The new season of TED Radio Hour begins this Saturday morning on WKMS. The program, broadcast around the world, brings you TED Talks from experts on a given theme, while host Guy Raz and his guests further explore the subject. Past episodes have ranged from topics like how we love and what we fear to the source of creativity and the end of privacy. Raz and Todd Hatton talk about what's made the show so successful and how the program continues to build on its creative and innovative storytelling.
Guy Raz describes the show as a radio version of the classic PBS cartoon The Magic School Bus, where the magical teacher and her bus would shrink down the class and go on a journey through scientific topics and ideas. His hope is that at the end of an episode, the audience says, "Wow, that was an incredible journey and now I have a lot of things to ponder."
There are topics on the show he says he hasn't thought about since he was a kid - like looking up at the stars. Of course, now he looks at them differently - realizing that when one looks at stars they are looking at the past in real time. The light that reaches us from a star is light that happened thousands or millions of years ago.
Some episodes are difficult to translate into radio, but the process of doing so and of breaking down complex topics can lead to great results. For instance, the episode on the human brain had very detailed scientific language on neurotransmitters, functional MRIs, neurons and how they connect. It ends on the topic of consciousness, who are we and what drives our differences, which is a controversial area in the scientific world because we don't know enough yet. Raz says this is one of his favorite shows. Another one of his favorites is the episode on originality, how nothing is original. They went through the song "La Di Da Di" by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, one of the most sampled songs of all time.
People are hungry for ideas, Raz says. It's a complex time and the daily media can often be depression. People want hope - a sense that there are bigger things that connect us as a species. Whether you live in America or in Sub-Saharan Africa, we all experience happiness and love, the things that connect us, he says. TED Radio Hour is a show that gathers around shared experiences.
In the new season, an episode will take a look at how numbers shape the world. How the price of an airline ticket, the movies that Netflix picks, driving to work - how it's all numbers and algorithms. The processing power of computers has become so powerful that all we can do is watch them solve problems but not knowing how, he says. Numbers drive the core of what we do and how we do it and it's becoming evermore the case.
Another episode will look at play. Adults seem to lose the capacity to be imaginative and playful. The episode takes a look at not just why this is, but also the consequences and how it relates to food, exercise and sleep. He says sometimes just doing things without a point or purpose can have huge beneficial impacts on our overall well-being.
Guy Raz is the host of TED Radio Hour, which airs Saturday mornings from 5 to 6 on WKMS. The new season begins this Saturday, March 7.