Thursday, May 15, 2014

Obsession and Writing and Radiolab

WNYC's Radiolab is not only the greatest radio podcast of all time, it might just be one the greatest Things of all time. Especially for a writer. 

My husband introduced me to Radiolab a few years ago and, typical of me, I didn't think I would like it. A podcast about science? With weird sound effects? At this point in my life even the mention of the word 'science' brought back horrible memories of suffering through that 7AM Biology class in college.... But, typical of my husband, he got me in the car, put a podcast on, and made me listen to it. (Because where else was I going to go? Trapping someone in a car is a brilliant way to get to someone to listen to something they don't want to.) That first episode was the one about the two girls in England, the one with the balloon and the identical names, lives, etc. I was floored. THIS was science? But, this was interesting! This was art and literature and psychology and above all else, story telling. 

The next day I told my students the story about the girls and had them do a writing assignment on coincidence vs. fate. Since then, I've used countless stories from Radiolab in my English class. I've used the stories to spark interest, open discussions and develop projects. I even taught a book I learned about on Radiolab (Sam Kean, anyone?). I've worn my shirt with the goat standing on top of the cow to class and developed an entire lesson around it. (See- if you don't listen to Radiolab already, you have no idea what I'm talking about- but I bet your interest is peaked.... start listening, people!)

Most importantly, the stories that Radiolab has showcased have been the jumping off point for many of my pieces of fiction (everything from flash to my most recent novel). Because Radiolab is really about storytelling, with some science thrown in for good measure, it is a writer's treasure chest. It is a place to learn about people and events which are just begging to be written about. It is more valuable than any book of writing prompts could ever be. 

So if you're stuck in the doldrums of writer's block, check out Radiolab. I guarantee it will ignite your thoughts and get your pen scratching or your fingers typing And if you're not a writer, check it out as well. It will make you laugh, sometimes make you cry, but always it will make you think. 

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