Uncommon Knowledge Turns 21

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

As of May 2017, the Hoover Institution’s talk show, Uncommon Knowledge, turned twenty-one years old. William F. Buckley, the host of the well-respected and long-running show Firing Line, called Uncommon Knowledge the successor to his own show. Although Firing Lines still holds the title for the longest-running program at thirty-three years, Uncommon Knowledge is well on its way to catching up.

The Show

In 1996, Uncommon Knowledge began as a weekly television program from May 1996 to June 2005. For the first four years, it was broadcast on KTEH-TV, a PBS affiliate in San Jose, California, before getting picked up by PBS and NPR worldwide in 2000. Beginning in 2006 Uncommon Knowledge became a web-exclusive program, hosted through the Hoover Institution website and Youtube. Twenty-one years later it’s still going strong.

Want to know why it’s called Uncommon Knowledge? Watch this clip to find out:

Illustrious guests during the years have included Hoover fellows, politicians, policy experts, and successful businesspeople. Some notable guests include Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Thomas Sowell, Paul Ryan, Peter Thiel, Shelby Steele, Charles Koch, Steven Wynn, Newt Gingrich, and many more.

Watch below to see highlights from the last twenty-one years of Uncommon Knowledge

In honor of Uncommon Knowledge’s twenty-one years of life, the Hoover Institution has rereleased the first episode. In that episode, Peter Robinson moderates a heated debate between former US attorney general, Edwin Meese III, and former San Jose police chief, Joseph McNamara, about the war on drugs and the best way to handle drug abuse, decriminalization, and the possibility of legalization. The episode was filmed on the Stanford campus and in MacArthur Park, the iconic Palo Alto restaurant. From the set to the debate to Peter’s hair, see how little has changed in twenty-one years.

Transcript available here

An audio only version is available on SoundCloud and iTunes

About the Host

Peter Robinson, Uncommon Knowledge’s distinguished host, has been the host since its beginning twenty-one years ago. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution where he writes about business and politics and edits the Hoover Digest in addition to hosting Uncommon Knowledge.

In 1979, he graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he majored in English. He went on to study politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford University, from which he graduated in 1982.

Robinson spent six years in the White House, serving from 1982 to 1983 as chief speechwriter to Vice President George Bush and from 1983 to 1988 as special assistant and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. He wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan called on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

After the White House, Robinson attended Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. (The journal he kept formed the basis for Snapshots from Hell.) He graduated with an MBA in 1990. Robinson joined the Hoover Institution in 1993.

He is also a cofounder of Ricochet, a conservative website and podcasting community.