Uncommon Conversations

Maryam Zar


Maryam Zar was born in Iran. She arrived in the United States in 1979 and grew up in New Jersey. She went to Boston University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and to Pepperdine Law School for a Juris Doctorate.

In 1992 she went back to Iran to become an advertising executive at a time when the nation was just emerging from war, and made her mark as a fiercely capable woman in a patriarchal land where women in the workplace were unwelcome. She parlayed her skill and her language arts into a job as an editor for an English language daily newspaper and quickly became a rising star, with her own dedicated page. She became a correspondent for publications based in London and Dubai, then quickly became a target for the Islamic republic moral police, and fled Iran.

Since then, she has Founded Womenfound, an organization dedicated to raising awareness for the plight of women around the world and advocating for the empowerment of women in patriarchal societies where opportunities and rights for women are scarce. She has also become a wife and mother, as well as a community activist and leader.

She currently Chairs the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils (WRAC). She is the former Chair of the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) and the Founding Chair of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness. She is also the an elected delegate for Assembmy Diagrixt 50 and has serves on the Executive Board of the Business and Professional Caucus. She is the former President of PTSA at Paul Revere Middle School in Los Angeles.

She is a tireless advocate for everything that is just, and an endlessly creative thinker with the organized skill to motivate people and seek solutions to some of the tough issues that face our communities today. She has been recognized for her work by LA County Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl as “Volunteer of the Year” (2016), and named “Honorary Fire Chief” for Pacific Palisades by Fire Station 69. She was the first VP of Communications for the UN Women Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women in LA, when it was first founded in 2012, and was recently elected as a Delegate for the 50th Assembly District.

She writes as a contributor for the Huffington Post as well as her local paper, the Palisadian Post. She is the mother of 3 children in LAUSD Elementary, Middle and High Schools, and is active at each school with an unyielding spirit of community service.

John Harlow


John Harlow comes from a large Anglo-Irish tribe of journalists and priests, spies and lawyers. He has reported from Kenya and Senegal, Warsaw and Tokyo. He was trained on the Daily Telegraph of London, covering terrorism in London and Northern Ireland and embedded during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. During 24 years with The Sunday Times of London he covered disasters natural and manmade, mass shootings and elections and the rise of Silicon Valley. He has broken bread with Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock and Charlize Theron and Tweeted from the press bunker beneath the Oscars. He enjoys loud dinner parties, Baroque music and backyard chickens.

Show Time: 
Thursday 11:00AM - 11:59AM
Show Description: 
Uncommon Conversations is a weekly radio program with Hosts, Maryam Zar and John Harlow, about the issues of our time. Big or small, sexy or mundane, generational or timeless, some events shape our time and loom large in our minds. These conversations craft the world we live in and help give our thoughts texture, open our eyes to new perspectives and make us consider points of view we never thought we could. Uncommon Conversations seeks to bring forward unique guests and engage with them to have the kinds of conversation we all wish we could have around our coffee tables. We will engage community voices and seasoned pros to discuss the common issues that touch our lives, but in uncommon ways that brings depth and perspective to the issues we all grapple with. Whether its parenting or side-walk vending, global politics or humanitarian tragedies, local conversations can have global impact and they can shape the way we live. What we narrate as a generation at our dinner tables shapes the world that unfolds in generations to come. Let’s be part of crafting that future, by taking the time to have the uncommon conversations we all crave. Tune in Thursdays at 11am. Be part of the narrative that shapes your life.

Show Archives

April 2019


March 2019


February 2019


Ariel Gold, Code Pink National co-Director; Alison Carlman, Global Giving Dir of impact and Communications; Priyali Sur, The Azadi Project Founder


This week, John and Maryam talked to Zaydee Sanchez and Scott Barker about their experience south of the border in Tijuana. Zaydee and Scott were originally working on a documentary about LA homelessness when they decided to head south and earth the human story evolving south of the border. You can follow their work on Facebook:


Instagram @migrantcrossings

Twitter @migrantcrossing

They then pivoted to the Oscar’s and talked to Dr. Joel Waldfogel, author of the book, Digital Rennaisance, who told us the digitization of film has made it easier for film makers to create more flow of creative work, and that has improved the the quality of film, and even for self published books. 


Digital Rennaisance: books.google.com/books/about/Digital_Renaissance.html


In this week’s episode of Uncommon Conversations we discuss global freedom in retreat with Sarah Rapucci from Freedom House (freedomhouse.org), and have an exclusive interview with Sean Ryan, Marie Colvin’s last Editor at the Sunday Times, who now works at Save the Children (savethechildren.org).;

Freedom house has found global democracy in retreat for the 13th year in a row, and we discuss why - from war and conflict to democratic systems and press freedoms, we delve into the report: freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2019

And we discuss the life and times of Marie Colvin along with the two films that portray her last assignment - the one that likes her amid the brutal fighting in syria that has besieged civilians for nearly a decade.

Before we close, we treat our listeners to a reggae love ballad by XOrasta Ricci and the Tic Tac Toes. Their song Wakayo won the reggae song of the year! Click here to support them:


In this week’s Uncommon Conversations Maryam Zar and John Harlow talk with USC psychologist Dr. Ayeshi Madni on identifying healthy relationship that children have with adults, and understanding when to step in when those relationship become disempowering or unhealthy. We also talked to millennial activist, Claire Tacherra-Morrison, Deputy Campaign Director at Sunrise Movement which campaigned for the election of progressive candidates in state houses as well as Congress, and was instrumental in developing the impetus behind the Green New Deal that was introduced by Senator Markey and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cotez on Feb. 7, 2019. We also had Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian on to discuss the recent visit by Gabby Giffords to Sacramento, and the renewed commitment that State legislators have to enacting sensible gun laws in CA. ASM Nazarian has introduced AB-18 (along with ASM Levine and Bonta), which promises to fund violence prevention programs with taxes collected on certain gun sales. Ultimately he believes states can’t just sit by and watch Federal inaction on this issue.

January 2019


Join us for a discussion about homelessness, with Alisa Orduna, former LA City Homelessness Policy Director to Mayor Eric Garcetti, and now working for the City of Santa Monica as the Sr. Adviser to the City Manager on Homelessness. We are then joined by Larry Gross, Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, and region 12 CADEM Director (encompassing Assembly Districts 39 - Luz Rivas, 45 - Jesse gabriel, 46 - Adrin Nazarian & 50 - Richard Bloom).


Tune to hear about the Women's March LA, and the movement underway to empower women, craft policies to improve their quality of life, and elect more to local elected positions in municipalities across LA county, as well as nationally. the Honorable, Lindsey Horvath, former West Hollywood Mayor and CA State Delegate, and current candidate for WeHo City Council is our gust for that segment.

Then we turn to international news and events with a discussion of BREXIT, led by John Harlow, with out guest from Brussels, Nicholas J Cull, historian and the director of the Master's in Public Diplomacy program at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.


Topics included the LAUSD/UTLA teacher strike, local ADEM elections, and Brexit.

At air time on Jan 17th, the teachers strike enters the end of a first week, with no breakthrough hailed imminent yet. We talked to Nick Melvoin, LAUSD District 4 Board member & Board VP and Kaye Steinsapir, a local mother, lawyer and opinion leader among school parents.

Our ADEM discussion centered around the engagement of residents in districts across this taking part in a hyper-local democracy that plays out across America in small communities with real, grassroots, activists.  Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEM) are elections where local residents have a say in how their state political party shapes the narrative of the local legislature. We had Steve Bott, running in AD50 in the Grassroots slate leading the conversation along with Lauren Perotti running in AD46, Sudi Farrokhnia in AD 73, and political consultant and former ADEM candidate, Michael Soneff.