RadioLab Greatest Hits, Vol. 1?
August 13, 2010 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Radiolab's 'Words' episode (discovered here) masterfully massaged my mind. What are some of the best/your favorite Radiolab episodes?

I'm usually not a podcast person (Citizen Radio is really the only one I listen to on a regular basis), but Radiolab was just so informative, beautiful and innovative I need more. I understand that 'favorites' and 'best' are subjective, but I'm down with a little subjectivity every once and a while. I anticipate a ton of fans reacting to this question with "Just listen to all of them!" and while I may do that someday, right now I'm looking for a Greatest Hits. Thanks in advance!
posted by Chipmazing to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I loved the previous full episode ("Oops") especially the final piece on the Canadian Geese. The Parasite episode will squick you out in a really pleasant way. And I'm biased, but I loved the Animal Minds episode.

But yeah, it's more difficult to come up with an episode I didn't enjoy. Definitely one of the best podcasts out there.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Animal Blessings: the story of a whale rescue.
posted by kathryn at 10:14 AM on August 13, 2010

The Parasite episode is by far my favorite, although I've probably listened to Lucy to most (the TAL crossover is what introduced me to Radio Lab). Anybody who ends up on a long car ride with me ends of being forced to listen to those two. The episode that got my husband hooked was Famous Tumors.
posted by MaritaCov at 10:15 AM on August 13, 2010

Ones that have stuck in my mind: "Limits", "Zoos", "Placebo". I also like "The Ring and I" which I think predates Radiolab but is stylistically very similar.
posted by nja at 10:17 AM on August 13, 2010

"Choice" was one of my favorites.
posted by eleyna at 10:23 AM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Ufez Jones beat me to it, as Animal Blessings is just a chapter of the Animal Minds episode.
posted by kathryn at 10:27 AM on August 13, 2010

I liked Emergence (2005).
posted by nangar at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2010

My Top 5 (the ones I use to proselytize to people):
War of the Worlds
Bus Stop (It's short but it's why I'm so upset Lulu Miller went off to grad school.)
Yellow Fluff & Other Curious Encounters
After Life
posted by edbles at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2010

After Life is a great one. It's deep and a little freaky. It kinda changed my perception of death.
posted by elder18 at 10:37 AM on August 13, 2010

Stochasticity. After Life. Beyond Time.
posted by holgate at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2010

They are all worth a listen. I listen to many of them over and over. The ones already mentioned are Fantastic*. If I had to pick favourites, I would choose Sperm, Limits, Yellow Fluff, and Who Am I?

*They are all fantastic, although I never want to listen to Lucy again. Don't get me wrong, it was a beautifully crafted episode like all of the Radiolab work. It was just so sad, I wish there had been a warning about the content. The story will haunt me forever.
posted by sadtomato at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2010

I loved Quantum Cello -- it's just beautiful. Also, Parasites but I love to cringe.
posted by amanda at 10:44 AM on August 13, 2010

Easy: "Detective Stories"
posted by yerfatma at 10:45 AM on August 13, 2010

"Pop Music" was amazing. "Sperm" was fun too, and another vote for "The Ring and I"..
posted by aintthattheway at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2010

Musical Language blows my mind.
posted by princelyfox at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Stochasticity suggestion. The opening story about the girl and the balloon will blow your mind.
posted by DrDreidel at 11:01 AM on August 13, 2010

Uhhh, all of them. Seriously. Radiolab is amazing, if you start listening it won't be long before you've heard them all.

But if you can't work that much Jad and Robert time into your life I would recommend Placebos or Stochasticity.

Also, any of the one's that feature music are pretty good, like the one that featured Juana Molina and the one that featured Zoe Keating.
posted by cirrostratus at 11:22 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Zoe Keating episode was Quantum Cello.
posted by edbles at 11:32 AM on August 13, 2010

Just about all of the full-hour format shows are consistently great, to the point where I'd have a real hard time picking favorites from them. The only one I'd rate as a swing and a miss was one that was mostly just Robert noodling for the entire length on the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac.
posted by Drastic at 11:48 AM on August 13, 2010

I've liked the episodes about making RadioLab: Jad and Robert: The Early Years, Tell Me a Story.
posted by unmake at 12:08 PM on August 13, 2010

The Ring and I is absolutely fantastic. It's all Wagner, all the time, and it's pretty awesome. It's not sciency like the other episodes, but damn, that Wagner. Dude could write music!
posted by gkhan at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously though. I guess, if you MADE me choose, I'd go with:
1) Placebo
2) Stochasticity
3) Choice
4) Music
5) After Life

But seriously, once you've heard a few, you'll just listen to them all.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:47 PM on August 13, 2010

Another vote for Parasites. I nearly drove off the road I became so engrossed, and then did the classic sit-in-the-parking-lot-until-the-show-finishes thing.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:34 PM on August 13, 2010

Lucy will break your heart.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:30 AM on August 14, 2010

Best answer: Thanks for all the answers! I've got a bunch of listening to do. All good answers, so I'm not sure which to mark as the best, so instead I'm just going to list and order the episodes that got the most votes, if anyone else is looking for a Greatest Hits in the future. Here is a totally unscientific Top 14:

Four Vote Episodes:

After Life

Three Vote Episodes
The Ring and I
Quantum Cello

Two Vote Episodes
Animal Minds
Yellow Fluff & Other Curious Encounters
Pop Music
Musical Language

So far I've listened to After Life and Stochasticity which were awesome.
posted by Chipmazing at 9:52 AM on August 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Three favorites is like three more votes for Choice, right? Plus, you get to hear Oliver Sacks say the word "kidneys" a bunch of times. Definitely should move up on the list. (The Ring and I is also fascinating.)
posted by eleyna at 6:47 AM on August 17, 2010

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