News & Events

Penny Stamps Speaker Series

Jad Abumrad

Making "Dolly Parton's America"

Friday, March 5, 2021 at 8:00 pm

Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, a public radio program broadcast on nearly 600 stations across the nation and downloaded more than 12 million times a month as a podcast. Abumrad employs his dual backgrounds as composer and journalist to create what’s been called “a new aesthetic” in broadcast journalism. He orchestrates dialogue, music, interviews, and sounds into compelling documentaries that draw listeners into investigations of otherwise intimidating topics, such as the nature of numbers, the evolution of altruism, or the legal foundation for the war on terror. He’s won three George Foster Peabody Awards, and in 2011 Abumrad was honored as a MacArthur Fellow (also known as the Genius Grant).

The MacArthur Foundation website says: “Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.”

Abumrad also created and hosted three seasons of More Perfect, a series about untold stories of the Supreme Court, which The New York Times called “...possibly the most mesmerizing podcast.” And in 2019, along with OSM Audio’s Shima Oliaee, Jad Abumrad created Dolly Parton’s America, a Peabody Award-winning 9-part series that explores a divided America through the life and music of one its greatest icons. Alongside his radio work, Abumrad continues to work as a composer and remixer and is currently hosting a radio show on Apple Music.

For this speaker series event, Abumrad will be in conversation with Chris Azzopardi, editor of Q Syndicate, the national LGBTQ wire service serving LGBTQ publications across the United States. Azzopardi is also a contributor to The New York Times and has written for Vanity Fair, GQ, Billboard, and Oprah Magazine. His 2014 interview with Dolly Parton was published in an anthology of interviews spanning her life and career, entitled Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. Over the course of Azzopardi’s career, he has interviewed musicians, actors, allies, and icons including Beyoncé, Meryl Streep, Lady Gaga, and Mariah Carey. Locally, his stories are published in Michigan's LGBTQ newspaper Between The Lines.

Our 2020-2021 Series is brought to you with the support of our partners, Detroit Public Television and PBS Books.

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Notice of uncensored content: In accordance with the University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guidelines on “Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression,” the Penny Stamps Speaker Series does not censor our speakers or their content. The content provided is intended for adult audiences and does not reflect the views of the University of Michigan or Detroit Public Television.