Radiolab Story;

For the “listening to stories” section, I chose Radiolab because I love Radiolab. I listened to a Radiolab post for Biopsychology last week and fell in love with their style. But, I digress.

I will organize my thoughts and reviews by post, the titles of which are bolded below.

Ghost Stories:

I. Love. Ghost stories. I love ghost stories so much. The way these stories are told, the eb and flow, the “musicality” of how these stories are portrayed is wonderful. I find myself wanting more and more of what the guest commentators are talking about. Aside from just the stories themselves, I love the audio effects in this. The stories themselves are interesting, but these audio clips and background effects make it that much more interesting. The spooky music, the “night-time” sounds when, in the first story, the character is just “listening” to the night, the music clips that convey the mood added with echo effects…I could list all the audio effects but that would take away from my review. Why do the editors chose these clips? Why do they use the different effects?While I’m sure they have fun finding and using different clips, it can’t be just for that. These clips and audio bites take simple story-telling (which Radiolab does fabulously by themselves) and makes it easier for the listener to picture what happens. Take the second story, for example. There is an audio clip of a man describing himself floating (drowning) in the ocean. Overlay is the sound of the ocean, bringing forth an image and a feeling of being at the ocean. And still, over that, is a slow ominous piano melody. This melody brings a feeling of impending tragedy. The music, the ocean sound, paired with the story of an almost drowning, create a full emotional-imaginary experience for this listener.

Talking to Machines:

The beginning story about the man communicating with the woman in Russia was interesting…I loved the music, it made me think of a Russian waltz. The key clicking definitely made me think of people digitally communicating. The audio clips about “Ivana,” complete with the accent, made the story seem extraordinarily vivid. It was almost like I could picture it while listening. (Not to mention, the whole podcast about talking to machines was super interesting, especially in this day and age) The fact that these bot’s are becoming “smart” enough that they can “understand” what we are typing is interesting. “Eliza,” for example, was a strange case. In one case, it’s weird to communicate with a computer program. But, on the other, it’s just like a person who keeps asking for more information. The reading of the transcript certainly helped me understand which side was the real person and which person was the robot. The music became upbeat as to represent this new-age technology, the news clips, it all pointed towards this progression of artificial intelligence. I also loved the music used as a transition between thoughts, ideas, segments. It kept me interested and wanting more. (it also helped listening with my eyes closed to picture all this going on, I’m sure that was part of their idea) Especially when talking about CleverBot, which I have used, the different clips between the audio “computer-y” noises,” the clips of the guy who created CleverBot talking about how he created CleverBot, the clips of the radio host talking about the segment itself, it all helped to move the story along and break up the mundane-ness of simply explaining how this thing was created. It kept me listening, that’s for sure.


I can’t the audio for the other Radiolab, so for the last listening I listened to This American Life’ How I Got Into College.

How I Got Into College

Firstly, I would be mortified if my parents were to email/call a college and pretended to be me. That in and of itself made me want to listen. (I know my parents would never do something that weird) As a senior who is preparing for grad school, was already interested in this segment. However, unlike the Radiolabs, This American Life is interesting without all of the sound effects and overlays. There’s some music in the background, but nothing like Radiolab. Despite that, the story flows and keeps me interested. I think back to Ira Glass’ video that talked about how to keep listeners interested; a good anactdote requires a push onward through questions like “and then what,” or “how did that turn out?”



I am glad that I was forced to listen to This American Life. I got a completely new perspective on how a good radio show can work. It doesn’t need a ton of background sounds and music, it can be simply stories. (I still have a love for Radiolab though)


2 thoughts on “Radiolab Story;

  1. This review showcases how important it is for people to step out of their comfort zones from time to time, in order to obtain a new perspective. Although everything seems to be in check, I do suggest that you take the time to look over these previous entries of yours, and see if anything needs editing.

  2. I’m so glad you love Radiolab too! And I’m also really glad that you gave “This American Life” a chance. While I was only familiar with Radiolab coming into this week, the second I saw Ira Glass’s video I knew I needed to listen to his work. I think his broadcasts do a great job a demonstrating another, equally effective, way to do talk radio without all the intricacies utilized in Radiolab. With that said, I agree that there is just something about the musicality, as you said, of Radiolab that draws me in every single time.

    Great Review!

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