October 7, 2016

My Undesirable Talent 

San Francisco’s Spider-Man burglar was remarkable. He dropped into buildings from skylights, leapt 10 feet from one roof to another. But mostly, his talent got him into trouble. This week, his story, and stories of other undesirable talents.


Ira talks to Biba Struja – a Serbian man who says that when he was in high school, he discovered that he seemed to have a high resistance to electricity. It’s a power that he’s utilized, but is mostly a curse. Biba is the subject of the documentary Battery Man. (5 minutes)

Act One

Climb Spree

Awhile back, San Francisco experienced a rash of burglaries that all fit a pattern. The suspect got into businesses at night through skylights, or the attic, and then lowered himself in with ropes where he would rob safes. The cops dubbed him Spider-Man. Our producer Karen Duffin would later find out that Spider-Man was someone she had a connection to. (24 minutes)

Act Two

Uganda Be Kidding Me

Zora Bikangaga grew up in a mostly white California suburb, the son of Ugandan immigrants. But when he went to college, someone thought he himself was Ugandan. So Zora did what felt right at the time. He ran with it. Zora spoke with producer Neil Drumming. (24 minutes)

Act Three


Wendy Whelan was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet until 2014. She explains an undesirable side of having an incredible talent. If you’re an athlete or dancer, you have to give it up while you’re still pretty young. This is an excerpt of a documentary called A Dancer Dies Twice, produced by Eleanor Mcdowall. It was originally a Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio Four.