Radiolab: The Art and Science of Digital Shamanism

Jad Abumrad loves collecting sounds and playing with high-tech gadgetry, but he deploys his geekery in service of a higher calling – creating in Radiolab a hybrid medium that is a natural evolution of the ancient art of storytelling.

I marvel at Radiolab when I hear it. I feel jealous. Its co-creators Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich have digested all the storytelling and production tricks of everyone in public radio before them, invented some slick moves of their own, and ended up creating the rarest thing you can create in any medium: a new aesthetic.

– Ira Glass, Creator and Host of This American Life

Science is fun. It's a grownup extension of the playful curiosity about the world we're all born with. So why do so many teachers, authors, and media producers excel at making it deadly boring?

Still, every now and again the world produces that rare individual who not only understands the complexities of cutting edge science and technology, but possesses the storytelling power to share the passion with the rest of us. 

What's the Big Idea? 

Interestingly, and not coincidentally, many of science's "great communicators" are interdisciplinary thinkers – as fascinated by the arts, literature, and/or philosophy as they are by "hard" scientific fact. Einstein was a fine amateur pianist and violinist. Carl Sagan inhabited a kind of binary between rational skepticism and wild imaginings about extraterrestrials. 

Jad Abumrad, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and co-creator of WNYC's Radiolab, started out as a musician and composer. Indeed, his groundbreaking show is an unprecedented and wholly cohesive hybrid of multilayered soundscapes and traditional storytelling on a theme that shouldn't seem unlikely, but does – the wonders of math and science (mostly). A random sampling of recent episodes includes Colors, GutsCrossroads, and The Turing Problem

Watch Radiolab's Jad Abumrad on ancient storytelling with high-tech gadgetry

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