There was nothing at issue with the old format of Think Out Loud. I assume it is being changed because it is assumed to be broken. Or else it is just to keep things current, but even keeping things current, is a comment on the past. If there was a problem with the old TOL it was never the length, or that one topic was too little for an hour, it was how that hour was handled and what topics where chosen. Lately the show seems prone to choose topics, or relate topics to what is going on in the news, and often the local news. Often there isn’t much conversation to be had on these local news topics, and sometimes the show seems torn between deciding whether it is covering the news or whether it is trying to start discussions related to the news. What you can end up with, is a show trying to find something interesting to say, about something that is perhaps not that interesting to begin with. In other words you are looking for something to talk about in matter-of-fact areas, that don’t inherently invite much discussion.
What is great about TOL is its holistic approach to conversation, it seems to take seriously the views of guests, callers and online commenters. Which often has the potential to feel like the community is actually taking part in a discussion, and in the end it is. It must be challenging, and a lot of work, to tackle a show of this scope on a local level. If the show has any problems many of them may simply be related to the resources of a local community, there are only so many potential people to participate in a show on a statewide level, whereas a show like Talk of the Nation has an entire country of listeners that can participate. In my opinion, the show has so far been very successful.
I feel in order to keep in line with the name of the show, more emphasis could be placed on promoting discussions that involve critical thinking or abstract skills. The show might have the potential to be seen as a follower rather then a leader, if it is always trying to relate things to a news item, and it could seem forced. And, sometimes these topics are so esoteric, that they are kind of a bore. Can’t the show generate its own discussion? What often happens on your blog is people want something more in-depth to discuss so they turn to topics loosely related, it is not just that they get off topic, but sometimes the topics just can’t hold their own as presented. And perhaps it would be good to get away from trying to make the show about local issues, unless those local issues are controversial or worthy of a ‘thinking’ discussion. Or if you want to do a show with multiple topics, maybe have a show once a week (or every so often) about local issues. -->