6 episodes

The episodes from this mini-series can be accessed in the Radiolab podcast feed and radiolab.org for free, or access the ad-free versions here when you become a Radiolab+ subscriber.

Radiolab Presents: Gonads is a multi-episode journey deep into the parts of us that let us make more of us. Longtime staff producer and host Molly Webster explores the primordial roots of our drive to reproduce, introduces a revolutionary fertility procedure that sounds like science fiction, reveals a profound secret about gender that lives inside all of us, and calls on writers, educators, musicians, artists and comedians to debate how we’re supposed to talk to kids about sex.

Gonads Radiolab

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 31 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

The episodes from this mini-series can be accessed in the Radiolab podcast feed and radiolab.org for free, or access the ad-free versions here when you become a Radiolab+ subscriber.

Radiolab Presents: Gonads is a multi-episode journey deep into the parts of us that let us make more of us. Longtime staff producer and host Molly Webster explores the primordial roots of our drive to reproduce, introduces a revolutionary fertility procedure that sounds like science fiction, reveals a profound secret about gender that lives inside all of us, and calls on writers, educators, musicians, artists and comedians to debate how we’re supposed to talk to kids about sex.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    The Primordial Journey

    The Primordial Journey

    At two weeks old, the human embryo has only just begun its months-long journey to become a baby. The embryo is tiny, still invisible to the naked eye. But inside it, an epic struggle plays out, as a nomadic band of cells marches toward a mysterious destiny, with the future of humanity resting on their microscopic shoulders.

    This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Jad Abumrad. With scoring and original composition by Alex Overington and Dylan Keefe. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. The “Ballad of the Fish” and “Gonads” was composed and sung by Majel Connery, and produced by Alex Overington.

    Special thanks to Ruth Lehmann and Dagmar Wilhelm.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at https://radiolab.org/donate.

    Fronads

    Fronads

    At 28 years old, Annie Dauer was living a full life. She had a job she loved as a high school PE teacher, a big family who lived nearby, and a serious boyfriend. Then, cancer struck. Annie would come to find out she had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was so aggressive, there was a real chance she might die. Her oncologists wanted her to start treatment immediately. Like, end-of-the-week immediately. But before Annie started treatment, she walked out of the doctor’s office and crossed the street to see a fertility doctor doing an experimental procedure that sounded like science fiction: ovary freezing.

    Further Reading:
    A medical case report on Annie’s frozen ovaries — https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)02198-9/fulltext
    What’s primordial germ cells got to do with it? — https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/21/6/1345/724245

    This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Pat Walters. With original music and scoring by Dylan Keefe and Alex Overington. The Gonads theme was written, performed and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Jad Abumrad.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at https://radiolab.org/donate.

    X & Y

    X & Y

    A lot of us understand biological sex with a pretty fateful underpinning: if you’re born with XX chromosomes, you’re female; if you’re born with XY chromosomes, you’re male. But it turns out, our relationship to the opposite sex is more complicated than we think.

    This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Matt Kielty. With scoring, original composition and mixing by Matt Kielty and Alex Overington. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. The “Ballad of Daniel Webster” and “Gonads” was written, performed and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.

    Special thanks to Erica Todd, Andrew Sinclair, Robin Lovell-Badge and Sarah S. Richardson. Plus, a big thank you to the musicians who gave us permission to use their work in this episode — composer Erik Friedlander, for "Frail as a Breeze, Part II," and musician Sam Prekop, whose work "A Geometric," from his album The Republic, is out on Thrill Jockey.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Dana

    Dana

    When Dana Zzyym applied for their first passport back in 2014, they were handed a pretty straightforward application. Name, place of birth, photo ID — the usual. But one question on the application stopped Dana in their tracks: male or female? Dana, technically, wasn’t either.

    In this episode, we follow the story of Dana Zzyym, a Navy veteran and activist, which starts long before they scribble the word "intersex” on their passport application. Along the way, we see what happens when our inner biological realities bump into the outside world, and the power of words to shape us.

    This episode is a companion piece to the episode "Dutee."

    "Dana" was reported by Molly Webster, and co-produced with Jad Abumrad. It had production help from Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. Wordplay categories were written, performed and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.

    Special thanks to Paula Stone Williams, Gerry Callahan, Lambda Legal, Kathy Tu, Matt Collette, Arianne Wack, Carter Hodge and Liza Yeager.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at https://radiolab.org/donate.

    Sex Ed

    Sex Ed

    If there’s one thing Gonads taught us, it’s just how complicated human reproduction is. All the things we thought we knew about biology and sex determination are up for debate in a way that feels both daunting and full of potential. At the same time, we're at a moment where we’re wrestling with how to approach conversations around sex, consent and boundaries, at a time that may be more divisive than ever. So host Molly Webster thought: what if we took on sex ed, and tried to tackle questions from listeners, youth, reddit (oh boy) and staff.

    But instead of approaching these questions the way your high school health teacher might’ve (or government teacher, who knows), Molly invited a cast of storytellers, educators, artists and comedians to grapple with sex ed in unexpected and thoughtful ways. To help us think about how we can change the conversation. In this episode, an edited down version of a Gonads Live show, Molly's team takes a crack at responding to the intimate questions you asked when you were younger but probably never got a straight answer to.

    Featuring:
    • How Do You Talk About Condoms Without Condom Demonstrations? Sanford Johnson. Wanna see how to put on a sock? — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06kT9yfj7QE
    • What Are Periods? Sindha Agha and Gul Agha. Check out Sindha's photography here — https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/gonads-presents-sindha-agha/?token=c1522cc189aba26b95e7ead97eb15588&content_type_id=26&object_id=871232&_=e09f8a73&_gl=1*qrgkoo*_ga*ODE2ODc0NjE4LjE2NTEyNDA1NTk.*_ga_SGN8J6WRG6*MTY1MzQwNDYzMS4yLjEuMTY1MzQwNDY0MS4w
    • Is Anything Off-Limits? Ericka Hart, Dalia Mahgoub, and Jonathan Zimmerman
    • Why Do We Do This Anyway? And Other Queries from Fifth Graders Jo Firestone

    "Sex Ed" is an edited* recording of a live event hosted by Radiolab at the Skirball Center in New York City on May 16, 2018. Radiolab Team Gonads is Molly Webster, Pat Walters and Rachael Cusick, with Jad Abumrad. Live music, including the sex ed questions, and the Gonads theme song, were written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.

    Over the past few months, Radiolab has been collecting sex ed book suggestions from listeners and staff, about the books that helped them understand the birds and the bees. Check out the full Gonads Presents: Sex Ed Bookshelf here — https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/gonads-presents-sex-ed-bookshelf/?_gl=1*1o9hk9l*_ga*ODE2ODc0NjE4LjE2NTEyNDA1NTk.*_ga_SGN8J6WRG6*MTY1MzQwNDYzMS4yLjEuMTY1MzQwNDY0MS4w

    *Our live show featured the following additional questions and answerers:

    How do you talk to your partner in bed without sound like an asshold or a slut? Upright Citizens Brigade, featuring Lou Gonzales, Molly Thomas and Alexandra Dickson

    What Happens to All the Condom Bananas? Rachael Cusick

    With live event production help from Melissa LaCasse and Alicia Allen; engineering by Ed Haber and George Wellington; and balloons by Candy Brigham from Candy Twisted Balloons Special. Special thanks to Larry Siegel, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Emily Rothman and the Start Strong Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at https://radiolab.org/donate.

    Dutee

    Dutee

    In 2014, India’s Dutee Chand was a rising female track and field star, crushing national records. But then, that summer, something unexpected happened: she failed a gender test. And was banned from the sport. Before she knew it, Dutee was thrown into the middle of a controversy that started long before her, and continues on today: how to separate males and females in sport. First aired in 2018, Dutee and the story of female athletes in sport are back in the spotlight this week, at the Tokyo Olympics. Join us for an update on Dutee’s second Olympic games, and the continued role testosterone has in shaping who is on the track, and who is off.

    This episode is a companion piece to the episode "Dana."

    This update was reported by Molly Webster, with reporting and producing by Sarah Qari.

    "Dutee" was reported by Molly Webster, with co-reporting and translation by Sarah Qari. It was produced by Pat Walters, with production help from Jad Abumrad and Rachael Cusick. The Gonads theme was written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.

    Special thanks to Geertje Mak, Maayan Sudai, Andrea Dunaif, Bhrikuti Rai, Joe Osmundson, and Payoshni Mitra. Plus, former Olympic runner Madeleine Pape, who is currently studying regulations around female, transgender, and intersex individuals in sport.

    Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at https://radiolab.org/donate.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

BreeLeigh ,

Best nerdy time investment

Absolutely fascinating content that is expertly produced. Really terrific work.

flit Cj hffh ,

Unreal

Superb

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