Philosophy Corner
The program that questions everything
...except your intelligence.

Stations that Broadcast the Show
Upcoming Topics The Blog

Philosophy Talk is a weekly, one-hour radio series produced by Ben Manilla. The hosts' down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach brings the richness of philosophic thought to everyday subjects. Topics are lofty (Truth, Beauty, Justice), arresting (Terrorism, Intelligent Design, Suicide), and engaging (Baseball, Love, Happiness).

This is not a lecture or a college course, it's philosophy in action! Philosophy Talk is a fun opportunity to explore issues of importance to your audience in a thoughtful, friendly fashion, where thinking is encouraged.


Ken Taylor is Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.

His work lies at the intersection of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, with an occasional foray into the history of philosophy.

He is the author of many books and articles, including Truth and Meaning, Reference and the Rational Mind, and Referring to the World.

John Perry is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, and Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Nicod and Humboldt Prizes. A popular lecturer, in 1990 he was awarded the Dinkelspiel Award for undergraduate teaching. 

He is the author of over 100 articles and books, including A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness, and Reference and Reflexivity

He also has the internet’s most popular essay on procrastination.

Roving Philosophical Reporters

Zoe Corneli made her radio debut at WNYU, the college radio station of New York University, where she ran the News Department. She also interned at WNYC New York Public Radio in the newsroom and on the Brian Lehrer Show. From New York (via Italy, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, China, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, and Egypt), she made her way to the Bay Area. In addition to her work for Philosophy Talk, Zoe reports for KALW News, NPR, PRI's 'The World," and Weekend America. She was the co-recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California award for Explanatory Journalism in 2006. Oh, and not to be one-upped by the other bios on this page, Zoe speaks French and Mandarin Chinese, and pretends to speak Spanish, Italian, Arabic and various other languages with varying degrees of success.

April Dembosky is a writer and radio producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she covers health, immigration, arts & culture, death, and philosophy. Her radio work has aired on NPR’s Weekend Edition and All Things Considered, American Public Media’s Marketplace, KQED’s The California Report and KALW’s Crosscurrents. Her print work has appeared in the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the Sacramento Bee, and San Francisco, Mother Jones, and Diablo Magazines. She speaks French and Spanish, and is a classically trained violinist.

Caitlin Esch is a journalist in Oakland.  Her radio, print and video work has appeared on KQED’s The California Report, NPR, The East Bay Express, The Oakland Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal.  She is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s journalism school.

Rina Palta came to radio from a print background, having worked for several years at Mother Jones magazine. In addition to Philosophy Talk, her writing and reporting has appeared on KALW's Crosscurrents, as well as in the American Prospect, Maisonneuve, and the San Francisco Weekly.

Julie Napolin is a cultural theorist working at the intersections of sound, literature, philosophy, and media. Before joining New York's Yeshiva University as an Assistant Professor of English, she taught critical theory and media studies at CCA, and writing and composition at UC Berkeley. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley where she was also a Mellon and Jacob K. Javits fellow. She plays guitar and sings, and is finishing her first record with her band, Meridians. Only becoming a radio producer in 2007, her stories have aired on KALX, WAMC, KBUT, Mississippi Public Radio, Illinois Public Radio, and the PRX NPR Station Showcase for outstanding public radio.

Polly Stryker began working as a public radio producer in 1997, while earning a graduate degree in history. She realized that public radio work is remarkably like being a perpetual graduate student, so she stayed. Polly has worked for a variety of news and public affairs programs, including AirTalk on KPCC Radio, and These Days on KPBS Radio. She considers herself to be a citizen of the world, having grown up in Cairo and having lived in Vienna, Germany, England and Kenya before coming to America. She speaks Arabic and German and can say, "I want a Martini" in Swahili.

Sixty-Second Philosopher

Merle Kessler is a writer, humorist, and performer, best known perhaps by his pen name, Ian Shoales. As Ian Shoales he has been churning out cranky yet strangely humorous commentaries since 1979. First heard on NPR's All Things Considered, he has been featured on Morning Edition, ABC's Nightline, and the online magazine, Salon. In addition, his pieces have been published in the New York Times, LA Times, the San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Minneapolis Tribune, among other publications. Merle (as Ian Shoales) recently co-starred in, and co-wrote (with composer partner J. Raoul Brody) Slouching Towards Disneyland, a wild story of the history of the world.

Kessler is also a founding member of Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre, the legendary yet obscure sketch comedy group. He co-created, with Dan Coffey, the character of Dr. Science, he of Ask Dr. Science. He is the author or co-author of five books. Despite this, he was actively employed in the nineties at various videogame and dotcom industries - until everything went kerflooey. He is thrilled to be working in radio again, because it is more fun than anything. As a bonus, on the radio nobody knows if you've shaved or not.

He is also writing a web-based comedy series, called KollegeTV, which should baffle many when it launches, and writing the scripts for a video documentary series called Great Libraries of the World. Look for it next year on a public radio station near you.

He is married to Amy Kessler, who likes bad movies almost as much as he does. He speaks no languages. None.

Research & Production Team

Ben Hersh (Director of Research)

Daniel Elstein (Director of Research)

Crack Research Team

Judee Burr

Brian Lewis

Daniel Hollingshead

Jo Massot

Zavain Dar

Julie Smith.

Devon Strolovitch (Production Coordinator)
Mark Stone (Board Operator)

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