Xavier Mauduit: “What you hear the most on the radio is the smile”

Doctor of history and passionate in front of his microphone, always curious and warm with his guests on the air, Xavier Mauduit has been hosting « Le Cours de l’histoire » since 2019, every day, between 9 and 10 a.m., on France Culture. This third year of antenna ends this week, but it will not be the holidays yet. Xavier Mauduit will in fact devote a series, in the first week of the station’s summer schedule, to five relatively unknown episodes in world history. Thus, from Monday July 4, we will be able to discover how the gigantic explosion of a volcano in the Aegean Sea, in 1650 BC, put an end to a civilization, while creating the myth of Atlantis. It will then be an opportunity to understand how the plague arrived in 1347 in the port of Marseille. This exceptional week will also address the first abolition of slavery, in France, on February 4, 1794…

Then, after « Les Grandes Traversées » dedicated during the summer (at the same time) to Queen Elizabeth, Thomas Sankara, Champollion, Joséphine Baker or even Marcel Proust, Xavier Mauduit will return, every morning, to the house of Radio France, quai Kennedy in Paris, for a fourth year. “And it will always be live,” he says greedily.

And still no question for him to pontificate on some great historical moments. On the other hand, “every time it is a question of recounting an event, which upsets – or not – people, then discussing the consequences”. « I want, from the beginning, to offer with my team a program that is accessible to the greatest number of listeners, » he continues. “I always take my mother as a reference, and I say to myself: would she understand the subject of the day? I know that we are on France Culture, that our listeners are demanding and that is fine; at the same time, everyone has to find their way around. »

News feed and link from the past

To the question: « How are the subjects of the program chosen? » Xavier Mauduit replies: “Depending on current events, there are certain things like Ukraine; and then there is the spirit of the times, which fascinates people. However, when the news is anxiety-provoking, we can also go far in time, without losing the thread with everyday life…”

The great diversity of guest speakers in « Le Cours de l’histoire » means that some are familiar with the media and comfortable from the first minute, while others are new to the subject, but who cares? for Mauduit. “In fact, we do a deep dive into their favorite subjects, so they tell us about them, and it works. »

Like all his colleagues, pandemic obliges, Xavier Mauduit discovered for weeks the joys of remote discussions, with their share of cuts and buzzes and other unbearable crackles in the ears of the listeners. “But, above all, no longer being in front of the interlocutors was the biggest difficulty. Because I’m convinced that what you hear the most on the radio is a smile. »


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