100 and Counting

28 August 2006

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.

Comments (7)


Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, August 28, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

Well, not a topic, but a request. I don't want

Well, not a topic, but a request.
I don't want to use itunes, but I would love to subscribe to the podcast. Can you guys create an RSS feed for those of us who don't want to use iTunes?

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, August 28, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

Hey Byne: We're about to launch a full scale po

Hey Byne:
We're about to launch a full scale podcast service. It will be a fee-based subscription service. Fees will be nominal. We will also still maintain our free stream.
With any luck it should be up and running by the first of October when we make our move to Sunday morning.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

I'm a fan of your show, and a philosophy student f

I'm a fan of your show, and a philosophy student from Canada. Some of the most interesting programs I've listened to are in the realm of philosophy of Religion; You have discussed the existence of God with Walter Sinnott-Armstron; Intelligent Design with the well known cognitive thinker, Daniel Dennett; the relationship between Science and Religion with cosmologist George F.R. Ellis; And Religion and the Secular State with Robert Audi. I would love to see more episodes in the realm of philosophy of Religion, because let's face it; religion is a philosophical gold mine. Perhaps you can book Alvin Plantinga or Richard Swinburne, two well known philosophers in this area.
Another interesting show idea would be to do a show on continental philosophy, or a continental philosopher; in the past you've had one about Nietszche why not one about Paul Ricoeur? Perhaps you can have as a guest to discuss continental philosophy the Irish philosopher Richard Kearney, a noted continental philosopher from Boston University. He was recently featured on the radio here, on a program called ideas and he proved, at least to me, to be an elegant speaker and thinker.
Anyways those are my two suggestions keep up the good work John and Ken.
Ray.

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, September 1, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

gostaria de ver aqui discutido quais os grandes qu

gostaria de ver aqui discutido quais os grandes questionamentos filosóficos do seculo XXI.

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, September 4, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

I think the tug-of-war about philosophical ambitio

I think the tug-of-war about philosophical ambitiousness and accessibility to the average listener is actually a good topic for a show. Who, really, is philosophy for? What is it supposed to do for us (whoever "us" is properly taken to be, here)? Is "deep thought" in the end a luxury, or is it a necessary component of a good human life?
(Those of us who teach philosophy to non-majors for general education credit have to struggle with this question constantly!)
And sadly, I'll miss the show because I'll be teaching one of those philosopher courses packed with students deeply suspicious of philosophy. Please say hi to Jenann for me!

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, September 7, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

Hello...My recommendation is to have a show on the

Hello...My recommendation is to have a show on the field of Machine Ethics. It looks at putting ethics into technological objects (e.g. think robots that can tell right from wrong). Potential guests: Colin Allen, Selmer Bringsjord or Susan Anderson. Thanks, Christopher.

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, September 11, 2006 -- 5:00 PM

Ken and John, I started listening during your fir

Ken and John,
I started listening during your first month and have continued ever since. Your guests are great and the topics are wide-ranging and interesting. I have a couple of ideas for future shows.
Topic Idea: My husband and I were watching the United 93 movie the other day. It's a pretty compelling film and we didn't talk much during it. After it was over he turned to me and said, "Can we hate Islam? Just Islam? Is that okay?" So my idea is how about a show on hate? Is it ever justified? Is it ever useful? Since it is a human emotion that we probably all experience at some point, was there ever an adaptive use for it? Can it be usefully controlled? Is it completely beyond the pale?
Topic Idea: This has a little different focus, but what about a show on how to get philosophy in some form into grade school curricula? Is there anyone working on this that you know of? Courses on informal logic and how to recognize fallacious arguments would be of tremendous use to us as a democratic nation. I'm not sure how this topic could be handled, but it's something I've been thinking about and thought I would toss it to you.
Again - thank you for all the great programs so far and I'm looking forward to the next 100, and beyond!
I periodically email my local public radio station to encourage them to check you out. Hopefully they will take me up on that soon. I listen to you over the Internet as I am over towards the east coast in EST zone.
Kitty Corcoran

 
 
 

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