"To The Best of Our Knowledge” joined WITF’s schedule last fall. Although new to WITF listeners, the program has been part of the public radio program landscape for a few decades. New host Anne Strainchamps has rejuvenated the program.
When “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” began, weekend programming on most public radio stations focused on lifestyle and entertainment shows such as “A Prairie Home Companion,” “Whad’Ya Know,” “Bob and Ray,” and a few others. This program transformed weekend programming and led to later shows such as “This American Life” and “Radiolab.”
Strainchamps has been with “To The Best of Our Knowledge” since it began 23 years ago at Wisconsin Public Radio. She started as the show’s executive producer and recently has contributed by providing interview segments.
The show might be difficult to explain because it takes on a different theme each week. “The show demonstrates that ideas are entertainment,” Stainchamps explained. “It’s the show of ideas and trends. It’s a show not afraid of being brainy. It’s a show that offers a lot of intellectual enrichment and a show (for people who love learning and are intellectually curious.” Perhaps the best metaphor to explain the show is a collage. “We build depth to the topic and approach it in an interdisciplinary way,” she said.
Despite the new host and theme music, the program is staying true to its core by picking a theme and then featuring the smartest people they can to contribute to the discussion around it. In addition, there are a number of rotating segments
incorporated into the show including “On Our Minds,” “Dangerous Idea” and “Bookmarks.”
The “On Our Minds” segment focuses on the most timely issues or topics of the day. “Bookmarks” features well-known authors making recommendations for books they think most people haven’t read. “It’s a way for writers to share books they genuinely love without trying to sell us anything,” Strainchamps said. Also there is the “Dangerous Idea” segment
which the host called “a way to shake up your thinking and challenge ideas.”
“To The Best of Our Knowledge” is part of WITF’s Idea Exchange series of programs airing at 2 p.m. Thursdays. The full two-hour version of the show airs at 5 a.m. Sunday.
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