Making Radiolab: A Soup-to-Nuts Recipe for a Great Radio Show/Podcast

Now that vir­tu­al­ly every­one in the West­ern Hemi­sphere has the means to make and dis­sem­i­nate a pod­cast, are there any tips to guar­an­tee suc­cess?

Jad Abum­rad, a host of the enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar, curios­i­ty-based pod­cast, Radi­o­lab, strives for every show to sound like “two guys talk­ing in a sur­re­al­is­tic mul­ti-dimen­sion­al space.” His degree in music com­po­si­tion at Ober­lin Col­lege is an asset in achiev­ing this goal, as is his easy rap­port with cohost Robert Krul­wich.

Radi­o­lab’s appeal is such that direc­tor David Fine sin­gled it out for his Amer­i­can Hip­ster project, a year long inves­ti­ga­tion into the tastes of a cer­tain seg­ment of the pop­u­lace. The result­ing video above sketch­es out the cre­ation process, from the first impulse to inter­view an inter­est­ing per­son to the fin­ished episode.

It’s not sur­pris­ing that Radi­o­lab’s brass has seized on Fine’s effort as a fundrais­ing tool. His depic­tion of their behind-the-scenes labors is insis­tent­ly upbeat, com­plete with a mon­tage of laugh­ing pro­duc­ers, writ­ers and stars. As hard to as it is to believe this tells the whole sto­ry of what it’s like to bar­rel toward a col­lec­tive cre­ative dead­line, it’s also hard to begrudge them their sun­ny depic­tion when Abum­rad him­self vol­un­teers that the cre­ation of a nat­ur­al-sound­ing pod­cast  is a far-from-nat­ur­al thing.

Per­haps the biggest take­away for aspir­ing pod­cast mavens is that qual­i­ty wins out. Radi­o­lab is right­ly renowned for its excel­lent pro­duc­tion val­ues, a lev­el of pro­fes­sion­al­ism that has paved the way for a live show fea­tur­ing such lumi­nar­ies as come­di­an Demetri Mar­tin and Pilobo­lus Dance The­ater. If you’re not famil­iar Radi­o­lab, then we sug­gest you catch an episode, “Mem­o­ry and For­get­ting,” below. More episodes can be found on Sound­Cloud.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The New Yorker’s Fic­tion Pod­cast: Where Great Writ­ers Read Sto­ries by Great Writ­ers

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio Show Pod­cast Tack­les the His­to­ry of Video Games

The Pod­cast His­to­ry of Our World Will Take You From Cre­ation Myths to (Even­tu­al­ly) the Present Day

Ayun Hal­l­i­day owes Radi­o­lab a depth of grat­i­tude for the cheer with which her hus­band does the dish­es.

via Coudal

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