Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Last week WBUR debuted a six-week trial run for You’re the Expert, a weekly hour that that combines science and comedy.  Chris Duffy is the host. [LINK].


You’re the Expert is the latest program using the live-to-tape production method.  In some ways You’re the Expert reminds me of Wait, Wait combined with Science Friday.

The show is taped in front of a live audience at MIT.

In each episode Chris Duffy presents an expert who specializes in a specific field of science.  The chosen expert is questioned by three comedians appearing on a panel.  The interplay is sometimes smart and sometimes silly – a good time is had by all.


Doug Berman, the guru behind Car Talk and Wait, Wait, perfected live-to-tape for public radio. Using this method, the program is performed in front an audience as if it is being broadcast live. After the raw performance, the audio is edited to clean up mistakes, delete dead zones [I call these C-Span Moments] and make it radio clock friendly.


I like You’re the Expert.  Quizzes are fun. I am a life-ling learner like most NPR News listeners.  The show is nicely edited and has a contagious voyeuristic vibe that makes you wonder what will happen next. Like Wait, Wait the conversation is intelligent. The jokes come quickly and  naturally. The host – Chris Duffy – could be Peter Segal’s younger brother.  This is a good thing.

On the Needs Improvement Side, this is a one-note program based on a very, very narrow branch of science.  The episode I heard concerning Forensic Archeology started out strong but began to hit morbidity about half way through.  Enough already.

The producers need to put some additional elements into the hour.  Changes of pace will help keep the show sounding fresh

Overall, You’re the Expert is a welcome addition to public radio. The good folks at WBUR’s ilab  [LINK] asking folks like me who the podcast to take a survey.  Here are my responses:

1. Which episode did you listen to? Who was the Expert?
"Forensic Archaeology" featuring Kimberlee Sue Moran and panelists Wyatt Cenac, Jo Firestone, and Zhubin Parang

2. How did you listen to the show(s)? PODCAST

3. Was the science interesting? Answer on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being "No" and 5 being "Very interesting." 3
Description: https://www.surveymonkey.com/i/t.gif
4. Was the show funny? Answer on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being "Not funny" and 5 being "Very funny." 3

5. Did you enjoy the host, Chris Duffy? Yes

6. Was this show the right length? Too long for one topic

7. If you heard it live on 90.9 FM, was it at a good time of day and day of the week for you to listen?  Does not apply
8. Would you listen again? Yes

9. Would you recommend it to a friend? Maybe

10. This is a pilot season for the show. Do you feel it merits continued development by WBUR?  

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