From WNYC in New York, this is Radiolab...LIVE!
December 11, 2013 3:31 AM   Subscribe

The public radio science program Radiolab recently wrapped up a tour featuring their latest live show, Apocalyptical. It is, as you might have guessed, about the end times. The show, hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and featuring live performances from comedians Kurt Braunohler and Reggie Watts and an appearance from dinosaur puppets, is now available for free on YouTube.
posted by inturnaround (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I have a good friend who manages a Jersey Mikes near DC. He was telling me about how he loves listening to NPR/PRI on satellite radio, and I got him turned on to WAMU from American University (great station, excellent programming).

A few months later he told me about a kid he was training to handle opening the store. They'd get in early and my friend would put on WAMU, much to the disgust/chagrin of this punk kid he was training. My friend would say, when you open you can play whatever music you want, but I'm training you and we're listening to this. The kid gets trained and starts opening on his own, and a few weeks later my friend comes in early one day as the kid is opening- sure enough he's listening to Morning Edition. Apparently he caught Radiolab one Saturday morning and it changed his life forever.
posted by Dr. Zachary Smith at 5:26 AM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

I saw this in toronto! It was AWESOME! The first part, about dinosaurs, was the most 'show-y' by a long shot, and was a fantastic story, addressing the question 'Why did ALL the dinosaurs die from one meteor impact? Wouldn't there be safe dinosaurs on the other side of the planet?' by getting really specific about what happens when an asteroid runs into a planet.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:42 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The dinosaur puppets, while well-crafted, detracted from the content of the show and felt like a (desperate?) attempt to add some sort of nebulous "value" to the live audio-visual format of the show.

As any person who was once a child, I have am fascinated by dinosaurs. Am now looking to acquire a sample of the K-T boundary as a sort of talisman (in the vein of "Never Forget").

Poor buggers.
posted by flippant at 6:17 AM on December 11, 2013

ugh. i stopped listening to this show after their horrible Yellow Rain episode/debacle. Previously.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

ugh. i stopped listening to this show after their horrible Yellow Rain episode/debacle. Previously.

I can't stand Radiolab, either, but as you note, we've had that conversation before.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I love Radiolab, hadn't heard about the Yellow Rain debacle, but I still love the program.
posted by Mister_A at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2013

I love Radiolab for the next level sound design, I always take their Science with a grain of salt, which they usually provide on their own, and which makes Science more delicious anyway.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2013

Why did ALL the dinosaurs die from one meteor impact?

I'm interested in the topic, in part because it's still a bit controversial, but can hardly stand their schtick (at least their schtick when I bailed on the show a year or so ago):

Jad: "I dunno, Robert, I mean, I flunked out of math ten times, I just don't get numbers or physics, so I seriously have no idea what these crazy scientists are even talking about here! Asteroids? Is that a kind of star? No? Oh, you mean Big Space Rocks, that's what they should call them. Wouldn't that be cooler, 'Big Space Rocks'? That's what my little baby daughter would call them, isn't she cuuuuute? Let's enjoy some cool sound effects now! And don't forget to send a donation to WNYC today, thanks!"

Robert (in reverential, stage-actor tones): "The rock, cold-hearted, from the inky depths of outer space, inexorably approached an innocent young Earth. The lizards went about their lizard business, eating each other and making great footprints in mud flats. No lizard suspected its death loomed closer each day. It was almost like... almost like a... spiritual force had decided to move over the ancient Earth, to erase the horrible lizards in one... great... swipe. And God said, 'Whoosh!' -- and the thunder lizards were... no more."
posted by aught at 9:53 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The dinosaur puppets, while well-crafted, detracted from the content of the show and felt like a (desperate?) attempt to add some sort of nebulous "value" to the live audio-visual format of the show.

I just can't get into Radiolab. I'll read parts of the transcripts on the NPR website and think, this show sounds cool, so I'll download it and listen to it, and I'm always disappointed. It's just so overproduced, like it's trying too hard. I feel like Jad and Robert are super smart, but I can't get to the smartness under all the layers of sound effects and pauses. I think the puppets were a part of this overproduction tendency. But, I have to say, watching the rest of the show was actually more enjoyable for me than listening to the radio show. Almost as if they needed this extra dimension of the visual in order to spread out a little bit. Also, I think live nature of it led to less over-rehearsed sounding spiels, and more expressiveness.
posted by bluefly at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to like Radiolab but find the show overproduced and hard to listen to -- too much talking over sound effects and one clip coming over another. But I got to see this production live as it was touring and it was fantastic and moving. I don't know how it is to watch on YouTube but it was a right treat to see live.

And one of the musicians they had on tour was an amazing solo ambient/postrock guitarist that I thought was awesome and have been listening to ever since.
posted by gauche at 11:31 AM on December 11, 2013

Thanks, gauche, for posting the link to that guitarist's bandcamp! I saw the show in NYC and loved the music ALMOST as much as I loved the dinosaur puppets...
posted by Mooseli at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm really conflicted. I usually enjoy Radiolab, yet I also tend to experience gratification via hating on things.

Honestly I feel like the sound effects, 'overproduction', and affectation of this show might be like cilantro, in that some people are genetically predisposed to enjoy it, that it elevates the flavor of the thing they're consuming from pretty good to sublime. If you don't happen to carry that trait, it tastes like you just ate a handful of stinkbugs.

I guess I'm just fortunate to possess whatever emotional buttons they're trying to push with their stylized production, that there's another thing out there that I enjoy, that it found me.

*disorientingly panning static-like sound*
posted by exit at 6:36 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I started listening to Radiolab podcasts on my evening commute a couple of weeks ago, so I've been catching up on all of the back episodes. I listened to the Yellow Rain episode ("The Fact of the Matter" Sept. 24, 2012) just the other evening while driving home. I hadn't heard anything about it or seen the previous thread about it, so I had no idea what was coming and it blew me away. I'm glad I experienced it that way and was able to form my own thoughts and opinions about the episode before reading about the controversy.

I can see both points of view about the sound production but when they do it well they knock it out of the ball park and it really haunts you. The Space episode that featured the Ann Druyan interview and all the Voyager music is a prime example.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:55 PM on December 13, 2013

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