It’s our anniversary! Join the philosophers for a celebration of the program that questions everything – except your intelligence – with a look back on the issues and the people that have made Ph
Today marks our 100th episode of Philosophy Talk. We're going to throw something of an on-air party to celebrate. We'll have five of our all time favorite guests drop by to wish us well and to tell us what they're currently up to. The five are Anthony Appiah, Anne Ashbaugh, Alison Gopnik, Jenann Ismael and Martha Nussbaum. Plus will try to take lots of calls from listeners about what they'd like to see -- or hear -- us do in the next 100 episodes. It should be lots of fun. Of course, it's going the be kind of hectic getting five guests on and off, along with callers. But hey, it's a party.
If you've got some ideas about what we should tackle in our next 100, let us know. Send us an e-mail or give us a call later today while we're on air. Or comment below on this blog entry.
I've got to scoot soon, to get up to the station, but I wanted to ruminate very briefly both on where we've been and where I personally would like to see the show go.
It's really been quite an experience, first trying to get the show on the radio, then trying to shape the show into a distinctive art form, and then trying to grow the show. When we started out, John and I really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into or what was possible and what was impossible. I really didn't realize what a conservative, risk-averse medium public radio was. Plus I didn't realize how hard it is to make good radio. Nor did I realize how difficult it could be to combine the virtues of radio with the virtues of philosophy.
Philosophy is about long-form, no-holds barred thinking. Radio, even public radio, is mostly about the short-form. That's mostly because of the way people listen to radio -- while they are doing other things, driving from place to place. Hardly anyone does what they call destination or appointment listening. "Oh Philosophy Talk is on. We've got to go sit down and listen!" Just doesn't happen that way, for the most part. We were once criticized on the grounds that we are more intellectually demanding than most radio, that people actually have to listen to us. We're not just pleasant background music.
Well, we take that as a compliment and a challenge. We want to be the most intellectually engaging program on the air. We want to challenge people to listen and think and listen and think some more. But we also want to be entertaining and accessible. I think we're getting better and better at combining the virtues and limits of radio with the virtues and limits of philosophy. It's been quite an experience learning to do so.
That's one of the reasons that I think it will be good for the program to move to Sunday mornings -- though not good for our families. We have more of a chance reaching more people willing to sit and listen and think and listen and think some more that way. In the end, you simply can't do philosophy on the quick, whatever radio demands of you.
It's also one of the reasons I'm very happy that we're about to launch a full scale podcast service. I think when folks can listen at their leisure, anywhere and anytime they chose to listen, we will have a more engaged audience. And the more the audience is engaged, the more ambitious we can be.
You have probably noticed, if you have been listening closely, that our episodes vary in their philosophical ambitions. We have this constant struggle behind the scenes between the more philosophically oriented members of our team and the more radio savvy professionals on our team. The radio savvy people keep pushing to make it more accessible, more fun, more relevant to everyday life. The more philosophically oriented keep pushing for more philosophically ambitious content.
It's a constant tug of war. We've reached some sort of equilibrium between the two, I suppose, but we are constantly experimenting and adjusting.
Speaking of experimenting. I hope we can do soem really bold things in the coming year. I want us to take the show on the road, into a prison, to talk about crime and justice. We may do a show in front of high school students, at a junior college in a mostly latino community, in front of senior citizens in an assisted living facilty. I want to see us take philosophy into completely unexpected places.
What topics remain to be explored? A whole wealth of them, as I'm sure you'll hear today.
I've gotta go now. I have a lot more to say and I'll probably get to say a little bit of it on the air. But it's going to be such a busy day I think I'll mostly be playing traffic cop. So probably a follow up blog is in order. Unfortunately, blogging has been slow for awhile. But that's one of my resolutions for the next 100 episodes -- to write at least 65 fresh blog entries. If I can get John to do the other 35 now that would be an accomplishment.