Radiolab – The evolved and truly beautiful podcast


Laying in the dark of my room, I imagined astronaut Dave Wolf reaching his arm into a deep and consuming blackness.


I am an avid podcast listener and have been so for many years. Ever since the original iPod, I’ve downloaded and listened to podcasts on pretty much a continuous basis. In fact, 90% of my waking time is spent listening to them (and probably 10% of my sleeping time as well).

One of my favorite ways to relax during a long commute or before bed at night is to turn on a good podcast. These days, my favorites include the Joe Rogan Experience, the Rich Eisen Podcast, and The New Disruptors, but I listen to many many more as well.

It was during a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience that Joe’s guest, comedian Bert Kreischer, mentioned Radiolab and their In the Dark series. Kreischer’s enthusiasm for the show made me curious (what follows is most likely NSFW):

“Theres a podcast that Radiolab did that I listened to on a treadmill, I had to stop running and sit down to finish it. It was so fucking good.

The Radiolab podcast he was referring to was called Dark Side of the Earth and was a live show that was recorded actually in Portland, not too far from where I live and work. The show, at Keller Auditorium, was performed in the dark and featured the voice of Dave Wolf, a former astronaut. Accompanying Wolf’s account of a perilous spacewalk outside of the Mir spacecraft, were instrumentalists weaving in sound effects and otherworldly music.

My written recap here doesn’t do this show justice, you simply must listen to it. Fortunately you can, right here from this post embedded below.

I went on to download other episodes of the Radiolab podcast and found all to be of this same level of production. Two or three speakers, musical interludes, sound effects and cuts from interviews conducted with subject matter experts.

There isn’t a scarcity in the number of podcasts, just in quality ones


Radiolab is a clear shift in the way podcasts are produced. I feel like the days of plugging a mic into a laptop and just talking while certainly not over, are becoming numbered. The technology to create a podcast is now in reach of the average person, and you can even create them using just your iPhone, with options to add bumpers and intro music, interludes and sound effects, all right in the palm of your hand.

When I think about Dark Side of the Earth it reminds me of that same attention to detail that many of my favorite bloggers put into their content, just that its audio. Its like writing a long form article, and adding a slideshow, or an embedded video, or a large photo that seems to pull you into the post. It reminds me of beautiful typography laid in to emphasize a point.

And because they put in so much time and care, a podcast like Radiolab’s is built to last, and to be re-listened to and shared. It’s the kind of thing you don’t want to delete from your phone after listening to. It’s the kind of thing you want to write a blog post about.