Great Podcasts: Radiolab

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Since I discovered podcasts two years ago, I frankly can’t imagine listening to the radio anymore. Almost anything or anyone I want to listen to, I can find by subject matter and download for free to my iPhone or iPad from iTunes. (You can also download many podcasts directly from their respective websites.) I can be entertained, learn amazing new things or laugh out loud as I drive around town or up the coast, cycle, or walk around Los Angeles. 

This is the first of many blogs about the best podcasts out there.

At the top of the list is Radiolab. It’s hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. Krulwich brings years of reporting experience on complex subjects for National Public Radio while Abumrad makes each broadcast sing with amazing sound effects, music and edits that make otherwise dry subjects jump out of your speakers. One episode and you’re hooked.

The topics are chosen to grab your ears. And mind. Or your gut. The Poop Train? A story about where New York’s sewage goes after it leaves the island of Manhattan. Famous Tumors? An investigation of the tumor that killed president Ulysses S. Grant and a segment about a woman called Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells changed modern medicine. Dinopocalypse? A story that uses high-energy ballistic experiments, computer algorithms and geology to recreate the day the dinosaurs died. With sound effects. Chilling.

My favorite Radiolab podcast? Broadcast April 16, 2013, called The Distance of the Moon. Actor Liev Schreiber reads this short story by Italo Calvino with a voice that could lift you to the aforementioned planetary body. Download this podcast and listen to it while under a full moon. Incredible.

And while you’re listening, don’t forget to donate to Radiolab. Producing a remarkable podcast like this is not free. Even a few dollars will help keep this national treasure humming along.