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On RadioLab: Podcast Review

Updated on July 12, 2015

Podcast review: RadioLab

  • Topics: Science, Life, Cool Things
  • Names of presenters: Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich
  • Website associated with podcast:
  • Production quality: High
  • Organization associated with podcast, if applicable: produced by WNYC distributed by NPR

RadioLab, RadioLab. The best, the most delightful, the deliciously sparkling podcast. This was my podcast gateway drug. Only after I’d listened to all of these episodes twice did I ask, “are there other podcasts out there?”

It’s listed under Science in iTunes, but it’s science contextualized, poeticized. It’s insightful, well written, and fun. You’ll learn. You’ll be entertained. You’ll be amazed. The tone is upbeat, the dialogue feels (and from what I’ve read, apparently is) extemporaneous and feels effortless. There is cool music.

Some of my favorites: “Colors,” “Famous Tumors,” “Emergence,” “Patient Zero,” “Parasites.” I guess I need to listen to them all again to chose more favorites. Darn. I keep trying to force my 9 year old to listen to them. In “Parasites,” a man divests himself of allergies by infecting himself with hookworms. After you listen to “Colors,” you’ll never look at a rainbow the same again. You will be personally enriched by the experience.

However, I have to admit, over the last year, my finger has paused before I pressed play on the most recent podcasts. Too often, the shows have not been in any way associated with science and wonders, and have been overwhelmingly negative in tone. Recent podcasts include: “La Mancha Screwjob” was about a particular incident in professional wrestling that changed it forever; in was pretty interesting, but not really memorable. “American Football” focused on the history of football, with a sideline of the Carlisle Indian School team, and one parent’s conflicts about her child playing the game; I like history, I like parenting discussions, but it’s not science, not wonders. “Outside Westgate” was about the massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, and about the “space between the official narrative and the stories of the people who experienced it.” (According to their website.) Lots of in-depth discussion of fear and horror. “Juicervose,” about a child with autism, was so depressing I couldn’t listen to it. A recent podcast, “Sight Unseen,” detailed the restrictions a photographer has on photographs taken during the Afghanistan war. It also elaborated on their grief extensively. Basically, they kept talking to them until they cried in the recording. I turned it off. If I wanted that, I’d listen to This American Life.

Please, RadioLab, stop the fall into becoming This American Life-light. You are special in your own way.

Podcast Rating

4 stars for RadioLab

RadioLab available on CD

© 2015 curiositykeeper


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