A Radio Career Door Opened by a Colleague’s Sex Change Operation

Radiolab co-host Jad Abumrad performs his stage show Gut Churn this weekend in the Midwest.

JadAbumradPicTomorrow night at the Free State Festival in Lawrence, Kan., Jad Abumrad (pictured), co-host alongside Robert Krulwich of the popular public radio program Radiolab, will present his one-man show Gut Churn. The show is all about the challenges of the creative process.

Ahead of this local appearance, Abumrad spoke with Lawrence Journal-World columnist Joanna Hlavacek. It’s a wonderful interview. Among the highlights is Abumrad’s answer to the question, ‘You actually got your start not in journalism but as a film composer. How did you learn the ropes?’ Here’s part of his reply:

“I was volunteering at a radio station down the street from where I’m now sitting [at WNYC] called WBAI. The first day I show up, the news director, who’s about to have a sex change – and I didn’t know [about it] – has just suddenly disappeared, and suddenly I’m there and there’s no one to teach me, and somebody just hands me a recorder. They’re like, ‘Go out and record this protest at City Hall.’”

“So, I did this awful 12-minute piece of people rah-rah-ing about who the (expletive) knows what. But WBAI was so crazy at that moment that, literally, I walked in there and I was on the air not that day, maybe, but the next day. There was no barrier. I literally started figuring it out as I went. Basic stuff like, “How do I ask a question so that I get an answer I can use? And how do I create conversation between two different voices?”

Abumrad also has some good insight into what currently goes in to producing Radiolab’s on-air and podcast episodes. Read the full Q&A here.

Photo via: libertyhall.net