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Friday, June 17, 2011

The hosts of “Radiolab,” Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, take us behind the scenes of their award-winning show and give us a preview of their upcoming season. Robert Jay Lifton talks about how he became a passionate social activist by studying the impact of war and cruelty. Jim Axelrod explains how his quest to run the New York City Marathon became an emotional journey about his father, his marriage, and his career. Plus, on this week’s Please Explain, find out how much you really save when you use coupons—and what about that newcomer Groupon?

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab Hosts

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, host of the Peabody Award-winning WNYC program “Radiolab,” talk about creating the show and what’s in store for their new season.

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Robert Jay Lifton: Witness to an Extreme Century

Robert Jay Lifton talks about his pioneering work in psychohistory.

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Jim Axelrod's Long Run

Jim Axelrod, a national correspondent for CBS News, talks about how his late father inspired him to run the New York Marathon in 2009. In the Long Run: A Father, a Son, and Unintentional Lessons in Happiness is an account of his effort to run the New York Marathon and beat his father’s time—at age 46, his father finished in 3:29:58. Along the way, he confronts his listing marriage, career upsets caused by the changing television news industry, shin splints, and a badly timed kidney stone.

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Please Explain: Coupons

The old cost-saving measure of clipping pages from the backs of newspapers has been transformed into a multibillion dollar industry by the advent of Groupon, the online group coupon service. Felix Salmon, finance blogging editor at Reuters, and Andrea Woroch of Coupon Sherpa, talk to us about the history of coupons, reveal why they're such a boon to businesses, and dissect Groupon's business model.

Do you clip coupons? Have you used daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social? If so, tell us about your experience!

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July's Book: Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan

The Leonard Lopate Show Book Club’s July pick is Jennifer Egan’s novel Look at Me. Read it and tune in to the Lopate Show on July 14 to hear Jennifer Egan discuss the book with Leonard. You can participate by submitting your questions!

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The First Coupon

The first coupon ever created was, unsurprisingly, invented by the Coca-Cola company in 1887. The coupons offered a free sample of the year-old drink, which was initially sold for 5 cents. In 1895--just 8 years later--Asa Candler proclaimed that Coca-Cola was sold and consumed in every territory of the United States.

By the early 1900s, coupons became so ubiquitous that this 1906 New York Daily Tribune article ironically proclaimed "A Great Future is Predicted for the Rebate Coupon." Then--as now, with Groupon--there were skeptics who weren't quite sure that all the savings were worth it:

"One may imagine the non-transferable feature of rebates amended so that the little checks and coupons may be included in legacies. The last will and testament of John Jones will bequeath to his beloved heirs 5,000 pink stamps, 2,263 brown coupons, 967 olive checks and a lesser assortment to complete the kaleidoscope."

The tongue-in-cheek article goes on to playfully suggest a political use for coupons: "It may be assumed that political parties and candidates already issue varieties of trading stamps that are mostly worthless after election. Pledges and platforms glow with the fading iridescence of true rebates. A few coupons guaranteeing a round of government seed, a front seat at an inaugural, the privilege of finding fault and voting on the other side next time, might heighten enthusiasm in a campaign."

A thought for the 2012 election, perhaps?

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