By GREGORY ZELLER //
Decades after “M*A*S*H” and “The West Wing,” screen legend Alan Alda is still crystal clear about his vivid societal mission, which has always combined the entertaining and the enlightening.
It’s clear in Alda’s best-known characters, who invariably cut their dry-martini wit with more than a dash of social commentary. And it’s certainly true of “Clear+Vivid,” Alda’s popular podcast, which explores the art of human communication with the veteran performer’s signature depth and humor.
With guests ranging from former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright to fellow stage-and-screen icon Carol Burnett to Judge Judy and his old “M*A*S*H” mates – 50 top influencers in all, and counting – Alda has used the podcast to good effect: nearly 5 million downloads since debuting in July 2018, significantly furthering his personal quest to improve the way people exchange ideas.
That goal, of course, is front and center at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where Alda – a visiting professor in SBU’s School of Journalism – leads efforts to teach current and future scientists to better communicate their discoveries to the public.
And now it’s being boosted by a “multi-tiered partnership” with the Discovery Channel, which has signed on as “Clear+Vivid’s” presenting sponsor – just part of a collaboration that will see Alda and the educational network buttress each other’s science-communication efforts.
The Discovery Channel’s financial stake in the podcast, which is independently owned and operated by Alda Communication Training Co., was not disclosed. But noting that the Discovery and Science channels – both owned by New York City-based Discovery Inc. – have “always been the home to the best and brightest in science communication,” Discovery Chief Brand Officer Nancy Daniels said the brainy broadcasters had found a natural partner in Alda’s namesake center.
“Partnering with … the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science reinforces our commitment to inspire others to become leaders in scientific fields, from engineering, astrophysics, archaeology and more,” Daniels added.
Marking its one-year anniversary this month, “Clear+Vivid” – which premieres new episodes each Tuesday – has already completed four “seasons,” with Season 5 set to debut in August, with Alda back at the mic.
Future guests from the worlds of entertainment, science, business, academia, literature and other influential circles are scheduled to include philanthropist and former Microsoft General Manager Melinda Gates, Stanford University neuroendocrinologist and author Robert Sapolsky, renowned University of Houston social worker and research professor Brené Brown and a cavalcade of other business leaders, scientists and popular entertainers.