Greta Johnsen
Interviews with your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) authors, artists, astronauts and more. From WBEZ.
A Nerdette Inauguration Special
This year's presidential inauguration managed to muster up as much pageantry as possible, given the circumstances. Despite the pandemic and concerns over national security, the United States saw another peaceful transition of power.  Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, was in attendance. She tells Nerdette host Greta Johnsen what it was like to see another woman make history with the swearing-in of Vice President Kamala Harris. Plus, FANTI podcast hosts Tre'vell Anderson and Jarrett Hill unpack their complicated feelings about America in 2021.
Jan 22
26 min
The 13th Month Of 2020
Everything keeps getting more intense! So we ask journalists Tricia Bobeda and Kristina Lopez how they're managing their news intake. Then, we talk to Glennon Doyle, author of several books, including Untamed, about why resolutions are not for her. And finally, we hear from some of you about what you've resolved to bring into 2021. Join us!
Jan 15
27 min
Book Club: Micaiah Johnson On Her Debut Sci Fi Novel, ‘The Space Between Worlds’
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 The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. It’s an alternate-universe story about hundreds of different Earths slightly different from our own. It’s possible to “traverse” to other planets, but only if the traverser’s doppelganger is already dead. Enter Cara, our protagonist, whose impoverished and oppressed upbringing means she’s already dead on every planet except for eight of them. This is Micaiah Johnson’s first book, and it’s an ambitious one. In today’s episode, Nerdette host Greta Johnsen has a spoiler-free conversation with the author about the book’s themes and how Micaiah’s own life story intersects with Cara’s. Be sure to come back later this month for a spoiler-filled conversation about The Space Between Worlds. And don’t forget: we want to hear from you too! Record your thoughts about the novel and send an audio file to
Jan 12
19 min
2021 Is A Mess. Here's How To Stay Positive
The first week of 2021 was rough. But, as advice columnists Daniel Lavery and Heather Havrilesky tell us, there's still room for optimism. Then we talk to Dr. Y. Joel Wong, a professor at Indiana University, about the very real science behind positive thinking (Yep, a number of studies show that people who keep gratitude journals are mentally and physically healthier than those who do not.) And finally, poet Ross Gay tells us about The Book of Delights, his collection of "essayettes." Turns out, the more you look for delight, the more it shows up for you. Which seems like a pretty delightful thing to bring into the new year. And speaking of things to bring into the new year, we'd love to know: What are your resolutions for 2021? What's your stance on resolutions in general? Record yourself on your phone, and send the audio file to, and you may hear yourself in next week’s episode.
Jan 8
28 min
This Year Gave Us Some Good Stuff, Too
The year is almost over, which means top 10 lists are rolling in. But what’s it like to pick favorites in such an emotionally intense year? Greta talks with podcast expert Nick Quah, TV critic Margaret Lyons and Vocalo host Jill Hopkins about the best stuff this year. 
Dec 24, 2020
17 min
Book Club: Tana French’s ‘The Searcher’
Author Sarah Vowell and comedian Maeve Higgins visit the Nerdette Book Club for a spoiler-filled analysis of Tana French's plodding murder mystery, 'The Searcher.' Plus, we hear from you!
Dec 22, 2020
36 min
This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain This Weekend Eating The Year's Best Holiday Cookie.
You’ve made it through another week in the year 2020. Congratulations! Join Nerdette for a look back at the week in vaccines, virtual holiday parties and Greta’s new favorite ridiculous TV show, The Wilds, alongside TIME Magazine’s Eliana Dockterman and NPR’s Barrie Hardymon. Then we have an amazing conversation about your brain — yes, yours — and how tired it gets when you make it lug your body around all day. Lisa Feldman Barrett is the neuroscientist responsible for Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain, a lovely book of brain essays. She gives us one and a half lessons for free. And finally, what’s the best holiday cookie of 2020? Bon Appetit senior staff writer Alex Beggs tells us — OK fine, it’s this one — but she also gives us plenty of warnings (i.e. level of difficulty = 11). Join us!
Dec 18, 2020
30 min
The Gift Of Dessa
Dessa is a rapper, a singer, an author, a poet, and a whiskey co-creator, among other things. She even participated in an “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”-type procedure in an attempt to remove memories from a painful relationship. Nerdette’s Greta Johnsen talks to her about all of that, including her memoir, My Own Devices. We also listen to some of the amazing tracks on “Chime.”  This episode originally aired in 2019.
Dec 11, 2020
24 min
Book Club: Tana French Talks About Her New Mystery Novel, ‘The Searcher’
Our December Book Club pick is our first murder mystery! It's Tana French’s latest book, The Searcher. In it, a retired Chicago police officer moves to a small town in Western Ireland for a bit of peace and quiet, only to get drawn back into his old ways when a local boy asks for help solving the mystery of his brother’s disappearance. Today's episode is a spoiler-free conversation with Tana French. Check it out, check out The Searcher, then come back in two weeks for a panel discussion that breaks it all down. We want to hear from you too! Record your take on The Searcher and email the audio file to by Thursday, Dec. 17.
Dec 8, 2020
23 min
Saved By The Bell, Seasonal Songs And Sprinkles
Happy weekend! Now let Nerdette podcast get you ready for it. First we break down the week in disappearing monoliths, TV reboots and Spotify playlists with WBEZ’s Meha Ahmad and Mariah Woelfel. Then we talk with musician Andrew Bird about his new Christmas album. And finally, we take a walk through confectionary history with reporter Ashlie Stevens, who knows a few things about sprinkles. Join us!
Dec 4, 2020
32 min
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