About On Being

Who we are

On Being

On Being is a social enterprise with a radio show at its heart.

On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

On Being is the home of the Civil Conversations Project, an emergent approach to new conversation and relationship across the differences of our age. On Being’s listeners, readers, and online communities cross boundaries that separate them in the culture at large: generational, socioeconomic, political, religious. They report that On Being equips them to relate in fresh, new ways to different others, and emboldens them to engage in new kinds of service.

Krista first created the show — originally called Speaking of Faith — at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. It launched on weekly, public radio stations across the U.S. in 2003. In 2013, On Being transitioned to an independent production (Krista Tippett Public Productions) on Loring Park in Minneapolis.

On Being airs on more than 330 public radio stations across the U.S., distributed by American Public Media. Our podcast reaches a global audience via SoundCloud. We keep finding new ways to listen to our listeners and online communities, and they keep pointing new ways forward for this adventure.

Krista Tippett
Host/Executive Producer

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of all faiths, no faith, and every background to join the conversation."

Krista grew up in Oklahoma, the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. She studied history at Brown University and went to Bonn, West Germany in 1983 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study politics in Cold War Europe. In her 20s, she ended up in divided Berlin for most of the 1980s, first as The New York Times stringer and a freelance correspondent for Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune, the BBC, and Die Zeit. She later became a special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany.

Krista left Berlin in 1988, the year before the Wall fell. She lived in Spain, England, and Scotland for a time, then pursued a M.Div. from Yale. When she graduated in 1994, she saw a black hole where intelligent coverage of religion should be. As she conducted a far-flung oral history project for the Benedictines of St. John's Abbey (pdf) in Collegeville, Minnesota, she began to imagine radio conversations about the spiritual and intellectual content of faith that could open imaginations and enrich public life.

In 2007, Krista published her first book, Speaking of Faith. It is a memoir of religion in our time, including her move from geopolitical engagement to theology and the cumulative wisdom of her interviews these past years. Her book, Einstein's God, illustrates some of the important ways the program and her vision have continued to evolve.

Krista's two children are at the center of her life. She also loves cooking for her children and their friends, radio plays, beautiful writing, great science fiction, cross country skiing, and hot yoga.

Production Staff

Trent Gilliss
Chief Content Officer / Executive Editor

A driving editorial and creative force at On Being for the past decade, Trent received a Peabody Award for "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and two Webby Awards. The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Trent grew up in North Dakota and studied English Language & Literature at the University of Mary. He's a blue-collar cat who has tarred asphalt cracks, waited tables, and even driven a Zamboni. He spent several instructional years in state government, rode the dot-com wave, and worked at several Fortune 500 companies. He's now a family man who longs for subtle glimpses of beauty in the ordinary.

Lily Percy
Senior Producer

The daughter of Colombian missionaries, Lily immigrated to Miami with her family at the age of four. Like many public radio listeners, she fell in love with the medium while sitting in a car, listening to Click and Clack in the backseat of her father's Honda Accord.

Lily studied English Literature and Film Studies at Florida International University. She has worked as an associate editor at MovieMaker magazine, and as a producer for StoryCorps and NPR's "All Things Considered" on the weekends, where she produced the series "Movies I've Seen A Million Times."

Her work has also been featured on NPR's Latino USA, WNYC's Soundcheck, and Esquire. In 2012, she received the Religion Newswriters Association Radio/Podcast Religion Report of the Year Award for her profile of four Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

David Schimke
Chief Operating Officer

David joined Krista Tippett Public Productions in September 2014. He previously spent two years as a media executive at Life Time Fitness and eight years as the editor in chief and general manager of Utne Reader magazine. During his tenure at Utne, the alternative media digest received two Eddie Awards, an Ozzie, and three nods for design and editorial from Media Industry News.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota and an MFA candidate at Hamline University, David cut his teeth working for newspapers and magazines as a reporter, editor, and columnist. His literary journalism, media analysis, film criticism, and writing about faith and values have been honored on three occasions by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and garnered a half-dozen Page One Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. David has appeared as a guest on various national news programs. His public speaking engagements include appearances at The Aspen Institute, the Nation Institute, Campus Progress, the National Conference for Media Reform, and the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.

Chris Heagle
Technical Director

Chris has been a voracious consumer of all things public radio for as long as he can remember. So when he joined APM in 2007 as a technical director for Performance Today, it was a bit like coming home. Since that time he has contributed to several of APM's national programs and is thrilled to have landed on SOF.

Chris spent the better part of 15 years working in theater as a sound designer and production manager. Though he occasionally pines for the immediacy of live performance, he also believes that in the vast media landscape of our world, radio is still best at stimulating the imagination.

Chris holds a B.A. from Hamline University and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. When not in front of a computer screen, he loves the outdoors (regardless of the weather), just about every kind of music, and watching his daughters discover the world.

Mariah Helgeson
Associate Producer

Mariah grew up in a Minnesota family of artists and musicians, where she first heard On Being over the airwaves at age 11. She’s been a proud listener ever since.

She collected stories of human resilience and kindness in the classrooms of George Washington University — earning a degree in International Affairs with concentrations in the Middle East and Conflict Resolution — and over many cups of coffee in community movements, from nuclear nonproliferation, to interfaith dialogue, to compassionate communication.

Mariah worked as a program associate at the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network and lived in southern India for a spell as a documentary curator. When she’s not submerged in a good book she might be found laughing with her teenage sisters or playing chamber music.

Chris Jones
Executive Assistant

Chris is a Southern gal who grew up in Memphis, the land of BBQ, blues, and Elvis. She studied Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Missouri. She’s a short story writer and a poet. She’s traveled by car to almost every state, accumulating a wealth of interesting stories along the way. Most recently, she lingered in San Diego, but missed the snowy winters in Minnesota and so loaded up her car and headed back to the Midwest.

With over 15 years of experience as an executive assistant, event coordinator, and project manager, Chris has proven herself as an asset in large corporate environments as well as small start up companies.

Her dedication, experience, and easy-going nature provide our team with structure, balance, and a kind Southern warmth.  

Bekah Johnson
Production Intern

Bekah Johnson went to the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis for audio production and engineering. She participated in the Transom Online Workshop: a multimedia documentary production workshop where she began to learn how to tell stories in the style of public broadcasting.

She currently participates in the Transom group for alums and volunteers as a guest instructor at MVNA's Pathways program, helping pregnant and parenting teens create their own documentary stories.

She loves everything audio: music, radio, audio stories and recording random sounds and interesting conversations. She keeps a blog of docustories, found sound, and quotes. She also loves rocking chairs, bourbon, cheese, Oprah, and a toy microphone called Paper Jamz that she uses far too often.

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