Writing on the Wall

There all sorts of ways to send a messages: composing an email, writing a text message, pasting up fliers, or literally writing on the wall. In this show, we explore the various ways people communicate: digital and analog, private and public, even legal and illegal. The surprising origins of online social networks, the world of graffiti art, and bathroom stall vandalism.

Host: Dan Hirsch

Producers: Dan Hirsch, Will Rogers,

Featuring: Fred Turner, Molly Butcher, Lyndsey Garlock, Lexi Tsien-Shiang, Mitchell Wilcox,

SK, Crayone, Demon 202, Niccolo De Luca

Music: Johnny Hwin, Lauchlan Casey, Ill-Conditioned

Release Date: 5 March 2009

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Intro Story: Flyer Pagoda

Dan Hirsch and Will Rogers explore a flyer pagoda at Stanford. It’s one of many self-standing bulletin boards that attract little attention from bikers, even though each one holds a little universe in itself.
image via flickr

Story 1: Hippies in Cyberspace

Dan travels back in time with Stanford Professor Fred Turner to discuss the “hippier” side of the internet’s beginnings. Thanks to people like Stewart Brand, the internet has been a place for Sharing since long before facebook started using the word.
image via flickr

Story 2: Your Bathroom Stall, My Art Project

Mollie Butcher now studies art in one of the graffiti capitals of the world – Berlin. Stanford is no Berlin, but, while here, Butcher did find a way to make a splash with what little graffiti she could find. Will Rogers makes a long-distance call to conduct the interview.
image via flickr

Story 3: Graffiti

Three Stanford Students go into the Bay Area graffiti scene, seeing graffiti as a form of urban renewal. They interview three graffiti artists and a public official about an art form that dances freely from legal to illegal to legal to illegal, and keeps on dancing.
image via flickr


The human brain was built to predict the future. If you can’t see what’s coming, you can’t survive. Tea leaves, entrails, and complicated algorithms are just a few of the ways humans have tried to divine the future for personal gain. Today on our show we have three stories about various attempts to look into the future. A Berkeley undergraduate tries to beat the racetrack, economists attempt to predict recessions, and a software that can listen to a song and predict whether it’s going to be a hit. Guess which one is the most successful, and who forgot about a couple very important variables.

Host: Charlie Mintz

Producers: Charlie Mintz, Daniel MacDougall, Bonnie Swift Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Sarah Rizk, Sam Alemayehu, Paul David, Howard Schwartz, Mike McCready, Jadena, Koji Gardiner, Eleanor Safridge Fields, Kasiana McLenaghan, Robert Mintz

Music: Koji Gardiner, Ian Burrell, Andy Seymour, Jeff Striker, Pascel, Boomsnake

URLs: Gambler’s Book Shop

Release Date: 26 February 2009

Story 1: Are you a hit?

Undergraduate researchers Sarah Rizk and Sam Alemayehu take a look at a new software that actually predicts the next big music sensation, and even take some local talent to the test. Does this mean the end of true artistic integrity and creativity?(note: this piece also aired on our “Form Follows Function” show)
image via flickr

Story 2: If I Major in Econ, Can I Tell the Future?

The recent/current financial crisis is an example of misunderstanding economic trends. However, many experts claimed to have predicted the downturn in the economy, locally and globally. By interviewing her professors, economics student Kasiana McLeneghan gets an inside perspective on what role her field can play on predicting the future trends in our global financial system.
image via flickr

Story 3: Rudimentary Computers Will Make You Money

Charlie Mintz’s dad became obsessed with horse races when he learned that some people could predict them better than others. He learns what it costs to become a master of prediction, as well as how much it can earn him. (note: the first several minutes of this story appears at the beginning of the episode, and the rest of it appears at the end of the episode)
image via flickr

UnValentine’s Day

Normally Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate coming together, but today we’re exploring the reasons people drift apart. In four stories, we explore all the reasons we fail to click. We have a story about a Stanford student who tried, and failed, to sell her eggs to an elite donation agency, an investigation into the paradoxical allure of French women, a radio play about the perils of matchmaking, and an essay on love that offers an unusual take on arranged marriages.

Host: Charlie Mintz

Producers: Charlie Mintz, Hannah Krakauer, Rachel Hamburg

Featuring: Eva Glasrud, Paula England, Harville Hendrix, Stuart Blaire and Art Tosborvorn

Music: George Pritzker, Jeff Striker, Snuffaluffagus

Video Podcast: ‘Song of a Sperm Donor’ by Emmaunel Dayan

Release Date: 12 Febrary 2009

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Intro Story: These Are Not Just Ordinary Eggs

One Stanford undergrad goes on a quest to sell her eggs for a price of up to $100,000. Featuring Eva.

Story 1: The Elusive Allure of the French Female

Why is it so hard to click with French women? Or… is it??? Produced by Hannah Krakauer

Story 2: So… How did you two meet?

A radio drama of matchmaking gone terribly wrong. Produced by Charlie Mintz

Story 3: Arranged Success

We take a look at American expectations for love and ask whether arranged marriages might be best, in hopes of explaining the maddening tendencies of the human heart. Produced by Stuart Blaire and Art Tosborvorn

Intro Story image via flickr | Story 1 image via cowbird | Story 2 image via flickr | Story 3 image via flickr

Questions of Travel

What happens to us when we travel? How do we get beyond the brochure (and should we)? Poets, a professor of ecology, an observer of the Malaysian meat market, and a researcher who studies sense of place work toward answers and share stories of discovery on the road.

Host: Elizabeth Bradfield

Producers: Elizabeth Bradfield, Daniel Hirsch

Featuring: Joshua Rivkin, John Evans, Laura McKee, Peter Vitousek, Nicole Ardoin, Samantha Wai, Michelle Traub, Selena Simmons-Duffin, Daniel MacDougall

Music: Volunteer Pioneer, Johnny Hwin, Natalie Dawn, Eli Herwitz, The Reiterators, and Midawe

URLs: Peter M. Vitousek, Nicole Ardoin

Release Date: 5 February 2009

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Story 1: Where Men Dance Wildly

We hear from three Stegner Fellows in Poetry who have lived and taught abroad. They share poems written from afar, and wrestle with how to see a foreign world without making oneself its center.

Story 2: Who’s a Tourist?

Peter Vitousek talks about bringing Stanford Students to Hawaii, and makes a compelling argument that tourism, the cheesy stuff, isn’t so bad.
image via flickr

Story 3: What’s Normal Becomes Strange

Samantha Wei guides us into the chaos of malaysia’s Pasar Pagi, and then returns to California with new eyes.
image via flickr

Story 4: Priceless People

Nicole Ardoin shares stories from her research on sense of place, and from her work as an educator on the Galapagos and the Grand Canyon.
image via flickr

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

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Story 1: NaNoWriMo at Stanford

This story (which, if you listen to the show, will come in pieces throughout the hour) tracks the progress of a class-load of Stanford students writing their novels. Thirty days. Fifty-thousand words. Go.

Producer: Charlie Mintz

Story 2: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Novelist

Novels have always been important, but did they ever suddenly become self-important? We interview and author about the history of this monumental form of entertainment. Here is a clue: Henry James.

Producer: Lee Konstantinou

Featured: Chris Baty

image via wikipedia

Story 3: 150,000 Word Woman

Our narrator takes us into the heart of a write-a-thon, held in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. We hear plots, themes and ideas synthesized from every genre in the literary world, alongside the motivations behind the authors who take on the challenge, and some who exceed expectation.

Producer: Charlie Mintz

image via wikipedia

Story 4: The Novel Lives

In an interview with literary critic and founder of NaNoWriMo, we delve deeper than deeper into the question of the hour: exactly how dead is the novel?

Producer: Charlie Mintz

Featuring: Chris Baty

image via wikipedia

Story 5: The Death of the Death of the Novel

We interview a Stanford graduate student about his work in the story of stories. Does it ever end? He thinks so.

Producer: Lee Konstantinou

Featured: Noam Cohen

image via wikipedia

Serious Fun

We all do the things we do for fun a little bit seriously. Basketball, belly dancing, or playing in a band — these all take practice and hard work to be really fun. But some people take fun more seriously than the rest of us. Some of them are just more competitive. Some of them want to expand the arena of fine art. And some of them want to re-enchant the world. This episode has stories about a historical re-enactment society that has helped professors make new discoveries about medieval warfare, video games that are becoming professional sports, and the tragic tale of a fan club so obsessed with a character from a book that they got rid of the author. And finally, Ken Kesey reads the children’s story that he took seriously enough to say, “This was my best piece of work ever.”

Host/Producer: Rachel Hamburg
Featured: Tony Ricciardi, Patrick Thill, Joshua Landy, Michael Saler, Ken Kesey, Arthur Maddox, Michael Lawrence
Music: Kevin Macleod, The Yeltsin Collective, Arthur Maddox, William McGlaughlin, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Release Date: 29 January 2009

image via Wikipedia

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Story 1: Competitive Gaming

We explore the emerging world of competitive gaming, a not-so-distant reality where the gamers are superstars, on par with professional athletes for their prowess in the digital arena.

Producers: Tony Ricciardi and Patrick Thill
image via Wikipedia


Story 2: When Fiction is more Significant than Fact

Sherlock Holmes uses scientific reason to work through the mazes of mystical mystery. But he isn’t real. Right? For many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s readers, this truth isn’t so easy to accept.

Producer: Rachel Hamburg
Featuring: Michael Saler
image via Wikipedia


Story 3: Ken Kesey’s “Little Tricker The Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear”

In a musically accompanied rendition of Ken Kesey’s self-acclaimed “best piece,” we find a seriously fun story of a crafty critter armed only with a good vantage point and a sly disposition.

Featuring: Ken Kesey, Arthur Maddox (composer/pianist), Steven Schuster (flute/clarinet/sax), and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center conducted by William McGlaughlin
Image via Wikipedia

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

Listen to the Full Show:

Story 1: Defenders of a New Idea

Before the National Parks Service existed, the U.S. Army protected our first national parks. We trace the road that the Buffalo Soldiers once took from the Presidio of San Francisco to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. We don’t exactly find what we’re looking for, but the landscape reveals some unexpected clues.

Producers: Justine Lai and Bonnie Swift
Featuring: Shelton Johnson and Ward Eldridge

Story 2: The Yosemights

A student spends the summer in Yosemite National Park, far from her life at Stanford, and in that short time, discovers a new existence.

Producer: Killeen Hanson

Story 3: Manzanita

Peter Kline reads a poem about a Californian tree with a universe inside it. This tree has few practical uses.

Bonus Story: Interview with Peter Kline

Storytelling Poetry Editor, Liz Bradfield, interviews Peter Kline, Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He reads “The Almond Orchard,” and they discuss, among other things, the idea of West.


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

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Intro Story: Poser

Failed attempts to be someone else can leave us stranded in the domain of the imposter. Fakes, frauds, phonies… what are they but attempts at change gone bad?

image via flickr

Story 1: The Case of the Degenerating Detective

Tommy Wallach spends a summer with the most unlikely Private Eye, whose approach to inquiry is more about making the facts than finding them. Is it possible that some lies are better than truth?

Author: Tommy Wallach

image via Wikipedia

Story 2: Scientist vs. Scientist

In pursuit of acclaim, and under pressure, even the brightest can succumb to the follies of pride. Matt Larson depicts a face-off between two scientists: one who can resist the temptation to cheat, and one who cannot.

image via Wikipedia

Story 3: Waves

Maria Hummel inherited her mother’s straight hair, and along with it she inherited her mother’s disdain for straight hair. As she prepares to give birth to a child of her own, Hummel reflects on her lifelong envy of curls.

image via Wikipedia


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

Listen to the Full Show:

Intro Story: Joe the Plumber

All politics are local politics. In 2008, this has never been more true.

Story 1: Mississippi on My Mind

The Neshoba County Fair is one of the lesser-known and most important stops in the national political campaign tour. Saturated with southern cooking and carnival colors, this is a story of big politics with a local, southern twist.
Producer: Dan Hirsch
image via Wikipedia

Story 2: Yukon Home

Determination and independence are ingrained in the individuals and communities that call Alaska home. This year mainland politics have invaded their frontier. A Stanford student gives us an Alaskan’s take on Sarah Palin.
Producer: Clare Bennett
image via Wikipedia

Story 3: Capturing the Friedmans’ Vote

Itʼs harder than you think to discuss politics with Grandma. A group of Jewish students at Stanford pick up their phones, call their ‘Bubbies’ and get more than they bargained for.
Producer: Charlie Mintz
image via Wikipedia

Story 4: Perfect Record

In high school, failure is typically met with more failure. This student’s political struggle shows us how it takes more than gimmicks and gall to win an election.
Producer: Micah Cratty
image via flickr

Story 5: Those Women

Following a surprising decision by the California Supreme Court, one couple decides to put their reservations aside and use the ‘M’ word. At the time, they had no idea that this very personal decision could turn into a discussion for an entire state.
Producer: Lee Konstantinou
Featuring: Bridget Whearty
image via flickr