In February of 2005, WNYC – New York City’s main NPR station, launched its first episode of Radiolab with Jad Abumrad. OK, actually the first episode was months earlier. Abumrod had actually produced numerous Radiolab-like segments since joining NPR in 2002, many on Kurt Andersen’s amazing, long-running Studio 360 program.
The most recent episode is titled “Words“:
Radiolab is a workshop in the aural experience – it is, at its core, a program that explores the essence of radio, from story arc to research to interview to post-production and mixdown. Any given episode will surprise you in its clarity, weirdness, and attention to detail. My first reaction to listening — I became a regular listener to the podcast (you can subscribe here for RSS, xml, or iTunes) in 2005 — was amazement at how much effort, creativity, and likely attempts at perfectionism went into the editing and remixing of the audio. An hourlong Radiolab is without fail a stimulating and thought provoking experience, rooted in the great voices, delivery, and smartypants adeptness of hosts Jad Abumrod and Robert Krulwitch.
My love affair with this program is capped by how well it uses the latest technology – since the early days of podcasting, Radiolab has been made available in multiple formats for download and streaming as well as across many NPR member stations nationwide. We’ve come to expect this from NPR programming since the grand ol’ days of RealAudio streams. But this show stands apart in that it takes the story and the sound and the experience to extreme levels, show after show.
I don’t have a TV nor do I care to watch one. I listen to programs like this. Stock up your music-playing receptacle with multiple episodes from the archives before your next road trip and you will not be disappointed. Even P Diddy listens to Radiolab twice.
What is music? How does it work? Why does it move us? Why are some people better at it than others? In this hour, we examine the line between language and music, how the brain processes sound, and we meet a composer who uses computers to capture the musical DNA of dead composers in order to create new work. We also re-imagine the disastrous 1913 debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring…through the lens of modern neurology.