Houston Matters

Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad: Storytelling Is A Lot Like Composing Music

Abumrad has an upcoming live stage show in Houston.

Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab
Jad Abumrad, co-host of the public radio program Radiolab.

Public radio fans and podcast listeners know the show Radiolab as much for its compelling stories about science as for its often unusual style, with highly textured editing that sometimes borders on sound art.

But where did that come from?

Well, Jad Abumrad, the show’s creator and co-host, originally wanted to be a film composer. And, while that didn’t work out, along the way he encountered numerous examples of experimental music that could also be called sound art.

He brought that inspiration into his work volunteering in the news department at a public radio station, and eventually, he knew he wanted to try and meld the two somehow.

As Abumrad tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty in the audio above, he sees the storytelling he does now as a lot like composing music in a way — taking pieces of what people say, combining them with other elements, and forming movements in the shape of stories. That eventually became Radiolab.

Abumrad will be in Houston for a live stage show Saturday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Cullen Theater at the Wortham Center.

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Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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