‘Speaking of Faith’ fans ask ‘Who moved my Big Cheese?’

I think I can still blame my vacation for missing the news that St. Paul-based “Speaking of Faith” is changing its name to “Krista Tippett on Being.”

In her announcement, Tippett notes the “Speaking of Faith” title “has taken us as far in public media as it could. As much as we filled it with new meaning, the program’s title remained an obstacle for many programmers and listeners.”

Ironically, though, listeners appear to be stumbling all over the change, if a 200-plus comment thread is any indication.

Krista Tippett (MPR photo)
Krista Tippett (MPR photo)

Many liked the current name as off-hand but on-point, and view “Being” as too vague and pretentious. “[M]y first impression of new name was this: self-promoting talk show host on New Age commercial radio,” snarked one.

Technically, the host’s name is in the current title — it’s officially “Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett” — but of course the moniker last and not first. At one point in the discussion, managing producer Kate Moos — gamely responding to the brickbats — says she’s heard the complaint about Tippett overemphasis “a lot” and “it gives me pause.” 

Still, Moos notes that “Being with Krista Tippett” is “an unfortunate double-entendre that hits the ears.” 

Tippett is very present in the Peabody Award-winning show (more than most hosts, I’d argue), so putting her name first is not exactly false advertising. SOF execs note a short-term tactical reason: emphasizing her name amid the name change makes it clear the main attraction hasn’t changed.

Execs argue that over time, the show will be known simply as “Being,” reflecting all aspects of “religion, meaning, ethics and ideas.” Presumably, over time, “faith”-hating programmers and listeners will be soothed by a name as shapeless as the human spirit.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 08/16/2010 - 04:58 pm.

    To cover the philosophical gamut, shouldn’t the name be “Krista Tippett on Being and Non-Being?”

    Oh, wait a minute, that name has already been taken.

  2. Submitted by William Souder on 08/16/2010 - 07:34 pm.

    The new title…quite apart from the pretentiousness of the host’s self-referential involvement…seems ironic, inasmuch as “being” suggests something tangible, measureable, and subject to direct perception. These are the beginning points of rational thought and examination, the basic tools of evidence-based scientific inquiry. Faith, on the other hand, is based on supernatural explanations…and is thus underpinning of human religions for which there is no evidence. Either way, I would expect the show to remain as it has been, unlistenable.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/16/2010 - 08:19 pm.

    As someone who has listened to Tippett’s program with great regularity, I must say that it was often the case, especially in more recent times, that “faith” was so loosely defined as to stretch the common definition of that word to the breaking point.

    I, for one, appreciate the new name as being more reflective of the direction the show has taken, as well as making it likely that more people will hear what I regard to be a wonderfully informative and educational show.

    As to the prominence of Tippett’s name in the new title, PLEASE! Who else has developed a show as sensitive and wide-ranging as this on a subject that is of universal importance to all of us, no matter what “faith” we claim, including no “faith” at all?

    The show is HER show. It would not be the same (or even possible) without her! She deserves top billing, even if it’s only temporary, and the eventual name will simply be “being.”

  4. Submitted by Don Medal on 08/17/2010 - 12:02 pm.

    I’m a frequent listener,e and I liked the old name a lot better. “Being” doesn’t describe the show much for me, and to change the title to attract those who are turned off by the word “faith” seems like commercial radio. I’m hoping this doesn’t signal a change in content but I am thinking it does. 🙁

  5. Submitted by Hal Davis on 08/17/2010 - 01:29 pm.

    “Unlistenable” is harsh, but it depends on whom Tippett is interviewing.

    “Being” is one of those philosophical-underpinning words I tend to avoid, but I suppose “spiritual adventures” would still be too limiting.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/17/2010 - 04:31 pm.

    What is this “MPR” you speak of?

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