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


 Is The Real-Life Upside Down At Argonne National Lab? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:30:25

Here at Nerdette, we've wanted to visit Argonne National Laboratory for MANY YEARS. Why? Because it's a massive research facility, it's just outside of Chicago, and it shares many similarities with Hawkins National Laboratory, the fictional government science complex from the Netflix show Stranger Things. Greta, Tricia and our trusty guide Justin Breaux take a tour of Argonne, where we talk with a bunch of super-smart scientists about the stuff they're working on and the questions they're trying to answer. Questions like: If you had one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, what problems should you solve? And if you could solve those problems, how would you go about doing it? And what if one problem — a problem you've dedicated your entire career to solving — isn't solvable for centuries? Also, can we see the Upside Down? Guests:Katherine Riley, director of science at Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility Rajesh Sankaran, computer scientist at Argonne's Mathematics and Computer Science Division Lei Cheng, chemist with Argonne's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research Matt Dietrich, experimental physicist at Argonne's Physics Division

 Summer Reads! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:17:18

Hey! Nerdette is about to go on a little summer break, but before we do we wanted to share this lovely conversation Greta had with WBEZ’s Jenn White and the owner of Volumes Bookscafe in Chicago, Rebecca George. They talk about what makes a good summer read before offering an INUNDATING LIST of killer summer books. You can check out the full list of those recommendations at this link.  Enjoy! Have a KAS and see you in a few weeks!

 Power Up: Musician Neko Case | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:22:37

Super-talented singer-songwriter Neko Case is not immune to self-doubt. In the years before becoming “an adult,” she tells us she had a complicated relationship with ambition.  “I wanted to be in a band and I wanted to play music, but I couldn’t have even told you that then,” Case said. “I wouldn’t have even thought that I was capable of that, even though I was completely obsessed and had been my whole life.” Her work has gone on to receive a lot of critical acclaim over her 30-plus years of making music. Her newest album is called Hell-On. She stopped by WBEZ to tell us how she maintains her sanity while touring and how she’s not superstitious — even though she learned her house burned down on the same day she recorded the vocals for a song called “Bad Luck.” 

 Breaking The Tech Industry’s Glass Ceiling … In 1962 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:19:32

“I’d been patronized as a child,” Dame Stephanie Shirley — a.k.a. Steve — tells us this week. “I wasn’t going to be patronized as an adult.” The kind of company that Stephanie Shirley wanted to work for didn’t exist in 1962, so she created her own. “I wanted a company that was suitable for me [and] that I would like to work in,” Shirley says. “And I knew there were lots of women who had also hit the glass ceiling and were completely and utterly ignored by the industry.” She’s talking about the software industry, which was even more of a boys club in the sixties. So Shirley started her own business, hired a bunch of women from IBM, and even changed her first name from Stephanie to Steve — in order to get the attention of potential clients through promotional materials. Shirley tells us her incredible story, which includes creating a company that would later be valued at $3 billion, being made a dame by Queen Elizabeth, and keeping herself mentally and physically fit in the midst of life's many hurdles. Power Up is a Nerdette project where fascinating people explain how they set themselves up for success in an exhausting world. Tell us how YOU power up by recording yourself on your phone and emailing the audio file to

 Getting Harassed For Exposing Sexual Harassment | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:20:12

Speaking out about traumatic incidents can sometimes be more traumatic than the incidents themselves. That was the case for one reporter after she documented rampant sexual harassment at a recent music festival. Vera Papisova is the wellness editor for Teen Vogue and runs the magazine’s sexual assault awareness campaign. After Teen Vogue published her explosive article about sexual assault at Coachella 2018, Papisova became the target of internet trolls.  “People usually say, ‘Ignore the trolls,’ and ‘Don’t read the comments,’” Papisova tells Nerdette. “I went against both of those. I broke both of those rules.” Papisova tells us about her experience at the festival, how she’s been responding to her online harassers, and what she’s doing to maintain her sanity. Power Up is a Nerdette project where fascinating people explain how they set themselves up for success in an exhausting world. Tell us how YOU power up by recording yourself on your phone and emailing the audio file to

 NPR’s Audie Cornish On Being A New Mom | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:20:00

Audie Cornish says she had something like an epiphany after posting a photo of herself and her new baby on Twitter in April.  "I realized, oh my god, I’m part of the problem," Cornish tells Greta Johnsen. "Because there is absolutely nothing worse than opening up a glossy magazine and seeing a picture of some woman with, like, a pet and a 3-year-old, everyone’s groomed to the nines, and she’s like, ‘I woke up like this.’” Cornish is the host of NPR’s daily news program 'All Things Considered.' She talked with Nerdette host Greta Johnsen about all the people not pictured in that photo that are helping her navigate motherhood for the first time. They also talk about finding forgiveness and having children during times of strife.  "There’s always something difficult in the world," Cornish says. "But it’s so worth it. Because I look at him as being somebody who’s going to be a part of shaping his own world, not that he’s arriving a victim of it."  Help support Nerdette! Any gift, no matter how small, is truly, sincerely appreciated. And we'll give you swag! Donate here:

 Nerdette’s Finest: Negin Farsad | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:07:46

If you’re looking for a way to combat the online trolls and bots fomenting unrest in the U.S., comedian Negin Farsad might have a solution for you. It’s a philosophy she calls “Being aggressively delightful.” You might think that sounds exhausting, but Farsad says not so! “I also think rage is exhausting,” she told us in February 2018. “I might think rage is more exhausting than trying to be friends with people.” It’s genius I tell you! We’re replaying this great moment in Nerdette history because we’re turning five years old and we need your help! If you like Nerdette, please donate to support the show’s future. Any amount really, REALLY helps. And as a thank you, we’re offering some pretty sweet gifts. Like mugs, sweatbands, buttons, and even Lady Nerds of History posters. Read about what you can get (and donate!) here: Seriously, thank you. (And if you want to hear the full version of our interview with Negin Farsad, check it out here.) This special rebroadcast was produced by Stefania Gomez.

 Nerdette’s Finest: Neil deGrasse Tyson Assigns Homework | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:07:28

On Nerdette, our guests assign us homework. It’s usually something to read, watch, or do — like a great book, a compelling TV show, or a life-changing daily routine.  We’ve been lucky enough to have famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show TWICE, and both times he assigned homework that essentially asks you to save the world. “If I were to give homework, the homework would be that there are problems society faces — civilization faces — that cannot and will not be solved awaiting the next app on your smartphone,” Tyson told Nerdette co-host Tricia Bobeda in 2017. “Ask not what your cell phone can do for you,” Tricia replied. “Yes!” Tyson said. “Ask what you can do for civilization.” Kaboom.  Why are we replaying these bits of homework right now? Well, our little program is turning five years old — FIVE — and we’re asking you to join the team.  These last five years of Nerdette wouldn’t have been possible without you. You’ve listened. You’ve told your friends to listen. And maybe, on occasion, you’ve kicked us a couple dollars to show us how much you appreciate the voices we bring you. Well this is one of those occasions. If you like Nerdette, please donate to support the show’s future. Any amount really, REALLY helps. And as a thank you, we’re offering some pretty sweet gifts. Like mugs, sweatbands, buttons, and even Lady Nerds of History posters. Read about what you can get (and donate!) here: Oh yeah, one more thing. THANK YOU YOU’RE THE GREATEST. (And if you want to hear the full versions of both of our interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson, check them out here and here.) This special rebroadcast was produced by Stefania Gomez.

 Nerdette's Finest: Tom Hanks | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:11:22

On a scale of 1 to famous, Tom Hanks is off the charts.  So how did we land this amazing interview? Easy! We put a 1939 Underwood Champion typewriter into a recording studio and lured him in Elmer Fudd style! (Bugs Bunny:Carrots::Tom Hanks:Typewriters) The reason we're rebroadcasting part of this episode right now is because our little show is celebrating a birthday. We've been around for FIVE YEARS! To celebrate, we're showcasing some of our favorite episodes AND we're asking you to support the future of the show. These five years of Nerdette have been made possible by you. You're a part of the team. And if you donate today, we're going to thank you with some killer swag. We've got mugs, sweatbands, buttons, and even Lady Nerds of History posters. We really hope you contribute and join in on the magic.  Here's the place to go: and seriously, thank you. (If you want to hear our full interview with Tom Hanks, check it out here.)

 Nerdette's Finest: Roxane Gay | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:09:03

Nerdette has been around for FIVE YEARS! And we're celebrating our birthday by showcasing some of our favorite parts of our favorite episodes.  Did you know that writer Roxane Gay has a fascination with Channing Tatum's neck? You're about to! Because this special episode is from our 2017 interview with the amazing author of Difficult Women. Roxane Gay also tells us about her love of Thor, her co-authoring of a little Marvel comic called Black Panther, and how she never reads anybody's Goodreads reviews of her work.   Real talk: these five years of Nerdette have been made possible by you.  You're a part of the team. And we're asking you to support the future of Nerdette. As a thank you for donating, you'll get some fun gifts! Like mugs, sweatbands, buttons, and even Lady Nerds of History posters. Read about what you can get (and donate!) here: THANK YOU! (And if you want to hear our full interview with Roxane Gay, check it out here.)

 Power Up: Grace Bonney | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:21:01

In 2016, Grace Bonney spoke with 100 women doing creative work and turned those interviews into a book, In the Company of Women.  It became a New York Times bestseller, and earlier this month, Bonney released a follow up: a biennial business magazine called Good Company. Plus, while she’s out promoting her new publication, she also runs the creativity website Design*Sponge.  Like so many of us, Bonney is busy. So how does she refuel? “That’s one of the things I think everyone has a really pithy answer to, like yoga or meditating,” Bonney told Nerdette host Greta Johnsen. “I don’t do any of those things. I think I ask for help.” Bonney tells us what asking for help looks like. PLUS: The Nerdette Rummage Sale IS NOW OPEN! Support Nerdette right now and get some sweet, sweet swag — like mugs and buttons and sweatbands for instance:

 Unwinding With The Kondabolu Brothers | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:25:34

We brought brothers Hari and Ashok Kondabolu on Nerdette to talk about making time for self-care in what can be a grinding, freelance economy. Instead, they unpacked their relationship.  “Do you look up to me at all?” Hari asks his younger brother, with host Greta Johnsen listening in the wings. “No, we have completely different lives,” Ashok immediately responds. “This is not relaxing!” Hari says.  Well, we tried.  But Hari and Ashok DID give us some wonderful ideas about how to recharge your batteries by ignoring the phone, taking aimless walks, and selling your clothes.  About our guests: Hari’s a comedian with a new Netflix special, Warn Your Relatives, and Ashok’s a former member of the rap group Das Racist who’s now producing the show Hey, How Ya Doin? The pair also co-host Earwolf's Kondabolu Brothers podcast, where they debate current events, share odd stories, and further unpack their relationship. PLUS: The Nerdette Rummage Sale IS NOW OPEN! Support Nerdette right now and get some awesome swag at a special discount!:

 How To Kill Time In Space | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:19:45

Near the end of STS-125, NASA’s final space shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope back in 2009, bad weather in Florida initially stopped the seven-member team from returning to Earth. The two-day delay that followed presented the astronauts with some unusual but much needed downtime. So what did they do with it?  Looked out the windows. “I liked to listen to music and watch the world go by,” said Megan McArthur, a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Atlantis. “It was pretty awesome.” For our new project, Power Up, we're asking fascinating people to explain how they set themselves up for success while living in (and, in this case, off of) an exhausting world.  McArthur told us about the seemingly difficult task of relaxing in outer space. She also described her role in helping the American Girl doll company create Luciana, a Chilean-American who is an aspiring astronaut.  “It helps for people to see a role model who represents them, right?” McArthur said of Luciana. “[Someone] who looks like them, maybe who has a similar experience as they have, in order for them to imagine themselves in that same kind of environment.” McArthur described her own experience meeting a role model: astronaut Sally Ride, who McArthur says she met when she was 16 years old. She says the 20-minute conversation with Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, was “a special and unique experience for someone just starting to think about what they want to do with their life.” Tell us how you power up!

 Power Up: Amy Schumer And Aidy Bryant | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:18:27

Let’s be real: life can be hectic sometimes. You don’t need to tell that to Amy Schumer and Aidy Bryant, two of the nation’s top female comedians.  Who better to kick off our new project, Power Up? For the next few months, we're asking fascinating people how they set themselves up for success in an exhausting world.  Knitting? Bowling? Researching the presence of alternate dimensions? “I literally will say to myself out loud in the mirror, like, ‘You got this, bitch,’” Schumer tells Nerdette host Greta Johnsen.  Schumer and Bryant also talk about what drew them to their new film, I Feel Pretty, which is now in theaters.  We also want to know how YOU power up. Record yourself on your phone and email the audio file to

 Power Up: A New Project From Nerdette | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:02:46

Here at Nerdette we’ve been thinking a lot about how much the world can wear us down. Which has led us to a very important question: How do so many successful, inspiring people have the time and energy to be so successful and inspiring? Power Up is a new project where we ask fascinating people how they set themselves up for success in what can be an exhausting world. How do amazing (non-robot) humans recharge their (hypothetical) batteries? We want to know! Because we all have the same number of hours in a day — even the scientists, poets, astronauts and adventurers — and as Oprah might say: You need to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE. Subscribe now and get the first episode of Power Up delivered to you on April 27. Click the play button above to hear a preview. We also want to hear how YOU power up. Send us an email — or, better yet, record yourself on your phone and send the audio file to This project is for all of us, which means it’ll be even better if you weigh in.


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