iran.--

Dec 3

48 min 20 sec

“A feature interview with Iranian-Canadian performer and promoter, Aras, Canada’s first “Persian Celebrity DJ.” Aras joins Jian in the Roqe Studio for a very frank conversation about his journey to popular performer, the challenges of trying to run an entertainment business in the Persian community, his struggles with depression and anxiety, and his recent desire to get rid of all his material possessions and leave his career. As well on this episode, geological surveyor Alan Ekbatani and veteran journalist Mohammad Manazarpour provide perspective on the ongoing water scarcity crisis in Iran and, in particular, the recent crackdown on related protests in Isfahan. Plus the Roqe Team read the Letters of the Week, and Jian gives a debrief on his weekend experience at the Faramarz Aslani concert.

Nov 30

1 hr 54 min

“The Shiraz Festival Complexities” - Part 8 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an annual international summer arts festival, the Shiraz Festival of Arts, celebrated for its innovation and unprecedented mix of progressive programming, part of a series of groundbreaking Pahlavi-led initiatives for culture in Iran, also become a lightning rod for contested symbolism, accusations of elitism, ideological debate, boycotts, the monarchy, and questions around the very nature of Iran itself? Art historian, curator and writer, Vali Mahlouji joins Jian Ghomeshi from London to discuss the rise of an event that led the world with its eclectic curatorial approach and transgressive liberalism, but that still inspires a paradox of emotions from nostalgia and pride, to controversy and debate

Nov 25

58 min 22 sec

A feature interview with acclaimed Iranian-American fashion designer, Behnaz Sarafpour. Behnaz joins Jian from New York City to talk about growing up in Iran, moving to the USA and attending the Parsons School, launching her own brand in 2001, winning the National Design Award (handed to her by Michelle Obama at the White House) in 2013, Angelina Jolie and others handpicking her line of clothing, and her popular new brand of Behnaz Fragrances based on Persian scents. Plus the Roqe On-Air Team convenes to discuss world football, the sad passing of Jian’s Uncle Hooshang, and Kyan’s conduit to Caspian caviar.

Nov 23

1 hr 33 min

“Siahkal and the Failure of the Left” - Part 7 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. Why was the unsuccessful 1971 Marxist guerrilla action in the small northern town of Siahkal such a pivotal event that still gets named as a proud symbol of leftist resistance in Iran? And how do we explain the notable failure of the left in Iran to attain any semblance of power, despite wielding influence, throughout the 20th Century, and especially after the revolution of 1979? Dr. Maziar Behrooz, an Iranian-American historian, associate professor in the Department of History at San Francisco State University, and author of “Rebels With A Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Berkeley, California, to shed light on the Siahkal incident and the plight of the Left - from the growth of the Communist Tudeh in the 1940s, to the crushing of leftist groups under Khomeini.

Nov 19

45 min 47 sec

A feature interview with Iranian-American recording artist and author, Sepehr Haddad. Sepehr joins Jian from Maryland, USA, to discuss his musical group, Shahin and Sepehr, and his new novel, “A Hundred Sweet Promises,” that incorporates history, culture, and international romance, not to mention significant Iranians from his own lineage. Plus the Roqe Team debates the merits of smoking on screen and presents the Letters of the Week.

Nov 16

1 hr 34 min

“The Story of Kayhan” - Part 6 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an Iranian daily newspaper that was, at its peak, the most influential media voice in the Middle East, come to be? How much impact did Kayhan have by the 1960s and 70s? How did it navigate editorial autonomy whilst being funded by the Shah? And how did a newspaper that had become identified for its powerful voice and support for the monarchy morph into a journal that is now an organ of the Islamic Republic? Acclaimed journalist, political analyst, and author, Amir Taheri, the man who served as Executive Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan in Iran from 1972-1979, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Paris to make the case that Kayhan in its heyday was a media monolith.

Nov 12

1 hr 20 min

A feature interview with superstar British dancer, Yasmine Naghdi, Principal Ballerina of the The Royal Ballet. Yasmine joins Jian from London to discuss her identity, her upbringing, her discipline, and her journey to becoming the first Persian ballerina - and only one of Middle-Eastern background - to be a member of the storied Royal Ballet company. Plus the Roqe Team convenes to chat about Persian parents, dance in Iran, Arsenal’s winning days, and the audience Letters of the Week.

Nov 9

1 hr 21 min

“The Creation of Kanoon” - Part 5 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. What exactly was Kanoon? What is it today? And how did one of the most progressive systems for the cultural education and creativity of kids and teens - anywhere in the world - begin in Iran? The founder and Managing Director, from 1965-1979, of the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults known as Kanoon, Lily Amir-Arjomand, also the former head of the National Library, and an associate professor at Tehran University, joins Jian Ghomeshi from Naples, Florida, to tell the story of the creation of an institution that began as a children’s library and grew into a model of integrative creative learning for kids that was a model for the world during the Pahlavi Dynasty, and continues to thrive today.

Nov 4

52 min 16 sec

Feature interviews with celebrated Iranian-French designer, Tara Ghazanfar, and Iranian-American photographer and producer, Manoosh Nabavi. Tara joins Jian from London to talk about her trendsetting Tara Zadeh handbag line, her incorporation of architecture and symmetry into designs influenced by Iranian colours and culture, and her strong Iranian identity despite being born and raised in the West. Manoosh joins Jian from Los Angeles to chat about her career path from starting a media company in Iran in her teens, to internationally-celebrated photographer, to opening her own film studio in LA. Plus the Roqe Team pore over the Letters of the Week debating a recent episode of The Contemporary History of Iran, and Jian explains English halloween.

Nov 2

1 hr 59 min

“How the Iran-Iraq War Benefited Khomeini” - Part 4 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How much did the new Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini regime actually benefit from a war that was declared a patriotic and religious national duty in the early 1980s? And, in fact, can it be argued that the consolidation of power by Khomeini and the Islamic formalists in the years during and after the conflict was actually only made possible by an 8-year war? Iranian-American scholar, Dr. Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh, associate professor of history at Northeastern Illinois University, and author of the new book, “Iranian Women & Gender in the Iran-Iraq War,” joins Jian Ghomeshi from Chicago to make the case that the longest war of the 20th Century actually served as a tool and necessary crisis to rally a divided and suddenly isolated Iranian nation, and cement the power of the Islamic Republic leaders.

Oct 28

57 min 4 sec

A look at the growing popularity of online English lessons for Iranians, featuring interviews with two internet stars - Houshang Noormohamadi of “houshang_academy” and Shahrzad Kazemi, the host of “LearningEnglishWithSherry.” Houshang and Sherry join Jian from Oklahoma and Vancouver, respectively, to address the trends, tribulations and passions of Persians teaching English. Plus the Roqe Team debate how Iranians are supposed to politely dismiss sombre declarations.

Oct 26

1 hr 58 min

“Farah Diba and the Rise of Iranian Art” - Part 3 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How much did young Queen Farah shape the trajectory of arts and culture for Iran in the mid-20th Century? And specifically, what was her impact and influence in bringing art, culture and museums to Iran in the 1960s and 70s? Iranian-American scholar, art advisor and curator, Dr. Layla Diba, the first woman museum director in Iran, joins Jian Ghomeshi from New York City to make the case that Farah Diba’s role was enormous during the final years of the Pahlavi era, in reshaping the collection, appreciation, and global recognition of Persian art for years to come.

Oct 21

51 min 14 sec

A feature interview with Iranian-American tech entrepreneur, investor, CEO and co-founder of the education nonprofit Code.org, Hadi Partovi. Hadi joins Jian from Seattle to discuss his first experiences coding on a Commodore 64 as a kid during the Iran-Iraq war, his migration to America with his family living in one bedroom, his ascension through Harvard to Microsoft and the development of Internet Explorer, becoming an early investor in startups like Facebook, Uber, airbnb, Dropbox, SpaceX, and life lessons learned with his mission to give back through computer science education for students around the world. Plus, the Roqe Team discuss the implications of a Persian “Squid Game.”

Oct 19

1 hr 27 min

“The Americans and the ’53 Coup” - Part 2 of the new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. What exactly was the role of the United States in the removal of the popular Prime Minister Mossadegh in August 1953? And what was the American incentive to get involved? And how does that pivotal event affect American action on the foreign stage right up to today? Author and award-winning foreign correspondent, Stephen Kinzer joins Jian Ghomeshi from Boston, Massachusetts, to discuss his bestselling book, “All the Shah’s Men,” and the American role in an event that he believes reshaped the geopolitical history of the world.

Oct 14

1 hr

Feature interviews with Iranian-American academic and social activist, Dr. Sharon Nazarian, Senior VP of the Anti-Defamation League, and acclaimed Iranian-French painter, Vanecha Roudbaraki in Paris. Plus the Roqe Team convenes and sifts through the Letters of the Week.

Oct 11

1 hr 46 min

“From Shahyad to Azadi” - The premiere episode of a new Roqe Media series, The Contemporary History of Iran. How did an iconic monument in Tehran that was a symbol of the Monarchy in the 1970s morph, almost overnight, into a symbol of an Islamic Republic? Author and professor, Dr Talinn Grigor joins Jian Ghomeshi from Davis, California, to discuss the dramatic transformation of the Maydan-e Shahyad (“Shah’s Memorial Tower”) to the Maydan-e Azadi (“Freedom Tower”) after the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Oct 7

43 min 12 sec

A feature interview with Iranian-Canadian YouTube and Instagram personality, Tina Talebi. Tina joins Jian from Kitchener, Canada, to discuss growing up Bahai in Iran, moving to Canada without speaking a word of English, using her own immigrant experience as an ESL teacher today, and becoming an online sensation in videos with her charismatic husband James. Plus the Roqe Team reflect on their trip to the UK to shoot a new series, and their impressions of the Persian community in London, and Kyan’s fancy outfits.

Oct 5

1 hr 19 min

A feature interview with Iranian-French multidisciplinary artist, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, an abstract painter who has become one of the preeminent young talents of the global art world. Sassan joins Jian from the south of France to discuss his dramatic visceral style of painting, reflections on his “dark and traumatic” past in Iran, and his recent essay, The Age of Energy, lamenting the idea that we have lost connection to our true selves in an iPhone-driven world. Plus the Roqe team continues to address home birthing and Jian’s revelation from the previous episode.

Sep 27

1 hr 26 min

A feature interview with Afghan actress, choreographer, and advocate, Sitara Attaie. Sitara joins Jian from California to discuss the heartbreak of the current situation in Afghanistan, her journey through many countries and fluency in multiple languages, and her TV roles on Homeland and United States of Al. Plus the Roqe Team is surprised that Captain Reza has a fan, and Jian makes an unplanned admission about his birth in England.

Sep 24

1 hr 27 min

A feature interview with acclaimed Iranian musician, TV host and producer, Arash Sobhani. Arash joins Jian from San Francisco to discuss his politics, his art, his years with the popular rock band, Kiosk, his role as a TV producer (“Persia’s Got Talent”) and host (“Replay”), and his ambitious new musical project that is both album and film, Sweet Destiny. Plus the Roqe On-Air Team contends with animal names, Jian’s NYC trip, the Canadian election, and the Letters of the Week.

Sep 21

1 hr 52 min

A feature interview with santoor master and composer, Hamid Saeidi, a Grammy Award winner with his group, Opium Moon. Plus broadcaster Behzad Bolour and recording artist Azam Ali join the Roqe Roundtable to remember the late Abbas Chamanara and his legendary music stores - Beethoven Music in Tehran and Music Box in Los Angeles.

Sep 17

1 hr 24 min

A feature interview with award-winning Iranian-American author, poet, academic, and journalist Roya Hakakian. Roya joins Jian from Connecticut to discuss the complexities and comedy of being a first generation immigrant, owning her dual identity, growing up in Iran as a Jewish kid, and her latest book, “A Beginner’s Guide to America for the Immigrant and the Curious.” Plus the Roqe Team discusses trips to Niagara Falls, their own immigrant identities, and the Letters of the Week.

Sep 14

1 hr 39 min

A feature interview with Iranian-Australian singer and composer, Tara Tiba. Tara joins Jian from Perth to discuss her musical journey that included a convergence of styles - classical, jazz, pop and latin - culminating in her most recent award-winning album, Omid. She also discusses growing up in Iran, her identity as an immigrant, and physical and mental health struggles. Plus the Roqe Team talks cars, konkours, and caricatures.

Sep 10

1 hr 40 min

A feature interview wtih popular Iranian-British psychologist and author, Dr. Fathali Moghaddam. Fathali joins Jian from Washington DC to explore the psychology of authoritarianism, why humans gravitate towards dictatorship, the current plight of democracy around the world, and the prospect of democratic change for Iran and Iranians. Dr. Moghaddam is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science at Georgetown University, and has most recently been featured on the new Netflix series, “How to Become a Tyrant.” Plus the Roqe On-Air Team read the Letters of the Week.

Sep 6

1 hr 22 min

Members of the Roqe On-Air Team are joined by Persian hip hop pioneer and star, Erfan, for a discussion about his newly-released song, his recent culinary path, and vaccine mandates. Plus, a feature interview with Iranian-Swedish-American commercial filmmaker, Alec Cartio. Alec joins Jian from Los Angeles to discuss his journey from political refugee to becoming arguably the most important and well-known music video director in Iranian music, and his new venture that involves cars.

Sep 3

1 hr 29 min

The members of the Roqe On-Air Team reconvene for the launch of a new season with stories about how they spent August. Plus a feature interview with Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, the first female chairperson of the Afghan Film Organization, and the first and only woman in Afghanistan who has a PhD in cinema and filmmaking. Sahraa joins Jian from Kiev where she has found safe haven after escaping from Kabul two weeks ago with the takeover of the Afghan capital by the Taliban.

Aug 31

1 hr 34 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with two legendary figures in Iranian music. Jian is joined by beloved Iranian-American composer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Faramarz Aslani, for a feature conversation about his life and career. And then, a powerful interview with one of the most prolific and successful contemporary composers and songwriters of our time, Farid Zoland in Los Angeles.

Aug 27

1 hr 34 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with three acclaimed filmmakers of Iranian descent. Jian is joined by legendary director, screenwriter and producer, Bahman Farmanara in Tehran, award-winning Kurdish writer and filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi in Greece, and celebrated director and screenwriter, Babak Payami in Toronto.

Aug 24

1 hr 49 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with three impressive social media influencers in the Iranian diaspora. Jian is joined by photographer and popular lifestyle commentator Kusha Alagband in Los Angeles, athlete and instagram star, Picasso Moin in Istanbul, and fashion tastemaker and influential blogger, Bahar Eslami in Vancouver.

Aug 19

1 hr 30 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with three impressive actors of Iranian descent with stories of resilience and perseverance. Jian is joined by American Assassin and SEAL Team star, Shiva Negar in Los Angeles, Bollywood favourite and model, Mandana Karimi in Mumbai, and acclaimed stage and screen actor and star of NCIS: New Orleans, Necar Zadegan in Santa Fe.

Aug 16

1 hr 18 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with three very successful media figures of Iranian descent. Jian is joined by popular broadcaster Shally Zomorodi in San Diego, iconic print and radio journalist Homa Sarshar in Los Angeles, and award-winning BBC anchor and producer Pooneh Ghoddoosi in London.

Aug 12

1 hr 45 min

A special themed episode of Roqe featuring interviews with three remarkable sport champions of Iranian descent. Jian is joined by world champion kickboxer Farinaz Lari in Vancouver, longtime karate champ and Team Canada Olympic coach Nassim Varasteh in Toronto, and wrestling star and Team USA Olympic coach Afsoon Roshanzamir Johnston in San Diego.

Aug 9

1 hr 34 min

A fun-driving episode exploring the Persian preoccupation with cars and status. Jian is joined by two very popular experts in the field of cars and Iranians - Vahid Amirimoghaddam of the “Cars I Have Driven” channel (Montreal), and Ali Bekhradi of the hit “Garage Bekhradi” YouTube/Instagram site (Houston) - to discuss all things auto obsession, from a Mercedes fixation to the vehicular expectations of a nation. Plus the Roqe Team share their road stories and explore a new edition of “It’s All Persian To Us.”

Aug 6

1 hr 46 min

A feature interview with Iranian-British entrepreneur and founder/CEO of Babylon Health, Dr. Ali Parsa. Ali joins Jian from London for a heartfelt conversation about perseverance, vision, escaping from Iran as a refugee, getting a PhD in engineering physics, his time as a successful investment banker, pivoting to the healthcare space, and getting added to the UK “rich list” as one of the wealthiest people in Britain. Plus the Roqe Team goes through audience feedback and the Letters of the Week.

Aug 3

1 hr 37 min

A feature interview with Iranian-American plastic surgeon and entrepreneur, Dr. Sheila Nazarian, fresh from her Emmy nomination for the Netflix series, “Skin Decision: Before and After.” Sheila joins Jian to discuss why plastic surgery is not always about Instagram-driven images of beauty, but can be important in building self-esteem, confidence and personal empowerment. She discusses her practise in Beverly Hills, as well as her story of being a Jewish refugee fleeing Iran with her family after the revolution, her ambitions and routine, and her take on the Persian interest in surgery, and the Iranian obsession with nose jobs. Plus the Roqe Team pores over the Letters of the Week regarding the “Explaining Khuzestan” episode.

Jul 30

1 hr 44 min

A special edition of Roqe focusing on the environmental crisis in the Khuzestan region of Iran, and the bloody crackdown on those raising their voices for the basic human needs of clean water. Jian is joined by scientist and writer, Kaveh Madani, who was prophetic in coining the term “water bankruptcy” in regards to Iran long before the latest crisis. He discusses the roots of the mismanagement of water distribution in Iran, environmental justice, and the paradox of deprivation and underdevelopment in oil-rich Khuzestan. Then Ahvaz-born journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan newspaper (1972-1979) Amir Taheri joins Jian from Paris to discuss the pattern of brutal clampdown in Khuzestan and across Iran on those protesting the current regime, and the elements of a failed state.

Jul 27

1 hr 35 min

A feature interview with queer Iranian-American personality and musician, Kayvon Zand. Kayvon joins Jian from Jersey City, USA, for a heartfelt and candid discussion about growing up Persian and non-binary queer in “redneck” North Carolina, the challenge of coming out to his Iranian family, working as a male model and then a provocative live performer, witnessing the growth and strength of the LGBTQ community among Iranians and in the larger global community, and building a large social media following. Plus the Roqe Team shares sadness and solidarity with Iranians fighting for the basic needs of water and resources in Khouzestan.

Jul 23

1 hr 28 min

A feature interview with award-winning Iranian-British broadcaster, fashion designer, artist and producer, Behzad Bolour - his first ever long-form interview in English. Behzad has been a staple of cultural programming on BBC Persian radio and television for over 30 years. He joins Jian from London for a wide-ranging and animated conversation about his efforts to preserve Persian culture, his presenting style, his early years in Iran, and his relationship with Iranians in the diaspora and back home since being in Britain and at BBC for the last few decades. Plus, the Roqe Team discusses Covid tests and pores through the Letters of the Week.

Jul 20

1 hr 58 min

A rhythmic edition of Roqe featuring two rising star Persian percussionists in different parts of the planet. Iranian-Indian musician Hamta Baghi joins Jian from Pune, India, to talk about her love of drums, her move from Iran, and becoming the first Iranian woman who plays Indian beats on the Daf. Then Iranian-Australian conga and Cajon star Nasrine Rahmani chimes in from Madrid, Spain, on growing up enamored of Latin music and percussion, and finding her groove and musical home in Cuba and Spain. Plus the Roqe Team discusses the proper Persian terms for attractive men and women, and Kyan delivers a thirst-quenching new edition of “It’s All Persian To Us”.

Jul 16

1 hr 32 min

A feature interview with Iranian-American former CEO-turned-popular social media commentator, Farhad Kashani. He has has made it his mission to travel to every United Nations recognized country in the world. Farhad joins Jian from San Francisco to discuss living life with a passion, still seeing himself as a kid, his advice as the author of 8 books on management and lifestyle, his time as a pilot and an automobile journalist, finding himself whilst travelling to over 200 countries, and his newfound status as an instagram influencer with over 100k followers. Plus the Roqe Team reads the Letters of the Week and Jian licks his wounds after another tough lost for England in world football.

Jul 13

1 hr 30 min

An ebullient episode including a feature interview with legendary Iranian-American photographer, Firooz Zahedi. Firooz joins Jian from Los Angeles to tell the story of how he went from an Iranian kid born in Tehran in 1949, to a protege of pop art luminary Andy Warhol by the mid-1970s in the USA, and then the personal photographer and close friend of Elizabeth Taylor. Firooz recounts his trip to Iran with Taylor, his eye for photography, his more recent work with everyone from Barbra Streisand to Oprah Winfrey to Angelina Jolie, and his art direction and photography for the famous poster for Pulp Fiction. Plus the Roqe Team convenes to discuss Persian phone greetings, and the imminent Euro 2021 Final.

Jul 8

1 hr 18 min

A feature interview with Iranian-Canadian guitarist and composer, Maneli Jamal. With a new album about to be released, Maneli joins Jian in the Roqe Studio to discuss the impact that moving twenty times before the age of 18 had on his unique musical sound, his instrument as his refuge, lessons learned from his artistic and political Persian parents, getting deported from the United States with his family after 9/11, and finding his identity and sound as an award-winning guitarist living in Canada. Plus the Roqe Team pores through the Letters of the Week.

Jul 6

1 hr 41 min

A feature interview with renowned scientist, Dr Reza Moridi, the first-ever politician of Iranian descent elected to any legislature in Canada or the United States. Dr Moridi joins Jian in the Roqe Studio for a wide-ranging conversation about his life including his 11 years in the Ontario government, biculturalism on Canada Day, his youth in Urmia, working as a Professor in Iran during the 1979 revolution, his move to Canada and time as a prominent scientist, representing the Iranian community in office, and the tragic loss of his son in 2014. Plus, the Roqe Team presides over a new edition of “It’s All Persian to Us” and Jian challenges Shaya to learn more Canadianisms. This episode is brought to you with the generous support of Katy Kavandi Immigration Services Inc.

Jul 1

1 hr 28 min

A feature interview with Iranian-American neurologist Dr Shahin Nouri, founder and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the New York Presbyterian - Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Dr Nouri is suffering from a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma as well as severe immunodeficiency, and his only hope of survival is a stem cell transplant from the blood of a healthy compatible donor, within the next few weeks. That donor is most likely to be found amongst fellow people of Iranian descent. Dr Nouri joins Jian for a moving and difficult conversation about his current plight, managing hope and fear, and his campaign to address the underrepresentation of Middle Eastern people in stem cell donations and information. To help Shahin’s cause and become a stem cell donor, please visit: https://www.shahinswings.org/

Jun 29

1 hr 11 min

A feature interview with Iranian-Canadian comedian, commentator and host of the podcast, “Unfiltered,” Sahar Golshani. Sahar has become a popular online presence for her funny posts and poignant observations on being Persian in the diaspora. She joins Jian in the Roqe Studio for a wide-ranging discussion about cultural practises, (not) caring what others think, destructive attitudes of Iranians, her clothing line, and very candid personal reflection on growing up with a dangerous and absentee father. Plus Kyan brings a new edition of It’s All Persian to Us, and the team discusses bathroom doors and nose jobs.

Jun 25

2 hr 5 min

A feature interview with Iranian-Italian designer and founder of Azitoys, Azadeh Shams. She has also become an internationally known expert on raising bilingual children. Azadeh joins Jian from Milan to discuss how she united her troika of passions - design, language and children - by creating a popular new line of educational toys for toddlers called, Azitoys, that, among other things, help young kids living outside of Iran learn how to speak Persian. Plus the Roqe Team reads Letters of the Week, and Jian tells the story of his French bulldog Oogie’s football fandom.

Jun 22

55 min 17 sec

A feature interview with Iranian-American wrestling pioneer and champion, Afsoon Roshanzamir Johnston. Afsoon was the first ever world medalist in women’s wrestling in 1989, and has been a multiple medalist and champion since then. She joins Jian from San Diego to recount her story of being born in Tehran before emigrating to the United States at the age of 11 in 1984, finding her confidence and identity as a wrestler (in the footsteps of her famous wrestling father), overcoming cultural and gender barriers to join the American national team by her late teens, winning awards including a gold medal with Team USA as coach at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and her brand new biography entitled, “Afsoon”. She opens up about her emotions in not only being recognized as an American star, but an Iranian one as well these days. Plus, the Roqe Team ponders Jian’s confusion at the Persian names for Jesus and Moses.

Jun 17

1 hr 36 min

A feature interview with legendary Iranian-American painter, Nicky (Nikzad) Nodjoumi. Nicky has been voted the “fifth most influential contemporary artist of Iran” for his works that take on social power, justice and freedom as their subject. He joins Jian from New York for an intimate and wide-ranging conversation that includes his recent acclaim, his rituals as a painter, his early years in Iran, becoming politically engaged and censured under the Shah, and then being expelled after the 1979 Iranian revolution and losing many of his precious works. Plus the Roqe Team reads letters about a recent episode with Hila Sedighi, and Jian explains that the current Euro football championship will inevitably lead him to heartbreak.

Jun 15

1 hr 37 min

A feature interview with Iranian poet, painter and social activist, Hila Sedighi. Hila joins Jian from Dubai for a rare long-form interview discussing her journey from young writer, law student, and organizer in Tehran, to becoming the symbol of youth resistance and power during the Green Movement protests after the disputed presidential election of 2009. She recounts her multiple arrests and prison sentences, her lessons learned and nightmares about the lack of democracy in Iran, and her current life as a writer, documentarian and cultural advocate based in UAE. (The interview is conducted in Persian) Plus Kyan delivers a new edition of “It’s All Persian To Us” and Jian continues to wonder why people are surprised that he’s tall.

Jun 11

1 hr 49 min