Radio Renaissance: Introduction


RadioLab Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich

I’ve been wondering for the last year or so how I might write an article, or series of articles, on what I call the “Radio Renaissance.”

The Radio Renaissance is an explosion of podcasts representing a practically infinite variety of forms: music, university lectures, humor, talk radio, CSPAN broadcasts, archival re-broadcasts of vintage radio, books on tape, many standard PBS and NPR programs, audio tracks of well-known cable programs such as CNN News, many programs produced as podcasts only … you name it.

I have myself — for the last seven or eight years — loaded onto my iPod an average of four or five new hours of programs daily, in a rotating replacement process that absurdly exceeds my ability to keep up with the listening. In this way, I’m able to satisfy my curiosity about matters sacred and profane and just plain silly during those dull moments in life when I’m doing something else: washing dishes, weeding in the garden, waiting for a doctor or dentist appointment, even lying awake sleepless at 3 AM.

This is, of course, modern man at his worst … free-floating unfocused multitasking rather than “being here now.”

Often I’m “being there then.”

But it’s also wildly entertaining, and sometimes intellectually stimulating and enriching.

I offer as my first example the WNYC  program called “Radiolab.” Here’s how hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich describe it:

Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we’ll feed it with possibility.

Here’s an example, their most recent program, called “Oops:”

This particular episode of Radiolab consists of several segments, including a discussion of how an ill-conceived psychology experiment on undergraduates at Harvard decades ago may have had terrible consequences later in the life of Theodore Kaczynski, how a graduate student studying tree rings accidentally cut down the oldest living organism on earth and how the death of a flock of swans in a toxic mine-waste lake in Butte, Montana led to the discovery of new and useful chemical compounds.

For this complete episode and more yummy stuff from Radiolab, check out their website here.

There will be more to say about the rich universe of the Radio Renaissance as time goes by.

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3 Responses to “Radio Renaissance: Introduction”
  1. Anna Haynes says:

    Also recommended – Chris Lydon’s Radio Open Source interviews.
    There’s a great interview with Ralph Nader, in which (among much other stuff) RN recounts an incident in which Millionaire says to Billionaire, “I have something that you don’t have”; whereupon B asks, dubiously, “What?”; and M responds, “Enough”.

  2. depelton says:

    Thanks Anna. I took the liberty of converting your reference to Chris Lydon’s Radio Open Source into a link, and also added it to my list of podcasts in iTunes.

  3. I love RadioLab. There has yet to be an episode that hasn’t taught me something, and often it’s something I can use in my speaking.

    Another podcast to try is To The Best of Our Knowledge, which isn’t nearly so humorously (comfortably?) entertaining, but is often informative and entertaining in other ways.

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