Friday, March 31, 2006

Post-Game Summary of My Appearance on Radio Open Source

Chris Lydon in the studio

Chris Lydon live on Open Source last night

Last night I had the pleasure of being a guest on Christopher Lydon's public radio program, Open Source. The focus of the show was genetics and genealogy.

I arrived at the studio just before 7pm, when the program airs live. I sat in the studio with Chris, who was busily jotting down notes for the show, peppering me with interesting questions about the subject. I'd met Chris once or twice at Harvard Berkman events, but this was the first time we'd ever really chatted. You can tell he's done thousands of interviews in his long career; he really makes you feel comfortable. I think it was particularly helpful that I was with him in person. Sometimes I've done radio interviews in which I'm over the phone or checking in via another studio, and the lack of eye contact can affect the rapport of the conversation. So it was great being able to sit at the same table with Chris, microphones bobbing six inches from our noses; it would make for a very comfortable, casual conversation.

I didn't come on for the first 40 minutes; Chris interviewed Spencer Wells of National Geographic and John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin first. This allowed me to observe his interview style and take notes. During music breaks, Chris would talk simultaneously with the control room as well as with me, taking advantage of every moment to prepare for the next segment.

Eventually, it was my turn to appear on air. Chris opened things up by asking me how I started my own family tree odyssey, and the brick wall I hit in terms of a lack of a genealogical paper trail beyond my great-grandparents. I talked about how I learned about genetic genealogy in early 2000 and tracked down the founder of Family Tree DNA, which was just getting off the ground as one of the first commercial providers of DNA tests for genealogical purposes.

From there, we talked about some of the findings I had, including the connections on both sides of my family with the Middle East and northeast Africa. I also talked a bit about my father-in-law, Dave Cornwall, who got tested last year and ended up connecting with other DNA customers who happened to be named Cornwell and shared a similar story of how their families came to America. Chris wrapped it up by asking me what I plan to tell our first child about our family's history and what we've learned from the DNA testing. I said I hoped that it would give them an appreciation of how we're connected to people from all over the world, and that we're all one large human family, all equally deserving of dignity and respect.

The hour was over quite fast - it's amazing how these things fly by when you're into it. Chris said he'd be getting tested soon; I can't wait to see the follow-up show and learn what he discovered.

In case you didn't catch the show, here's the podcast of the full hour. It's about 24 megabytes, so it may take a while to download. My segment is about 40 minutes into the show - not that you should skip ahead or anything. :-) -andy

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Discussing Genetics and Genealogy Tonight on Radio Open Source

Tonight I'm going to be a guest on Christopher Lydon's public radio program, Open Source. The show will focus on genetics and genealogy for the full hour; I'll be talking about my own personal experiences with DNA testing for family tree research. Other guests include "Journey of Man" author Spencer Wells of National Geographic's Genographic Project and anthropology blogger John Hawks.

Open Source is syndicated over public radio international. It airs live at 7pm ET/4pm PT in many communities, though sometimes it's recorded and aired at other times. Check their schedule for station air times near you.

Otherwise, you can go to hear the program streamed live over the Internet. -andy