On February 26, 4:30 p.m. in Graham Chapel, Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich talked about “Celebrating Curiosity – Celebrating Arts & Sciences.”
Arts & Sciences at Washington University is a many-splendored thing, and throughout the week of Feb. 23-27, it hosted “Ampersand Week,” offering opportunities to experience the joys of the liberal arts. The week culminated with a presentation by Abumrad and Krulwich, whose syndicated public radio program Radiolab, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning program that examines big questions in science, philosophy and the human experience through compelling storytelling. Today, Radiolab is one of public radio’s most popular shows. Its podcasts are downloaded over 4 million times each month and the program is carried on 437 stations across the nation.
The son of a scientist and a doctor, Jad Abumrad did most of his growing up in Tennessee, before studying creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. Following graduation, Abumrad wrote music for films, and reported and produced documentaries for a variety of local and national public radio programs, including On The Media, Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, Morning Edition, All Things Considered and WNYC’s “24 Hours at the Edge of Ground Zero.”
While working on staff at WNYC, Abumrad began tinkering with an idea for a new kind of radio program. That idea evolved into one of public radio’s most popular shows today – Radiolab. Under Abumrad’s direction, the show uses a combination of deep-dive journalism, narrative storytelling, dialogue and music to craft compositions of exploration and discovery. Abumrad was honored as a 2011 MacArthur Fellow (also known as the Genius Grant). The MacArthur Foundation website says: “Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.”
Abumrad also produced and hosted The Ring & I, an insightful, funny, and lyrical look at the enduring power of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. It aired nationally and internationally and earned ten awards, including the prestigious 2005 National Headliner Grand Award in Radio.
For 22 years, Krulwich was a science, economics, general assignment and foreign correspondent at ABC and CBS News. Krulwich has been called “the most inventive network reporter in television” by TV Guide. His specialty is explaining complex subjects, science, technology, economics, in a style that is clear, compelling and entertaining. On television he has explored the structure of DNA using a banana; on radio he created an Italian opera, “Ratto Interesso” to explain how the Federal Reserve regulates interest rates; he also pioneered the use of new animation on ABC’s Nightline and World News Tonight.
He has won Emmy awards for a cultural history of Barbie, the world famous doll, for a Frontline investigation of computers and privacy, a George Polk and an Emmy for a look at the Savings & Loan bailout, and the 2010 Essay Prize from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Krulwich also won the AAAS Science Journalism Award for a 2001 a NOVA Special, Cracking the Code of Life, The Extraordinary Communicator Award from the National Cancer Institute, and an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award.
Krulwich earned a BA in history from Oberlin College, a law degree from Columbia University in 1974.