Return Home
Season 10 | Episode 6


« previous episode | next episode »
Open bird cage Open bird cage (jumpinjimmyjava/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

The walls are closing in, you've got no way out... and then, suddenly, you escape! This hour, stories about traps, getaways, perpetual cycles, and staggering breakthroughs.

We kick things off with a true escape artist--a man who’s broken out of jail more times than anyone alive. We try to figure out why he keeps running... and whether he will ever stop. Then, the ingeniously simple question that led Isaac Newton to an enormous intellectual breakthrough: why doesn’t the moon fall out of the sky? In the wake of Newton's new idea, we find ourselves in a strange space at the edge of the solar system, about to cross a boundary beyond which we know nothing. Finally, we hear the story of a blind kid who freed himself from an unhappy childhood by climbing into the telephone system, and bending it to his will.


Edward Dolnick, Ann Druyan, Phil Lapsley, Ben Montgomery and Merav Opher

The Great Escape Artist

Can a legendary escape artist -- a folk hero who's broken out of jail more times than anyone else alive -- break the cycle of running and getting caught?

Comments [46]

Is There an Edge to the Heavens?

Cosmic laws are rewritten, and a spacecraft launched three decades ago races to become the first human-made object to leave the solar system.

Comments [27]

Long Distance

In the mid-1950's, a blind seven-year-old boy named Joe Engressia Jr. made a discovery that changed his own life and many others. While idly dialing information on the family telephone, he heard a high-pitched tone in the background and started whistling along with it. Slowly, he learned to recognize all ...

Comments [26]

Comments [111]

Cool, as usual. I did a story on the Voyager Expedition in 1980-81 and got to look at the then unreleased pics of new worlds- pizza volcano worlds, cracked ice worlds, shattered mountain-ice rill worlds... at the Brown Geoplanetary Center. It was the greatest thrill of my life, and had the Director not been the worst interview I ever did, who would say nothing as if I was trying to trick him into something... I would have worked there longtime. A better title for that segment would be simply, "INTERSTELLAR". Too bad no other spacecraft will have such longevity, cause the ecological wimps didn't use the Plutonium SNAP power generators that last hundreds of years. Where the wind stops there will be an eternity of particles blown out to that distance- I bet it's "messy"- but now it's in a Dead Zone of sorts? Here's the pic they mention, but from Cassini:

The blind phone freak was a wonderful story- I had a home built black box capacitor phone in the 70's with which one could call and talk between the rings but it was too annoying to use much (never knew about the magic tone)- in my Third Great Trip across America in a camper van 34 years ago, I would stop and hook up to terminal boxes to call my far-flung friends. Yung-uns won't understand the reason for such perfidy, but long distance communication was prohibitively expensive in those days- +50 cents/min- no cells, no Internet, no VOIP, just wired Ma Bell. When I had my first big national article in a mag a year later, careless editors called me and edited the story for 5 HOURS on the phone in the daytime- I figured later that cost $280 and was very pissed I didn't get that money. Especially since their edit was horrible.

Jun. 04 2016 07:36 PM
Cody from LA

wow really beautiful episode! very inspiring!

Apr. 21 2015 09:07 PM

This podcast reminded me of Mark DeFriest--check out the film, The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest.

Nov. 21 2014 03:30 PM
Lyra Christie

I think that Chris Gay's tragic upbringing definitely had a monumental impact on his psychological state for the rest of his life. It seems as if although he wanted to stop running, it was impossible for him. The blind child who used the telephone system to free himself was amazing. This podcast was very interesting.

Oct. 27 2014 07:58 PM
JwnycB from WDC

I'm not a psychologist, but I suspect that Mr Gay, like many of us has a classic constellation of ADD attributes: intelligence, creativity, focus, and poor impulse control. Although, his upbringing speaks as much as any, of the current nature of humanity, I suspect he is probably too old to hope for significant change in his neurological development/structure. However, a good psychiatric assessment might offer some hope for pharmotherapy that could help him transition to a stable, healthy life outside. I too, wish him peace.

Aug. 24 2014 02:07 PM
John from Ohio

Is the music John Fahey?

Aug. 23 2014 11:52 PM
Marc from California

I just listened to your program episode for today. I enjoyed it very much. More power to your show.

Aug. 23 2014 05:01 PM

LOL Y'all are physics newbies. Love the podcast though!

Jul. 28 2014 04:05 PM
Sam Deed from Santa Barbara, CA

Did anyone else notice that the first and third stories were also on Snap Judgement?

Jul. 26 2013 02:10 PM
saltfeend from NoPo

This one got me hooked on the show... such a good story

Jul. 19 2013 07:02 PM
Adam Wells from London

Looked through the comments very carefully about music; no one seems to have id'ed the track that turns up at 31.20 mins behind the Newton thought experiment explanation. Anyone any idea?

Jul. 12 2013 12:11 PM

Wow, I hope Christopher Gay got back with his wife and kids and finished the program. Does he need a pen pal?

Jul. 11 2013 10:45 PM

I originally heard about Christopher Gay from a song by Sage Francis called "Little Houdini". I felt so moved when I first heard the story. Then you guys put this show together...If I thought I cried before I was flatly weeping during this broadcast. Thanks so much guys for everything do. Thanks for consistently turning me into a 250 lb tattooed, bearded mess. Truly, thank you.

Mar. 07 2013 11:18 PM
alexis valadez from Tucson, Arizons

I love all the epscodes in this. I like the one about the blind boy who could make phone calls with his mouth instead of useing his hands. That one is so cool.

Jan. 21 2013 09:24 PM
John Shea from Atlanta, GA

I'm curious if Chris Gay got out, too. I'll post something if I find it but would appreciate if anyone else did too.

Dec. 21 2012 07:02 AM
Alexander James Rios from Naperville, Il

By complete coincidence, I listened to this on october fourth 2012, the date that christopher would have finished the program. I would really appreciate, whenever anyone there had a moment, if you would post where little houdini is now. Thanks a lot, I love the show.

Oct. 04 2012 02:54 PM

Getting caught up on my Radiolab listening and I just heard this today. I was very surprised that you didn't mention Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as famous phone freakers. They were making Blue Boxes before they made Apple. Haven't you seen the TNT movie, Pirate of Silicon Valley, or did you think this would somehow detract from the main storyline?

Jul. 30 2012 07:34 PM
Brian R from minneapolis

I was so moved by your story about Joybubbles today. I had a great privilege of being his neighbor for a spell in minneapolis and I must say he was 1 of the kindest, loving and brilliant people I have ever met in my life. I will never forget the day I introduced my young daughter to him and he insisted that she take home a giant stuffed turtle the size of a volkswagen and instructed her that although this turtle needed no food or water it was imperative that she give this turtle at least 1 hug a day.
This wonderful man made a profound impression on everyone he met.
Joybubbles we miss you and you will live in our hearts forever !!!

Jul. 04 2012 03:33 PM
DV from Philadelphia, PA

I'm with DanG ... I'm very, very curious to know what song is played at 25:42. Please someone help!!!

Jun. 19 2012 09:03 AM
Milton Bixler from Colorado

Wow! What an amazing and touching show! Keep up the good work!

Jun. 19 2012 01:07 AM
GW from Richmond, VA

Heard the "Escape" episode on my iPod last week -- had to let you know: The ONLY things on my iPod currently? "RadioLab" podcasts? And... about THREE-HUNDRED episodes of.... "ESCAPE!" Synchronicity? Eh, probably not. But STILL!

(By the way, the actor saying, "Wanna get away from it all?" That was William Conrad. Search "Bullwinkle" and "Cannon.")

Love the show. Carry on.


Jun. 15 2012 10:57 PM
Michael Moyes from Boston, MA

I have been searching for "The Ballad of Christopher Gay" since I listened to a chunk of it on this episode. No luck on iTunes, Tim O'Brien's site, Spotify, etc. I want to buy Tim's song or at least read the lyrics! Have you been able to track it down?

Excellent episode.

Jun. 12 2012 11:07 AM
Dick from San Diego

This has been the greatest hour of anything I have listened to in ages. It made me laugh, slap my knee, remember people I have hurt, who have hurt me, my hopes and hopes I have given up on. In the last six years I have had 20 jobs, never gone a month without a job, never been fired, lived in Alaska, Washington, and California, in a house with 12 people, on two boats, on couches, in the back of my truck bed, attended three colleges, amassed 179 credits, and still have no idea what I m doing or why. But this, this hit home. Thank you.

Jun. 12 2012 12:39 AM
Balamokie from Near Asheville, NC

Fabulous show. I am never disappointed. Love the format. Just glad to be on the planet with you guys. Keep doing it. And, thanks!

Jun. 10 2012 07:31 PM
Keith from Grapevine Texas

The story about Chris was absolutely riveting! Well done guys, thoroughly enjoyed it!!!


Jun. 08 2012 01:46 PM
brittanny from South Florida

The song during the break around 47:30 is called "I'll read you a story" by an artist named Colleen. Thank goodness for sound hound...and radiolab:D

May. 21 2012 10:33 PM

@Kyle from CT
I checked the comments...4 times... Many of the tracks are identified, but not this one specifically. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.


May. 14 2012 08:24 PM

@Kyle from CT
Read them yourself and you'll see there is nothing in regards to this track. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Some of the tracks are identified, but not this one specifically.

May. 14 2012 08:21 PM
Kyle from CT

Check the comments and we wouldn't need to listen to your broken record :D

May. 12 2012 04:23 PM
DanG from New York, NY

Ok, Broken record here...What is the name of the track after "We Move Lightly"?? It starts at 25:42. Its a xylophone track. I have to know what this is! I'm an artist and would love to have it or something similar for an upcoming short film I'm working on. PLEASE HELP? RADIOLAB PLEASE INCLUDE MUSIC CREDITS! This is actually unfair to the artists anyway.

Your Fan Dan.

Apr. 29 2012 02:49 PM
Katharine from Minneapolis

The piece of music at around 25 minutes in is "We Move Lightly", by Dustin O'Halloran. It can be found on iTunes. :)

Apr. 25 2012 08:05 PM

Caleb's comment, asking about the music with the female voice and xylophone at 45 minutes - someone HAS to ID this one! Please oh please!

Apr. 23 2012 10:52 PM

not sure if anyone mentioned this already, but one of the songs near the end is by colleen and is called "i'll read you a story".

Apr. 14 2012 04:42 PM
John from Indiana

@ Bob from Lexington
No, you're not the only one. I'm amazed at how many "science for the masses" reporters don't understand the fundamental difference between a solar system and a galaxy. Several years ago I cancelled my subscription to Discover magazine when they published two cover stories on Astronomy in one year, both by the same author (someone high up the masthead at that publication), but in each, the text made it clear that the author did not understand this basic concept. How the heck do you get to be an editor of a major science magazine and not know that? That would be like a sports reporter not knowing the difference between division playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Apr. 02 2012 12:20 AM
Gabrielle from New York

Reading the earlier comments I see that there is still no answer for what is the piece of music that starts at 25:30. I can't identify it with Shazam or SoundHound either. Please, please let us know what it is.

Apr. 01 2012 02:11 PM
Bob from Lexington, SC

Very interesting episode. Been away from Radiolab for a while, and this was a nice way to get back into it.

One minor thing i wanted to nit-pick:

Am i the only one who was bothered by Jad's misunderstanding of "solar system" vs. "galaxy"? (And the misunderstanding in at least one comment below between the "solar system" and "universe".)

To somewhat oversimplify:
The solar system is our local group of planets, asteroids, comets, and stuff that orbit around our sun.
The galaxy is a big spiral. It's a swirling mass of millions of stars (some with their own solar systems), nebulae, etc.
The universe is a collection of millions of galaxies and other things.

Voyager is at the edge of the solar system. It is nowhere near the edge of our galaxy, much less the edge of the universe.

Mar. 29 2012 10:17 AM
Cody from South Dakota

Exceptional program guys! I was wondering where you guys got the music for the last two songs played in the last part of "The Great Escape Artist"?

Mar. 27 2012 06:20 AM
Jhex from Gatineau

Amazing episode!... the last story was incredibly moving!

Also, what is the song (instrumental) that plays between story act 1 and 2... absolutely amazing...

Mar. 23 2012 01:34 PM

this was such an amazing episode, i loved it. /A radiolab fan from Sweden

Mar. 19 2012 04:49 PM

Marv, our Race episode is here:

Lidian, our Falling episode is here:

Thanks for listening!

Mar. 19 2012 10:50 AM
Marv Lyons from Chula Vista, CA

Damn. I've looked all over your website and could not find reference to the show I heard yesterday.
Was about race and problems predicting and diagnosing ailments based on race.

It would be good if you reviewed the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton... The correlation with race and illness may be a function of expectation and BELIEF. His work related to how belief alters physiology...Smart dude. Would be excellent material for your engaging show...


Mar. 19 2012 02:19 AM
Lidian from Plano, TX

I heard the last few minutes of a show tonight about a fellow who couldn't remember faces and a girl who fell in love with him. Amazing music about falling in love. Please tell me the title so that I can listen to the whole thing on your podcast. My first time to listen and was very intrigued!

Mar. 18 2012 09:25 PM
Liz from Indianapolis

I too would love it if music credits were included. The music in this episode was really wonderful.

Mar. 18 2012 08:55 PM

I absolutely love your program. Love it with an evangelical passion - in fact I often evangelize about it to others (I'm a biology professor).

However, I have recently noticed a shift away from explaining the human experience through science to describing the human experience (it was particularly evident in this episode, which I didn't think was one of your best). And I really regret this trend - there are no other programs in any medium that explain phenomena in scientific terms as well and as entertainingly as you do (you are fabulous!), please don't change your mission.

Mar. 15 2012 06:01 PM

Here's Joybubbles's (Joe Engressia's) run on Stories and Stuff: taken from Wikipedia. And yes, please credit the musicians and/or sound engineers for each musical snips. They're treats the tickles the soul.

Mar. 15 2012 01:35 PM

I agree with Aliya Z from NY! Credit the artists whose material you're using in your shows so that we can support them!

Mar. 14 2012 05:33 PM
Bree from Seattle, WA

This was one of the best shows you have ever done! Thank you!

Mar. 14 2012 11:22 AM

When they presented the blindman intro, in that old time radio show I swear I heard "Now watch your eyes!" instead of "who want your eyes", the actual words.

Mar. 13 2012 06:33 PM
Susan from New Zealand

@David: thanks very much for the link to the old radio escape programmes. I was wild with curiosity to know how the person trapped by blind men who want his eyes escaped. Another fabulous show, Radiolab. Thank you.

Mar. 11 2012 09:46 PM

@ James Dooney and JoseLuis Albertos,

let me get this straight: you are *complaining* because you think a radio show is becoming *more* like this american life?

Mar. 11 2012 04:55 PM
Aliya Z from New York, NY

Please start listing the music used in between segments! I love the music between segment 2 and 3! Don't know how to find it!

Mar. 11 2012 02:17 PM
Miles Wimbrow from Baltimore MD

I'm trying to imagine Krulwich's face when he was pretending to go along with the "wowza!" that you can solve physics problems with vectors :)

Very cool how it ties into discovering orbits!

Mar. 11 2012 11:51 AM
Lucas from canada

When I started off as an artist I was really into Phone Phreaks and based one of my first pieces of art off of them. Thought I would share it, not saying its good but enjoy.

Mar. 09 2012 07:19 PM

You can find episodes of escape here:

The blind men who want your eyes are from The Country of the Blind. They liked the story so much they made three versions.

Mar. 09 2012 01:47 PM
Peter from W Brookfield MA

Would you please tell me the episode title of the vintage radio show Escape about being trapped and surrounded by blind men who want your eyes? Thanks.

Mar. 09 2012 07:35 AM

Chris Gay stole Chrystal Gayle's tour bus?? Weird.

Mar. 08 2012 03:53 AM

Brilliant show, guys. I was tearing up during Long Distance and actually cried during The Great Escape Artist. Thank you so much for a show that looks at the beauty of broken people and lets us get to know them a little better.

Mar. 06 2012 01:22 PM
Bishwo Shrestha from Kathmandu

When is the new episode coming. I am eagerly waiting.

Mar. 06 2012 12:44 AM
Mina from Denver, Co

I am not able to hear any sound on the "Escape" episode after time-stamp 11:06. I've noticed this on other episodes as well. Please advice.

Mar. 05 2012 03:54 PM
Michael from columbus

Let me preface by saying I listen to both Radiolab and this American life with near religious fervor. What makes Radiolab different isn't necessarily the content they are presenting(all though it is a mitigating factor) but the way in which it is presented. It's not just random stories that are located off the beaten path and are awe inspiring(another mitigating factor), it's that those stories are used to address the meaning of an idea(or concept), the idea(or concept) behind that week's show. This American life is more from the perspective of the journalist on the story, Whereas with Radiolab, the story(stories) is(are) often told strictly by the person(s) being interviewed. This in turn allows for a lot greater interpretation of the content. The stories allow us to come to independent conclusions about the idea of the show, whilst Jad and Robert prod us along with their thoughts on the topic, challenging and informing our perspectives to give us greater insight into whatever it is that they are investigating that week. So while the content may change, the presentation of the show is really what makes Radiolab. at least that's what makes it for me anyways.

Mar. 04 2012 04:37 PM
iamsogaz from PA

Please bring the scientists back.

Mar. 04 2012 02:30 PM
James Dooney

"I am sorry to say this, but RadioLab is loosing its original edge and is quickly becoming a copy of This American Life. What made RadioLab so exciting was its deep focus on Science in general and on Psychology in particular. Some late shows dealt with Science issues --I am thinking of Oops, for instance--, but there was not any insight on complex scientific concepts. More on the contrary, the show followed the same structure as Ira Glass´ show in Chicago."


Mar. 04 2012 10:42 AM
JoseLuis Albertos from Yokohama, Japan

I am sorry to say this, but RadioLab is loosing its original edge and is quickly becoming a copy of This American Life. What made RadioLab so exciting was its deep focus on Science in general and on Psychology in particular. Some late shows dealt with Science issues --I am thinking of Oops, for instance--, but there was not any insight on complex scientific concepts. More on the contrary, the show followed the same structure as Ira Glass´ show in Chicago.


Mar. 02 2012 05:10 PM

I have to give huge props to the radio lab team for sneaking allusions to the battlestar galactica theme in their story about the Voyager at the edge of the solar system. Guys, if this was unintentional, I'll eat my boxer shorts.

Mar. 02 2012 03:18 PM
Hank from Denver, CO

Houdini is the greatest escape artist? That seems short-sighted. What about Harriet Tubman or Boxcar Brown. Surely, Tubman overcame much greater odds, several times, helping many more than herself to escape. Or, if you are looking for a singular event, wouldn't escaping by shipping yourself in a box north be among the greatest. C'mon guys!

Mar. 01 2012 03:23 PM
Jeff from Rochester, NY

Thanks, Radiolab. For making me tear up at work. Again. My coworkers must think I'm having a nervous breakdown. But on the bright side, now I can whistle phone calls.

Feb. 29 2012 05:03 PM

These stories are fantastic - I loved every one of them. Thank you for the work you are doing!!

Feb. 29 2012 10:50 AM
Mikael from Sweden

Look at what Ford people are listening to, according to engadget (lower right in photo)

Feb. 28 2012 06:40 PM

Great show, thank you. Sorry to sound repetitive, but I know how you guys love loops: playlist please.

Feb. 28 2012 09:15 AM
The Former 786

Did anyone else think that "Ben" from the first segment about Houdini sounded EXACTLY like Adam Scott from the TV show Parks & Recreation on NBC? It's uncanny. AND, Adam Scott's character is named Ben Wyatt. I'm not entirely convinced it WASN'T him. Radio Lab, are you trying to pull a fast one on us?

Feb. 27 2012 06:27 PM
Dave from Cincinnati, OH

My favorite escape? Coming to work Monday morning to find a new Radiolab episode ready to be discovered! Tremendous work you guys. Insightful and inspiring as always.

Feb. 27 2012 10:50 AM
Charles from Arcata

Nice use of Fahey's Sunflower River Blues, perfect mood for the piece.

Feb. 27 2012 04:07 AM

seriously? 4th grade physics?

Feb. 27 2012 02:50 AM
Sean from Sydney

I'd also love to see music credits on episode pages. I'm forever grateful to Radiolab for introducing me to Max Richter.

With help from the iPhone app Shazam:
The piano piece which begins at 24:35 is "We Move Lightly" by Dustin O'Halloran. The song beginning at 47:10 is "I'll Read You a Story" by Colleen (Cécile Schott).

Feb. 27 2012 01:36 AM

six episodes in one season!? mind = blown. can't wait to listen to this. :)

Feb. 26 2012 06:49 PM
Collin Hinds from Tulsa, OK

Holy shit! That was a good Radiolab episode. I'm a wow junkie. I'm always looking for things that have the potential to make me spontaneously blurt out, "Wow!" That episode gave me a wow-orgasm. Or, as a friend suggested, I had a "wowgasm". Great work, and keep the wowgasms coming.

Feb. 26 2012 06:43 PM

The universe constantly expands, and accelerates as it does so. I always wondered what is at the edge of celestial objects (stars, planets, other solid material objects) and the void (dark matter). Is Voyager expected to transmit data its sensors/camera's register regarding the composition of the universe's 'edge' material referred to in that show segment? If Voyager is closing on this edge, its speed currently must exceed that of the expanding universe. When Voyager overtakes this edge, then, its speed still ought to be in excess of the speed the edge expands at. So the encounter might destroy Voyager, or the edge material may bounce Voyager back away in a return direction. Or maybe it will proceed through whatever the 'edge' is, and determine whether the edge is a boundary envelope of some sort, in the way that the walls of a room is a containing boundary, or the atmosphere of the earth is a containing envelope. This is the only way my mind is able to imagine infinity.

Feb. 25 2012 09:07 PM
Kyle from Tennessee

I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring for the PLEASE PUT MUSIC CREDITS ON YOUR EPISODE PAGE trend. Specifically, the song that starts at 52:08 in the "Long Distance" segment. I had to play it about three times before I could pay attention to the actual segment, I just kept listening to that song.

Feb. 25 2012 06:34 PM
JD from Minneapolis

Whoa! My mind is blown after hearing "Joybubbles" again. My friends and I used to (prank?!) call him all the time when we were little (mid 1980s) via the last listing in the Minneapolis White Pages...the "Zzzzzzrific Funline." Thanks, Radiolab!!!

Feb. 25 2012 02:20 PM
Michelle from London (originally California)

I didn't know there was a name for it, but I was phreaking up until the early 90s! I can't remember how I figured it out, but I knew that if you dialled directory assistance from a touch-tone payphone, and then stayed on the line after the operator had disconnected, you could then dial any number (local or long-distance, including international) for free. As a 16 year old, I first used the technique to phone my mom when I needed a ride home, but then a bored friend and I started making lots of calls during one boring summer hanging out at coffee houses in our dull suburb. The thing is, we didn't know people to call, so would usually dial a random number and hang up. When we got bored of that, we called the White House once (they would not connect us to President Bush Sr.), and even tried calling UK numbers for shops we'd find in the back of our favorite music magazines. One afternoon after making a few of these calls, I noticed some men in suits sitting in a car nearby one of our usual payphones. After we were done, they inspected the phone and made a call on that. From that point on our trick didn't work anymore from the phones in our town. If those two men did have anything to do with the phones being fixed, I guess we were lucky to be two unassuming-looking teenagers, as we didn't get in any trouble for our pranks.

Feb. 25 2012 09:42 AM
Katrina from silver strand, oxn

oh man. this one was a tearjerker.

Feb. 25 2012 01:20 AM
Rabid Renaissance from McKinleyville, CA

How much funding would it take to keep you guys on the air all day? I'm only half kidding...

Feb. 24 2012 08:26 PM
Austin from Brooklyn, NY

@ Susan from outside DC, I have a normal and happy life and I remember fondly my first sip of alcohol. It doesn't have to be strange or sad. People have diverse experiences and I am with the podcast on this one.

Feb. 24 2012 06:05 PM
Mohamed Adam from ottawa

I love your podcast,thank-you so much .. I was first introduced by a friend last week, and frankly I am getting addicted and sad that I am getting the end of my consumption of the archives, satisfying soul & mind!!!!!

Mohamed Adam

Feb. 24 2012 04:33 PM
clementine from raleigh, nc, usa

this was a moving episode. i cried during the part about the blue ball, the escapist, the lonely phone man. but the real tragedy lies again in how radiolab DOESNT credit the music ANYWHERE. Why, guys? You have a stellar show. Please just list your artists. If This American Life can do it, so can you. You'd be introducing people to so many cool, new, unheard of things. Please, please, please, just list the songs you play between stories!

Feb. 24 2012 03:00 PM
Ben Ruttenberg from Los Angeles, CA

Song at 35:38 when talk about the moon as satellite? Anybody know? Thanks for all the help!

Feb. 24 2012 02:49 PM

Anyone recognize what Joybubbles is singing along with the phone clicks at 1:03:00-1:04:00?

Feb. 24 2012 01:44 PM
Lynda Joy from Chicago

What is the music playing at about 26:30? It is very pretty. Wish that 'credits' for the music in each episode would be available.

Feb. 24 2012 01:39 PM
Susan from Outside DC

I love RadioLab! This episode, as usual did not disappoint--touching, thought provoking and producing a lasting change in the way I think.

I found one line very odd though, "You remember your first kiss, your first drink of alcohol..." Of all the firsts in life, I found "a first drink of alcohol" a strange and sad choice. I don't remember my first drink and I can't think that it would be that memorable or momentous for anyone who doesn't have alcohol as a central part of their lives. Doesn't change my love for the show, just wondered if it struck anyone else.

Feb. 24 2012 10:32 AM
Mark Boyd from Bay Village, Ohio

I doubt it could be Joybubbles, but the first voice heard in the song "Thirty Incoming" from The Books' latest album, The Way Out, has an unmistakable resemblance to his. The Books have also been featured on Radiolab before!

Feb. 24 2012 04:55 AM
Chris from Durban, South Africa

Just finished listening to the Escape show podcast. My debut download. What a wonderful program. Guys, thank you. Keep it up. I'm hooked. Chris from Durban, South Africa

Feb. 24 2012 04:36 AM
Caleb from Joplin mo

This show was a tender morsel of thoughtfullness in my day. Thanks. Can someone please tell me the name of the song at about 45-46 min? It had an angelic almost liturgical female voice with a xylophone. I gotta have it. :) thank you.

Feb. 23 2012 11:03 PM
Jon Austin from Philly Suburbs (today)

Thank you so much for your last story in this episode, the Phone Phreak!

As a Bell Baby (Dad, the installer/repairman who also wired radar stations in the Arctic in the late 50s, and Mom, an operator back in the Depression who helped convert Western North Carolina to dial tone while Dad was up North), hearing about someone's journey through the maze of technical assumptions by engineers was a great experience. And his efforts to connect and not manipulate (I was living in RTP when they closed in on Mitnick back in the early 90s).....

Thanks for helping me connect to two parts of my past.

Feb. 23 2012 08:50 PM
Sean Cole

Hi Dan from New Orleans,

Good ears. "Zzzzyzerrific Fun Line" was also Joybubbles's handiwork. It was a precursor to "Stories and Stuff."

Thanks for listening and hope all is well,

-- Sean from Radiolab.

Feb. 23 2012 02:58 PM
Jhon from New York, NY

Why does WNYC NOT promote this show??? The show has been relegated to podcasts and every now and then on AM 820...NO ONE listens to AM radio..A few years ago, they would promote the show on WNYC which is on FM here in NY and which has a HUGE audience in the NY Metropololitan area (reaching nearly 20 million people)..then Jab wins a McArthur Genius award, and voila, WNYC decides, heck, why promote the show at all, in fact, lets not bother even giving it air time on WNYC at I the only one as puzzled as to wy WNYC is going out of its way to kill this show? do they hate success? meanwhile, that useless "Sound Check" show with John Schaefer is aired FIVE times per week at 2pm??!! what the fudge???? I'm freaking puzzled, RadioLab is EASILY the best show on WNYC. PERIOD.

Feb. 23 2012 02:32 PM
existentialvoid from Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

it would be great to have the music list in the future, your show always has the best background music and it always causes a small freak trying to place the songs (audio).

Great show as always, a fan at Cambridge. . .

Feb. 23 2012 11:45 AM
Dan from New Orleans

Great show. The ending of the 'joybubbles' segment sounded exactly like a mysterious phone number that I would call as a kid. It was found at the very end of the white pages of the phone book in Minneapolis under the name the "zzzzyzerrific fun line" or something like that. Does anyone out there know if this line was the same as joybubbles' stories and stuff?

Feb. 23 2012 11:37 AM
Anthony from England

Brilliant show! ... and the soundtrack was great. Does anyone know the source of that track entering into the "edge of the heavens" segment with a kind of xylophone-like percussion? Was that a gamelan?

Feb. 23 2012 08:52 AM
Bryan from Las Vegas

@S Nayak from NJ - I believe that is We Move Lightly by Dustin O'Halloran

Feb. 23 2012 02:00 AM
Emma B

what's the piano song at the end of the Christopher Daniel Gay segment? it's beautiful. thank you :)

Feb. 23 2012 01:59 AM
corey from Asheville

loved, loved, loved this show! great to hear a nice, full length episode. a big thanks to all of you who put this show together. it does wonders for my imagination!

Feb. 23 2012 12:35 AM
Zach B

I really enjoyed this week's episode, especially the segment about Christopher Daniel Gay. I remember hearing a version of his story, focusing on the escape where he stole the tour bus, sometime last year, on another radio show. It was interesting to hear a different perspective on the man and his life.

Feb. 22 2012 01:49 PM
S Nayak from NJ

What's the song between the first and second segments? I love it!

Feb. 21 2012 07:55 PM
Blake from Peterborough, NH

@Kialah Smith, I immediately thought the same thing when I heard the Christopher Daniel Gay story! (i love that song so much)

I always wondered what he was up to, and I'll admit I was sad to hear he was back in jail, contrary to Sages song ("Just the wide open sky where he could be free, little houdini...."). I guess he took a bit of liberty when it came to some of his lifes details, for example I don't think he ever broke out for his dad, no bizarre coincidence in a similar situation... :-/

I hope somebody updates his wikipedia entry.

According to the live news coverage, his mother really was briefly interviewed outside her house, right after it happened, and she really did say "He knows what he done was wrong, but he knows his mama don't got long." And that does kinda rhyme.

I almost cried when I heard his story on Escape. Such a tragic childhood. I'm crossing my fingers for October 12(?) when he's a free man again. My thoughts go out to him...

Another resilient, astounding soul... ruined by civilization.

Thanks RadioLab, I love your show!


Feb. 21 2012 06:10 PM

Can you send me a link to the show on brain development?

Feb. 21 2012 05:10 PM
Kristy from Las Vegas

Terrific job, as always. The phreaking segment reminded me of a story I read in Rolling Stone a while ago, about Matthew Weigman, a blind teen from Boston who used his hearing super powers to make sadistic, life-threatening prank calls. It's a captivating story. You can read it here:

Feb. 21 2012 04:07 PM
Pamela G. from New York, NY

Hey guys. Great job on this one. Christopher's story really hit home for me since I was also abandoned by my father and also had the chance to ask him why he did years later, except, I never did. I don't think people like that change. But Chris'story actually gave me hope and comfort, not so much for mysef,but for kids out there who are growing up as fatherless as I did. Thanks for this...

Feb. 21 2012 11:36 AM

The blue box was built by Captain Crunch who learned about the 2600Hz tone from Joe Engressia aka Joy Bubbles.

Feb. 21 2012 11:29 AM
Adam from London

Amazing episode, I am gonna rock in right away and ask what the music was playing in the background for the thought experiment at about 32. Its amazing. I would love to know.

Feb. 21 2012 11:24 AM
Julie from Michigan

I remeber as a kid doing the 'party line' thing they talked about with our rotary dial. My sister told me how to do it. But it was very hard to do because of all the static, & the short length of time between the recorded voice repeats.

Feb. 21 2012 08:50 AM
Kialah Smith from Colorado

I herd your podcast and could NOT believethe 1st story about Chris. One if my favorite artists, Sage Francis, has an song about Little Houdini. Called Little Houdini:
Sage Francis is an amazing lyricist. Hear the song here:

I love your podcast,
Kialah Smith

Feb. 21 2012 01:31 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.