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Jad Abumrad: Why “Gut Churn” Is an Essential Part of the Creative Process

About this talk

What’s gut churn? Radiolab creator and host Jad Abumrad describes it as the radical uncertainty that’s a core part of any creative process that really pushes the envelope. You’re entering unknown territory, and working without a map. Using examples from Radiolab’s own evolution, Jad shares the benefits of negative feedback and how we can look out for “pointing arrows” that can help guide our work (even when it hurts).

Jad Abumbrad, Host & Creator, Radiolab

Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, which reaches roughly 2 million people per month. He’s been called a “master of the radio craft” for his unique ability to combine cutting edge sound-design, cinematic storytelling and a personal approach to explaining complex topics, from the stochasticity of tumor cells to the mathematics of morality. Jad studied creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio.

He composes much of the music for Radiolab, and in the past has composed music for film, theater and dance. In 2011, Radiolab received a Peabody Award, the highest honor in broadcasting, and Jad received the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Comments (13)
  • Jonah Lehrer

    Didn’t Bob Dylan say that?

  • Tim Donnelly

    I love how his presentation mimics how he works in radio. If you haven’t heard this show, you owe it to yourself to listen to at least one episode. (Then figure out what other podcasts you need to dump to keep listening on a regular basis.)

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Andrew Kilburn

    Love this, if you’re comfortable going with the flow, then you’re no different to anyone else. If you’re terrfified then you know you’re on the right track 🙂

    Andrew Kilburn @WeAreShift @KilburnCreative


  • Rhonda Morton

    I love gut churn. And I practice improvisation to reduce it to manageable levels.

  • Dindie

    I am a big fan of Radiolab shows, and of course Jad. Thank you for putting Jad in the video section. He’s so inspirational IMHO.

  • Monica Gallagher

    It’s so great to hear when even one of the creators of RadioLab is feeling like they’re going to vomit, constantly trying stuff out, filtering feedback, shooting ideas into the void … and making a consistently amazing product.

  • Allan White

    RadioLab is really great. I pull my kids together at bedtime sometimes, turn off the lights, and listen to parts of the stories he and Robert Krulwich bring to life. The banter is really great between them, too.

  • brittany

    hahaha the voicemails! Brilliant, thanks for sharing those. It’s so hard to hear criticism, and funny to be able to laugh at it rather than taking it so seriously. Love you Radiolab

  • Marlene

    My husband is in a 2 yr process of creating his own business. It was interesting listening to this because our conversations are always about gut churn. Although we never called it that. So I guess we are on the right track. Dam the storm full speed ahead. Besides doing nothing leads to nothing.


    It is worth noting and I really liked the presentation as well. I will surely come back for more of interesting posts.

  • Boho Fox

    Stefan not Steven 😛

  • Barry Kort

    Eight years ago, I had one of the most wrenching episodes of gut churn in a decade. I decided to document it for whatever insights it offered.

    Bearing Accurate Witness — The Imperfect Drama of an Atypical Character
    Jive Talking and All That Jazz

  • kia


  • Keri Clarke

    Love Jad and Radiolab! Thanks for an inspiring talk- comforting advice knowing that we need to get comfortable with discomfort.

  • shaylynnvacca321

    my Aunty Lyla just got a stunning yellow Mitsubishi Eclipse
    Convertible by working from a computer. pop over to these guys J­a­m­2­0­.­ℂ­o­m

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