This week I decided to take a look at the award-winning Radiolab. It is one of the top shows out there and for good reason. This is one of those podcasts that reminds you how high quality a show can be. That being said this breakdown was a little tricky. Since the only real common thread between the episodes is ‘telling a story,’ it took some extra thinking.
“A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide.” In that iTunes bio, you got about everything you need to know. Awards? Check. Stories and Sounds? Check. Science and culture? Check. As you can guess from the description this show is incredibly well produced and utilizes its ‘sounds and stories’ in a really great way.
Part of what made this breakdown tricky at first was the fact that there is no central topic. Each show pretty much told a story but this is part of what makes Radiolab great. Each episode tells a story about either an event, science, or culture. Each story is told by the talented staff at WNYC Studios and they seem to simply follow what interests them. Each episode gives you a quick look at something happening in the world and keeps things fresh.
Fantastic Story Telling
As I said earlier the staff at WNYC is incredibly talented and you can tell through the storytelling in this show. Each story is well researched and well told. As you listen you are taken on this journey through the story. Whether it is about hand bacteria or triage in hospitals you find yourself losing track of time and being pulled in. At any point where extra information is needed the show takes an aside to speak with an expert or another party to explain some of the details. After you know what is going on things seamlessly flow back into the main story. While each show is usually around 30 minutes long the story always ends up being thoroughly told. It’s truly impressive and a great example of ‘reporter style’ story telling.
Sound and Score
The part of this story that really stood out to me was the use of sound and score in this show. This for me is what made it stand out. It is very rare that you find a podcast that uses sound effects and has a score to help set the scene. As things happen in the story you may hear sound effects used as transitions or for emphasis. In other parts, there is a track played in the background to help set the scene. A really great example of this is the episode Seneca, Nebraska. It’s really impressive to see sounds and music used like this being used in a podcast and is the cherry on top of a very well produced show.
After listening to Radiolab it is clear why the show is an award winner. The show is incredibly well produced and has a great way of telling its stories. If you are looking for a show to help you hear about all that is interesting and curious in the world, look no further than Radiolab.