You worked with PHC previously on Humanities Live, what compelled you to return for another TV series.
I really enjoyed Humanities Live, I thought the content was excellent. It was fun to do a show that combined arts and culture and academics. It was very exciting when the opportunity came to take the show on the road.
What are your thoughts on the line-up of Speakers?
They’ve been wonderful. What really strikes me is the diversity. We just did a show on American Indians. We’ve also done Pennsylvania German culture, the history of women in Northeast Pennsylvania, African American storytelling. That keeps it interesting and exciting.
Is there a certain approach you take when interviewing Speakers?
I would say two things. Laurie and Pam prepare me very well. They brief me about what the Speaker is going to talk about. I also approach it the same way I do when I fill in on WHYY’s Radio Times. I approach it as someone who doesn’t know much about the subject. I try to ask the kind of questions that somebody who’s unfamiliar with the topic would ask.
Do you as a veteran broadcaster still get nervous?
You know, I still do get nervous. I don’t get nearly as nervous as I used to when I was first starting out. But, I never fail to get butterflies before a show. And I think that’s a good thing. Because it shows that you care and you want to have a good show. And look, any time you’re doing television, whether live or on tape, there is always the potential for things to go haywire. So you sort of go into each show and don’t know what’s going to happen once the cameras start to roll. But, I think a little bit of nervousness is healthy.
Can you talk about the taping audiences that the shows have drawn so far?
They’ve been really interesting. When we open up the show for the audience Q&A, we not only get people asking general questions, but there also are people who tell personal anecdotes and stories about the subject. People talk about growing up Pennsylvania German. About wonderful African American storytellers they’ve heard or stories that were passed down in their families from generation to generation.
Has there been a favorite show or experience so far on the road?
If I had to pick one, I think it would be the African American storytelling one. Linda Goss and Ed Stokes sang songs and told stories. The audience was part of the show — singing and dancing, clapping and stomping. And there was the piece about the history of oral tradition and the importance of passing these stories down from one generation to another. Because they're not just stories for stories sake. They're stories that have life lessons in them.
What do you look forward to coming up?
I look forward to all of them really. One jumps out at me, the Nancy Drew show. My grandmother gave me my first Nancy Drew book as a Christmas gift when I was about 8 or 9. I proceeded to devour book after book. I'm also interested in this taping [at Osterhout Free Library] because it's near my hometown of Hazleton. It's a chance to go home and also a chance to learn about the history of a childhood heroine of mine.
What do you want viewers to take away from the show?
I want people to come away, as I have, saying, “Wow, I learned something.” Something about another culture. Something about a topic they knew nothing about. I hope that people come away with a greater appreciation for the humanities which I see as a perfect marriage between academics and the arts. That it opens people's eyes to what PHC does and just inspires people to want to learn and explore what the humanities has to offer.