TED creator Richard Saul Wurman is known for his lifetime fascination with human conversations. He has said on numerous occasions that conversations is the essence of human understanding, of human learning, of human connection, and that every conference he designs is just a pursuit to design a great human conversation.
As we have explored and mused on numerous occasions in the past, conversations is one of the core products that the overall “media” industry creates, whether in the form of radio broadcasts, television talk shows, podcast streams, vlog personalities, or live events. For as long as I have been in the events industry, I have subscribed to the Richard Saul Wurman school of thought that designed human gatherings are to be platforms for conversations — staged or serendipitous — and I have been fascinated by the handfuls of people in the world who have made their careers through the art of the conversation.
One of the most prominent of these people is undoubtedly Charlie Rose. He is know in these recent years as one of the anchors for CBS This Morning, but Charlie Rose is perhaps most famous for his decades-long career as an interviewer for his uniquely formatted Charlie Rose Show. He started this show on a local broadcast in Dallas back in the 70s, then took it to CBS in the 80s, and PBS in the 90s where he continues his program to this day.
The thing I enjoy most about Charlie Rose’s show on PBS is that it is not a conversation in front of any live studio audience, nor is it a live broadcast that entertains live audience call-ins. The Charlie Rose Show is all about him and his guest — most often just one at a time — sitting in a plain blacked out room around a circular dinner table, chairs facing and at about 60 degrees apart from each other, and having a conversation.
Sometimes, these conversations lasts 20 minutes, sometimes a full hour, and sometimes in between. He has interviewed actors and singers, comedians and athletes, billionaires and presidents, and even some of the most dangerous people in the world. The topics inevitably touches on aspects of the celebrity guest’s current and newsworthy events, but also delves largely into their personal lives, esoteric worldviews, and other tangents. Of all the shows and all the formats, this is perhaps the purest form of conversation available in the media landscape today.
See you at the next exploration!