Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab Hosts

Friday, June 17, 2011

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.


Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich

Comments [36]

Ken from New Orleans

Radiolab is what A.D.D. sounds like. I can't even focus on the story at hand due to all the CONSTANT audio jabs and unnecessary voice overs. If you've interviewed someone, say you interviewed them and THEN play the clip of the conversation. Don't do both at the same time, peppered with sound effects of doors closing in one ear and shoes walking down hallways in the other!

Jun. 20 2014 03:24 AM

I'm with the gripers. My wife wanted me to listen to an important story about end-of-life issues, a subject in which we're both particularly interested. I downloaded it, but couldn't get more than 5 minutes into it before the incessant, hokey, arbitrary, jarring, distracting, aren't-we-cute audio editing drove me right up the wall. Who in God's name thought this was a good idea, and KEEPS thinking it's a good idea? Please, please, please stop it. You're driving away listeners. Thanks --

Feb. 25 2014 11:38 PM
charles lynn from Oregon

Radiolab is for the kids who can't concentrate without constant stimulation, rapid editing. This demographic is large and growing. It's a necessary evil.

Nov. 16 2013 02:05 PM
Strange Monkey from 10003 from East Village, NYC

Radiolab is a show for bozos, morons, and idiots.

The reason you here it creeping in on WNYC more and more is that it's produced at WNYC and is therefore cheap (or free) for WNYC, so why pay for a better program when you can broadcast Radiolab ad infinitum ...

WNYC has gone so far downhill it's not funny. They should get rid of The Takeaway, Radiolab, Tell Me More, On Being, etc. and get more BBC, The World, The Big Broadcast, etc.

Jan. 03 2013 08:03 PM
Dan from Portland, Oregon

So much potential, but so much reliance on the same annoying audio gimmicks. Guys, about the goofy voices and sound was cute the first time, but now it's like your senile grandfather who keeps telling you the same stupid knock-knock joke every time you see him. You want to listen to Grandpa, he has so much to say and so much to share, but the same stupid jokes and stories make you want to stuff marshmallow chicks in your ears and run away.

Dec. 01 2012 04:02 PM
kyle from williamstown

i am a lifelong listener of npr, and on account of my local affiliate using radiolab promos to solicit $ during a recent fund drive, i seriously considered not donating for the first time in a while......insufferable is right. i really believe that those who enjoy radiolab a) haven't yet heard some of public radio's far better, more informative, and enlightened(ing) shows, e.g. TAL, Q, wire tap and/or b) have been listening to public radio as adults, thinking it's the thing that they should do now that they're mature and don't wear sweats to school/work, and relish in that they get the "humor" - giggling and endlessly, endlessly repeating material, whether it be intricate or incredibly quotidian and clear - of guys who really do injustice to what otherwise would be mildly stimulating material.

this is the radio equivalent nutella - overhyped and smacking of some kind of upper crust exoticism, which in the end is simply just really cheap hazelnuts coated in loads of sugar.

i think this show frustrates me so greatly because i really do expect public radio to be a refuge from the inanity of the contemporary media landscape.............why can't these two simply just take their (undeserved, imo) laurels from this show and get assistant professorships / lecturer-ships at random state satellite schools in fly-over states?

Oct. 27 2012 01:04 AM


Oct. 18 2012 08:24 AM
John Craig

I'm about to delete every episode of this podcast; it's just too irritating to listen through the drivel. I've tried several times to get through an episode because the topics are so very interesting. But the sound effects and the constant giggling chatter of the two hosts drives me up the wall. It's a real shame that such excellent content is spoiled by the puerile approach to the show.

Jun. 01 2012 12:27 PM
Tracy from Brooklyn

I just googled "radiolab is so annoying" and ended up here.

FIRST OF ALL, the layered editing and CONSTANT summaries from R & J make me CRAZY!!!! If the guest is going to say she fell out of a boat, LET HER SAY IT! I do not need to hear Jad jump in and speak over her. I realize that some guests drone on & on and that some editing is necessary, but this is just ridiculous. TAL, Fresh air, etc. all do a fabulous job in post-production (super clean, concise, professional) and RL should take note. Although they definitely have a palpable "style", the whole thing seems hokey & amateur.

Im convinced that there must be a great deal of tension behind the scenes at RL because the producers want to tone down the overlays and dramatics but R & J (mainly J) cannot stand to go more than 30 seconds without hearing the sound of their own voices. I get cheeseball chills on their behalf...cringing for 90% of the show.

Apart from all of this, i also find their scripted discussion extraordinarily irritating and unnecessary...(Amy from Manhattan gave perfect example: Robert: "For a while, he was homeless." - Jad: "He had no home?!" - Robert: "He had no home!")


This happens over and over and over again each episode. How J & R both thought this would be a stylistic, intelligent way to portray themselves is beyond me. Even though i dont think they have much taste, they are two smart men who started off with a good idea. Unfortunately they werent able to execute it properly.

And finally, the "factual" stances they take on particular topics vary from episodes to episode. (Notable example: Falling episode & Time episode)

I still think the premise is good and if they can just get over themselves and give the audience a little more credit, we could see a vast improvement.

Jan. 18 2012 10:56 AM
Jojo from Colorado

I love NPR. Good public radio takes an honest exploration of the constellation which represents the human experience.

I bought into Radiolab for quite awhile, really intellectually relying on a scientific approach to the topics they cover.

I think the thing is, if you like an intellectual approach to entertainment, look here. But, I think my bubble burst hearing Robert on Talk of the Nation, I realized that the reason he's in radio is that his process of logical inquiry is bounded by an imaginative pragmatism: that is to say that he enjoys the insolvable, so the methodology he uses is almost irrelevant.

An 'air of science' is created through directed
jargon, not valid scientific inquiry. Not that they don't try, not that they don't come close. Not even that imagination and science are mutually exclusive. But the contours of exploration should not define it's trajectory. Narrative should not be held above content and process. The former provides access to the latter.

And to whoever had the 130 IQ. Travel a bit, at least a road trip...

Sep. 22 2011 02:34 AM

Perhaps they could do a show on the apothegm “No one ever goes broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”. Try to track down its origin, explore its ongoing resonance.

Jun. 19 2011 08:31 PM
Katrina from Brooklyn

I love this show. it is geared toward the whole family, which i like and can imagine myself at six being glued to the radio. And it is in no way near like 'what the bleep do we know' . those are hokey and are in the self-help style. Radiolab is not self-help. It is more interested in the poetry of science.

Jun. 18 2011 03:54 PM
perri from NYC

I'm not bothered by their giddiness, and don't mind that they want to make science accessible. Thing is, lately, it doesn't feel sciencey at all. It's starting to feel like the podcast equivalent of "What the Bleep Do We Know?" Where WTB uses animation and visual effects to keep its audience interested, Radio Lab uses audio effects for the same purpose, but it can sometimes be excessive. And like WTB, it seems Radio Lab wants to merge science with spirituality.

I like straight, no chaser science podcasts like Science Friday and Are We Alone (soon to become Big Picture Science). Maybe I've simply outgrown Radio Lab.

Jun. 17 2011 08:47 PM
kavi from New Zealand

as someone working in science communication, i gotta say these guys are on the money with their formula.

Sure, I agree they can leave things hanging sometimes and somethings can be borderline inaccurate - but they dont claim to be anything more than a thought provoking show. I mean if you learn something from a show thats brilliant, and unless you are up to date in every aspect of science and math fields, there's always somethings to pique your interest.

What i personally love about the show is the guests they bring on - these people are so excited and passionate - and it breaks the mold of the "scientist" in the white coat which many people still hold on to. To see scientists as normal people, with all their quirks and passion is possibly the most beneficial thing this show, and shows like it, offer to science.

I can understand why many of you dislike the show if you are used to traditional "serious" science shows, and you feel like it undermines your intelligence - but you must understand that this is a different approach.The show is more about storytelling than "science" per se, - storytelling in the universe of science - and I think personally, they are doing an important job that you - much to your annoyance - will be seeing more of in attempts to engage the public with science.

Jun. 17 2011 07:59 PM
Fred from Queens

Mary- I don't see anything here that's rude or spiteful. RL is so overwrought and, I think, condescending to listeners.

I find don't find them funny or informative, and to my ear, giggling men on the radio doesn't come across well

Jun. 17 2011 02:04 PM
Mary from Brooklyn

I love radio lab!! I understand everyone can't like it, but why cant those who dislike it at least offer constructive criticism thats not rude, spiteful or bordering on nasty-

Why do smart people have such a weak grasp on language that they cannot be eloquent?

I also like Science Friday, Freash Air, and This American Life-all of which I enjoy.

Radio Lab is not meant to copy any- I have no problem with them breaking down stuff in a simple manner to present- its not only geniuses who listen to NPR

Jun. 17 2011 01:49 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Connie--or listen to the livestreaming of Science Friday (! It's a shame none of the stations that stream it are in NY, where the show originates, but it's also streamed on NPR (

Jun. 17 2011 01:32 PM
connie from nj

I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one who can't stand the show. So maybe I'll be able to stop grumbling about it and listen to an old Fresh Air or This American Life instead. At least RL has a short season and it's only once a week.

Jun. 17 2011 01:08 PM
Cathy from Minneapolis, MN

Don't mean to brag, but my IQ is in the high 130's, and I LOVE Radiolab! They make everything so fun and interesting, and I like how it is easy for everyone to understand. Maybe this stuff is common knowledge if you read the science journals, but most people don't. Great, great show!

Jun. 17 2011 01:05 PM
Cathy from Minneapolis, MN

Don't mean to brag, but my IQ is in the high 130's, and I LOVE Radiolab! They make everything so fun and interesting, and I like how it is easy for everyone to understand. Maybe this stuff is common knowledge if you read the science journals, but most people don't. Great, great show!

Jun. 17 2011 01:00 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Exactly, Ruth! And you don't even have to be a public radio listener to know what "secret" or "homeless" means. You probably don't even need to be over 4 years old.

And Drew, I agree about the preempting--esp. when it bumps "Science Friday," a show that not only does science right but lets listeners call in!

I feel like I've been to a support group. So glad to know I'm not alone!

Jun. 17 2011 12:58 PM

Radiolab is really interesting. I have my students listen to episodes in my psychology classes. It gets my students interested in the topic. I do not feel that it's condescending...I love to listen to episodes while I'm getting ready for work or house cleaning. I don't feel that it's overproduced. I think of it like the daily show. The daily show is entertaining but it consistently gives half stories and cuts interviews short---it makes you want to look up more information about the topic. I love Radiolab.

Jun. 17 2011 12:55 PM

Wow- I thought I was the only curmudgeon. I never listen to them because I find them so annoying. I find them so puerile. Their humor is childish, and their "revelations" are usually things that I already know.

(It’s another really questionable WNYC program.)

Jun. 17 2011 12:55 PM
Jim Gardner from IB, CA

I like radiolab. It's entertaining. I'm glad I'm not too smart to like it. Yep, I'm a little slow. Thank god there are shows for us.

Jun. 17 2011 12:49 PM

I hate to like it.

It's usually an interesting topic but...

I gotta agree with almost all of the criticism, preceding me.

Jun. 17 2011 12:43 PM
Ruth from Manhattan

It's really Robert - if he would stop overexplaining it would improve a lot!

Jun. 17 2011 12:41 PM
connie from nj

and some of the topics; I mean, life after death? on a 'science show'? Please.

Jun. 17 2011 12:40 PM
Drew from Williamsburg

ugh. this show is so so annoying. it's overproduced and underinformative and it preempts good and serious radio programs. sometimes they have interesting topics but whoa, i just can't stand listening to the show.

Jun. 17 2011 12:40 PM
Ruth from Manhattan

I agree! Condescending attitude. Fingernails meet blackboard every time.

This show treats its audience like 4-year-olds! Really- public radio listeners are smart, guys!

I can't listen to it! Which is a shame, because they often have interesting topics.

Jun. 17 2011 12:39 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm glad to hear it, Connie! I'll just give the condensed version here:

If they didn't do all the overlapping repetitions & explanations of things *everyone understands already* (like "secret"), they could probably fit in an entire additional segment. They find guests who still have the enthusiasm of a child, but then they don't seem to trust that to carry the show, & they layer it w/gimmicks.

Once they had a segment about an itinerant mathematician, & I was really interested in the topic, & then Robert said, "For a while, he was homeless." Fine, but then Jad said, "He had no home?" & Robert answered, "He had no home!" Why tell the audience the same thing 3 times? It was so annoying I turned the radio off.

Jun. 17 2011 12:35 PM
allison from NJ

I also find it annoying because it is condescending. It is like they are explaining science to a 2 year old.

Jun. 17 2011 12:29 PM
marc parrilli

I agree, i can hardly stand to listen to these guys primarily because of all the giggling. I don't care if they are trying to appeal to kids. Their silly boys in a treehouse way of carrying on makes me rush to turn off the program.

Jun. 17 2011 12:28 PM
connie from nj

No, Amy, you're NOT the only one.

Jun. 17 2011 12:25 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm sorely tempted to call in & go into my rant about why I find Radiolab so annoying. Even if only to find out if I'm the only one!

Jun. 17 2011 12:16 PM

My three most favorite voices at the same time!!
So happy :)

Jun. 17 2011 12:12 PM

I think you're exaggerating a lot, Leonard. Radiolab is entertaining, but it's far from being really educational. It can tease people into looking up more information. But I find a lot of what they report is superficial enough to be somewhat wrong.

Jun. 17 2011 12:10 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.