| Steve Paulson | Anne Strainchamps |
Steve Paulson was born in Rome, Italy, where his father worked with the United Nations. Paulson's family eventually settled in Milwaukee WI, where he remembers hanging out for "countless hours" on Milwaukee's tennis courts, fantasizing about a Wimbledon showdown with Bjorn Borg or Jon McEnroe.
He won a high school championship, but a professional career remained a fantasy. Instead, he earned a degree in European Literature from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, then freelanced for Milwaukee newspapers and co-founded and edited Harambee Speaks, an inner city community newspaper.
By the early 1980s, Paulson had returned to college to earn a masters degree in journalism, specializing in covering arts and culture, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, he stumbled on community radio station WORT, where he volunteered and quickly "got hooked on doing interviews". By the time he finished his masters, Paulson was hosting a current affairs talk show and producing and co-anchoring a half-hour program -- not on the arts, but on news and current affairs.
Part-time reporting with Wisconsin Public Radio's news department led to a full-time position as producer of CONVERSATIONS WITH MARGARET ANDREASEN and later, of the issue-oriented morning talk show CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM CLARK. Paulson also filled in as a substitute host and, for three years, did his own weekly interview program, aired Saturdays on Wisconsin Public Radio. He also continued reporting. Several of his features were broadcast nationally on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED and PACIFICA NEWS. He has won first-place awards from the Northwest Broadcast News Association and the Wisconsin Broadcasters' Association.
Paulson was the assistant director of network talk at Wisconsin Public Radio for a year before joining the national production team of TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE.
As an interviewer on TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, Paulson has specialized in covering environmental issues and popular culture. He's especially fascinated by the stories of field biologists. "I find these people both inspiring and admirable," he says, "because they manage to combine science with difficult conservation work."
These days, Paulson still unwinds at the local tennis courts. Away from the courts, Paulson's two children keep him on his toes.
She's been a news reporter, editor and producer. But ask Anne Strainchamps what she likes best about working on TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, and she'll tell you it's going beyond the day's news.
"In our culture, we so often restrict our public conversation to the level of who, what, when and how," she explains. "We don't very often create opportunities to ask deeper questions. I think there's a real hunger for discourse with more depth and significance, and that's what we try to provide on TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE."
She finds the interview format especially suited to that approach. "I learned to love the interview format by producing Diane Rehm's daily talk show," says Strainchamps, a 1982 Bryn Mawr grad whose first producing job was with NPR affiliate WAMU, in Washington D.C. "Before that, I'd been working as a research assistant at NPR, and I'd come to think of a well-produced reporter piece as the height of journalism. So it was something of a surprise to realize that an interview was another way to approach the news, a way to give it more depth and, often, in a more listenable form."
In 1985, Strainchamps joined Wisconsin Public Radio, producing interviews for the network's news magazines. She later added reporting duties and was named assistant director of current affairs before helping launch TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE in 1990. She joined the show's team of interviewers in 1997.
"There's an energy that comes from collaboration that's like nothing else," she says. "I like the interplay of ideas, the stimulation of butting heads, the chance to produce, together, something that's far beyond what any one of us could do alone. We force each other to examine our work and question our ideas and, in the end, I think the listeners benefit."
As an interviewer, her own interests are eclectic. She talks with experts in fields from spirituality to science. "The scientists we talk with are so good at conveying their sense of wonder about the world," Strainchamps says. "Their passion for ideas captures some of what, for me, is so compelling and powerful about interviews on the radio: They can change your mind, your thinking, your perception of the world."
A New York native, Strainchamps makes her home in Madison WI, where she lives with her husband and two children.
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