Another Radio Lab Fan

I first heard about Radio Lab from This American Life. The miracle of podcasting has brought NPR home to me here in Ireland, and it is a very happy reunion indeed with that staple of my childhood. I listened to the Sleep episode today, and while I was marveling at the quality of the production I was struck by the fact that I learn much more from an hour of good radio than I do from an hour of the best television I can find. Why? Is this somehow inherent in the experience of audio+visual vs. audio? Am I reacting to the fact that the podcast is enhancing my unavoidable commute rather than taking extra time out of my day, i.e. there is no opportunity cost of listening to a podcast? Or does it just reflect the quality of what is being produced? Does television’s inherent addictiveness mean we are willing to tolerate lower quality and still sit there? Is producing high quality content more affordable and therefore more likely in radio? Does the editing process of radio concentrate information more effectively? Or, am I just missing all the good documentaries?

Thus far, my favourite episode has been Emergence. It’s a subject which is very familiar to me and rather close to my heart, so I was happy that it was covered and even happier at how much I learned. The show managed to incorporate search engine optimisation techniques, the origin of the Jelly Bean experiment and Mozart’s Requiem [which last summer I got to listen to in here - ha ha :-) ]. The storytelling, the playful yet purposeful use of sound and music, the depth of the science, the clarity and friendliness of the explanations in Radio Lab are very close to perfect.


topfunky 07 Sep 2007

I’d like to believe that after this video fad is over, people will return to the spoken word.

I have audio recordings of some close family members who have passed and it is somehow more powerful than if I had video of them.

ana 08 Sep 2007

There is a beautiful audio compilation of a child’s first 12 years which starts 7 minutes into the Time episode of Radio Lab. It’s well worth a listen and a great idea for parents or friends-of-parents. It’s also simpler to record audio than video with kids, just leave the recorder running in the background and you can play instead of having to worry about cinematography. You can also extract audio from home movies.

ana 20 Nov 2007

The Radio Lab team gave a presentation at the Soho Apple Store talking how they produce their audio and what it means for their show. The discussion at the end about whether they feel “limited” by not having a visual element is fantastic.