Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tests Back from the Lab

A short while back, I wrote about the podcast More Perfect, a spin-off of Radiolab. I've since had the chance to listen more to the "mothership," as it were, and I've found it every bit as enjoyable.

Radiolab is very much like other podcasts I've already become enthralled by -- not just More Perfect, but also the excellent Criminal. The only major difference is topic, in that Radiolab doesn't quite seem to have one. This could have potentially been an issue, except that it's clear after listening to just a few episodes that the eclectic sensibilities of the hosts and reporters suit my own just fine.

So far, I've listened to installments about a woman in legal limbo because her off-the-grid parents never secured her a birth certificate, an unsettling dive into how military spy technology is making its way to the U.S. in law enforcement, a revealing look at how science is beginning to push both the medical and legal boundaries of embryonic research, and the topical tale of a small town so divided politically that it turned to dissolving the town itself as a way of sticking it to the man.

I'd level the same small criticism against Radiolab that I had against the spinoff: they use an editing style that somewhat jarringly injects narration right into the middle of an interview subject's sentences. It's Arrested Development, minus the dry wit. But after a few episodes, I'm starting to get used to it -- and it's not much of a knock on their slick production in any case.

The lack of a distinct niche really makes this show more NPR than podcast, but it's doing things right regardless. I give Radiolab an A-. It's now a regular part of my rotation.

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