WHYY’s The Pulse

The Pulse is a weekly hour-long science show air on Philadelphia’s WHYY. I’ve submitted short independently produced pieces to this wonderful program.

the pulse

For the episode Gut Feeling I pitched a story based off my experience living in South Korea where I noticed that poop was much more openly discussed. Not just friendly poop sculptures, you can find many of them online, but friends asking friends if they are constipated and mothers routinely checking up on their kids asking how their last BM went. From baby poop discussion boards online to a mother-daughter weekly discussion we learn the value of paying attention to something that’s gross, but important.

For an episode on the science of policing I did a feature on the energy drink Bang. Caffeine has always been used by cops to get them through 12 hour shifts, especially night shifts, but Bang is a step up from your normal 80mg coffee. It’s 300mg’s of synthetic alchemy. In this piece we take a look at police scheduling and the health and professional effects of drinking high caffeine low nutrition drinks like Birthday Cake Bash Bang, just one of Bang’s incredible flavors I sampled.

For the Hard To Measure episode on the The Pulse I went up to Ithaca New York to talk to some Cornell mathematicians about infinity. I naively thought it’d be an easy piece to make: just tell a couple  ‘whoa’ infinity facts with some music and be done. It wasn’t that easy, but we did get the ‘whoa’ infinity factoids.

TEETH! Here’s a piece I made for the episode The Hidden Lives of Dentists. What do dentists do to make the experience better? Does it have to (pardon the pun) like pulling teeth?

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KFAI’s MinneCulture

MinneCulture is a program that airs on KFAI 90.3FM in Minneapolis / St. Paul. Funded by the Legacy grant it focuses on Minnesota history and culture.

The Tiny City that almost Wasn’t

This piece is about the strange creation and backlash against one of Minnesota’s trailer park cities. It’s a wild ride where one city tried to go to Minnesota’s supreme court to wipe out an entire other city. Think Game of Thrones but with zoning and Scandinavian accents.

Artifact or Artifice

My editor described this piece as “In the late 1800’s, European immigrants — mostly German and Scandinavian — flooded Minnesota, and the population boomed like few other times in history. This new majority of people in a new land needed myths and stories to fill in the blanks about why and how they came here. Like the story of Kensington Runestone. A purportedly ‘discovered’ rune stone that proved that Nordic exlorers made it to Minnesota in the year 1362. In this episode of the MinneCulture podcast, reporter Matthew Schneeman dives into the connection between the stone and Minnesota’s white population, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of folk archeology.”

Meat and  Minnesota

Here’s a piece I did based on a strange experience I had. A friend of mine who’s from Kenya told me about how gross she thought store bought chicken was. She preferred freshly slaughtered chicken. I went to a live meat market and got the full experience. I then told a family member about that experience and they thought the meat market was gross. A dead chicken, freshly killed was gross. How did we get to the point where two people can look at the same thing and have such different responses? This piece is me trying to answer that question.

MN Old Timers

Here’s a rather fun piece about a group seventy and eighty year olds who play hockey weekly in a league in Blooming Minnesota. The Old Timers. Basically, the piece started out with me wanting to answer a rather unsophisticated question that sprung up from my gut when I heard about octogenarians playing hockey – ‘Old people will crack a rib getting out of an easy chair! How can they play hockey?!’ The answer, they’ve been playing hockey their whole life. They’re good at it. But when I met everyone I became much more curious about the basic question ‘Why do they play anyway? Why compete if you’re just getting older and slower?’ The answers are philosophical and universal, I found.

‘So Small, So Sweet, So Soon’

Less than ten yards from an onramp onto Highway 36 lies a small plot of land that serves as the final resting place for thousands of beloved pets. It’s the Memorial Pet Cemetery and has been there since at least 1924. It looks like a conventional cemetery but with slightly smaller tombstones and much more open hearted epitaphs. ‘Snuggles: Who Really Lived up to his Name…’. The cemetery was started by Dr Arnold Feist, a veterinarian, in the 1920’s and was later donated to the Animal Humane society.

You could be guilty of thinking that our forebears were less sentiment, that our love for our pets nowadays is a byproduct of modern luxury, but if you take a walk through the small cemetery on 694 Cope St you’ll find that though how we take care of animals has changed, our love for them certainly has not.

The Curse of the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy

Part Greek myth, part Shakespearean tragedy, and a bit Shonda Rhimes, the arc of the Minnesota Vikings victories and defeats has meant heartbreak for fans. An often winning team, the Minnesota Vikings have confused fans with a series of near wins. And, those Viking defeats have become a breeding ground for superstition and myth. One such myth is the Curse of the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy. Legend has it that the Vikings lost the trophy, and that the ghost of Ed Thorp has haunted the team ever since.

But while the trophy may be lost, the curse is remembered by some of the most dedicated of Vikings fans, and one Green Bay Packer historian. So, can a group of fans help the Vikings win a Superbowl by breaking the curse?

Auto Care and Puns

Year ago I passed by a sign above an auto shop that said something like ‘Hey, Hold the Ladder! Ahhhhh!’ I thought it was funny, perhaps even more funny because they used up their advertising space to tell a medium level joke instead of bring in new customers. Turns out, the jokes brought in customers far better than ‘$30 Oil Changes All April’. Every three or four months the joke would change and years later for KFAI I was able to interview the people behind the sign.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

are a rag-tag group of queer drag nuns. They trounce about the globe spreading joy and raising money. In this piece the Minneapolis’ chapter, The Ladies of the Lakes, LOL (Isn’t that great?) perform drag for charity and me with me to explain how beautiful the world becomes when you let it expand enough to fit clowns dressed like nuns in it.

Women of Nations

Using body slams and punches to raise money for a women’s shelter may sound strange, but it works! The Wresting Grand Slam, put on by MIdwest All Star, was held for Women of Nations, a women’s shelter that focuses on Native women. It featured legendary wrestlers, Native contenders, and members of the Minnesota house.

Hidden Art

Public art can be known for being ostentatious, massive, and often too noticeable, but most public art strives to not be so brash. Some art is so well incorporated it goes unnoticed. Here’s a piece about two of my favorite hidden pieces of art. Recorded in the field at different stops on Minneapolis’s Lightrail train.

Tug of War

In 1896 seven to ten-thousand kids were let out of school for the day to move a house. Why? It has to do with the founding of Minneapolis, a persistent journalist, and the timeless love of spectacle.

Story Aerobics

Many think of aerobics as a relic of times passed, but storyteller Steve Ray saw potential to create a new medium. Story Aerobics mixes exercise with narrative. The audience mimics two aerobic guides as they, and you, act out the motions of a classic myth or story.

Half a Peace Sign

“When they give me the finger I just tell the others that it’s just half a peace sign and they’re almost there.” Sister Brigid McDonald joked about people who dislike her weekly peace vigil on the side of the Lake Street Bridge. McDonald is a radical Catholic nun who for decades has been fighting for peace for fifty years. Sister Brigid and her three biological sisters, all nuns as well, have been in the fight so long they became inspirations for a play. Sisters of Peace tells their story with music and laughs as they fight the good fight against weapons manufacturing, the occupation of Palestine, and war in what form.

KFAI’s Catalyst

Fake Children, Real Rent: The Story of Minnesota’s Largest Tenant Class-action is an hour-long radio documentary I made for the show Catalyst.

FAKE CHILDRENIn 2015 an innocuous tenants remedy action was taken against a negligent landlord. What should have been a run-of-the-mill settlement turned into something quite more bigger, and to thousands of renters in Minneapolis, much more important.

Fake Children, Real Rent: The Story of Minnesota’s Largest Tenant Class-action follows the legal and human story of The Apartment Shop tenants and their landlord Stephen Frenz. Perjury, deceit, protests, and cats falling from ceilings: this story shows how tenants, activists, and lawyers teamed up to return millions of dollars from illegally rented units to tenants.

The photo is of tenants leader Venessa Del Campo Chacon with her child. by Steel Brooks

First aired July 2019.



This show is on Radio Free Brooklyn. I’ve done it since July 2019. It’s a serious show with some rather fun people. Local, national, global news recaps.

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Lydia Howell, my radio mentor, hosts the long-running weekly politics and culture show Catalyst. It airs on Minneapolis’ community radio station KFAI. For most of 2019 she trusted enough to let me engineer, co-host, and produce segments for the show.

Check out this line up:

7/12: Celebrate Dissent. Final show • 7/5: Airing of my radio doc: Fake Children, Real Rent: The Story of Minnesota’s Largest Tenant Class Action. •  6/28 CAPI rep Ekta Prakash for World Refugee Day • 6/21: Molly Ladd-Taylor Author of Fixing the Poor: Eugenic Sterilization and Child Welfare in the Twentieth Century. • 6/14: MOVIE DAY. Interview with Graeme Stout, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer and Film Studies Coordinator. • 6/7 Raki kopernic poet and author of The Memory House. • Researcher Dr Brittany lewis on The illusion of Choice: Eviction and Profit in North Mpls. Also, a Feature from Your Eulogy, Thao Xiong and Jail. • 5/31 Interview with Alex Provan, Leilah Abdenabi, Kimberly Washington on the trip to Cuba with Pastors for Peace. Also, a feature on visual artist Ellen Sweetman. • 5/24 Andrea Ledger of NARAL prochoice MN. Interview with author Robin Marty Handbook for a Post-Roe America • 5/17 Sue Abderholden of NAMI-MN • 5/10 Mapping prejudice: Kirsten Delegarf, Denice pike, and Maggie Mills. An interview with Metro transit rep plus a feature on The Corpse Flower. • 5/3 No show. Cinco de Mayo. • 4/26 Dr Alice Rothchild on Israel and Palestine. Plus an interview/performance with Robert Dorfman Directory of Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s production of Shul and cast. • 4/12 Pat fearing. Saint Paul city council candidate and Legalize Now founder. Interview with Chris wright, Medical marijuana advocate and founder of Grassroots party in MN. • 4/5 Sarah Martin WAMM on Venezuela. Marcus Harcus Minnesota campaign for full legalization Hf717 • 3/29 Pledge Drive: Angela Davis excerpt, Your Eulogy excerpt, and Stu Henry from MN350. • 3/22 Womens’ Prison Book Project reps. Interview with The Cradle Will Rock cast members. Also, interview with performs from BLACK AND FUNNY IMPROV FEST. • 3/15 Pangea theater : Mother courage Director and cast. Interview with KEN PENTEL of ECOLOGY DEMOCRACY NETWORK talking about the GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR (GPI). • 3/8 Your Eulogy take over. All excerpt from my podcast. • 3/1 Human trafficking rep and CTUL workers rights advocate. • 2/22 UPRISING THEATRE’s Line of Sight play about school bullying & gun violence (w/ play’s director Shannon TL Kerns) Also, Interview with author MARTIN CASE talking about land theft from Indigenous people (Native Americans) explored in his new book The Relentless Business of Treaties • 2/15 10th MN CUBAN FILM FEST (w/Greg Klave). 2nd annual MNXMN Conference (w. Michelle Gross & Mary Currie) • 2/8 Cast of Medusa collaboration and play. Interview with IWW members on current state of Venezuela.