Radiolab

Radiolab

www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/projects/podcasts
Radiolab is one of the most beloved podcasts and public radio shows in the world. The show is known for its deep-dive journalism and innovative sound design. Created in 2002 by host Jad Abumrad, the program began as an exploration of scientific inquiry. Over the years it has evolved to become a platform for long-form journalism and storytelling. Radiolab is co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser.


What If?
Oct 23 • 41 min
There’s plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got…
Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
Oct 8 • 39 min
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there’s been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven’t…
No Special Duty
Oct 2 • 45 min
What are the police for? Producer B.A. Parker started wondering this back in June, as Black Lives Matter protests and calls to “defund the police” ramped up. The question led her to a wild story of a stabbing on a New York City subway train, and the…
Insomnia Line
Sep 25 • 34 min
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So…
More Perfect: Sex Appeal
Sep 18 • 53 min
We lost a legend. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th, 2020. She was 87. In honor of her passing we are re-airing the More Perfect episode dedicated to one of her cases, because it offers a unique portrait of how one person…
Falling
Sep 17 • 56 min
There are so many ways to fall—in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls. We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite…
Bringing Gamma Back, Again
Sep 11 • 36 min
Today, we return to the lab of neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai, which brought us one of our favorite stories from four years ago - about the power of flashing lights on an Alzheimer’s-addled (mouse) brain. In this update, Li-Huei tells us about her team’s…
Fungus Amungus
Sep 4 • 31 min
Six years ago, a new infection began popping up in four different hospitals on three different continents, all around the same time. It wasn’t a bacteria, or a virus. It was … a killer fungus. No one knew where it came from, or why. Today, the story of an…
Translation
Aug 27 • 65 min
How close can words get you to the truth and feel and force of life? That’s the question poking at our ribs this hour, as we wonder how it is that the right words can have the wrong meanings, and why sometimes the best translations lead us to an…
Lebanon, USA
Aug 20 • 42 min
This is a story of a road trip. After a particularly traumatic Valentine’s Day, Fadi Boukaram was surfing google maps and noticed that there was a town called Lebanon… in Oregon. Being Lebanese himself, he wondered, how many Lebanons exist in the US? The…
The Wubi Effect
Aug 14 • 55 min
When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huawei and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China’s technological renaissance almost…
Uncounted
Aug 7 • 50 min
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect…
Invisible Allies
Jul 30 • 41 min
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they’ve come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral…
Baby Blue Blood Drive
Jul 23 • 66 min
Horseshoe crabs are not much to look at. But beneath their unassuming catcher’s-mitt shell, they harbor a half-billion-year-old secret: a superpower that helped them outlive the dinosaurs and survive all the Earth’s mass extinctions. And what is that…
Dispatches from 1918
Jul 17 • 70 min
It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when COVID-19 has passed. So in this episode, we look back to the years after 1918, at the political, artistic, and viral aftermath of the flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people and…
The Flag and the Fury
Jul 12 • 73 min
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained “officially” flying. A few days ago, that flag came…
The Third. A TED Talk.
Jun 25 • 18 min
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here’s how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of…
Post No Evil Redux
Jun 19 • 70 min
Today we revisit our story on Facebook and its rulebook, looking at what’s changed in the past two years and exploring how these rules will impact the 2020 Presidential Election. Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of…
The Liberation of RNA
Jun 13 • 27 min
In June of 2019, Brandon Ogbunu got on stage and told a story for The Story Collider, a podcast and live storytelling show. Starting when he was a senior in college being shook down by a couple cops, Brandon tells us about navigating his ups and downs of…
Graham
Jun 6 • 59 min
If former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s case for the death of George Floyd goes to trial, there will be this one, controversial legal principle looming over the proceedings: The reasonable officer. In this episode, we explore the origin of…
Nina
Jun 6
Producer Tracie Hunte stumbled into a duet between Nina Simone and the sounds of protest outside her apartment. Then she discovered a performance by Nina on April 7, 1968 - three days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tracie talks…
Dispatch 6: Strange Times
May 29 • 33 min
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It’s a very different kind of…
Speedy Beet
May 22 • 24 min
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his…
Octomom
May 15 • 33 min
In 2007, Bruce Robison’s robot submarine stumbled across an octopus settling in to brood her eggs. It seemed like a small moment. But as he went back to visit her, month after month, what began as a simple act of motherhood became a heroic feat that has…
Why Fish Don’t Exist
May 13 • 27 min
Our old friend Lulu Miller — former Radiolab producer, co-creator of Invisibilia — has been obsessed by the chaos that rules the universe since long before it showed up as a global pandemic, and a few weeks ago, she published a book about it. It’s called…
David and Dominique
May 8 • 29 min
David Gebel and Dominique Crisden have a couple of things in common: they both live in New York, they’re both gay, and they’re both HIV-positive. But David is in his 60s, and has been living with the disease since moving to New York in the ‘80s.…
Dispatch 5: Don’t Stop Believin’
May 6 • 33 min
Covid-19 has put emergency room doctors on the frontlines treating an illness that is still perplexing and unknown. Jad tracks one ER doctor in NYC as the doctor puzzles through clues, doing research of his own, trying desperately to save patients’ lives.…
Atomic Artifacts
Apr 24 • 41 min
Back in the 1950s, facing the threat of nuclear annihilation, federal officials sat down and pondered what American life would actually look like after an atomic attack. They faced a slew of practical questions like: Who would count the dead and where…
The Cataclysm Sentence
Apr 18 • 66 min
One day in 1961, the famous physicist Richard Feynman stepped in front of a Caltech lecture hall and posed this question to a group of undergraduate students: “If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence…
Dispatch 4: Six Feet
Apr 11 • 19 min
Since the onset of the pandemic, we exist in a constant state of calculation, trying to define our own personal bubble. We’ve all been given a simple rule: maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others. But why six? Producer Sarah Qari…
Space
Apr 6 • 58 min
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren’t. So today, we’re releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we’re rerunning an all-time favorite…
Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
Apr 3 • 38 min
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors…
Dispatch 2: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day
Apr 1 • 34 min
It began with a tweet: “EVERY DAY IS IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS DAY.” Carl Zimmer — tweet author, acclaimed science writer and friend of the show — tells the story of a mysterious, deadly illness that struck 19th century Vienna, and the ill-fated hero who uncovered…
Dispatch 1: Numbers
Mar 27 • 32 min
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4).…
The Other Latif: Episode 6
Mar 17 • 50 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Episode 5
Mar 6 • 57 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Bonus Episode!
Mar 3 • 20 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Episode 4
Feb 25 • 61 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Episode 3
Feb 18 • 36 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Episode 2
Feb 11 • 46 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Other Latif: Episode 1
Feb 4 • 41 min
The Other Latif Radiolab’s Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, singular, completely his own. Until one day when he makes a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo…
The Bobbys
Jan 30 • 48 min
On the occasion of his retirement as cohost of Radiolab, Robert sat down with Jad to reflect on his long and storied career in radio and television, and their work together over the past decade and a half. And we pay tribute to Robert, inspired by a…
Body Count
Jan 24 • 45 min
Right now, at this very moment, all across the planet, there are 7.6 billion human beings eating, breathing, sleeping, brushing their teeth, walking their dogs, drinking coffee, walking down the street or running onto the subway or hopping in their car,…
60 Words
Jan 7 • 64 min
This hour we pull apart one sentence, written in the hours after September 11th, 2001, that has led to the longest war in U.S. history. We examine how just 60 words of legal language have blurred the line between war and peace.
Man Against Horse
Dec 28, 2019 • 58 min
This is a story about your butt. It’s a story about how you got your butt, why you have your butt, and how your butt might be one of the most important and essential things for you being you, for being human. Today, reporters Heather Radke and Matt Kielty…
There and Back Again
Dec 18, 2019 • 44 min
Here’s a simple question: When an animal disappears in the winter, where does it go? Oddly enough, this question completely stumped European scientists for thousands of years. And even today, the more we learn about the comings and goings of the animals,…
Things
Dec 12, 2019 • 61 min
From a piece of the Wright brother’s plane to a child’s sugar egg, today: Things! Important things, little things, personal things, things you can hold and things that can take hold of you. This hour, we investigate the objects around us, their power to…
Breaking Bongo
Nov 26, 2019 • 63 min
Deep fake videos have the potential to make it impossible to sort fact from fiction. And some have argued that this blackhole of doubt will eventually send truth itself into a death spiral. But a series of recent events in the small African nation of…
Breaking News
Nov 19, 2019 • 49 min
Today, two new technological tricks that together could invade our most deeply held beliefs and rewrite the rules of credibility. Also, we release something terrible into the world. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Dolly Parton’s America: Neon Moss
Nov 7, 2019 • 45 min
Today on Radiolab, we’re bringing you the fourth episode of Jad’s special series, Dolly Parton’s America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly’s actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of…
Songs that Cross Borders
Oct 29, 2019 • 26 min
Coming off our adventures with Square Dancing, and Jad’s dive into the world of Dolly Parton, we look back at one our favorites. About a decade ago, we found out that American country music is surprising popular in places like Zimbabwe, Thailand, and…
Birdie in the Cage
Oct 23, 2019 • 45 min
People have been doing the square dance since before the Declaration of Independence. But does that mean it should be THE American folk dance? That question took us on a journey from Appalachian front porches, to dance classes across our nation, to the…
Radiolab Presents: Dolly Parton’s America
Oct 15, 2019 • 60 min
Radiolab creator and host Jad Abumrad spent the last two years following around music legend Dolly Parton, and we’re here to say you should tune in! In this episode of Radiolab, we showcase the first of Jad’s special series, Dolly Parton’s America. In…
Silky Love
Sep 27, 2019 • 35 min
We eat eels in sushi, stews, and pasta. Eels eat anything. Also they can survive outside of water for hours and live for up to 80 years. But this slippery snake of the sea harbors an even deeper mystery, one that has tormented the minds of Aristotle and…
Tit for Tat
Sep 17, 2019 • 24 min
In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help…
What’s Left When You’re Right?
Sep 5, 2019 • 60 min
More often than not, a fight is just a fight… Someone wins, someone loses. But this hour, we have a series of face-offs that shine a light on the human condition, the benefit of coming at something from a different side, and the price of being right.…
The Memory Palace
Aug 28, 2019 • 41 min
Nate DiMeo was preoccupied with the past, and how we relate to it, from a very young age. For the last decade or so he’s been scratching this itch with The Memory Palace, a podcast he created. He does things very differently than we do, but his show has…
Right to be Forgotten
Aug 23, 2019 • 47 min
In an online world, that story about you lives forever. The tipsy photograph of you at the college football game? It’s up there. That news article about the political rally you were marching at? It’s up there. A DUI? That’s there, too. But what if … it…
More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual
Aug 8, 2019 • 58 min
On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “cruel and unusual.” America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty.…
G: The World’s Smartest Animal
Jul 30, 2019 • 48 min
This episode begins with a rant. This rant, in particular, comes from Dan Engber - a science writer who loves animals but despises animal intelligence research. Dan told us that so much of the way we study animals involves tests that we think show a human…
G: Unnatural Selection
Jul 25, 2019 • 34 min
This past fall, a scientist named Steve Hsu made headlines with a provocative announcement. He would start selling a genetic intelligence test to couples doing IVF: a sophisticated prediction tool, built on big data and machine learning, designed to help…
G: Unfit
Jul 17, 2019 • 49 min
When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case,…
G: Relative Genius
Jun 28, 2019 • 62 min
Albert Einstein asked that when he died, his body be cremated and his ashes be scattered in a secret location. He didn’t want his grave, or his body, becoming a shrine to his genius. When he passed away in the early morning hours of April, 18, 1955, his…
G: Problem Space
Jun 14, 2019 • 40 min
In the first episode of G, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we went back to the 1970s to meet a group of Black parents who put the IQ test on trial. The lawsuit, Larry P v Riles, ended with a ban on IQ tests for all Black students in the state of…
G: The Miseducation of Larry P
Jun 7, 2019 • 64 min
Are some ideas so dangerous we shouldn’t even talk about them? That question brought Radiolab’s senior editor, Pat Walters, to a subject that at first he thought was long gone: the measuring of human intelligence with IQ tests. Turns out, the tests are…
Neither Confirm Nor Deny
Jun 4, 2019 • 27 min
How a sunken nuclear submarine, a crazy billionaire, and a mechanical claw gave birth to a phrase that has hounded journalists and lawyers for 40 years and embodies the tension between the public’s desire for transparency and the government’s need to keep…
The Good Samaritan
May 24, 2019 • 70 min
On a Tuesday afternoon back in the summer of 2017, Scotty Hatton and Scottie Wightman both made a decision to help someone in need. They both paid a price for their actions that day, which have led to a legal, moral, and scientific puzzle about how we…
Bit Flip
May 8, 2019 • 56 min
Back in 2003 Belgium was holding a national election. One of their first where the votes would be cast and counted on computers. Thousands of hours of preparation went into making it unhackable. And when the day of the vote came, everything seemed to have…
Dinopocalypse Redux
May 2, 2019 • 45 min
Using high-powered ballistics experiments, fancy computer algorithms, and good old-fashioned ancient geology, scientists have woven together a theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs that is so precise, so hot, so instantaneous, as to seem…
Fu-Go
Apr 25, 2019 • 35 min
This week we’re going back to a favorite episode from 2015. During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. This is a tale of mysterious balloons, cowboy sheriffs, and young children caught up in the winds of war. And silence, the…
Americanish
Apr 19, 2019 • 64 min
In 1903 the US Supreme Court refused to say that Isabel González was a citizen of the United States. Then again, they said, she wasn’t a exactly an immigrant either. And they said that the US territory of Puerto Rico, Isabel’s home, was “foreign to the…
For Whom the Cowbell Tolls
Mar 29, 2019 • 57 min
When Nancy Holten was 8 years old her mom put her in a moving van. She fell asleep, woke up in Switzerland, and she’s been there ever since. Nancy is big into animal rights, crystals, and various forms of natural and holistic healing. She’s also a viral…
Bliss
Mar 21, 2019 • 51 min
This week Jad and Radiolab alum Tim Howard revisit a favorite episode from 2012. Because moments of total, world-shaking bliss are not easy to come by. Maybe that’s what makes them feel so life-altering when they strike. And so worth chasing. This hour:…
Asking for Another Friend
Mar 7, 2019 • 78 min
Part 2: Last year, we ran a pair of episodes that explored the greatest mysteries in our listeners’ lives - the big ones, little ones, and the ones in between. This year, we’re back on the hunt, tracking down answers to the big little questions swirling…
Asking for a Friend
Feb 28, 2019 • 67 min
Last year, we ran a pair of episodes that explored the greatest mysteries in our listeners’ lives - the big ones, little ones, and the ones in between. This year, we’re back on the hunt, tracking down answers to the big little questions swirling around…
Loops
Feb 21, 2019 • 62 min
Our lives are filled with loops that hurt us, heal us, make us laugh, and, sometimes, leave us wanting more. This hour, Radiolab revisits the strange things that emerge when something happens, then happens again, and again, and again, and again, and…
The Beauty Puzzle
Feb 8, 2019 • 42 min
When a female animal is checking out her prospects, natural selection would dictate that she pay attention to how healthy, or strong, or fit he is. But when it comes to finding a mate, some animals seem to be engaged in a very different game. What if a…
The Punchline
Jan 16, 2019 • 52 min
John Scott was the professional hockey player that every fan loved to hate. A tough guy. A brawler. A goon. But when an impish pundit named Puck Daddy called on fans to vote for Scott to play alongside the world’s greatest players in the NHL All-Star…
BONUS: Radiolab Scavenger Hunt
Dec 28, 2018 • 18 min
The question we get more than any other here at Radiolab is “Where do all those stories come from?” Today, for the first time ever, we divulge our secret recipe for story-finding. Veteran Radiolab story scout Latif Nasser takes our newest producer Rachael…
A Clockwork Miracle
Dec 27, 2018 • 21 min
As legend goes, in 1562, King Philip II needed a miracle. So he commissioned one from a highly-skilled clockmaker. In this short, a king’s deal with God leads to an intricate mechanical creation, and Jad heads to the Smithsonian to investigate. When the…
Apologetical
Dec 21, 2018 • 58 min
How do you fix a word that’s broken? A word we need when we bump into someone on the street, or break someone’s heart. In our increasingly disconnected secular world, “sorry” has been stretched and twisted, and in some cases weaponized. But it’s also one…
UnErased: Smid
Nov 27, 2018 • 49 min
Today on Radiolab, we’re playing the fourth and final episode of a series Jad worked on called UnErased: The history of conversion therapy in America. Imagine… You’re openly gay. Then, you become the leader of the largest ex-gay organization and, under…
UnErased: Dr. Davison and the Gay Cure
Nov 21, 2018 • 41 min
Today on Radiolab, we’re playing part of a series that Jad worked on called UnErased: The history of conversion therapy in America. The episode we’re playing today, the third in the series, is one of the rarest stories of all: a man who publicly…
Tweak the Vote
Nov 5, 2018 • 66 min
Democracy is on the ropes. In the United States and abroad, citizens of democracies are feeling increasingly alienated, disaffected, and powerless. Some are even asking themselves a question that feels almost too dangerous to say out loud: is democracy…
War of the Worlds
Oct 30, 2018 • 58 min
It’s been 80 years to the day since Orson Welles’ infamous radio drama “The War of the Worlds” echoed far and wide over the airwaves. So we want to bring you back to our very first live hour, where we take a deep dive into what was one of the most…
In the No Part 3
Oct 25, 2018 • 27 min
In the final episode of our “In The No” series, we sat down with several different groups of college-age women to talk about their sexual experiences. And we found that despite colleges now being steeped in conversations about consent, there was another…
In the No Part 2
Oct 19, 2018 • 39 min
In the year since accusations of sexual assault were first brought against Harvey Weinstein, our news has been flooded with stories of sexual misconduct, indicting very visible figures in our public life. Most of these cases have involved unequivocal…
In the No Part 1
Oct 11, 2018 • 55 min
In 2017, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest released a mini-series called “No” about her personal struggle to understand and communicate about sexual consent. That show, which dives into the experience, moment by moment, of navigating sexual intimacy, struck a…
Breaking Bad News Bears
Sep 28, 2018 • 61 min
Today, a challenge: bear with us. We decided to shake things up at the show so we threw our staff a curveball, Walter Matthau-style. In two weeks time we told our producers to pitch, report, and produce stories about breaking news….or bears. What emerged…
Infective Heredity
Sep 20, 2018 • 27 min
Today, a fast moving, sidestepping, gene-swapping free-for-all that would’ve made Darwin’s head spin. David Quammen tells us about a shocking way that life can evolve - infective heredity. To figure it all out we go back to the earliest versions of life,…
27: The Most Perfect Album
Sep 19, 2018 • 19 min
More Perfect is back with something totally new and exciting. They just dropped an ALBUM. 27: The Most Perfect Album is like a Constitutional mix-tape, a Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st century. The album features original tracks by artists like Dolly…
Post No Evil
Aug 17, 2018 • 68 min
Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of sorts, laying out what could and what couldn’t be posted on the site. Back then, the rules were simple, outlawing nudity and gore. Today, they’re anything but. How do you define hate…
The Bad Show
Jul 27, 2018 • 69 min
With all of the black-and-white moralizing in our world today, we decided to bring back an old show about the little bit of bad that’s in all of us…and the little bit of really, really bad that’s in some of us. Cruelty, violence, badness… in this episode…
Gonads: Sex Ed
Jul 27, 2018 • 48 min
In this episode, an edited down version of a Radiolab Presents: Gonads Live show, host Molly Webster brings together a cast of storytellers, educators, artists, and comedians to grapple with sex ed in unexpected and thoughtful ways. “Sex Ed” is an edited…
Gonads: Dana
Jul 22, 2018 • 27 min
When Dana Zzyym applied for their first passport back in 2014, they were handed a pretty straightforward application. Name, place of birth, photo ID — the usual. But one question on the application stopped Dana in their tracks: male or female? Dana,…
Gonads: Dutee
Jul 22, 2018 • 35 min
In 2014, India’s Dutee Chand was a rising female track and field star, crushing national records. But then, that summer, something unexpected happened: she failed a gender test. And was banned from the sport. Before she knew it, Dutee was thrown into the…
Gonads: X & Y
Jun 30, 2018 • 39 min
A lot of us understand biological sex with a pretty fateful underpinning: if you’re born with XX chromosomes, you’re female; if you’re born with XY chromosomes, you’re male. But it turns out, our relationship to the opposite sex is more complicated than…
Gonads: Fronads
Jun 23, 2018 • 36 min
At 28 years old, Annie Dauer was living a full life. She had a job she loved as a highschool PE teacher, a big family who lived nearby, and a serious boyfriend. Then, cancer struck. Annie would come to find out she had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It…
Gonads: The Primordial Journey
Jun 15, 2018 • 33 min
At two weeks old, the human embryo has only just begun its months-long journey to become a baby. The embryo is tiny, still invisible to the naked eye. But inside it, an epic struggle plays out, as a nomadic band of cells marches toward a mysterious…
Birthstory
Jun 7, 2018 • 59 min
We originally posted this episode in 2015, and it inspired producer Molly Webster to take a deep dive into the wild and mysterious world of human reproduction. Starting next week, she’ll be taking over the Radiolab podcast feed for a month to present a…
Poison Control
Jun 1, 2018 • 35 min
When reporter Brenna Farrell was a new mom, her son gave her and her husband a scare — prompting them to call Poison Control. For Brenna, the experience was so odd, and oddly comforting, that she decided to dive into the birth story of this invisible…
Unraveling Bolero
May 22, 2018 • 27 min
This week, we’re throwing it back to an old favorite: a story about obsession, creativity, and a strange symmetry between a biologist and a composer that revolves around one famously repetitive piece of music. Anne Adams was a brilliant biologist. But…
More or Less Human
May 17, 2018 • 61 min
Seven years ago chatbots - those robotic texting machines - were a mere curiosity. They were noticeably robotic and at their most malicious seemed only capable of scamming men looking for love online. Today, the chatbot landscape is wildly different. From…
Dark Side of the Earth
Apr 26, 2018 • 27 min
Astronauts at the International Space Station can make one request to talk to an earthling of their choice. For some reason, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei chose us. A couple weeks ago, we were able to video chat with Mark and peer over his shoulder through the…
Border Trilogy Part 3: What Remains
Apr 20, 2018 • 35 min
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn’t expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre…
Border Trilogy Part 2: Hold the Line
Apr 6, 2018 • 49 min
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn’t expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre…
Border Trilogy Part 1: Hole in the Fence
Mar 23, 2018 • 48 min
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn’t expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre…
Rippin’ the Rainbow an Even Newer One
Mar 15, 2018 • 33 min
One of our most popular episodes of all time was our Colors episode, where we introduced you to a sea creature that could see a rainbow far beyond what humans can experience. Peacock mantis shrimps are as extraordinary as they are strange and boast what…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - The Gun Show
Feb 23, 2018 • 69 min
The shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, reignited an increasingly familiar debate about guns in this country. Today, we’re re-releasing a More Perfect episode that aired just after the Las Vegas shooting last year that attempts to make…
The Curious Case of the Russian Flash Mob at the West Palm Beach Cheesecake Factory
Feb 20, 2018
We don’t do breaking news. But when Robert Mueller released his indictment a few days ago, alleging that 13 Russian nationals colluded to disrupt the 2016 elections, we had a lot of questions. Who are these Russian individuals sowing discord? And who are…
Smarty Plants
Feb 13, 2018 • 34 min
Do you really need a brain to sense the world around you? To remember? Or even learn? Well, it depends on who you ask. Jad and Robert, they are split on this one. Today, Robert drags Jad along on a parade for the surprising feats of brainless plants.…
Ghosts of Football Past
Feb 3, 2018 • 36 min
In anticipation of Super Bowl LII (Go Eagles), we’re revisiting an old episode about the surprising history of how the game came to be. It’s the end of the 19th century — the Civil War is over, and the frontier is dead. And young college men are anxious.…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - One Nation, Under Money
Jan 31, 2018 • 55 min
An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for…
The Voice in Your Head - A Tribute to Joe Frank
Jan 23, 2018 • 26 min
How do you pay proper tribute to a legend that many people haven’t heard of? We began asking ourselves this question last week when the visionary radio producer Joe Frank passed away, after a long struggle with colon cancer. Joe Frank was the radio…
How to Be a Hero
Jan 9, 2018 • 28 min
What are people thinking when they risk their lives for someone else? Are they making complicated calculations of risk or diving in without a second thought? Is heroism an act of sympathy or empathy? A few years ago, we spoke with Walter F. Rutkowski…
Inside Radiolab (Video)
Dec 29, 2017
Take a stroll through where Radiolab is made and meet some of the people who have created your favorite episodes. Help make another year of curiosity possible. Radiolab.org/support
Bigger Little Questions
Dec 22, 2017 • 55 min
We’re back with Part 2! When we dumped out our bucket of questions, there was a lot of spillover. Like, A LOT of spillover. So today, we’re chasing down answers to some bigger, little questions. This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen,…
Big Little Questions
Dec 20, 2017 • 46 min
Here at the show, we get a lot of questions. Like, A LOT of questions. Tiny questions, big questions, short questions, long questions. Weird questions. Poop questions. We get them all. And over the years, as more and more of these questions arrived in our…
Super Cool
Dec 5, 2017 • 25 min
When we started reporting a fantastic, surreal story about one very cold night, more than 70 years ago, in northern Russia, we had no idea we’d end up thinking about cosmology. Or dropping toy horses in test tubes of water. Or talking about bacteria. Or…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man
Nov 30, 2017 • 68 min
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab’s spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. On a fall afternoon in 1984, Dethorne Graham ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice. Minutes later he was unconscious,…
Stereothreat
Nov 23, 2017 • 36 min
Back in 1995, Claude Steele published a study that showed that negative stereotypes could have a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance. But the big surprise was that he could make that effect disappear with just a few simple changes in…
Match Made in Marrow
Nov 9, 2017 • 60 min
You never know what might happen when you sign up to donate bone marrow. You might save a life… or you might be magically transported across a cultural chasm and find yourself starring in a modern adaptation of the greatest story ever told. One day,…
Oliver Sacks: A Journey From Where to Where
Oct 27, 2017 • 37 min
There’s nothing quite like the sound of someone thinking out loud, struggling to find words and ideas to match what’s in their head. Today, we are allowed to dip into the unfiltered thoughts of Oliver Sacks, one of our heroes, in the last months of his…
Father K
Oct 12, 2017 • 71 min
Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election. Khader El-Yateem is a…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - American Pendulum I
Oct 2, 2017 • 51 min
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab’s spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States is a case that’s been…
Driverless Dilemma
Sep 26, 2017 • 40 min
Most of us would sacrifice one person to save five. It’s a pretty straightforward bit of moral math. But if we have to actually kill that person ourselves, the math gets fuzzy. That’s the lesson of the classic Trolley Problem, a moral puzzle that fried…
Oliver Sipple
Sep 21, 2017 • 62 min
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his…
Radiolab Presents: Anna in Somalia
Sep 12, 2017 • 34 min
This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation. Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart -…
Where the Sun Don’t Shine
Aug 23, 2017 • 32 min
Today we take a quick look up at a hole in the sky and follow an old story as it travels beyond the reach of the sun.
The Ceremony
Jul 14, 2017 • 46 min
Today, paranoia sets in: we head to The Ceremony, the top-secret, three-day launch of a new currency, wizards and math included. Halfway through, something strange happens. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Revising the Fault Line
Jun 27, 2017 • 47 min
A new tussle over an old story, and some long-held beliefs, with neurologist and author Robert Sapolsky. Four years ago, we did a story about a man with a starling obsession that made us question our ideas of responsibility and justice. We thought we’d…
The Gondolier
Jun 15, 2017 • 54 min
What happens when doing what you want to do means giving up who you really are? We travel to Venice, Italy with reporters Kristen Clark and David Conrad, where they meet gondolier Alex Hai. On the winding canals in the hidden parts of Venice, we learn…
The Radio Lab
May 25, 2017 • 39 min
15 years ago the very first episode of Radiolab, fittingly called “Firsts,” hit the airwaves. It was a 3-hour long collection of documentaries and musings produced by a solitary sleep-deprived producer named Jad Abumrad. Things have changed a bit since…
Null and Void
May 12, 2017 • 50 min
Today, a hidden power that is either the cornerstone of our democracy or a trapdoor to anarchy. Should a juror be able to ignore the law? From a Quaker prayer meeting in the streets of London, to riots in the streets of LA, we trace the history of a quiet…
Funky Hand Jive
Apr 26, 2017 • 28 min
Back when Robert was kid, he had a chance encounter with then President John F. Kennedy. The interaction began with a hello and ended with a handshake. And like many of us who have touched greatness, 14 year old Robert was left wondering if maybe some of…
Radiolab Extra: Henrietta Lacks
Apr 18, 2017 • 35 min
With all the recent talk about HBO’s upcoming film, we decided it would be good time to re-run our story of one woman’s medically miraculous cancer cells, and how Henrietta Lacks changed modern science and, eventually, her family’s understanding of…
Nukes
Apr 7, 2017 • 55 min
President Richard Nixon once boasted that at any moment he could pick up a telephone and - in 20 minutes - kill 60 million people. Such is the power of the US President over the nation’s nuclear arsenal. But what if you were the military officer on the…
Shots Fired: Part 2
Mar 24, 2017 • 26 min
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up…
Shots Fired: Part 1
Mar 17, 2017 • 55 min
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up…
Update: CRISPR
Feb 24, 2017 • 49 min
It’s been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists. In this episode, we catch up on…
Radiolab Presents: Ponzi Supernova
Feb 10, 2017 • 38 min
We thought we knew the story of Bernie Madoff. How he masterminded the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, leaving behind scores of distraught investors and a $65 billion black hole. But we had never heard the story from Madoff himself. This week, reporter…
Stranger in Paradise
Jan 27, 2017 • 43 min
Back in 1911, a box with a dead raccoon in it showed up in Washington D.C., at the office of Gerrit S. Miller. After pulling it out and inspecting it, he realized this raccoon was from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, and unlike anything he’d ever…
Radiolab Presents: On the Media: Busted, America’s Poverty Myths
Jan 18, 2017 • 33 min
We love to share great radio, even if we didn’t make it. Today, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone tells Jad and Robert about a mammoth project they launched to take a critical look at the tales we tell ourselves when we talk about poverty. In a 5-part…
Lose Lose
Dec 30, 2016 • 25 min
No matter what sport you play, the object of the game is to win. And that’s hard enough to do. But we found a match where four top athletes had to do the opposite in one of the most high profile matches of their careers. Thanks to a quirk in the…
It’s Not Us, It’s You
Dec 16, 2016 • 59 min
It’s the end of the year, and the entire Radiolab team is starting to take stock and come up for air. We’re excited about how much ground we’ve covered - stories about college debaters and figure skaters, meat allergies and salmon-eating trees, deathwatch…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - Object Anyway
Nov 22, 2016 • 49 min
At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this…
One Vote
Nov 7, 2016 • 48 min
Come election season, it’s easy to get cynical. Why cast a ballot if your single measly vote can’t possibly change anything? In our first-ever election special, we set off to find a single vote that made a difference. We venture from the biggest election…
Alpha Gal
Oct 27, 2016 • 34 min
Tuck your napkin under your chin. We’re about to serve up a tale of love, loss, and lamb chops. For as long as she can remember, Amy Pearl has loved meat in all its glorious cuts and marbled flavors. And then one day, for seemingly no reason, her body…
Seneca, Nebraska
Oct 12, 2016 • 29 min
Back in 2014 the town of Seneca, Nebraska was deeply divided. How divided? They were so fed up with each other that some citizens began circulating a petition that proposed a radical solution. If a majority wanted to they’d self-destruct, end the town and…