Introductions: The show

Welcome to our new home on Freethought Blogs.  The transition seems to have gone smoothly, so I assume we’ll have some new people stumbling across us.

The Atheist Experience is a live public access call-in television show based out of Austin, Texas.  It launched in 1997.  You can learn more about the show here, including information on how to watch live and view the extensive archive.  We’ve got two hosts — Matt Dillahunty is on three out of every four weeks, and I (Russell Glasser) host the fourth week.  We also have five rotating cohosts: Don Baker, Jeff Dee, Jen Peeples, Martin Wagner, and Tracie Harris.

Since we have fifteen years of live callers behind us, we’ve covered a pretty wide range of personalities.  They range from slickly packaged professional apologists like Ray Comfort and Matt Slick on one end, to just plain unexpected silliness on the other.

The Atheist Experience is sponsored by the Atheist Community of Austin, a terrific social group which also supports two other podcasts: The Non-Prophets, a round table discussion group; and Godless Bitches, an atheist feminist podcast.

We’re all looking forward to interacting with the Freethought Blogs community at large, and I’ll be writing a new post introducing myself personally as one of your regular bloggers.  Talk to you soon!

Torrential torrenty torrents!

A fellow named Brian Wilson (not that one) is currently hosting a colossal torrent of MP3s of Atheist Experience shows from 2004 through 2010. No idea if this includes my final episodes with Ashley Perrien from when I originally hosted (but it might as I left in March of ’04). But it will include all of Ashley’s shows and the first ones with Matt. So, you know, go grab ‘em, seed ‘em, spread the love happening. Thanks to Brian for hosting this.

Everybody chill — the archive is secure!

Since we’ve been getting a flurry of panicked emails about Google Video shutting down from people who fear the entire Atheist Experience video archive is about to vanish into the ether, I thought a general “calm the ravening hordes” post was in order. We are, in fact, cognizant of the concept of backups, and in addition to having everything stored ourselves, we’ve got our current episodes on blip.tv now. Anything you can’t see there should be obtainable on DVD-R. So business will continue uninterrupted. Fear not.

Thanks for your questions

I just want to say a sincere thanks to everyone who submitted questions under “Q for Ray” subjects. I know some people are disappointed that we did not directly read questions and attribute them to those who wrote in, but we did read through a lot of them before the show. I think everyone who watched the show would agree that the conversation was plenty jam packed without breaking to read a canned question.

However, both Matt and I read through several dozen questions, took notes, and found themes which helped us to formulate what to say. Some of you probably recognized pieces of your questions surfacing in the dialog. So… it may not have seemed like we were paying attention to you, but we were. Thanks for your support and we appreciate you.

A belated note on Isaac Newton’s birthday

Happy Newtonmas, everyone. (And most importantly, happy birthday to my Non-Prophets partner in crime Gia Grillo!) Here’s an announcement I epically borked, but hopefully I can make up for it. The fine crew of Seattle’s Ask an Atheist is shifting to AM radio in January. They have run up against a phenomenon that is sweeping cable television nationwide: to wit, the loss of public access channels. Very few cities now have those any more, let alone the ability to offer shows that take live calls. In that regard, we’re still quite lucky down here Austin way.

The gang held a benefit comedy show earlier this month, which I totally failed to announce in time. But they are still accepting donations on their site to make the transition easier. Best wishes to Mike Gillis and the rest of the SeaTac crew in the continuation of their fine contribution to godless media! We need more dedicated shows around the country and globe. And not so long ago, AETV felt like a tiny oasis in an endless desert…

A fond farewell to Joe Rhodes

Joe Rhodes has been one of AETV’s producers since — well, since I was host, I do believe. How the time it do fly.

Anyway, he’s given us both good news and bad news. The good news is that he’s gotten a job in the Portland, OR region, and the bad naturally means that this will entail leaving us. Joe’s hard work on the show over several years has been invaluable. The old cliché that we couldn’t have done it without him here holds true, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. So this coming show will be his last, after which we wish him happy trails! I’m sure there are enough AETV fans in that area to make him welcome when he settles in.

If you’re at your computers, I guess you’re already sitting down for this…

Word has just come in that The Atheist Experience‘s time slot is, for the first time in its 12 year run, being shaved from 90 minutes to one hour. I haven’t yet heard when this change will go into effect.

There’s already a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about this on Facebook, but apparently there’s nothing we can do. I don’t think we’re being targeted or anything. What’s probably going on is a change in ChannelAustin policy by which they’re trying to cut back on longer shows in order to fit in more programs per day. Either way, it sucks, and it’s going to take some real adjusting.

One thing that’s going to have to happen is some real ruthlessness in dealing with tedious, rambling callers, like that “collapsing wave-form” dude from last Sunday. And hopefully our atheist fans will at last get the message that, while we love them dearly, it’s preferable to use the email address, and not a phone call to the show, to tell us what an awesome job we’re doing. We should be more strict about demanding a caller make his point within, oh, 30 seconds, or we’ll have to let him go. Since I don’t inhabit the host’s chair any more, I can’t promise the regular hosts will agree this should be the practice.

If I may be allowed to air a personal gripe? If you’re wondering why I don’t have any more details about this, it’s because I found out about it, just half an hour ago, from a Facebook post by Matt. While I know it’s important to let the fans know right away, I think it would have been — oh, what’s the word — a courtesy for the cast and crew to have been informed, personally, ahead of time.

In any event, the show will go on! We aren’t ones to let something as petty as having our time slot chopped by a third to stop us speaking truth to power and all that! You can expect the same spirited blasphemy and hard arguing and hilarious Jeff Dee tirades you’ve been getting all these years. It will just be in a more concentrated package. We love and appreciate the support of all our viewers, new and old, all through the years, and we plan to be around for many, many more years yet!


Addendum: Matt has sent us all an email explaining the changes and apologizing for what’s turned out to be an honest goof. There has in fact been email discussion going on the last couple of days about all this, but it’s been taking place on the ACA board’s private email list, and wasn’t being shared with the TV list, which Matt assumed was being done. Several of us on the crew are not on the ACA board, and I guess that got overlooked. So, consider feathers unruffled.

The new time slot goes into effect the second Sunday of October (we’re being pre-empted on 10/3 by the fucking Mormons again), and we’ll be back in the big studio we were using ten years ago, which the guys have been trying to get for a long time in order to accommodate our ever-expanding studio audience. So kudos to them for managing that. For more details as they’re revealed, just keep checking the website.

We’d like to thank the academy…

Hey, gang, remember that one time when we asked you to go vote for us as best access TV show in the Austin Chronicle? Well, thanks very much for your votes… WE WON!

Got a nice blurb, too:

This international public access show includes debates about religious philosophy while promoting a positive education on atheism. Some of our town’s most delightful free thinkers, including Hepcats author Martin Wagner, computer scientist Don Baker, and aerospace engineer Jen Peeples, host this tasteful approach to lively, interactive conversations with viewers of various beliefs.

Oh my gosh, so many people to thank, if we can just stop crying long enough to put on our tiara.

Congratulations also to our good friends at the Texas Freedom Network, who walked away with “Best Activist Organization.”

A quick personal note

I’ll be away from the blog for pretty much all the rest of the month, as I’ve been hired as 2nd assistant director on an independent feature film shooting in northeast Texas. However, I fully expect the rest of the crew (especially Tracie and Russell, who’ve been very active lately) to keep the blog’s momentum going and be vigilant about moderating out the occasional bit of Asian pornspam and trollish ravings of you-know-who. I’ll be posting regular Facebook updates (via the miracle of cellular phone technology) about on-set hijinks all month, though. So if you haven’t friended me on FB yet, what’re you waiting for?

I do plan on co-hosting tomorrow’s show as scheduled, after which I’ll be immediately on the road. Expect me back here after the 4th of July holiday. Everybody have fun while I’m gone! Just mop up the blood where necessary.

Plugola

Hey gang. Here’s a positive thing you can do, in the midst of a world overrun with teabagger hate and domestic terrorism and general irrationality. One of my best friends is doing this week-long, 545-mile bike marathon this coming June, from LA to San Fran, and it’s all to benefit AIDS research. And she’s looking for sponsors. So, you know, do eet for SCIENCE! And to piss off the homophobes at the American “Family” Association, the “Family” Research Council, and all those other fundamentalist hate groups who try to hide behind the word “family.” I could only spare 10 bucks, so if $5 or $10 or $15 is all you can manage, that’d be beyond awesome. And I know all you folks are beyond awesome.