Conversations in Creativity

Edina couple launches a podcast series from their kitchen table.
Dawn and Jonathan Rundman explore creativity through their new podcast.

While it looks like they live in an ordinary house on an ordinary Edina street, don’t be fooled by Dawn and Jonathan Rundman. They breathe the rarefied air of a compatibly married couple sharing creativity, curiosity and extraordinary artist-community citizenship. At their kitchen table on a rainy night, I watched and listened as they recorded the 19th of their planned 20 Creativity Drill podcasts for 2015, a simultaneously hilarious and thoughtful 90-minute conversation with local comic Mary Mack.

Jonathan is an accomplished musician. He is often on tour. Dawn has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and works in the publishing industry, where she can be found leading seminars on faith formation in children. They have a son and daughter, whose creative efforts adorn the walls of their warm and welcoming home. The question “Why a show about creativity?” quickly becomes several: Why a podcast? Why together? And finally, why focus on creativity?

Jonathan has been a podcast fan for years. Listening to his favorite shows, it occurred to him that he knew “a ton of interesting people,” and that because of his work, he had all the necessary recording equipment to produce a podcast. At first he thought he’d anchor the show solo but then considered how much more engaging it would be if he and Dawn hosted the show together. “I thought it would be great to have the perspective of both a man and a woman, and even greater that they were married,” he says. “And Dawn’s Ph.D. would lend [the program] credibility.” He pitched the idea to his wife, who agreed it would be fun to work side-by-side on the project. However, in order to assure their fullest cooperative effort, they decided on some rules: They both had to be present, as did their guest—no phone calls or Skype. The children would need to be in bed, so everything would have to happen after 9 p.m. The shows would be recorded live. And no questions were to be prepared in advance.

In April 2015, a podcast was born. As to its agenda and title, Creativity Drill, Dawn says both she and her husband work with many creative types including animators, writers, artists and, of course, musicians. “We like to talk about creativity and the arts.” People, apparently, like to listen. Each Creativity Drill episode has been downloaded (always for free) about 200 times. “Podcasts are a great medium,” adds Jonathan. “There are no commercials, no station identification. They’re long-form, allowing depth and real storytelling.”

Pre-production for each show is limited to setting up two microphones and a computer on the Rundmans’ kitchen table. The mics don’t match and one of them needs a bag of flour perched on its stand to keep it from tipping over. The laptop’s broken lid is propped up by a 1950s 16mm film projector. A few input and output wires complete the setup.

Guests are often friends of friends, says Jonathan. The night I sat in, guest Mary Mack arrived about 9:20 p.m. Dawn and Jonathan saw her holiday show in Minneapolis last year and the comedian “has been on our guest wish-list since the start,” says Jonathan. He knows Mack from their shared musical performance background (she is a skilled clarinetist), about which they chat easily. The conversation, as promised, starts immediately and is unscripted. Topics of discussion range, fluidly, from the Lake Superior backwoods to polka bands to the relationship between musical performance and stand-up comedy to communities supportive of comics (like the Twin Cities) to Mack’s admission that the easiest thing she does in a day is to get on stage and perform.

Jonathan and Dawn are a team and a partnership with many purposes. One purpose is clearly to generate conversation about what it means to create.

Listen, download and subscribe to Creativity Drill (listed under podcasts) for free via the iTunes Store. More episodes are planned for 2016.

Find Creativity Drill on Facebook and Twitter.