Nick Van Der Kolk is the creator of the American podcast Love + Radio which has been on air since 2005. Each monthly instalment features in-depth, otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime. 

Love + Radio by Nicholas Van Der Kolk

Nicholas Van Der Kolk nominated writer, radiomaker and audio artist Gregory Whitehead

I first heard Gregory Whitehead’s work on Chicago Public Radio—a piece called “Mind, Body, and Soul”. Though it’s relatively accessible by Whitehead’s standards—a pretty straightforward (fictional) interview with a man committing himself to eating several books—it stopped me in my tracks. So-called public radio in the US is a conservative (small ‘c’) medium, with an increasing emphasis on doing things in a way that is repeatable and never calls attention to itself. “Mind, Body, and Soul” was the opposite: bizarre subject matter permeated by jarring though obviously intentional choices of cuts and sound effects. 

I think his spirit is an important one to keep in mind if this young medium is going to continue growing—not just in terms of downloads—but creatively as well.

Whitehead’s work opened a door to thinking of radio as a medium for intuitive association and poetic investigation. And, unlike a lot of audio art, whose tone of self-seriousness can lead to alienation, Whitehead never loses a deep sense of playfulness. Today, the popularity of podcasts has exploded thanks to a basic understanding of what is listenable. I think his spirit is an important one to keep in mind if this young medium is going to continue growing—not just in terms of downloads—but creatively as well.