Launch of Radio Free Everybody and Q&A
| Jonny Gordon-Farleigh |
How can philosophy be used to advance the struggle for a better world? How can people participate in discussions that cut through both the fog of opinion and the barrier of “expertise”? Radio Free Everybody consists of conversations between the host, Mat Callahan and guests who want to share their specialized knowledge in the arts and sciences.
Episode 1. Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patent and the Law with guest Dr. Alan Story, lawyer and teacher at the University of Kent
Q&A with Radio Free Everybody host Mat Callahan
With the launch of Radio Free Everybody, can you talk about what inspired the idea for the radio show?
A DJ on a community radio station in Bern, Switzerland got me started. I’d been a guest on his music program promoting a concert my band was playing. Instead of the five minute announcement he’d originally invited me to deliver, we ended up talking most of the hour-long show. A few days later this DJ called me up and urged me to consider hosting a series that would offer an alternative to the kind of programming most common today. In other words, silly sound bytes selling stupidity as a tonic for mental illness. What was needed was in-depth discussion of contemporary themes, deliberately avoiding “opinion” by inviting people who’ve seriously studied their subjects. But more than just a “panel of experts” the show brings a philosophical approach to art, science and politics which poses questions and challenges conventional wisdom.
You originally designed the shows for terrestrial broadcast in Switzerland, and are now broadcasting (monthly) online at Stir. What changed? And what are the advantages of broadcasting to an online audience?
I started with people I knew personally. I wasn’t looking for celebrity guests, I was thinking of people who’d devoted years of study to certain disciplines and were engaged in concrete practices based on their expertise. This led me to, for example, Alan Story, a lecturer in copyright law at the University of Kent. Alan is a good friend but he’s also made a thorough critique of intellectual property law, offering a radical perspective that cuts through the nonsense generated by self-interested defenders of the status quo. Another example is my friend Cesare Silvi, a nuclear engineer who once worked for the Italian government. Cesare came to the realization that nuclear energy was a disaster and, instead, we should be devoting our efforts to uses of the sun. Cesare’s insights and suggested solutions are based on many years of research and collaboration with scientists and activists worldwide. Other guests include Nina Power discussing politics and philosophy; Paolo Knill discussing interconnections between music, science and education; and Hans Martin Frey discussing science, global warming and the anti-nuclear movement. The main objective here is to include listeners in informed discussion that will stimulate further inquiry. Not only about the particular subjects under discussion but about the media landscape, on the one hand, and the usefulness of philosophy in combatting ignorance and apathy, on the other.
Can we look forward to a second series?
I plan to continue but it will depend to a certain extent on the response to this round. I will be in San Francisco for a month and plan to conduct at least two interviews there for later broadcast. This brings us back to your earlier question about why Stir. I’m optimistic about the show’s chances because the magazine is already attracting a readership that will appreciate what the show’s trying to accomplish. Hopefully, this will be of mutual benefit encouraging more inquiry and more active participation in changing the world.