Matt Jackfert Published

Radiolab's Abumrad Talks Music Composition, Production, and Virtual Seminar 'Gut Churn'


Jad Abumrad is the host of WNYC’s radio show and podcast Radiolab, but he does a lot more than just host. He’s a producer, music composer, and has guided the show along for decades as one of its founders. Abumrad actually started out studying music at Oberlin to achieve his childhood dream of being a film composer. When that didn’t pan out the way he wanted to, he jumped into radio as it was a way to weave both words and sound into one art form.  

The skills he learned in composition weren’t a waste at all; in fact, he used them to weave together a tapestry of music, sound effects, and dialogue in his radio shows and podcasts. Abumrad claims, “Telling a radio story, making a radio story is an act of compositon. And that actually the film composer I always wanted to be is actually a radio-maker…using journalism as my instrument.” 

“I’ve begun to think of my job as a composer in a much more liberal way.” He sees music composition as giving order to sound, and so, in the same way in his radio shows, he gives order not just to sound but to dialogue, thoughts, and ideas. “I’ve begun to see my job as a music composer and my job as a storymaker as kind of the same job, you know, because you’re just composing relationships…You’re just giving order to things.” Of course, that is apparent in all of the work of the Peabody-award-winning and MacArthur Fellow radio host and producer.

Abumrad will be giving a virtual seminar called “Gut Churn” on Wednesday Sept. 16th at 7:30 PM for the WVU College of Creative Arts in collaboration with the WVU Reed College of Media and WVU Career Services about the role of negative emotions in the creative process. More here:

Check out the full interview here: