Cambridge Forum is a lively half-hour program dealing with the issues and ideas shaping contemporary society. Programs feature activists, authors, doers and thinkers engaging in stimulating and non-adversarial exchanges with live audiences, representing diverse points of view. Forums are recorded live in Harvard Square. Recent program topics looked at LIVING WITH ROBOTS, THE END OF MEAT?, KOCHLAND, APPALACHIA: A CULTURAL CROSSROADS, ON FIRE with Naomi Klein, HOW TO START A REVOLUTION, THE AGE OF ILLUSIONS with Andrew Bacevich and MIGRATING TO PRISON: AMERICA’S OBSESSION WITH LOCKING UP IMMIGRANTS. Previous subjects have covered the gamut from Bob Dylan’s poetry, the history of baseball, the future of farming and how artists have contributed to peace.
“A Way with Words” is a weekly, hour-long, national, caller-based program about language. Author Martha Barnette and lexicographer Grant Barrett take calls about slang, grammar, linguistic heirlooms, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and speaking and writing well. By looking at the world through the lens of language, “A Way with Words” offers a brand-new perspective on politics, pop culture, history, sports, music, science, literature, and foreign cultures. Funny, informative, and fast-paced, each hour-long episode includes a word puzzle and slang quiz. If you speak English — or if you’re trying to learn it — within a few minutes of listening to this show you’ll find something that pulls you in. Our listeners come from all walks of life: in more than a decade on the air, we’ve heard from rocket scientists to physicians, from spelling-bee champs to retirees, from Gen-X cartoonists to fishmongers. Well, at least one fishmonger, who wanted to know what -monger is doing in the name of his occupation. Beyond this broad audience that tunes in for general entertainment and information, “A Way with Words” has a growing and fiercely loyal core audience of self-described word lovers, including experienced and aspiring writers and editors; office workers and degreed professionals; learners of English as a first or supplementary language; linguistic dilettantes; word history buffs; students of all ages; teachers at all levels; lovers of wordplay; Scrabble players and crossword puzzlers; dictionary browsers; and late-blooming or late-life learners trying to catch up on what they missed or have forgotten of their formal education. The common thread is that these listeners keep tuning in week after week because “A Way with Words” addresses precisely the core values that devoted public-radio audiences share: a lively curiosity, an appreciation of thoughtful conversation that’s well-informed and stimulating, and a healthy sense of humor.
NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is a weekly half-hour show that has been entertaining and informing audiences about contemporary writers and literature since 1977. Each week, the program focuses on a writer of poetry, fiction or essays, either in an intimate interview or in a public reading before an audience. Post-produced with narrative and music, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR gives insight into the creative writing process and the universal stories that writers tell. Though educational, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is not pedantic, and the conversation is often filled with laughter as authors discuss and read from their books. Recent guests include poets Sherman Alexie, Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, and Alicia Ostriker; dramatists August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner; essayists Meghan Daum, Susan Orlean, and David Sedaris; fiction writers Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, and Ha Jin. The program also features less-familiar but remarkable writers whose work and contributions are equally engaging. “Most people have a creative streak, whether they’re interested in writing or not,” says Angela Elam, host of NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR.”I hope by exploring the writer’s process and hearing work that captures the essence of our lives, the program will inspire listeners to do something creative in their own way.”