Rename that Radio Show??

Wednesday, December 5, 2007 -- 4:00 PM
Ken Taylor

Believe it or not, program directors, the gate-keepers of public radio, almost universally hate the name 'Philosophy Talk' -- whatever they think of the program Philosophy Talk. Even PD's who seem otherwise to like the program quite a lot, sometimes say they hate both the 'talk' part of our name and the 'Philosophy' part of our name. But folks seem particularly to hate the combination of 'Philosophy' and 'Talk'. A PD at a very major station on the West Coast hated our name so much that he/she even cited it as one reason for not putting us on the air when we were first starting out.

Because we get this a lot, we've been thinking about changing the name. We're just starting to brainstorm about possible new names. We're thinking about having a "Rename that Radio Program" contest on the air and via our blog and our website in order to involve our listeners in this potential rebaptism.

What's in a name, you say? Well, apparently a lot. The "talk" part apparently makes us sound to some PD's like we're trying to be the "Car Talk of Philosophy." That's apparently a definite no, no. "Can't tell you how many times I've been pitched a program purporting to be the Car Talk of X" says more than one PD dismissively. The "Philosophy" part is also apparently pure death to some. 'Philosophy' apparently connotes to some PD's staid academic discourse. And they believe that that is what it would connote to their listeners as well. They think that will be a turn off to the listener and will prevent the listener from even sampling our program. One PD wrote to us that he/she has seen no research suggesting that he/she should put 52 hours/year worth of philosophy programming on the air.

When you tell people like this, "Well lots of people have sampled the program and love it," they are not always impressed. They may suspect that we have only a niche audience and that the name stands in the way of our breaking out of the niche. [Of course, they never ever acknowledge that one thing that prevents us from reaching a wider audience is their own unwillingness to give us access to their air.]

Okay. So you see what we're up against? See why I sometimes get frustrated by the "business" side of this whole affair? I firmly believe that we are offering something that millions crave. But I guess I am willing to acknowledge that though people do crave what philosophy has to offer, they don't necessarily crave it under the rubric 'philosophy', if you know what I mean. That may have been what the surely well intentioned PD who cited the lack of market research justifying 52 hours/year of philosophy on the air was getting at. But who knows, really?

My very dear and usually wise wife told me that we should just stick to our guns and not change our name. But some professional publicity and marketing types, who work in the trenches, say that if the name is a problem for the gatekeepers, then it's a problem that needs to be overcome.

Anyway, got any ideas? We'd love to hear them.

Comments (58)


Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 6, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

The name of your program works just fine. It makes

The name of your program works just fine. It makes no sense to change the name to simply redefine the signifier that already makes sense to those who listen to your program. "Philosophy Talk" (as two words used together) is a brand that is as neutral as one can hope for when opening up the airwaves for the discussion of the human condition. Continue the excellent work and no matter what your program "name" turns into, I shall listen with continued wild abandon.

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 6, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I may be a niche but I would never have tuned in t

I may be a niche but I would never have tuned in to the show if "Philosophy" was not in the title. The "talk" part is important, too, because it implies a low-key, non-pompous approach to the subject. Suggest to these PD's that they stick to MTV and let others do their thinking for them.
Sincerely, Ed Healy

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 6, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

It's a Marketing Problem really. Program Director

It's a Marketing Problem really. Program Directors are often a lazy and unimaginative lot. What you need to do is come up with a PD friendly name for the show like "Reality Radio", "Truth Talk", "Rappin' 'bout da deep shit," or "Food for Thought."
Then, you have advertisements for the show that are niche marketing. Like links from sites like this, from other intelligent radio shows, publications, etc. etc. That's all.
Oh, and if there is a show. Get rid of the PhD people. They are often just faux intellectuals with large vocabularies and lots of frilly papers on their walls, but lack the real ability to think and philosophise.

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 6, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Hmmm here are a few suggestions: "Thoughts", "T

Hmmm here are a few suggestions:
"Thoughts", "Think Talk", "Thinkers Anonymous", "Pure Wisdom". But to really catch some attention "SEX or ideas", i'm assuming it's usually going to be the latter disjunct.

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, December 7, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

The "Car-Talk" model isn't bad actually. But, it

The "Car-Talk" model isn't bad actually. But, it is "Car" and not "Automobile" or "Internal Combustion Conveyance"-Talk. Ever considered consulting with the Magliozzi brothers on 'Philosophy is to --- as Automobile is to Car'?

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, December 7, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Here are a few suggestions. First, how about "F

Here are a few suggestions.
First, how about "Fixing Ideas"?
Another possibility, with a tip of the hat to Rawls and also with an eye to "sexing up" the name: "Original Positions"?
Finally, with apologies to Buddhism, how about "Clear Light"?
Ok, so it is hard. We've posted something on the Garden of Forking Paths (http://gfp.typepad.com) encouraging our readers to help in this project. Good luck. I love the show.

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, December 7, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

What about these? 'The Great Conversation' '

What about these?
'The Great Conversation'
'Small Talk, Big Ideas'
'Thought Experiments' (alla NYC's 'Radio Lab')
Hope these help!

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, December 7, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

"Think Tank" "Wondering about the World" "Th

"Think Tank"
"Wondering about the World"
"The Art of Asking"
"Questions"
"Brain Waves"
"Much Ado About Everything"

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, December 7, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

"Mental Masturbation" "Problem of Problems"

"Mental Masturbation"
"Problem of Problems"
"Wisdom Tuner"
"Philosophy Talk"

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

philosophy-a-go-go down with philosophy the

philosophy-a-go-go
down with philosophy
the fun fun philosophy fun show
philosophy 1-0-fun
philosophy is cool, dammit
philosophers a.w.o.l.
help, i'm trapped in a mind

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Rational Public Radio ("This is RPR...") Views fr

Rational Public Radio ("This is RPR...")
Views from Nowhere

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Ideas

Ideas

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

But you guys are the Car Talk of Philosophy, which

But you guys are the Car Talk of Philosophy, which is why the name fits. But if you must revise the name, perhaps use the ad technique of name recognition combined with a slightly misleading catch:
Cookin' with Socrates.
You could even have an appetizer (the one-minute philosopher or roving philosopher), main course (guest and callers), and dessert (?). There'd presumably lots of other cheesy ways to use the premise. "Today we're cooking up a recipe for love [free will, knowledge, etc.]: what is love? what are it's ingredients? what does it take to make good love? etc. [Most of the credit for the above idea goes to my wife Cheryl.]

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I like your name as it is. (I also like Drake's P

I like your name as it is. (I also like Drake's Philosophy 1-0-fun, as the show is fun, but the name seems a bit too cute). Another idea: Philosophy Matters. A nice little pun, no? and not a compromise.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I think it's essential that you keep "philosophy"

I think it's essential that you keep "philosophy" in the title in some form. After all, isn't part of the idea to promote philosophy? And how can you do that if you don't call it philosophy? People might be listening without even knowing that they were listening to philosophy.
But "talk" seems less crucial.
So, my suggestion would be to keep "philosophy" but jettison "talk" -- it won't satisfy all of the radio stations, but it might help with some of them. What about, for example, "Philosophical Thoughts"? A lot of people seem to think that they have those. :-)

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, December 9, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Program Directors (the gatekeepers) do have some p

Program Directors (the gatekeepers) do have some power; they are the ones who decide who gets on the air and who doesn?t. But their power lies not in their sense of what is marketable, but in their awareness of what is already marketed. They survey the scene and find a conspicuous absence of philosophy shows; thus they conclude that such a show would be unmarketable because it is not already marketed. The trick is to demonstrate how the show could be marketable.
As a Gen X-er caught between the Baby-boomer leviathan and the Millennial behemoth, I recognize that philosophy is important ? maybe not so essential as the Boomers would have us believe, maybe not so trivial as the Millennials would have us think ? but valuable for survival, for making meaning, for changing our world. Boomer oriented marketing will be perceived as condescending, patronizing, even medicinal; and nobody likes the aftertaste of medicine. Millennial oriented marketing will be perceived as cynical, uncool in the attempt to be cool. Perhaps X-er oriented marketing could bridge the divide?
Ken and John are cool, but not in the more general sense of pop cultural ?wicked coolness.? They are academics; they shouldn?t pretend to be anything else; and they should continue to invite guests who are academics. Their mission, however, is to render their more sophisticated understanding of philosophy intelligible to a popular audience. To this end, they should tell good stories about philosophy, provide examples of philosophical thinking, and encourage engagement with philosophical problems.
Overall, I think they do a good job of this.
I teach introductory level undergraduate philosophy courses, and I require students to listen to select episodes of Philosophy Talk as supplemental learning exercises. The response among students is enthusiastic; they dig listening to ?professors? talk about philosophy in a conversational environment ? reflective and analytical, but also human, all too human. I dare to say that students are edified by the example, perhaps even inspired. They begin to conceive of alternative discourses, counter examples to the fare broadcast on radio and TV. They begin to imagine what intellectual conversation is like: no easy answers, few dominant personalities, a lot of intriguing questions.
To reach a larger audience, perhaps the following would be helpful:
? The Name of the Show ?
o ?A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.?
o ?Call me?.?
A name change would not be a big problem ? as long as the new name does not misrepresent the character of the show. To this end, I think keeping the term
?philosophy? in mix is vital. Philosophy is what the show is about: Don?t be embarrassed or ashamed of that fact. Proclaim that fact proudly. Well-earned pride is cool.
o Some names I like are ?Philosophy Jamz,? ?Philosophy in the Mix,? ?Do Ya Think? Philosophically?? ?Philosophy Mash-Up,? but these relatively contemporary plays would represent the show. To hear Ken and John ?talkin? ?bout bein? down wit dis and dat? just won?t work. Neither will suggestions referencing Buddhism or ?clear lights? or even ?rational.?
o One name that might work, however, is ?Philosophy Rocks!? The show already incorporates music that alludes to philosophy, so if the music were just ?updated? a bit to broaden the demographic, these musical elements could be used more discursively, while maintaining ornamental value.
?The Topics of the Show ?
The issue is how to broaden the demographic of the show (at least increasing younger listeners), and thus, the marketability of the show, without completely reformatting it. Some critics might argue for younger, non-academic hosts, but that change would fundamentally alter the show we?ve all come to know and love; moreover, this would diminish the originality of the show as a source of alternative programming.
o One way to broaden the audience would be to include more ?pop culture? philosophy topics: Simpsons and Philosophy, The Matrix and Philosophy, Poker and Philosophy, etc.
o Another way to broaden the show would be to ?pump up the volume,? so to speak in the reports from the roving philosophical reporter. I totally love what Polly does with this segment, but ?the kids? expect even more.
Anyway, I don?t pretend to have all ? or any ? of the answers, but I understand and sympathize with your predicament. Marketing conditions often limit programming options; but the opposite is also true: programming conditions often limit marketing options.
I just hope the show survives ? with integrity -- to evolve into something even more intriguing than it already is.

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, December 9, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

How about "Rational Exuberance"?

How about "Rational Exuberance"?

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, December 9, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Flat out BS. "Philosophy Talk" is a good name. Don

Flat out BS. "Philosophy Talk" is a good name. Dont change it! Or "bye" (between your ears)... thx

John Perry's picture

John Perry

Sunday, December 9, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Good for Ken for getting this started! Lots of

Good for Ken for getting this started!
Lots of nice comments and good ideas. So far my favorites are
Original Positions
Philosophy Matters
Talkin' About the Deep Shit
jp

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, December 10, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Why not apply the principle of parsimony to appea

Why not apply the principle of parsimony
to appease the gatekeepers and attract new listeners?
Keep it simple (i.e. Ockham's Razor).
Narrow it down to one word, perhaps a verb.
If I had to translate the Delphic oracle
into twenty-first century lingo, it would
have to be "Think!"

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, December 10, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

How about "The talking Heads"

How about "The talking Heads"

Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I like "Think Talk", also consider "Thought Lab"

I like "Think Talk", also consider "Thought Lab"

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

The name, "Philosphy Talk", makes the program soun

The name, "Philosphy Talk", makes the program sound approachable and the topics perhaps understandable. I like names that tell me right off what a program is about.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Your title is fantastic, but I appreciate that you

Your title is fantastic, but I appreciate that your fears are connected with issues of American Radio Politics, which here, across the pond, we do not need understand. You have a good product (I know, because I am paying for it) and your product is global, existing not just in space but (I am sure) over time (until the heat death).
Cogito ergo poddo would not be a bad idea though.
Another one being "Show Formerly Known as Philosophy Talk".
But then they would abbreviate it to "Show Formerly Known" (but not any longer).
So perhaps "Cogito ergo poddo" with the sister blog "Cogitto ergo bloggo"
Or Cogito ergo poddo. Philosophy Talk
Marek Witkowski
Warsaw, Poland

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Perhaps your own THANK YOU FOR THINKING woul

Perhaps your own
THANK YOU FOR THINKING
would be a nice title

Neil Van Leeuwen's picture

Neil Van Leeuwen

Saturday, December 15, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Facts and Concepts Fact and Fallacy Concept and

Facts and Concepts
Fact and Fallacy
Concept and Culture
Concept, Culture and Morality
Reason, Culture, and Emotion
Reason and Culture
Philosophy on Air
The Philosophy Circle
Public Reasons
The Examined Life

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, December 15, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Well my friend, I live in the south and do not get

Well my friend, I live in the south and do not get to listen to your talk show. I do not believe that your current talk show name would appeal to me at all, but the contents of it would. I believe this would apply to a number of people. So to increase your audience just change the name to "BRAIN-CELL-STIMULATION"

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, December 16, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

*Philosophy Now! *Question Everything *Cogito or

*Philosophy Now!
*Question Everything
*Cogito or iThink ("i" is a pretty ubiquitous branding tool these days); or, some other Latin word that expresses thought/thinking.

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, December 16, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

"Doesn't Follow" "Philosophy Hertz" "Ps and

"Doesn't Follow"
"Philosophy Hertz"
"Ps and Qs"
"Premise Keepers"

MIke's picture

MIke

Monday, December 17, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I listen to the archive in Tennessee. If you want

I listen to the archive in Tennessee. If you want a station to pick it up, howabout: "A Whole Lot of Ciphering Goin' On."

MIke's picture

MIke

Monday, December 17, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Note: "Philosophy Rocks!" is a book title, so ther

Note: "Philosophy Rocks!" is a book title, so there might be a copyright issue.

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, December 17, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Philosophical ba-dunk-a-dunk The Junk in your phi

Philosophical ba-dunk-a-dunk
The Junk in your philosophical trunk
I'm an ask man, myself
Truth, justice and booty

MIke's picture

MIke

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Show name: "Plato's Cave" or "The Agora" or "Thin

Show name: "Plato's Cave" or "The Agora" or "Think Think Please Do!"

MIke's picture

MIke

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Another name: "Words to the Wise" or "My Dear Socr

Another name: "Words to the Wise" or "My Dear Socrates"

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 20, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

The Think Zone

The Think Zone

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 20, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

THOUGHT TALK

THOUGHT TALK

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 20, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

"Stoic Thoughts" ENCARTA WORLD DICTIONARY: "Stoi

"Stoic Thoughts"
ENCARTA WORLD DICTIONARY: "Stoic" Ancient philosphy: a member of an ancient greek school of philosphy that asserted that happiness can only be achieved by accepting life's ups and downs as the products of unalterable destiny. School founded 308 BC by Zeno

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 20, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I read all the other idea's "I WIN"!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I read all the other idea's "I WIN"!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 20, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

"BIPEDAL MINDS"

"BIPEDAL MINDS"

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, December 27, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

I second "Talking'bout the deep shit" myself. PDs

I second "Talking'bout the deep shit" myself. PDs may not be happy about that title though.
These PDs are probably not right to assume that "Philosophy" in the title implies boring academic talk. Heilbroner's THE WORLDLY PHILOSOPHERS is a bestseller, even though it is not about philosophers, but rather about economists! Heilbroner took out "economist" from the title, and replaced it with "philosophers", because the publisher suggested to him that a title with "economist" in it won't sell. I think Heilbroner talks about this in the preface of his book, so just show it to the PDs and prove them wrong!
What's wrong with "...Talk"? It's a compliment to the "Car Talk" show. But if you have to replace it with something else, Holley's "Philosophy Matters" is a good suggestion.

Richard's picture

Richard

Friday, December 28, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Some people like to hear themselves speak eternall

Some people like to hear themselves speak eternally (or read what they write ) without saying much, as in your first post. Prob could have been put in 6 or 7 (succint) lines.
Say it, say it again, and then say it again didn't mean what that hot air balloon said.
Oh, I've written too many words already.
Call the show "Talk(s) Philosophy" or better still "Philosophy Talks".
Of course, the balloonists might win and change it together with a good, long (repetitious) essay.
Oh, there's a good topic for a "philosophy talks" programme - "Brevity"

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, December 31, 2007 -- 4:00 PM

Oh give me a break! Whatever you do, PLEASE don't

Oh give me a break! Whatever you do, PLEASE don't change the name! After listening to Philosophy Talk for the last couple of years, any other name would just not feel the same.
The PDs are missing the point -- it is precisely the current title that makes this show appealing to general audiences. I have recommended the show to many philosophy-phobes, and have yet to receive a single complaint. To the contrary, people seem to love the name. This particular concern seems to me like nothing else but just another example of our typical American fascination with "looks over substance".
Ken and John, I hope you stand up to the corporate bullies. This show is YOUR creation, and is obviously quite successful. I say this since I purchased the archive AND the subscription. As the old saying goes: "If it ain't broken, don't fix it". My only suggestion -- to cover a wider audience of philosophy junkies as myself, at times DO make the discussion a bit more "academic"...

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

I am a Marketing Manager by profession. I have 12

I am a Marketing Manager by profession. I have 12 years experience in advertising and marketing - and I say DO NOT CHANGE THE NAME.
- It is concise and gets to the point.
- Your core audience would never have come to your show had it not been for that.
- What some PDs don't get is that the program is what it is (or they do get it, and would love to pervert the content as well as the name). So if the name isn't representative of what listeners will get when they tune in, then you'll both lose the people who thought it was something else, and never attract the people who like philosophy in the first place (your core). Don't jump the shark.
- Don't expend the name recognition you've already built with the name.
- Yes, people might shy away from the word 'philosophy' but that is due to ignorance of what philosophy is really about and how integral it is to our lives. Part of your mandate is presumably to CHANGE that perception. PDs aren't interested in that effort or cause, and will always design their strategies to adapt to the ignorance for maximum effect. In other words, they will always suggest the path of least resistance. Although you can try to convince them based on overlap, always remember that their goals are not exactly the same as yours. Don't listen to them and stand by your principle and purpose. Be willing to accept a few difficulties because of the name, but that is the difficulty that is natural and appropriate to your cause.

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, January 6, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

How about "The Examined Life"?

How about "The Examined Life"?

David's picture

David

Sunday, January 13, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

Philosphy mix Ideas in the air Philosophy world

Philosphy mix
Ideas in the air
Philosophy world
Philosphy chat
Deep thought
Thinking aloud (seems to be some other people using this one, though)
Thinking on air
Thinking out loud
The 60-minute philosphers

Michael Andersen's picture

Michael Andersen

Friday, January 18, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

I would second all those who like the name the way

I would second all those who like the name the way it is. These producers who are telling you to ditch the name are clods. Don't listen to them. We have so much dumbing down of great programs already in the name of marketing. Stay true to your mission. Long live Philosophytalk!

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, January 24, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

I like 'Philosophy Matters.' So many of the other

I like 'Philosophy Matters.' So many of the other suggestions sound like Frosh Seminars or IHUM tracks.

Guest's picture

Guest

Sunday, February 3, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

Well, I'd hate to see you change the name, but how

Well, I'd hate to see you change the name, but how about "Skull Sessions (with John and Ken)"?

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, February 15, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

I agree with everyone else that your name speaks w

I agree with everyone else that your name speaks well to what the show is about. However, in the spirit of bowing to marketing, while at the same time pretending intelligence, I suggest an acronym that is simultaneously modern and esoteric. RAZ rationalizing the american zeitgeist. :)

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, February 16, 2008 -- 4:00 PM

"Des Carte After De Horse" "Do, Be, Do, Be Do",

"Des Carte After De Horse"
"Do, Be, Do, Be Do", ("Thinkers in Delight"
"Operating Potion #98.6"
"You Think WHAT??"
"Sumus Quod Cogito"
"Think you..very much?"

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