From Clay S. Jenkinson

Sometimes when I portray Jefferson I find myself saying things--in character--that I disagree with. Sometimes I find Jefferson's views objectionable. My duty is to portray him as he actually was, warts and all, not as a kind of idealized version of the Thomas Jefferson who lived between 1743 and 1826. My mentor Ev Albers gave me the best humanities advice I ever received: judgement is easy, understanding is hard. I try to explore the life, character, achievement, and outlook of Thomas Jefferson as carefully as possible, without over-implying a complex man or "adjusting" Jefferson to be the ideal man of Enlightenment in the 21st Century. I do not endorse Jefferson's views on race, American Indians, or women, but I try to present them candidly--in character--for the historical benefit of our listeners. Host David Swenson usually re-centers the program when Mr. Jefferson says "illiberal" things. Our goal is to do good history. The primary reason that I "break character" for the third portion of the program is to distance myself from some of what passes in character. The humanities attempt to explore ideas in all of their nuance and complexity, and to avoid taking historical pronouncements out of context.



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This Week's Show - Founding Ideals

Show 1156 Founding Ideals (11-22-15)

This week: The Village Square in Tallahassee Florida and guest host Steven J. Vancore hosted humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson on October 15, 2015 for a live audience taping of The Thomas Jefferson Hour.

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Praise for The Thomas Jefferson Hour®

The Thomas Jefferson Hour has been a staple of WHRV's lineup since its inception; we were amongst the first broadcasters to carry the program, and are proud to air Clay's announcements thanking us for being the program's flagship station. With this market's deep history as home to our nation's first region, the Jamestown Colony's founding in 1607, and our Commonwealth's ties to Thomas Jefferson, interest in this program over the years has resulted in a sizeable listener base. We have hosted debates between Thomas Jefferson (Clay Jenkinson) and Alexander Hamilton (Bill Chrystal), and they've been overwhelmingly well-attended by enthusiastic audiences. In addition to our very popular local call-in shows, it's one of our most popular public affairs programs.

Anthony McSpadden, Director of Programming,WHRV, Norfolk, VA

The Thomas Jefferson Hour is a thought provoking way of exploring contemporary issues through the lens of history. Clay Jenkinson brings listeners interesting and thoughtful perspectives in an engaging way.

Joe Moore, Director of Program Content, KVPR Fresno and KPRX Bakersfield, CA

Thomas Jefferson versus Click and Clack?  I have been amazed at how the Thomas Jefferson Hour has performed on our weekends.   The reason the TJ Hour, works is obvious when you listen -- it is Clay Jenkinson:  his on-air warmth and intelligence, the breadth of his knowledge, the concerns toward which he directs the discussion, and his ability to connect with the public radio audience.  The idea of using Thomas Jefferson as framing device gives the discussion a perspective that distinguishes it from the usual public affairs discussion.  It combines actual serious discussion of important, overriding principles with the entertainment of the Thomas Jefferson set-up.  It works.  

Bill Thomas, Director of Radio, Prairie Public, North Dakota


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