Nerdette show


Summary: Nerdette is a safe space for nerding out about all the things you're watching, reading, and encountering IRL. Interviews with your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) authors, artists, astronauts, and more.

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  • Artist: Greta Johnsen
  • Copyright: Copyright 2015 Chicago Public Media


 Your Weekend Starts Here: Cache Your Cookies, Categorize Your Fun, Put Down Your Phone | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:31:07

We get you ready for the weekend with movies, books and everyone’s favorite thing: a new way to categorize life experiences. Trust us!

 Burnout Is For Millennials (And Millennials At Heart) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:25:46

The millennial generation came into adulthood during an American recession, an era of crushing student loan debt and the rise of temporary workers and independent contractors. Add a global pandemic to that precariousness and you’ve got a perfect recipe for burnout. Today, Greta talks with author Anne Helen Petersen about Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. It's our October pick for the Nerdette Book Club. And even if you aren't a millennial or haven't read the book, we want to hear from you. Tell us about your burnout feels! Record yourself on your phone and email the audio to and you may hear yourself in our longer panel discussion later this month.

 Surprise! You’re A Genius | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:22:22

You didn’t already know? Nerdette talked with two brand new MacArthur Fellows — also known as MacArthur “geniuses” — about the important work they’re doing and what it’s like to get that phone call. Mary L. Gray is an anthropologist and a media scholar honored for her work investigating how “labor, identity, and human rights are transformed by the digital economy.” And Damien Fair is a cognitive neuroscientist honored for his research on the developing human brain.

 Movies, TikTok And Fat Bears! (Oh My!) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:30

What a wild week! And to celebrate the return of another weekend, we assembled a bunch of fun people to take a look back … in a merry, pop culture kind of way, not a CAPS LOCK newsy way. To talk about the big week for movies, we called up Eliana Dockterman, who writes about movies, pop culture and feminism for Time. Then, to break down the gloriousness that is Fat Bear Week, we talked with Mike Fitz, the resident naturalist at And for all the rest, we hung out with two of our favorite people: WBEZ education reporter Susie An and Vocalo radio host Jill Hopkins. Join us!

 Cold-Weather Pandemic Advice From An Infectious Disease Expert | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:19:57

The seasons are changing but the novel coronavirus is still with us. And that’s left us with a lot of questions about how to safely socialize with friends and family when the weather makes small outdoor gatherings less viable. So we called up Dr. Emily Landon, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago. (She also gave Nerdette listeners some therapeutic advice about the pandemic back in June.) And now that autumn is upon us, Landon explains how we might approach the upcoming holiday season (including Halloween!) and the great indoors. 

 Gillian Flynn Talks About the Comics, Conspiracies and Pandemics in her new TV Series, 'Utopia' | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:22:26

You know Gillian Flynn as the genre-redefining writer behind Gone Girl, both the 2012 novel and the 2014 movie adaptation starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Since the success of Gone Girl, Flynn has written only for the screen, including the 2018 movie Widows and the HBO series Sharp Objects. Out now on Amazon Prime, Utopia is Flynn’s latest work, based on a 2013 BBC show of the same name. Greta talks with Flynn about Utopia, Gone Girl and what’s next.

 Book Club: ‘The Shadow King’ | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:29

Welcome to the Nerdette Book Club! Each month, we read a book and chat about it with a rotating group of panelists. This month’s pick is Maaza Mengiste’s historical novel The Shadow King. It’s based on the true story of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the mid-1930s. Against Italian Prime Minister Benito Musolinni’s technologically-advanced army, the citizens of feudal Ethiopia didn’t seem to have a chance. But they eventually overcame— and they had the help of a number of forgotten female fighters. Listen along as Nerdette host Greta Johnsen discusses the book with Lydia Levy, founder of the African literature review website Omusana. She also has a doctorate in African Studies from Howard University. And then get ready for next month’s pick: Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen.

 Comedy Meets Social Commentary in Hulu's 'Woke' | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:22:19

“I’m not woke. I’m aware.” That’s the answer Chicago comedian T. Murph gives when he’s asked about his relationship to the title of Woke, a new series that dropped on Hulu earlier this month. T. Murph plays the role of Clovis, friend and roommate of Keef, the show’s protagonist (played by Lamorne Morris), who tries to avoid controversy in his work until the world forces him to do otherwise. Greta talks with T. Murph about what being woke means to him, if he moves through the world like his character and whether art demands activism.

 How The Bechdel Test Changed This Woman's Career | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:17:54

The Bechdel test asks a simple question: Does a work of fiction have two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? Today we talk with Sarah Kozloff, who was a film professor at Vassar College when she learned that The Lord of The Rings movies fail the Bechdel test. That inspired her to write The Nine Realms, a series of fantasy novels about a young princess who must grow up and fight her way back to the throne. Greta talks with Sarah about the books, her career change and why she released all four novels in the same year.

 Introvert's Guide To The Good Life: How To Bake Away Your Feelings This Fall | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:21:29

Like it or not these seasons are a changing! And that means right now is a great opportunity to embrace flavors from late summer and early fall, and to make a chocolate zucchini cake! We talk with baker and cookbook author Shauna Sever — all about all the spices you should have, sourdoughs you should start, and pies you should scarf down immediately.

 Book Club: A Look At ‘The Shadow King’ With Author Maaza Mengiste | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:22:26

While researching for her novel, author Maaza Mengiste says she came across a New York Times article from 1935 that described a woman leading an army of 2,000 men into victory. She was shocked. Why had she never heard about this female wartime hero? “It struck me,” Mengiste tells Nerdette. “If there’s one, there’s two. If there’s two, there’s five.” We talk to Mengiste about her novel, The Shadow King, which is the Nerdette Book Club’s September pick. Listen to this spoiler-free convo, then come back later this month for a not-spoiler-free panel discussion.

 Is It Too Early To Talk About Fall Books? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:20:36

Of course it's not too early to talk about fall books! We got ahold of NPR books editor Barrie Hardymon to get recommendations for some great autumn reads. Find the full list of recommendations at

 What Made Feminism In The ‘90s So Fly? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:18:40

When considering some of the milestone moments in feminist history, you might think about the Seneca Falls Conference of 1848, the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the 1990s? “This was actually one of the most pivotal decades, I believe, for feminist history.”  We talk with Lisa Levenstein, the Director of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UNC Greensboro and the author of They Didn't See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties. She tells us about the importance of the ‘90s and how it shaped feminism today.

 Book Club: 'Members Only' | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:07:27

Welcome to the Nerdette Book Club! Each month, we read a book and chat about it with a rotating group of panelists. This month’s pick is Sameer Pandya’s debut novel Members Only. It takes place over the course of one very intense week in the life of Raj, a middle-aged Indian-American anthropology professor. When he’s asked to help his tennis club interview potential new members, he’s thrilled by the opportunity to help diversify his tennis partners. But he makes a huge gaffe in front of a Black family, and the rest of his week gets worse from there. Listen along as Nerdette host Greta Johnsen discusses the book with Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World, and author Alisha Rai, whose Modern Love series is part of an upswell in romance novels with strong female characters and feminist sensibilities. And then get ready for next month’s pick: The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste.

 A Good Old-Fashioned Field Trip: Nerdette Visits Argonne National Lab | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:30:35

Argonne National Laboratory is a massive research facility outside of Chicago that’s run by the U.S. Department of Energy. And this week, Nerdette hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen take you behind the curtain to learn about some of the innovative stuff happening there. Stuff like superbatteries, supercomputers, and questions that may never get answers This episode originally aired on August 10, 2018.


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