Jad Abumrad

Jesse Visits Radiolab: Kristen Schaal is a Horse

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Speaking of my pals at Radiolab...

Jad and Robert asked if I could visit their show to talk about one of my favorite comedy sketches of all time, Kurt & Kristen's "Kristen Schaal is a Horse."

It's in the intro to their newest episode, "Loops." If you're one of the 5% of podcast listeners who isn't already subscribed to Radiolab, I've embedded it below. Above, by the way, is the original video I saw of the sketch.

(Kristen, by the way, is also a past Sound of Young America guest.

To inspire you: Jay Allison and Jad Abumrad


My friends/heroes Jad Abumrad and Jay Allison gave the opening and closing remarks at the recent Public Radio Program Directors' conference. The PRPD is largely an exercise in self-justification by the largely calcified public radio world, but Jad and Jay both really nailed their contributions. It's inspiring to see guys at the top of their field use their power and influence for good.

Jad, who'd been crowned a genius by the MacArthur Foundation just two days before, talked about change. Public radio is notoriously change-averse, and he did some Radiolab-style research as to why that is. Then he issued a call to arms. Luckily for me, that call to arms included an exhortation to program directors to carry my show. More than that, though, it was a request on behalf of creators to be given the opportunity to create, and see what happens.

The benediction at the conference was delivered by Jay Allison. Jay's a less public figure than Jad, but you may know him as the producer of the long-running essay series This I Believe. He's probably public radio's most prominent independent producer, and created Transom.org, a magnificent website for folks who want to learn to make great radio. He also founded a radio station that serves the Cape & Islands in Massachusetts.

Jay's talk made me cry. He's a man who truly believes in the work he does, and the things he believes in are the reasons that I'm proud to call myself a public radio host. There were more than a few moist eyes in the house, which is a remarkable feat for a Saturday morning. He also took some shots at public TV pledge drive bullshit, which I think we can all get behind.

I post this here because both of their wonderful talks are available free to anyone at the PRPD website. They're not just for public radio people, or even public media people. I think you'll find them moving, informative and inspirational no matter what field you work in. Give them a listen now.

Jad Abumrad Awarded MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship


Jad Abumrad at MaxFunCon from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

Congratulations to Jad Abumrad!

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded him one of its prestigious fellowships (sometimes referred to as "genius grants"). Jad is the co-host and producer of the public radio program Radiolab which uses audio in unique and creative ways to explore complex scientific and philosophical questions. To quote the foundation, Jad ". . . employs his background as a composer to orchestrate dialogue, music, and sound effects into compelling documentaries that draw listeners into investigations of otherwise intimidating topics, such as the nature of numbers, the evolution of altruism, or the science of emergent phenomena within ant colonies and other complex systems."

Jad was a keynote speaker at our second MaxFunCon in 2010. As you can see in this video, he provided the lucky attendees with fascinating insights into the making of Radiolab and the techniques he employs to make information sound like music.

True genius, indeed.

MaxFunCon 2010 Podcast: Jad Abumrad


The MaxFunCon Podcast returns triumphantly to bring you some of the fun from MaxFunCon 2010! Be sure to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes to get these exciting podcasts as they become available. And you can visit www.maxfuncon.com to find up-to-the-minute information about MaxFunCon 2011.

In this episode, Jad Abumrad gives the MaxFunCon audience some insight into the making of Radiolab. Jad explains some of the behind-the-scenes techniques used to make the information presented on his radio program sound like music.

Listen Now

The Newshour on Radiolab


One of our favorite public radio shows is RadioLab. The PBS Newshour profiled Jad and Robert, the show's hosts, in a lovely pieces built around one of their live shows. Of course, they were also guests on The Sound a couple of years ago.

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