As that rare program that probes the nature of human experience, WNYC’s Radiolab would function well enough. But it’s the marriage of topic (each more thought-provoking than the last) and design (amazingly robust soundscapes and perfect pacing) that makes Radiolab a true work of art. Hosts Jad Abrumad and Robert Krulwich address scientific questions in almost impossibly abstract terms, letting guests and their stories fill in the blanks. Through an exploration of a chimpanzee raised in a human household in “Lucy,” Krulwich and Abrumad seek out the essential qualities that separate animal and human (with surprising results), while “Words” questions the function of language in human development, turning its gaze to such wide-ranging sources as Shakespeare and a Nicaraguan school for the deaf. The beauty is all in the telling. True to its name, Radiolab functions experimentally, constantly testing out new ways to unveil its stories through seamlessly edited interviews, classic “theater of the mind” sound effects, and the well-timed banter of its hosts. Each episode is by turns witty and poignant, and, always, completely engrossing. For providing weekly updates on the human condition with an unending yen for philosophical exploration, Radiolab receives a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive producer: Ellen Horne. Producers: Soren Wheeler, Michael Raphael, Lulu Miller, Tim Howard, Pat Walters, Brenna Farrell, Lynn Levy. Writers: Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich.
Hosts: Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich.