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Radiolab, Risk and Genius: Jad Abumrad and Andrew Denton


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Of Jad Abumrad and his podcast Radiolab, one colleague has confessed: ‘I marvel at Radiolab when I hear it. I feel jealous. I’m a hack in comparison. Everyone else is too.’ That colleague is This American Life creator Ira Glass, and he’s one of many who have credited Abumrad (and his co-host, NPR legend Robert Krulwich) with creating a new aesthetic for broadcast journalism.

If it seems like high praise for Abumrad, consider that Radiolab is one of the world’s most popular podcasts. Admired for its gentle explorations of big questions, the show – which was collecting listeners in their millions long before podcasting arrived at the mainstream’s door – has won many significant awards. Abumrad himself has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant, and his incredibly labour-intensive sound designs complement killer editorial instincts and an elegant, accessible sense of curiosity.

Yet the Lebanese-American is cautious of success and its particular ability to temper creative risk-taking. For him, deep doubt and discomfort were – are – essential parts of his trajectory; after all, he studied creative writing and music composition, and radio was never part of his plan. And on Radiolab, he’s reluctant to offer inspirational advice or prepackaged answers. ‘There’s something in the average TED talk that makes me want to hurl,’ he says. ‘For me, the entire idea is learning to love the messiness of ideas that aren’t easily digestible.’

In Melbourne for the first time, Abumrad will chat with veteran broadcaster Andrew Denton. Perhaps best known for his landmark interview show Enough Rope, Denton’s first podcast, Better Off Dead – produced in partnership with the Wheeler Centre – topped Australia’s iTunes chart, drew widespread acclaim and stirred passionate public debate about voluntary assisted dying in this country.

Hear from two of the world’s foremost storytellers as they discuss creativity, risk and the hot, curious power of the uncertain.


Jad Abumrad

Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, a public radio program broadcast on 524 stations across the US and downloaded more than 9 million times a month as a podcast. Most days, Radiolab is the second most popular podcast, just behind This American Life. Abumrad did most of his growing up in... Read more

Andrew Denton

Andrew Denton is widely recognised as one of Australian media’s genuinely creative forces. Andrew’s television career takes in his groundbreaking early work on the ABC – Blah Blah Blah, The Money or The Gun, Live & Sweaty – through to his unforgettable reworking of television’s ‘... Read more


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