Culture Matters from ICS

Just got back from the studio in STV for program Culture Matters. It was a great talk show (I would say it even before I participated) by ICS, and hosted by Sammy Yang. What an experience! It is the first time I record a long TV program, and first time to get first hand information from inside a TV studio. I have been interviewed or joined radio talk show programs, but never on TV. Let me share my precious experience with you.

About the Program

According to the official web site of ICS:

Culture Matters is China’s first cross-cultural bilingual talk show. Its target demographic is aimed at well-educated Chinese audiences interested in western culture, as well as foreign expats living in Shanghai. Unlike other talk shows or interview programs, Culture Matters sets its sights on comparing and contrasting various aspects of eastern and western culture. The show’s host and guests will draw upon a vast range of cross-cultural topics to discuss in a relaxing, lively, and insightful fashion. Topics include differences in education, adventure, food, housing, cultural symbols, etc. VTRs conducted outside the studio, along with universally beloved sitcoms and movies are seamlessly incorporated into the show, making it an ideal jump-off point for water cooler chatter and substantive discourse alike.

Logo credit: ICS and SMG

They also have a blog at

In some sense, the program and I am doing the same thing – two things, to be more exact.

  1. Helping expat community by providing the right information and insights into the society of Shanghai.
  2. Build a bridge of understanding between the western culture and the Chinese culture.

So, I would encourage my readers (if you are in Shanghai) to turn to ICS channel and watch the program. It is not easy to find a relaxed culture program in English in Shanghai yet, Culture Matters is the first one.

For my readers who are not in Shanghai, or who are in Shanghai and don’t have a TV (like my friend Mark who don’t turn on TV often), this is a handy link that you can watch the channel LIVE on Internet. (Special note: They install a plugin into your computer. By linking to the site does not mean I fully tested it. Use at your own risk).

About the Topics

This time, we are talking about blogging – what is blog, why people blog, privacy of blogging, blog and society, and even blog business models. I won’t tell too much of it, and leave it until the program is on air sometime in March. After it is public, I think I will add more note to what I talked during the show.

I can, however, dig into the piles of articles I created, and assembly a list of the topics covered during the talk show, which I already covered in my own blog. Sammy, Maria, Mark, Kenneth, Peter, and Paul, for many of the discussion that I don’t have enough time to talk too much, I have all the answers listed here:

  1. Blogging and Early Wake-up Sep 20, 2007
  2. Five Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2007
  3. Thanks for Giving Credit to Me… Feb 10, 2007
  4. Remove Comments? Maybe Not Oct 4, 2006
  5. Four Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2006
  6. Three Years of Blogging Sep 11, 2005
  7. Celebrating 1000 Days of Blogging Jun 6, 2005
  8. My Blog Won’t Go Commercial Mar 20, 2005
  9. Negative Comments for this Blog Sep 15, 2004
  10. I Started the Blog to Post Resume Jul 1, 2004
  11. Abandon of One Entry Per Day Rule Feb 2, 2004
  12. One Year Anniversary for This Site Sep 11, 2003
  13. Blogger in China Jan 13, 2003
  14. "I Will Follow All the Rules!" Dec 23, 2007
  15. Why Classified is NOT Popular in China, Yet Nov 15, 2007
  16. We Need a Bridge, Seriously Jun 13, 2006
  17. Culture Differences – Part II Feb 26, 2006
  18. Different Views on Typhoon Aug 12, 2005
  19. T.I.C Moments Apr 11, 2005
  20. Service Shock in Shanghai Feb 2, 2004
  21. Muzimei’s Sex Blog Brought Trouble Nov 12, 2003
  22. Muzimei Shock Wave (cont.) Nov 13, 2003
  23. Chinese: Can Blog Make Money? What a Question! November 01, 2005
  24. Chinese: My Thoughts on Making Money from of Blog June 29, 2005
  25. Chinese: My 3 Principles of Writing a Blog May 11, 2005
  26. Chinese: Blog is grass and Wiki is Eagle May 04, 2005

About the Studio

Emm…. This is my favorite part. How many of you have visited the studio of a TV Station in Shanghai? I bet everyone is curious. Thanks f

or the kindness permission, I took some (a lot actually) photos of the studio, and here are some of them.

Look up, the ceiling looks like a "light farm" for me. There are all kinds of light pointing to different directions. This is amazing, and very symbolic of a professional studio.


This is the camera – pretty big, and not those carried by camera man who does the street interview.


The stage of the Culture Matters program. Besides it is the Shanghai Quest (look at the left hand, and there is a red UEST there. That’s it).


This machine is very cute. It displays the script so news reporters can read – it uses a mirror, and the characters are large enough to recognize from far away. This is a modern version of this paper (well, the paper based article is about usage in a negative way, while this machine, I love it)


Coco was very nice and reminded me that when the lights are turn on, it will be very warm. She is absolutely right! This is how it feels when the lights are on. Much better than being on the stage of a company party in a hotel – you can still see everything, but light enough that you feel you are under the Sun, although it is dark outside already.


On the screen is me. Yes. They have the screen acting as a mirror – I am still not used to this "TRUE" mirror yet, since when I am turning my head to the left, it shows right to me.


The huge timer:


Adjusting the lights took us some time – about half an hour. I said to Coco, and Xiaoqian, that it seems pretty expensive to produce a TV program – you have to have a lot of people around – several camera man, lighting, sound, equipment, and more importantly, every details have to be taken care of. Peter, the chief-editor of Shanghai Daily echoed that it is more complicated to produce a TV program than publishing a newspaper. I would say, it seems publishing a blog is not that a big thing compared to this TV show.


This is the stage of the talk show.


Our host Sammy Yang (right), my old friend Maria Trombly (middle, I mentioned her in post in 2005) and me – on the left. Well. I wear a green sweater, and why it turned out to be — brown?


Sammy gave me strong impression. He did wonderful job as a host. I watch Culture Matters, and many people do, but what we may not know is, he is now the CEO of Sun TV, and was a talk show host in San Francisco, AND general manager of a TV station there. He is much more of an Entrepreneur with great vision and experience to me during the side talk than just a wonderful host.

This time, with Kenneth, editor of (left)


Everyday, the ICS news program is broadcast LIVE from this stage:


Behind the scene, there are many monitors and computers – it is in another room, from where the mysterious instruction comes from during the whole course of the show, like count down: 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 -…


Around 8:00 PM, we left the studio of STV. For those who didn’t know, STV stands for Shanghai TV.


P.S. The program may be on air in mid-March, from Monday to Friday, at 7:30 to 8:00 PM on International Channel Shanghai. I will keep you posted.

P.S. I also wanted to ask Isaac, and Run Liu to join the program, but Isaac is very busy, and Run got cold and could hardly speak…

15 thoughts on “Culture Matters from ICS

  1. Pretty exciting experience, Jian Shuo — I look forward to seeing either the program or your additional comments about it in March.

    Aloha! <–(Do you know what that means? It’s English, but a special kind. Here’s a hint…we are still in Hawaii :-)

  2. @Carroll, I did a search on Internet and understood the meaning of Aloha – although may not be complete. It is so nice that you are in Hawaii. Say hi to Jim for me.

  3. Congratulations again!

    You are becoming very famous! Can we get your autograph before it raises its price hehe =)

    Just kidding! All the best! Im glad to hear Chinese people have all this qualities! GREAT!

  4. culture matters –seems we really need some media that committed in this field

    there will be century of Globalization

    all of us should be delighted to involved in this trend

  5. Cool WJS! I like that program, I think it’s one of the better ones that ICS produces. Thanks for all the pictures, that’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to the inside of a professional TV studio. :)

  6. I like your performance and program very much. Not only interesting but also exciting. Especially the topics, which is very common and popular to us, but some topics are controversial, it is really hard to define or find the solution. I want to give you my opinions, please invite more and more westners to participate in this program.

  7. To be frankly, I did not believe such great talk show could be in ICS channel when I first heard about it from my friend. I first time wathced this program, what the coincident, the guest was Jianshuo and I was attracted by this program. Sammy is a gentle, well-read host with charming smile.

    Now I watch this program everyday as long as I have free time, I think I really love it.

  8. Roger, Culture Matters is a great program. To share something that is not well known about Sammy, the well-received host:

    1. He is not just a host. His real life title is the CEO of Sunny TV – a Hong Kong based TV network.

    2. He is also the founder and CEO of AsiaPlus TV, a TV network founded in Taiwan.

    3. He was a talk show host in San Francisco.

    4. He was a general manager of a TV station in San Francisco.

    For me, his experience in TV industry is very impressive. No wonder many people love his talk show. He brought many new things to the station.

  9. This program is very great, I love it. now I watch it as possible as I have time. I also recommend it to my colleagues and friends. My oral english is terrible. I hope I can improve it by watching this program everyday.

  10. I found this channel accidentally. once I watched one time, I loved this channel. before I spent a lots time and money on study of english, unfortunatlly thanks to my unpersistence. I failed. but now my english communication skill has influenced my career improvement for a long time, so I decide to study english again. especial work hard at listening an oral english. now I quit my job for my baby plan. so I think it is good opportunity for me to learn english. both icsl and CCTV-9 will benefit to my english study.especilly to my listening and oral english. so I am grateful so much.

  11. Well, like some others, I’ve been reaping benefits of watching this program for my English study, especially in oral and aural, and I also like some other programs on ICS. Is there any instant-messaging-group assembling people who interest in this program? If so, tell me, I’d like join it.

  12. I lived in China for six months and one thing always struck me odd, not many places teach anthropology more specifically cultural anthropology. As a anthropology major and doing research in China I found this hard to believe, on top of this most people I talked to did not even know what anthropology was, even when saying it in Chinese.

    I was wondering if you had any view points on this. I thought it would be a popular subject because from what i heard back from many Chinese people, current students, former students and non students; they would like to study or learn more about this subject.

    xie xie


  13. Hi! How neath! I was searching on the web to find how to contact Culture Matters producer and I have found your blog. Thanks for sharing this great experience with us.

    Could you tell me how to reach them, any email or phone call number?

    Look forward to hear from you!


  14. I like culture matters even though some of the topics are rather mundane. I think Sammy can make even boring topics somewhat interesting.

    I hope that Culture matters focuses on more intellectual matters in the future. For instance I’d like to see a Chinese Novelist and American Novelist on the show or perhaps more University Professors from both China and America.

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