Jad Abumrad | Gut Churn Of Creativity

jad bumrad radiolab

Reflective storytelling and analysing the ‘crappy queasy space’ in the journey of finding your true voice.

This week I attended a talk by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, Big Sky, Montana.

It was a storytelling masterclass with layers of different media from sound to text to animation to video (tapping into the VARK model of learning), all orchestrated by Jad as he weaved our attention deeply around the forms created.

The talk was a personal reflection on Jad’s own grappling journey with finding ‘his voice’ and the hunt for authenticity, ensuring you are true in your own self is so important as you’re often:

…forced to sit in the emptiness to face the authenticity.

In radio / podcasting, here’s his description of where the power lay:

…it’s like being with people whilst being by yourself…

And the ultimate goal in the act of producing is an attempt to:

…create an emptiness which is so much bigger than you.

With a splendid assortment of delectable stories and experiences to quote, from napkin sketches of radio shows story structures through to Ira Glass’s gap, Jad also shared his own three big lessons:

  1. Chasing the antelope: storytellers are like shamen as they lull an audience into a collective dream state. And just like the shamen, it’s not just asking the questions but living it, chasing it down, just like Scott Carrier;
  2. Chase the little shit: a lesson from a filmmaker friend regarding the cognitive effect of how paying attention to the smallest of details reframes a story to have massive impact;
  3. Follow the odds: how talking to poker player Annie Duke led to understanding how 25% odds are a great bet. Like the time Jad did a radio piece on how many colours we see in a rainbow compared to other animals. Hard to do in the medium of sound. So they converted the the colours of rainbow to sound which led to Jad assembling and conducting a choir in this radio piece.

Here’s an older and much condensed version (not as multi-layered, polished and doesn’t have a lot of the above) presented at a 99u conference:

 

Thanks Jad and gutted you’re too busy to explore a trip out to NZ to speak—let me know if you change your mind.

If you’re reading this Jad, would love to know what setup you were using (in terms of hard/software).

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