Wednesday, May 24, 2017

To the Best of Our Knowledge Is Taping in St. Louis Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 6:57 AM

click to enlarge Host Anne Strainchamps, left, with Rehman Tungekar, Charles Monroe-Kane and Steve Paulson.
  • Host Anne Strainchamps, left, with Rehman Tungekar, Charles Monroe-Kane and Steve Paulson.

For more than a decade, To the Best of Our Knowledge has been delighting listeners of St. Louis Public Radio (90.7 FM). Tomorrow, for the first time, the nationally distributed show will record a broadcast from St. Louis.

But even if once in ten years doesn't feel like a lot, we shouldn't feel one bit shortchanged. Not only is the St. Louis production only the second recorded on the road in the show's 26-year history, after Salt Lake City last year, but it's only its third ever with an audience. Believe it or not, after the taping at Sheldon Hall, we'll be tied with To the Best of Our Knowledge's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, when it comes to live-to-tape broadcasts.

Says Anne Strainchamps, To the Best of Our Knowledge's host and senior producer, "You were really high up on our list!"

Strainchamps has personal ties to the area. Her parents and grandparents were from Springfield, Missouri, and her mother graduated from Washington University. But that's not all that's driving the decision to come here: She notes just how many St. Louis listeners the show's producers have heard from over the years. To the Best of Our KnowledgeTTBOOK for short — has been on the air for 26 years, and it's currently in 220 markets, but listeners in the Gateway City seem to be particularly devoted. "We've been getting emails and advice from some of them for years," Strainchamps says.

The 60-minute show, which airs Sundays at 2 p.m. in St. Louis, has a classic public radio feel — reflective and thoughtful, it's driven by a vision of information and ideas. For the show taping in St. Louis, all that thought is going into, yes, St. Louis — with a host of local guests and the city itself as a topic.

RFT readers will be familiar with some of the guests, who include experimental musician Syna So Pro, video game designer Sam Coster and We Live Here podcasters Tim Lloyd and Kameel Stanley. "We design the show around the city," Strainchamps says. "We do a lot of pre-planning. So we're doing a show for local audiences, but at the same time, we want to come and learn about your city and your place in the world, and then translate that to a national audience."

To that end, the producers will be exploring the city during their visit. They're getting a tour of East St. Louis from native son Bob Hansman, a professor at Wash U. And naturally, they're going up the Arch, inspired by an essay in fellow Wash U professor Edward McPherson's new book. (McPherson's audio essay will also be part of the show.)

Says Strainchamps, "I've never been up in the little car, and now I pretty much have to. After having read Edward McPherson's book, I'm even more excited about it."

Tickets are still available; see metrotix.com for more information. And if you can't make it to the Sheldon, you can still listen in: The St. Louis broadcast is set to air June 11.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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