To The Best Of Our Knowledge

News & Information: Sat • 5pm-7pm | Sun • 8am-10am
  • Hosted by Anne Strainchamps

A thoughtful and penetrating interview magazine featuring nationally and internationally-known guests whose passion for new ideas challenge and engage.

Artist Natasha Nicholson makes contemporary cabinets of curiosity, but not simply to gaze at – they are her world. Nicholson lives inside her own art, highly curated rooms in an old storefront in Madison, Wisconsin. Her solo show that reproduces her ENTIRE studio space is at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Who's Got the Button? Larry Brockman Does.

Sep 5, 2015

And please, don’t forget Gary Brockman. He makes his living from his collection. Baseball cards? Stamps? Nope. Gary collection buttons. And not just any buttons, 19th century buttons.

David Axelrod on How to Run for President

Sep 5, 2015

Our final interview in today’s show has nothing to do with collecting – unless you consider winning two presidential campaigns a collection of two wins. David Axelrod was the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and recently stopped by our studio to talk about the art of running for office.

Lorraine Daston on a History of Wonders

Sep 5, 2015

Where does obsessive collecting come from? And what does it mean? Lorraine Daston takes us back to 17th century Europe and the nobility’s Kunstkamera, or chambers of wonders.  They were filled with nature’s freaks and anomalies.  But these marvels, these monsters, gave birth to modern science.

Amanda Petrusich is a music journalist who assigned a story about obsessive collectors of 78rpm records. But she ended up getting a little too close to her subject. She became obsessed herself – and ended up scuba diving in the Milwaukee River, looking for the Holy Grail: a lost collection of Paramount 78s.

Wonder Woman's Fascinating Origin Story

Aug 30, 2015

Since her creation in 1941, Wonder Woman has become one of the most popular superheroes of all time, as well as an beloved icon of second-wave feminism. It also turns out she has a fascinating origin story that intersects with the Women's movement of the early 20th century, the lie detector, and even involves the founders of Planned Parenthood. Historian Jill Lepore tells Steve Paulson about these connections, and talks about Wonder Woman's eccentric creator.

Let's Put An End To Sexist Language

Aug 30, 2015

Cognitive researcher Douglas Hofstadter explains how gendered words and phrases — like using "guys" to refer to mixed company — can oftentimes reinforce sexist attitudes.

For much of her early life, rock critic Jessica Hopper was an ardent fan of punk rock. But despite her passion, she never felt like she quite fit in. That began to change once she started seeing female fronted bands performing onstage. She says the experience convinced her that there was a place for her in music.

How do you best portray a strong female character, either in TV or in film? That’s a question culture critic Tasha Robinson has been asking herself for a long time now, first during her 13 years as an editor for the A.V. Club and most recently as the senior editor of the movie commentary site, The Dissolve. She tells Charles Monroe Kane that it's relatability — not toughness — that defines a strong woman on screen.

What It's Like To Be A Real Life Spy Girl

Aug 30, 2015

Television is rife with shows about female spies, whether it's Nikita, Covert Affairs, the Americans, or Homeland. It really seems like spy girls are having a moment on TV, but how true to life are these popular depictions? We turned to former CIA operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson to find out.

TIME magazine's book critic calls David Foster Wallace a literary ventriloquist who captured the spoken speech of Americans more accurately, hilariously and lovingly than any other writer. 

Canadian novelist Sheila Heti talks about her new novel, "How Should a Person Be?" It's fiction, but the characters are real people -- they seem to be Sheila herself and her friends.  Some of the dialogue is from actual conversations she transcribed.  So what is this thing?

Novelists have always mined their own lives for inspiration. But no ever's gone quite as far as Karl Ove Knausgaard.  People call him the Norwegian Proust.  He recently came out with the sixth volume of his autobiographical novel, "My Struggle." What's remarkable about Knausgaard is not just that he's telling the story of his life as a novel.  It's the incredible level of detail.  

BookMark: "Mes Amis"

Aug 28, 2015

Sarah Manguso recommends "Mes Amis" by Emmanuel Bove.

"The Kingston Springs Suite" album cover

On our minds this week is the story of a long-lost country music album that's just been released 40 years after it was recorded.  Country musicians Vince Matthews and Jim Casey recorded "The Kingston Springs Suite" back in the early '70s.  It was backed by some big names. At the time, Matthews and Casey were rising stars in Nashville. But after their record deal tanked, Matthews' career faded away.  He died in 2003 but Jim Casey is still around to talk about the album.

After more than 20 years at the helm, Jim Fleming announced that he will retire at the end of January as host of To the Best of Our Knowledge. Beginning in February, the show will launch the most significant makeover of the program in its 23-year history. Long-time interviewer and producer Anne Strainchamps will become the new host.