C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb discusses the station’s newest show, “Q&A,” at his office in C-SPAN’s headquarters on Capitol Hill. “Q&A” debuts Sunday.
C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb credits his high school journalism teacher Bill Fraser for teaching him how to conduct an interview.
“A good teacher will tell you early on to stop hurrying and listen,” Lamb said last week as he sat in his office just steps from the studio where C-SPAN’s popular morning call-in show “Washington Journal” is produced.
In the 25 years since his fledgling public service network found its own niche in the fast-paced world of Washington media, Fraser’s advice has stuck with Lamb. Lamb, who rarely talks about himself and hates hearing
his own name on air, admitted he has always had a passion for finding out other people’s stories. Indeed, it’s the basic one-on-one interview that has driven many of C-SPAN’s programs over the years.
So it should come as no surprise that Lamb’s latest programming venture for his network is an interview-style show appropriately titled “Q&A.” The new show will premiere at 8 p.m. Sunday, replacing the popular author-interview program “Booknotes,” which Lamb has faithfully hosted each week for the past 15 and a half years — 800 episodes in all.
But while the hour-long sit-down interview format of “Q&A” will be the same as “Booknotes,” the new show will expand beyond just authors to include politicians, doctors, social workers, media personalities and anyone else who Lamb feels has a story to tell and something to teach.
“I have observed that television has become 1,000 people, and in a nation of 295 million there are not enough different kinds of people being heard from,” Lamb said. “The goal here is to learn about somebody’s accomplishments in some way or another. It can be a newsmaking interview but that’s not the goal, there’s too much of that going on already.”
So rather than spending an estimated 20 hours each week reading and preparing for author interviews, Lamb expects to draw on his 63 years of experience and distinct interviewing style to draw out his subjects personal stories on “Q&A.”
“This is simple television, this is just information,” Lamb said. “The number one rule is that the person will end up teaching us something.”
To accommodate the new show, C-SPAN has rebuilt the old “Booknotes” studio space. A painted blue screen and sharp red rug have replaced the old, less than flashy, decor of “Booknotes.” Lamb will be the show’s primary host for now, but he said one of C-SPAN’s other hosts could easily fill in for him if the occasion arises.