Check out: Radiolab

I love podcasts. I listen to them on trips, while working, in my sleep and at all times while gallavanting. It’s tricky, though — I like my podcasts to update regularly, of course, but I’ve had to unsubscribe to more than one for having too much content. I find it’s easy to get outnumbered by a backlog of un-listened-to episodes, feeling overwhelmed and buried and hemmed into a corner frantically trying to absorb it all, every waking minute, afraid of missing out. I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes I cannot fit everything in, and so, sadly, The Two-Hours-Of-New-Stuff-Every-Goldurn-Day Show just has no place in my life.

Once a week for an hour or less seems to be a pretty good schedule for a podcast, as far as my own listening schedule goes. So I really like Radiolab, a WNYC public radio program about science, perception, and the underlying mysteries of everything. But instead of pointing you to the show and saying “There, go;” I’d like to share two particularly great episodes with you.

The first is their War of the Worlds episode, in which they tackle the 1938 Orson Welles hoax broadcast and explore why people believed it was real — and continued to believe it was real each time it was re-broadcast. Fascinating stuff, especially for folks like me who’ve never heard the original (despite the 4GB of old Mercury Theatre archives on my iPod. Like I said, it’s hard to get around to it all).

Another is a short, off-season episode called Tell Me a Story. It’s a recording of co-host Robert Krulwich delivering this year’s commencement address at Cal Tech, in which he exhorts the graduating nerds to evangelize the world with the wonder and beauty of science and exploration. (He does a much better job delivering it than I do explaining it.) Only 27 minutes long, and you can listen online or download the MP3. Do yourself the favor.

Season 5 of Radiolab starts next week. You can subscribe to the podcast at WNYC.org.


  • Uthor

    I really like RadioLab, but I only listen to it in the car on long trips (every two weeks or so). I’m mostly through the archives and, coincidently, the War of the Worlds one is the next one up that I’m going to listen to tomorrow.

    I’ve been waiting to finish the archives before subscribing to the feed. LIke you said, too much stuff to do.

  • Jon

    It’s hilarious that you made this post this morning, because I subscribed to this podcast not 40 minutes ago before seeing this post. Radio Lab plays in holiday marathons on our NPR here in Indianapolis.

  • http://blog.charlespillsbury.com CharlesP

    I’m a disturbingly large fan of Radiolab, and have been through all the archives, but saving the last few “mini” episodes that have been in the feed for a while… because I don’t WANT to get caught up because then I won’t have anything to look forward to. The War of the Worlds one is a rebroadcast/repodcast one and one of my favorites (I’m making my 11year old son read the book, listen to the original broadcast, and THEN listen to the radiolab episode so we can discuss it… I think it’s particularly poignant in this post election season when he’s just been inundated with dozens of fear-mongering adverts from both major parties). I can’t recall who first recommended it to me, but I can’t thank them enough.

  • John

    I love Radiolab more than cold beer and warm dip.

    Or was that near beer and a cold dip?

    I always stop and listen wherever Krulwich shows up.

  • http://meatmachine.info Jono

    Radiolab is one of my favorite programs, and along with a few others it whisks away my Saturday mornings at work. Not only is their show very entertaining and excellently produced, but I think it does great things for science literacy. Cheers to that!

  • http://www.alchemitz.com Mitzi

    I first heard about RadioLab while listening to a segment of one of their shows that was featured as part of a This American Life episode. Now I love RadioLab more than TAL. I’ve can’t wait for their new season of hour long episodes. The Morality and Mortality episodes are pretty high on my favorites list.

    It’s good to find other people who love this show as much as I do.

  • Johan

    Thanks for the tip. That was really awesome.

  • uthor

    Welp, I just watched the War of the Worlds episode. it’s pretty good, but I wish they did more with the segment about how it relates to the news.

    One more episode to go before I’m caught up. I’m debating listening to it Sunday or when I take another long drive for Thanksgiving.

  • Jenny

    Great to see another Radiolab fan! Being a musician, one of my all-time favorite episodes is Musical Language, followed closely behind by the Emergence episode. I think about emergence all the time in my daily life now, and answering questions with ‘emergence’ has kind of become a running joke in our house. “Why did that restaurant get so popular?” “Emergence.” “What should be have for dinner tonight?” “Emergence.” “Does this outfit look good on me?” “Emergence.”

  • David Malki !

    I love Musical Language! It’s one of my favorites too.

  • Jenny

    *sings* …sometimes behaves so strange-ly! *sings* :-)