Form Follows Function

Hidden structures and forms constantly influence the way we think, from social norms to rules of grammar. This week we give you four stories that illuminate the forms that underpin our lives. First, you’ll learn about a successful cosmetic surgery industry in modern day Korea. Second, a software predicts hit songs before they're hits, based on a formula (note: this piece also aired on our "Prediction" show). Third, Iambic Pentameter makes itself known in the modern world. And finally, An artist incorporates naturally occurring patterns into her audio art.

Download MP3

Host: Bonnie Swift
Producers: Bonnie Swift, Hannah Krakauer and Noah Burbank
Featured: Olivia Puerta, Nellie Olsen, Olivia Prevost, Noah Burbank, Sarah Rizk, Sam Alemayehu, Jill McDonough and Jen Carlile
Music: Palaviccini, Talisman, The Yeltsin Collective

Release Date: 2 June 2008

Note to Self

The theme of this week's show is self-preservation -- that is, the preserving of whatever it is that makes you you, be it letters, journal entries, or a digital measurement of your heart rate and blood sugar for every hour of the day. We bring you stories of cybernetic "lifeloggers," a crafty, image-tweaking Founding Father, and the most astoundingly comprehensive diary ever to find its way into Stanford's Special Collections. We also have poems from one of Stanford's poets in residence, Kirsten Andersen.


Host: Charlie Mintz
Producer: Charlie Mintz
Featured: Kirsten Anderson, Liz Bradfield, Hsiao-Yun Chu, and Judith Richardson
Music: Boomsnake, Howard Hello, George Pritzker

Release Date: 13 May 2008

Coming to You Live

What is it about live performance that makes it so appealing, terrifying, and wonderful? What drives people to stand up in front of an audience, to perform without a safety net and put themselves on the line? In today's data-driven world, where everything can be recorded, stored, and recalled at any time, what role does live performance play? This episode begins with the harrowing experience of our host subjecting himself to the most extreme form of live performance of all: stand-up comedy. We continue with a story from playwright Amy Freed and Stanford professor of drama Kay Kostopoulos. And finally, we follow a production of the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, and get a peek at what goes on behind the curtain.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producers: Daniel MacDougall, Micah Cratty
Featured: Amy Freed, Kay Kostopilous
Music: Noah Burbank, Dave Chisholm, Greg Sell, Chris Babson, Zach Katagiri, and Kissing Johnny

Release Date: 19 May 2008

The Novel

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a prize-less, month-long contest in which thousands around the world attempt to write their novel in one month. Thirty days, fifty thousand words minimum, and no prize at the end (save for their own satisfaction). On this week's show we follow of National Novel Writing Month and learn a little about the novel while we're at it. A class of Stanford students tries to finish their novels without flunking out, a San Francisco write-a-thon filled with wannabe novelists, and the elusive 150 thousand word woman. Plus interviews with a professor, a PhD, and a book critic on the history of the novel.

Host: Charlie Mintz
Producers: Lee Konstantinou, Charlie Mintz, Killeen Hanson, Dan Hirsch, Jonah Willihnganz
Featured: Emily Rials, Bianca Ceralvo, Mark McGurl, Emma Ziker, Chris Baty, Noam Cohen
Music: Max Citron
URLs: Chris Baty

Release Date: 29 December 2008

Take It for Granite

When you live in a place, it's hard not to take it for granted. But in California that’s almost impossible -- the landscape is simply too striking to forget or ignore. Today’s show is about what happens when you attempt to really appreciate the place you call home. Two travelers spend five days retracing the historic and unmarked trail of the Buffalo Soldiers. Then a portrait of backcountry life in Yosemite. Finally, a poem about a wild tree with a universe inside it. And in this podcast, a supplemental interview between poet Peter Kline and Storytelling Poetry Editor, Elizabeth Bradfield.

Host: Bonnie Swift
Producers: Justine Lai, Killeen Hanson, Liz Bradfield, Bonnie Swift
Featuring: Shelton Johnson, Ward Eldridge, Peter Kline
Music: Noah Burbank, Mt. Eerie, The Microphones, Kate Wolf

Release Date: 27 November 2008


It's natural to want to be someone you're not. So why demonize the impostor? Today we have three stories of people who tried to pass themselves off as someone they weren't. First, a story about a degenerating mobster turned private investigator, with some very unorthodox ways of getting the job done. Then a story about a scientist who invented his data and got busted. Finally, a memoir about one woman's longing to have curly hair. Each one recalls an oh-so-typical journey of self-deception: after attempting to recreate themselves from the outside-in, they deal with the consequences.

Host: Charlie Mintz
Producers: Charlie Mintz and Matt Larson
Featured: Lawrence Klein, Tommy Wallach and Maria Hummel
Music: Pascalle, George Pritzker and Andy Seymour

Release Date: 13 November 2008


A Mississippi county fair, the real deal on Sarah Palin, high school elections, campaign calls to grandparents, and what happens when one same-sex couple finds their fate tied to the opinions of an entire state. In this show we look at the small side of big politics, "smallitics," or how the national stage is truly made up small actors with big roles.

Host: Dan Hirsh
Producers: Jonah Willihnganz, Clare Bennett, Charlie Mintz, Micah Cratty, Lee Konstantinou, and Dan Hirsch
Featured: Bridget Whearty, Ronnie Musgrove, Jenna Reback, Allison Fink
Music: Nimbleweed

Release Date: 29 September 2008


This week, we have three stories about the life-changing, transformative power of sound. First, we look at brain activity during moments of silence in music. Then, a student investigates the healing powers of traditional Cambodian chants. Finally, a class of Stanford students led by John-Carlos Perea find a new community while learning the art of the powwow drum.

Host: Hannah Krakauer
Producers: Angela Castellanos, Bonnie Swift, Hannah Krakauer 
Featured: Trent Walker, Vinod Menon, Daniel Levitin, Jonathan Berger, Chris Chafe, Gabe Turow, Pat Moffitt Cook, Sherwood Chen, John Carlos-Perea, Michaela Raikes, Ben Burdick, Luke Taylor, Jidenna Mobbison 
Music: Chloe Krakauer

Release Date: 26 May 2008

Telling Other People's Stories

What's at stake when we try to tell another person's story? We explore this question in two parts. First, a class at Stanford works to tell a real woman's tragic life story in graphic novel form, discovering huge challenges collaborating as a group and getting the story right. Second, Emily Prince takes on the overwhelming and somber task of drawing a portrait of every American soldier who has died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producers: Dan Hirsch, Hannah Krakauer
Featured: Emily Prince, Tom Kealey, Adam Johnson, Eric Pape, The Stanford Graphic Novel Project
Music: Dengue Fever, Cambodian Cassette Tapes vol.1, Brother
URLs: Emily Prince, Shake Girl

Release Date: 12 May 2008

Science and the Supernatural

Where does the physical end and the metaphysical begin? This week's show is about scientists who use traditional methods to investigate untraditional questions. We start in Special Collections of the Stanford Libraries, with a brief history of para-psychology and spiritualism at Stanford, and continue with the story of three contemporary researchers who study psychic phenomena. Today's one-hour journey reveals some of the social aspects that come into play in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Host: Bonnie Swift
Producer: Bonnie Swift
Featured: Margaret Kimball, Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, Helen Longino and Dean Radin
Music: Noah Burbank, Ambika, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonius Monk, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers

Release Date: 5 May 2008

Mind Control

We usually think of mind control as part of the realm of fantasy, with witches and alien species as its perpetrators. But actually, mind control is all around us, in almost every area of our lives, and the consequences of ignoring its power range from failed pick-up-lines to genocide. In this episode, you'll hear stories of Stanford students who tried to out the calculated techniques of a famous pick-up artist at a campus party, poet Elizabeth Bradfield discuss how being a tour guide in Alaska involves mind control, and some of her and Emily Dickinson’s exquisite poetry. You'll also hear about mind control taken to its most extreme, from controlling the minds of whole cultures through fairy tales, to controlling only your own mind through lucid dreaming.

Host: Rachel Hamburg Producers: Elizabeth Bradfield and Noah Burbank
Featuring: Joshua Landy, Lanier Anderson, Fred Burbank, James Fearon, James Sheehan, William Dement, Christopher Collette, Ellora Karmarkar, Amber Davis and Lea Yelverton

Release Date: 28 April 2009

Times of Our Lives

Today's show is about the different ways we experience time. In our first story, we explore the evolution of nostalgia and how it has become a way for us to cope with our rapidly changing lives. Then, we interview families about how one particular kind of time, 'the time of grieving,' has been changed radically by advances in medicine. Finally, we hear the story of how two people decided to make the time of their own personal lives synchronize with major historical events.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producer: Micah Cratty
Featured: Aaron Zarraga, Hanna Michelsen, Rachel Dowling, Daniel MacDougall, Tom Wiltzius, Nadja Blagojevic, Kirstin Ganz, Sam Tanzer, Amy Freedman, Chris Noxon, the Dowling family, the Vantrain family
Music: Chris Ayer, Brad Wolfe and Dave Chisolm

Release Date: 21 April 2008


Campaigns are about getting people to vote for your candidate, and today's show is about the missteps that can happen along the way. First, we tell the story of the musical jingles that help put people in (and keep others out) of office. Second, we answer the question you’ve always wondered: why is there so much negativity in most campaigns? And last, one student goes door-to-door and the people who answer either don't vote, or won't vote, for her candidate.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producer: Micah Cratty
Featured: Gabe Winant, Kalani Leifer, Jonah Berger, Elissa Morales, Wesley Lim, Monica Uddin, Jeremy Newman, and Omair Saddat
Music: Brad Wolfe, Taylor Murchison, Rego Sen, and Kissing Johnny

Release Date: 10 March 2008

Remaking The World We Live In

Remakes are all around us. This week's show is made up of stories of remaking sound-- through instruments, living organisms, and other means. First, an experimental instrument designer brings joy to our ears with some of his wackier creations. Then we speak with some innovative inhabitants of Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, who have turned old junk into something truly exquisite. And, stay tuned, tomatoes sing...

Host: Daniel MacDougall
Producers: Charlie Mintz, Noah Burbank, Daniel MacDougall
Featured: Bart Hopkin, Sasha Leitman, Jen Carlile, Chris Chafe
Music: Johnny Hwin, Bart Hopkin

Release Date: 3 March 2008

Saint Valentine's Day Special

A Valentine's Day special. The unlikely story of Saint Valentine, but as it turns out, most good love stories seem just as improbable. Second, we stood in Stanford's White Plaza and asked passersby about just who - or what - they love. You'll hear their strange replies, followed by a story about the risky and rewarding world of online dating. But that's not all: four splendid love poems are dispersed throughout this episode.

Host: Rachel Hamburg
Producers: Bonnie Swift, Elizabeth Bradfield, Tom Freeland, Christina Ho, Danielle Spoor, and Lily Kornbluth
Featured: people passing through White Plaza
Music: Side by Side (Maxine Tang, Michelle Goldring, Deri Kusuma, Madalyn Radlauer, Alison Herson, Jose Araneta, and Michael Hsueh), Talisman, Matt Anderson

Release Date: 11 February 2008

Getting Schooled

Stories of the education system struggling, and sometimes failing, to adjust. First, a look at how some high schools are responding to the increasing presence of gangs, and how their policies are often backfiring. Second, we assess the progress of schools in fulfilling their educational mission while facing increasing numbers of minority students. And third, English lecturer Adam Johnson tells a true story involving a bloody murder, police detectives, and a fiction writing class.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producers: Bonnie Swift, Elizabeth Bradfield, Tom Freeland, Christina Ho, Danielle Spoor, and Lily Kornbluth
Featured: Micah Cratty, Molly Roberts, Britton Caillouette, Richard Norte, Adam Johnson, Lee Konstantinou
Music: Supergreen JellyBean, Zach Katagiri, Taylor Murchison, Kissing Johnny

Release Date: 4 February 2008

Belief Meets Non-Belief

Stories about the faithful in conflict with society, their families, and themselves. First, two Stanford students (one who is gay and another who is a conservative Christian) map out the battlefield between gay marriage and Christianity. Second, a story about how the ‘divine divide’ in America entered into one student’s relationships with his parents and his girlfriend. And third, Will Rogers faces the same ‘divine divide’ in himself and is able to bridge part of it by posting videos online.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producers: Micah Cratty
Featured: Vinni Intersimone, Matt Buchanan, Drew Jacoby-Senghor
Music: Amboy Kelso, Dave Chisolm, Hunt Alcott, Jennifer Lindsay, Kissing Johnny

Release Date: 28 January 2008

Living in the Panopticon

Inspired by a 200 year old design for a more efficient prison called the panopticon, this show explores just a few of the ways we experience surveillance in society today, and how we respond to it. A story by Andrew Altschul about phones and loss, an interview with the founder of a site that uses cell phones to fight street harassment, and a speech about the joys of Facebook.

Host: Charlie Mintz
Producer: Charlie Mintz
Featured: Andrew Altschul, Ben Olmsted, Eli Edwards
Music: Zach Katagiri, Johnny Hwin, DJ Matic and Mikey Lee, Maxwell Citron, Johnny Hwin

Release Date: 14 January 2008