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Radiolab's Jad Abumrad Hosts Friday's #thinkspeak Series In Dallas

Marco Antonio
Radiolab host Jad Abumrad

KERA and the AT&T Performing Arts Center are co-producing a summer speaker series called #thinkspeak, which features some public radio heroes. The host and producer of Radiolab will kick off the first of four events this week.

Jad Abumrad joins KERA's Justin Martin for a look at Friday's show: Gut Churn.

Interview Highlights: Jad Abrumrad ...

... on the name 'Gut Churn': "'Gut churn' describes a sort of psychological state of 'lostedness' that I've come to know quite well. The term itself came when 2011 the MacArthurs were announced -- I was weirdly on the list -- and a lot of people began to ask me to talk about how Radiolab came into the world and I would find myself sort of like answering these questions - my mouth would move and words would come out but like my brain would hear those words and be like 'What, what are you saying man?' I called up the guy that started the show with me, who was program director of WNYC in 2002, and I asked him: 'How did this work, how did this happen? I can't remember, it's all a blur, so what do you remember about the beginning?' After like a seven-second pause, he said 'gut churn.' That's what I remember -- and it's partly a personal story of how I got into radio, how Radiolab came into the world but ... more than anything it's a deep dive into dancing with doubt. How do you kind of like not get paralyzed by doubt but actually see it as a wonderful thing? That's just something that I've had to sort of like figure out in my own small ways while working on this show."

... on the Friday's live music with cellist Zoe Keating: "She is basically like a one-woman orchestra. She gets up there with her cello and a lot of blinking boxes around her. She'll create sometimes five, sometimes 35, layers of these interlooping cello lines, that sort of fall in and out of phase, and they're just gorgeous."

... on achieving Radiolab's signature sound: "That's something that was there from the beginning, that sense of collage and counterpoint. I was a musician before I was a journalist and so I went to school for years and years to try and learn to be a composer -- and one the few things I remember about that experience was intense studying of 16th century Bach counterpoint -- and the various rules you have for voice leading and how one line needs to do this, and one line goes up, the other line has to go down to fill in the gap and blah blah blah. There's a sense in that music of balance -- of a kind of like all these threads coming in together and weaving together, forming one thought, forming one melodic line -- and in my sort of fuzzy way I like to sort of think about the radio sound in that way, all these things coming into a kind of braid."

Jad Abumrad is the host and producer of Radiolab. He'll be in Dallas for Friday's #thinkspeak series.

Learn more about the #thinkspeak lineup here.

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.