The Five-Minute Interview: Jim Olds on Oprah

Posted: October 31, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jim Greif

Oprah Winfrey, number nine on Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world, is a household name worldwide. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is viewed in 112 countries. However, neuroscience typically isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear her name.

Jim Olds
Jim Olds

Nevertheless, Winfrey’s producers contacted Jim Olds, director of Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, after reading a Washington Post article that discussed the “Decade of the Mind” event hosted at Mason last May. Researchers at the event explained the urgent need to continue the study of the human mind and the benefits the research could bring to society.

As part of her “Soul Series” on XM Radio, Winfrey interviewed Olds about such questions as “Do our dogs think?” and “What role does intuition play in science?”

The interview took place via remote broadcast between Oprah’s studio in Chicago and Mason’s WGMU radio station in Fairfax. The interview can be heard on “Oprah & Friends” (XM channel 156 and DirecTV channel 807) in December at a date and time to be announced.

The Mason Gazette caught up with Olds to discuss his impressions of the interview.

How did you feel about being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey?

Nervous, because I knew I would be reaching a very large audience and the entire national effort of the “Decade of the Mind” was potentially on the line.

Did anything surprise you during your conversation?

I was surprised at how nice she was. She put me at ease with her combination of humor and warmth. Oprah didn’t have any difficulty at all in understanding some of the compelling concepts that are driving the “Decade of the Mind” project.

How did this experience compare to the various interviews that you have given over the years?

This is definitely the biggest and most important interview I have given. Being on radio is more comfortable than being on television because of the need to sit up and be aware of your appearance as well as responding to questions.

What has been the reaction from friends, family and colleagues when they learn about the interview?

My family – especially the female members – were especially psyched. I heard things like, “Get out of here,” “How cool is that?” and “What was she like?”

Was there anything you didn’t get to say that you would have liked to add?

I would have liked to talk to Oprah more about George Mason University and what the faculty, administrators and students are building here.

As a former college radio disc jockey, did the experience of being in a radio station bring back memories for you?

I haven’t been in a control room in 30 years, yet the WGMU studio felt familiar. I was amazed how little of it has changed. It was just about the same as I remembered.

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