Is it a blog with a radio show or a radio show with a blog? Well, both and neither, and something else entirely.
It's Open Source, and it's an innovative talk radio program broadcast on public radio stations in the U.S. As they describe themselves, "The idea is to capture the sound of conversation on the web, share it with a radio audience and then invite that audience back to the web to contribute."
The innovation is in the use of audience interactivity. Program editors propose a topic on their blog, canvas the web for interesting guests, and take listener suggestions into account in developing the show. After the broadcast and podcast, listeners can continue to comment on the blog.
Whether it's really all that different from a show with a blog remains to be seen, but the material posted so far is promising. This past week's shows cover topics as wide-ranging as birding, computer security, and economist Jeffrey Sachs. This week promises micro-enterprise in Cuba.
Admittedly, the range of topics seems to have all the usual mass appeal of American public broadcasting, and the presenters are as energetic as most NPR personalities. Maybe they can't afford coffee on a public radio budget? (For non-Americans: U.S. public broadcasting tends to be a marginal phenomenon catering to the intellectual elites. In other words, boring.)
Still, watch out for this Tuesday's show, which will finally get around to discussing the Gaza pullout. Guests include just-disengaged Neveh Dekalim resident Shlomo Wollins, who blogs at israelreporter.com, and Laila El-Haddad from Gaza City, who blogs at Raising Yousuf: a diary of a mother under occupation. Not even public radio can make a boring show out of that.
Update: I finally listened to the actual show (MP3). I was wrong. With Shlomo Wollins unreachable due to technical difficulties, the show was left with two guests who were Arabs living in Gaza; Amira Hass, an Israeli journalist who has lived in Gaza City and who might as well be an Arab for all her views reflect the Israeli mainstream; and one recently evacuated settler, Avi Farhan's daughter, who spoke mostly about her father's failed efforts to continue living in Gaza under Palestinian rule. Add to that a few listener call-ins, which were (expectedly for public radio) uniformly pro-Palestinian, and you get a decidely one-dimensional broadcast.