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Jad Abumrad

Host, Radiolab

The son of a scientist and a doctor, Jad Abumrad did most of his growing up in Tennessee, before studying creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. Following graduation, Abumrad wrote music for films, and reported and produced documentaries for a variety of local and national public radio programs, including On The Media, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, Morning Edition, All Things Considered and WNYC's "24 Hours at the Edge of Ground Zero."

While working on staff at WNYC, Abumrad began tinkering with an idea for a new kind of radio program.  That idea evolved into one of public radio’s most popular shows today – Radiolab.  Abumrad hosts the program with Robert Krulwich and also serves as one of its producers.  The program won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and explores big questions in science, philosophy and mankind.  Under Abumrad’s direction, the show uses a combination of deep-dive journalism, narrative storytelling, dialogue and music to craft compositions of exploration and discovery.  Radiolab podcasts are downloaded over 4 million times each month and the program is carried on 437 stations across the nation. 

Abumrad was honored as a 2011 MacArthur Fellow (also known as the Genius Grant).  The MacArthur Foundation website says:  “Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.” 

Abumrad also produced and hosted The Ring & I, an insightful, funny, and lyrical look at the enduring power of Wagner's Ring Cycle.  It aired nationally and internationally and earned ten awards, including the prestigious 2005 National Headliner Grand Award in Radio.

Shows:

Jad Abumrad appears in the following:

Staring into the Abyss

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brooke explores our long fascination with nihilism: why it's popular today, and whether that's always been the case.

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Selected Shorts: Radiolab Edition

Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest host Jane Curtin, and Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, introduce stories about time, love, and identity.

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Radiolab on "Neither Confirm Nor Deny"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reporter Julia Barton and Jad Abumrad, co-host of Radiolab, explain the story behind the phrase "we can neither confirm nor deny" -- also known as "The Glomar Response" -- and how it has come to frustrate so many journalists and others seeking official information.

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Behind the Scenes Video: Apocalyptical Scoring

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A quick dispatch from the road. Glenn Kotche and Darin Gray are on tour with us and they're insane. They make up the band On Fillmore, and Glenn also plays with Wilco. Each night, during the show, they create excellent noises to go along with our stories. Just ...

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Radiolab's Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich on the Meaning of Endings

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

This fall, the staff of WNYC's Radiolab is producing their second multi-city tour, Apocalyptical. In this new live stage performance, Radiolab turns its gaze to the topic of endings, both blazingly fast and agonizingly slow. Today Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich join The Takeaway today to discuss some of the topics they're exploring and how we look at endings today.

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What Doctors Want from End of Life Care

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why do so many end-of-life patients get care that is ineffective? Radiolab Jad Abumrad on the show's recent story.

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Jad Abumrad on Making Radiolab

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jad Abumrad, host of Radiolab and 2011 MacArthur fellow, talks about his favorite Radiolab episodes, how the show gets made, and takes your calls.

→ Bonus: Jad's Picks

1. Follow on Twitter: Vaughanbell, Andrew_zolli; brainpicker

2. BBQ you should eat: Smoke Joint, Fort Greene

3. Music you should BUY: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

4. Short Stories You Should Read: Anything by Tim Kreider

5. What You Should Drink: Kings County Kentucky Bourbon

→ Episodes, Audio, and More Discussed on the Show

The Mantis Shrimp Chorus

Zelda Quits Smoking

Finding Emile

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A Calm Voice in the Storm

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A quick note of appreciation from Jad for WNYC's Hurricane Sandy coverage throughout a devastating storm, and difficult recovery, here in NYC.

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Jad Abumrad on Making Radiolab

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jad Abumrad, host of Radiolab and 2011 MacArthur fellow, talks about his favorite Radiolab episodes, how the show gets made, and takes your calls.

→ Bonus: Jad's Picks

1. Follow on Twitter: Vaughanbell, Andrew_zolli; brainpicker

2. BBQ you should eat: Smoke Joint, Fort Greene

3. Music you should BUY: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

4. Short Stories You Should Read: Anything by Tim Kreider

5. What You Should Drink: Kings County Kentucky Bourbon

→ Episodes, Audio, and More Discussed on the Show

The Mantis Shrimp Chorus

Zelda Quits Smoking

Finding Emile

Comments [16]

On Yellow Rain...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jad offers some more context on the "Yellow Rain" segment from our new episode The Fact of the Matter.

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Watch our Hangout: Ring in the Mars Rover

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Thanks to everyone who tuned in to watch our first-ever Google Hangout. We had a blast!

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The 'Decline Effect' and Scientific Truth

Friday, June 29, 2012

Surprising and exciting scientific findings capture our attention and captivate the press.  But what if, at some point after a finding has been soundly established, it starts to disappear?  In a special collaboration with Radiolab we look at the 'decline effect' when more data tells us less, not more, about scientific truth.

Correction: An earlier version of this short incorrectly stated that Jonathan Schooler saw the effect size of his study fall by 30% on two different occasions. In fact, he saw it fall by that amount the first time he repeated the study and saw a general downward trend thereafter. The audio has been adjusted to reflect this fact.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this short incorrectly attributed a statement to Jonathan Schooler’s advisor. The statement was actually made by his colleague. The audio has been adjusted to reflect this fact.

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On Jonah

Friday, June 22, 2012

 

UPDATE: A more recent statement regarding Jonah Lehrer can be found here.

Recently, our friend and contributor Jonah Lehrer has come under fire for what some have called "self plagiarism."

The notion that Jonah is a "plagiarist" is beyond ridiculous.  And the way in which some journalists are jumping up and down, claiming he's no longer a "writer" but an "idea man" or an example of "male arrogance"...that's just plain ugly.  There are some useful conversations that can come from this, namely, what does it mean to be a print journalist in the 21st century? What are the rules?  I'll let the print journalists have that conversation.

What I personally hope doesn't get lost in all the hand waving is Jonah Lehrer's body of work. He's one of the most stunningly original voices I've ever encountered. I knew it the moment I first read Proust Was A Neuroscientist. That's why we've had Jonah on the show 17 times, by my count. And that's why we will have him on again, and again, because he explores and explains with the best of them. And we like to work with the best.

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Robert Johnson At The Crossroads: What Really Happened?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Recently, Radiolab host Jad Abumrad started wondering about the legend of bluesman Robert Johnson. You know, the one where he goes down to the crossroads and sells his soul to the devil in return for unnatural guitar ability. What you don’t know, and what Jad found out, is that the truth is far stranger than the fiction. He’ll join us to share the story. 

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Radiolab's Colors

Friday, May 25, 2012

We spent the first part of the show talking about the blues, and bluesman Robert Johnson. But what about the yellows and the reds and the rest of the colors? Well, Jad Abumrad and his Radiolab cohorts have been thinking about color recently -- and in fact asked a number of bands to record versions of songs about the various colors.  We hear a few excerpts.

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Launch of the Winter Concert Series

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Beginning Thursday, December 8th at 7 pm, Q2 Music launches a weekly series of compelling new-music shows as recorded in their entirety at venues around New York City.This week: instrumentalist-composers Zoë Keating and Todd Reynolds.

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The Greene Space

Radiolab in Rehearsal

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

7:00 PM

Jad and Robert are gearing up to hit the road with the next live Radiolab show. But before they hop in the tour bus, they could use a little feedback from a live audience.

Free Download: Juana Molina

Friday, October 07, 2011

"La Verdad," by Juana Molina

Juana Molina lands on my very short list of Awesome. Nobody sings like her -- that raspy ever-so-slightly-but-delightfully-flat tone. And very few people make music that's simultaneously so inviting but so completely formless. Well, I shouldn't use the word completely. There's form there. It just not the usual snoozy song-structurey form. Her songs ebb and flow and and meander from one section to the next like water, organic but full of unexpected turns. Like sometimes she'll ditch the words and start to vocalize like a cat. I don't know why, but it works. Hope you dig this one. It's one of only about forty songs that frequent my list of Awesome.

And for more of Juana's music, check out the Sperm show, where we used some bits and pieces of one of her songs. And this podcast we produced with her, after a ton of you demanded to hear more.

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A Few Ways To Look at the Steve Jobs Legacy

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Alexis Madrigal, technology editor for The Atlantic, talks about Jobs' tech legacy and his surprising counterculture origins; then, Jad Abumrad, host of Radiolab, on Jobs' influence on music and radio.

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Free Download: The Octopus Project

Friday, August 19, 2011

"I Saw the Bright Shinies," by The Octopus Project

A specific memory colors this song for me. About five years ago, my wife and I traveled to Japan for a wedding, and during the ceremony, the couple played a photo slide show of their Happy Moments (beach kissing, the proposal, painting the house, etc)... sort of your classic slightly-cheesy but sweet wedding video. But what made this one over the top beautiful and moving and at the same time funny was the accompanying music. This song. "I Saw the Bright Shinies." I downloaded it that night, and then a whole bunch of others from The Octopus Project. They're that rare math rock band that still remembers to rock. And they have a good sense of humor. I hope you enjoy this song. If you like it, definitely check out their new album, Hexadecagon.

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