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On this episode of the interview series, Andy W. and Derek have as their guest Jessica Abel, whose latest book, Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio, was recently released by Broadway Books. In her conversation with the guys, Jessica discusses her history with narrative-based radio and how her earlier work, Radio: An Illustrated Guide (cowritten with Ira Glass), helped to open the door for her exploration of the medium. Out on the Wire is based on over three years of research and hours of interviews she conducted with the creators behind programs such as This American Life, Planet Money, Radiolab, The Moth, and Snap Judgment. The text culls the various storytelling strategies of these producers and dissects their effectiveness. This kind of expositional writing — or “documentary comics,” as Jessica calls it — is something that the Two Guys rarely discuss, so they use this opportunity as a way into the genre. Along the way they also talk with Jessica about her podcast based on the new book, her work on Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, her series editorship (along with her husband, Matt Madden) of the annual Best American Comics for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and her earlier books, including La Perdida, the instructional text Drawing Words and Writing Pictures (again, along with Madden), and the series Artbabe. For those interested in storytelling and the spoken word — and not only for radio, but also as it applies to podcasting — this interview with Jessica Abel is essential listening.
Be sure to visit Jessica’s website, where you can find out more about her new podcast and newsletter!