Radiolab Comes to WashU for Celebration of Arts & Sciences

Last week, the hosts of Radiolab came to Washington University as part of the College of Arts & Sciences week-long celebration of liberal arts.

“Wait wait…what’s Radiolab?” you ask.

“faijefawaw awesome NPR podcast afealw;efaslifj science fajweifj asd but better.” I respond.

Sometimes when people ask me to explain Radiolab I’m so excited about it that I can only offer a verbal keyboard smash of a response. Here is a more coherent description of Radiolab, straight from their website:

Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.

Radiolab is heard around the country on more than 450 NPR member stations.

Sound cool? That’s because it is. IT’S FANTASTIC.

On Feb. 26, Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich gave a presentation on campus for Arts & Sciences’ first Ampersand Week. Free tickets for the event were provided at the Edison box office.

On the day tickets became available, I staked out in front of the box office waiting for it to open. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with that idea. Some of my friends who are Radiolab fans also showed up early. We gathered in front of the closed ticket window and had a debate over who would get the first ticket.

I really want to see the Radiolab show!

Luckily for me, it was my birthday that day. I got the first ticket, thanks to the law of  the Birthday Trump Card.

Me with my Radiolab ticket!

Success! What a great birthday present


In addition to the presentation, Radiolab was scheduled to have lunch with a small group of students. When I found out I would be one of these students, I was pretty excited, to say the least.


The lunch with Radiolab was held at Whittemore House, a private conference venue located across the street from Mallinckrodt Center. I was a terrible food photographer because I didn’t remember to take a picture of the food until after I’d already started eating…so here’s a picture of the table before we sat down.

I'm a terrible food photographer because I don't remember to take a picture of the food until after I've already started eating. So here's a picture of the table set.

Lunch at Whittemore House

A lot of my Radiolab memories are tied to food, actually. “I don’t really enjoy cooking,” I explained to the group during my introduction. “Turning on a podcast is usually the only way I can convince myself to stay in the kitchen long enough to cook something.”

The introductions had turned into a sort of “who’s the biggest Radiolab fan?” game as people stated their personal histories with Radiolab. “Since it’s imperative that I eat, I guess you could say Radiolab is what keeps me alive.” I joked, playing along.

Robert Krulwich sat next to me, so I was able to talk with him about all sorts of things. I asked him about his thoughts on virtual reality, which somehow evolved into a conversation about snail reproduction. We also talked about Dunbar’s number and how it applies to being a public figure. I don’t know if journalists who do speaking events like this ever get tired of talking about their jobs, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him some journalism questions as well.

At the end of the lunch, we took a group picture…

Group photo with the hosts of Radiolab, Dean Jen Smith, and 8 lucky students

Photo credit: Dean Jen Smith (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a huge fan of Radiolab!)


Most of us also asked for individual photos with the hosts. We couldn’t help ourselves — this was Radiolab!

Robert Krulwich!


My first picture with Jad didn’t turn out well, but the picture-taker had already walked away before I had a chance to ask for a retake. Then Jad suggests that we take a selfie. Why did I not think of that?

Selfie with Radiolab host Jad Abumrad! It was his suggestion :D

If my first instinct isn’t to take a selfie, am I even a millennial?


Later that afternoon was the presentation in Graham Chapel. They did it in the same format that they do their radio shows, but they also took advantage of the fact that we could see them by showing us some videos and images on the projector.

My friend Tobeya and I sat in the second row because the front row would have been too much for us.

The show was wonderful. One of the best parts was when they played a mashup of songs that include the lyrics “is this real?” The audience was completely silent as we sat entranced by the dreamlike sounds. The entire event was like that — at no point did it plateau into lackluster conversation. They presented one thing after the other that made me think,”Wow!” (When I’m listening at home, I usually respond out loud, but I didn’t think that would be appropriate for this setting.)

I wish I had a recording of the show so that I could share it with you. Since I don’t, I’ll leave you with the next best thing: a link to their episode archive. Go forth and be curious!

Celebrating Curiosity – Celebrating Arts & sciences