WNYC Studios Introduces “Radiolab Presents: More Perfect"


Radiolab’s First-Ever Spinoff Podcast Series,
Exploring Untold Stories About the Supreme Court and the 
Cases That Have Shaped Our Lives

Created by Radiolab Host Jad Abumrad,
Edited by Legal Expert Elie Mystal 

Season One Debuts Today with Stories of Death Penalty Law

(New York, NY – June 2, 2016) – As the 2016 Presidential election approaches, the Supreme Court’s open seat is already being used as a rallying cry for both political parties, even as nearly two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice

Radiolab, WNYC Studios’ innovative, top-rated iTunes podcast and public radio show, sheds light on the rarefied world of the Supreme Court with its first ever spin-off, More Perfect.

Conceived by Radiolab host and creator Jad AbumradMore Perfect will tell the stories behind some of the court’s most significant rulings. The weekly podcast illuminates how the Supreme Court – the branch of government citizens have the least direct contact with – shapes some of the most personal issues in our lives: money, race, class, gender, sex, and religion.  More Perfect will chronicle how the court came into being and how it has accrued power over time, and will give voice to the myriad individuals whose lives were directly affected by its decisions.

The debut episode launching today, will examine how the court has grappled time and again with the question of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  Listeners will hear about an anti-death penalty activist in London is trying to cut off the United States’ supply of drugs used in lethal injections, and Utah’s 2015 attempt to reintroduce the firing squad as a method of execution.

New episodes of More Perfect are available weekly through July 14.  Upcoming topics include:

  • The case that pushed one Supreme Court justice to a nervous breakdown, put another justice in the hospital, and changed the course of the Supreme Court – and the nation – forever
  • Marbury v. Madison, the landmark 1803 case that turned the court into the powerful Third Branch with the authority to review acts of Congress and nullify laws deemed unconstitutional
  • How the "Batson Rule," which was created by the court in the mid-1980s to eliminate racial prejudice from the criminal justice system, may actually help lawyers disqualify black jurors from jury pools
  • How activists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs find so-called perfect plaintiffs, and the story of an important gay rights case that started with an unusual 911 call
  • How a crime that took place in Nigeria and involved no American citizens wound up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court


Joining Abumrad to tell these riveting stories are Elie Mystal, legal expert and blogger at Above the Law, who also serves as More Perfect’s legal editor; More Perfect executive producer Suzie Lechtenberg, formerly of Freakonomics Radio; Radiolab producer Kelsey Padgett; WNYC digital producer Sean Rameswaram; and public radio journalist Katherine Wells.

“I've always been fascinated by the Supreme Court and how nine people who weren't elected have been able to wield so much power,” said Jad Abumrad. “The cases have always seemed inherently dramatic and important. And yet, because of the way they are typically covered in the media, we don’t often get the historical significance behind many of the rulings or understand the real-life impact.  I wanted to go deeper into these stories and knew this work demanded its own platform. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with our legal editor and advisor Elie [Mystal] as we aim to make the court relevant and accessible, particularly with an open seat during a presidential election season.” 

“WNYC Studios is thrilled to bring this extraordinary and timely new podcast to audiences everywhere,” said Laura Walker, President and CEO, New York Public Radio.  “Jad’s curiosity for the way things connect is legendary and it will be exciting to see how far he and the More Perfect team pull the curtain back on the Supreme Court cases that affect the lives of 300 million Americans.”

Radiolab first ventured into legal topics with the episode “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,” which examined a Supreme Court case that involved a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.  Radiolab later earned a Peabody Award for “60 Words,” which focused on 60 words of legal language, drafted in the hours following the September 11 attacks, that led to the longest war in U.S. history.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect is available on wnyc.org, iTunes, and all other places where podcasts may be downloaded.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect is funded in part by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation.



WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio. Born from the team that created some of the most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts of the last decade, WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with high-quality storytelling that informs, inspires, and delights millions of intellectually curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. WNYC Studios creates some of the most beloved audio series, including Radiolab2 Dope Queens, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Freakonomics RadioDeath, Sex & MoneyHere’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Note to Self, On the Media, The Takeaway, and Studio 360. Their programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, interviews that reveal, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit http://wnycstudios.wnyc.org