How the Director of Research for Radiolab finds story ideas

Latif Nasser is Director of Research for WNYC's Radiolab. He wrote a piece for Transom about how he comes up with story ideas for the show. He has an interesting "bag of tricks" to find stories and have lots on hand so that he doesn't panic under a deadline. The tricks include setting up dozens of Google Alerts on the names of interesting people, "juicy phrases" (such as "the human equivalent of"), and topics he finds fascinating (such as the "alford plea"). He signs up for lots of newsletters — "The more obscure the field the better." (He recommends creating a separate email account for newsletters). He searches for oral histories on ArchiveGrid. He also talks to strangers — on planes, in lines, "even wrong numbers." The piece includes many other tricks I didn't include here. Highly recommended!