148 episodes

Radiolab is on a curiosity bender. We ask deep questions and use investigative journalism to get the answers. A given episode might whirl you through science, legal history, and into the home of someone halfway across the world. The show is known for innovative sound design, smashing information into music. It is hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser.

Radiolab WNYC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 118 Ratings

Radiolab is on a curiosity bender. We ask deep questions and use investigative journalism to get the answers. A given episode might whirl you through science, legal history, and into the home of someone halfway across the world. The show is known for innovative sound design, smashing information into music. It is hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser.

    Mixtape: Dakou

    Mixtape: Dakou

    Through the 1980s, the vast majority of people in China had never heard western music, save for John Denver, the Carpenters, and a few other artists included on the hand-picked list of songs sanctioned by the Communist Party. But in the late 90s, a mysterious man named Professor Ye made a discovery at a plastic recycling center in Heping.In episode 1 of Mixtape, we talk to Chinese historians, music critics, and the musicians who took the damaged plastic scraps of western music, changed the musical landscape of China, and reimagined rock and roll in ways we never could’ve imagined.

     

    Mixtape is reported, produced, scored and sound designed by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Invaluable reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen. Additional reporting by Noriko Ishigaki, Rebecca Kanthor and our amazing anonymous Chinese reporter. 

     

    Special Thanks: to Paul de Gay, Juliette Kristensen, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow,Nick Lyons, Michael Bull, Jiro Ishikawa, Hayley Zhao, Megan Smalley and Deanne Totto.

    This episode would not have happened without each and every one of them.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   

    • 51 min
    Of Bombs and Butterflies

    Of Bombs and Butterflies

    Ecologist Nick Haddad was sitting in his new office at North Carolina State University when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was... The U.S. Army. The Army folks told him, “Look, there’s this endangered butterfly on our base at Fort Bragg, and it’s the only place in the world that it exists. But it’s about to go extinct. And we need your help to save it.” Nick had never even heard of the butterfly. In fact, he barely knew much about butterflies in general. Nonetheless, he said yes to Uncle Sam. “How hard could it be?” he wondered. Turns out, pretty hard. He'd have to trick beavers, dodge bombs, and rethink the fundamental nature of life and death in order to rescue this butterfly before it disappeared forever.

    **CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Army moved a beaver; in truth, they killed it.  We also overstated the current tally of St Francis Satyrs off range; they are around 200, not 800. The audio has been adjusted to reflect these changes.**This episode was reported by Latif Nasser, and produced by Rachael Cusick. Original music by Jeremy Bloom. Mixing by Arianne Wack.

    Special thanks to: Snooki Puli, Cita Escalano, Jeffrey Glassberg, Margot Williams, Mark Romyn, Elizabeth Long, the Public Affairs and Endangered Species Branches at Fort Bragg.

    Want to learn more? you can ...... read Nick Haddad’s book The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature... take a peek at Thomas Kral’s original 1989 paper about the Saint Francis Satyr... visit Fort Bragg's webpage about the Saint Francis Satyr 

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

    • 41 min
    Oliver Sipple

    Oliver Sipple

    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 personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much? 

    Through newly unearthed archival tape, we hear Sipple himself grapple with some of the most vexing topics of his day and ours - privacy, identity, the freedom of the press - not to mention the bonds of family and friendship. 

    Reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte. Produced by Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte.

    Special thanks to Jerry Pritikin, Michael Yamashita, Stan Smith, Duffy Jennings; Ann Dolan, Megan Filly and Ginale Harris at the Superior Court of San Francisco; Leah Gracik, Karyn Hunt, Jesse Hamlin, The San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, Mike Amico, Jennifer Vanasco and Joey Plaster.

    Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

    Episode originally published 09/21/2017

    • 1 hr 3 min
    HEAVY METAL

    HEAVY METAL

    Today we have a story about the sometimes obvious but sometimes sneaky effects of the way that we humans rearrange the elemental stuff around us. Reporter Avir Mitra and science journalist Lydia Denworth bring us a story about how one man’s relentless pursuit of a deep truth about the Earth led to an obsession that really changed the very air we breathe.

    This episode was reported by Avir Mitra, and produced by Matt Kielty, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, and Maria Paz Gutiérrez.

    Special thanks to Cliff Davidson, Paul M. Sutter, Denton Ebel, and Sam Kean. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.

    • 42 min
    In the Running

    In the Running

    Diane Van Deren is one of the best ultra-runners in the world, and it all started with a seizure. In this short, Diane tells us how her disability gave rise to an extraordinary ability.

    • 19 min
    60 Words, 20 Years

    60 Words, 20 Years

    It has now been 20 years since September 11th, 2001. So we’re bringing you a Peabody Award-winning story from our archives about one sentence, written in the hours after the attacks, 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.

    In the hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a lawyer sat down in front of a computer and started writing a legal justification for taking action against those responsible. The language that he drafted and that President George W. Bush signed into law - called the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) -  has at its heart one single sentence, 60 words long. Over the last decade, those 60 words have become the legal foundation for the "war on terror."

    In this collaboration with BuzzFeed, reporter Gregory Johnsen tells us the story of how this has come to be one of the most important, confusing, troubling sentences of the last two decades. We go into the meetings that took place in the chaotic days just after 9/11, speak with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former Congressman Ron Dellums about the vote on the AUMF. We hear from former White House and State Department lawyers John Bellinger & Harold Koh. We learn how this legal language unleashed Guantanamo, Navy Seal raids and drone strikes. And we speak with journalist Daniel Klaidman, legal expert Benjamin Wittes and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine about how these words came to be interpreted, and what they mean for the future of war and peace.

    Finally, we check back in with Congresswoman Lee, and talk to Yale law professor and national security expert Oona Hathaway, about how to move on from the original sixty words.

    Original episode produced by Matt Kielty and Kelsey Padgett with original music by Dylan Keefe. Update reported and produced by Sarah Qari and Soren Wheeler.

    Special thanks to Brian Finucane.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

    • 1 hr 9 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
118 Ratings

118 Ratings

mgriffs ,

The Radio Lab of Life

Radiolab’s quirky investigations into how our universe works will open you up to a world of discovery, challenge your perceptions and take you down roads you never knew you wanted to go down. The team of investigative guides lead us down fantastic rabbit holes, opening our minds to just how wonderful our world can be.

Glowinthedarkdom ,

This show died in politics

This show was my first obsession. My first podcast which ignited such a love of the spoken word. And that’s why I’ve given it 2 stars. 1 just as a nod to all the incredible episodes in my memory. I learned so much in those beautiful early day where the work was dedicated to science, medicine and curiosity. Now it’s all American politics. So deprand boring. It breaks my heart.

charmaine south africa ,

The Punchline

Really love this show but this episode in particular is, hands down, one of my favourites. Know nothing about ice hockey so started it with some apprehension but it strikes all the right notes. Great production, five stars all the way.

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