Public Media Maverick Jay Allison

Note: this program was broadcast on WGBH‘s sister stations WCAI & WNAN, and on KUT News, in Austin, Texas!

Jay Allison has egalitarian instincts. He’s a maverick, who’s made it his mission to put the “public” back into public media. As an independent producer of stellar public radio – and television – Jay’s been able to work outside the system, and then change the system. Take This I Believe for example. Jay’s the man behind this series of audio essays, written and performed by a wide variety of Americans, ranging from the well-known to the unknown. As Jay says in this ThoughtCast interview, their sincerity and lack of skepticism make them almost the antithesis of “journalism” — and yet there they are, on NPR.

Click here: to listen. (28 minutes)

Jay Allison is also a contributor to Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, a selection of essays from Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, and edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call. At the Harvard Book Store recently, Allison and Kramer banded together to tell a few stories of their own about authenticity, the narrative voice and the gruelling process of authorship.
Click here: to listen. (55 minutes)
And to hear more from Jay Allison on the Forum Network, click here!

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3 Responses to Public Media Maverick Jay Allison

  1. Cindy August 25, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    I am a Chinese college student majoring in English. I love “This I Believe” series because it is so useful and touching. Sometimes I am absorbed into the speaker’s world,during which I learn the words and phrases,and above all, American people’s mind and life.

  2. Joshua Prowse August 31, 2007 at 9:03 pm #

    Compare this interview with Jack Beatty’s that was just posted. Both men are eloquent. Media personalities. Public intellectuals, to use a term. And both describe themselves as private, even reclusive. When the questions turn personal and introspective, the polished sheens of the interviewees give way to gufaws, umms, and the silence of pondering.

    Beatty describes it as a matter of overcoming inhibition. “I’ve got to get up such a head of steam to get past my ‘children should be seen and not heard’ upbringing. I admire people who can just casually express themselves and feel at ease in the world – I really have to work at it. It doesn’t at all come easily.” Jay Allison echos this as he simultaneously lives in the ‘boring’ countryside while sharing intimately personal stories over the airwaves, in a palpable demonstration of “hyper-social anti-sociality,” to use his term. He confesses “I don’t really understand what draws a person to a medium where you are [simultaneously] so connected and so dis-connected.” That seems a paradox of so many media luminaries; perhaps this interview shines some light on the phenomenon.

  3. Joe May 7, 2007 at 10:32 pm #

    It’s good to hear from someone who seeks to purvey “something that’s noble and important and decent and good” and looks beyond focus group statistics. If public radio is truly in “crisis mode” will he be able to continue in this vein?

    Is the original “This I Believe” series currently available anywhere? It would be interesting to listen to it for purposes of comparison.

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