Return Home

The Best of Radiolab...on CD!

Friday, July 25, 2008 - 10:47 AM

Hey folks, we're considering putting out a Best of Radiolab CD in the fall and we're looking for a few suggestions for what to include. Imagine if you could only play one story -- not a whole show, but something a little smaller -- which one would it be?

A few staff favorites:

- The Goat on the Cow from 'Detective Stories'

- Sometimes Behaves So Strangely from 'Musical Language'

-The Upholstery Mystery from 'Stress'

What are your favorite stories? Comment here or email them to and your pick may end up on our CD in the fall!

NOTE: This CD should come out just before our new season of one-hour shows is released. (I know, I know, you are waiting! Well, we're working on it!) All I can say about that is we're working hard on some very interesting new topics : race, decision-making, diagnosis...


More in:

Comments [57]

Nancy from New York syate

A cd would be great for my elderly friends who don't use computers Where Do I order cd? Thank you

Sep. 29 2012 06:25 PM

cd collection of your "sound" podcasts that would not be thought as the typical music cd. such as:

-sound as touch
-musical dna
-99% invisible
-behaves so strangely


and would end with "IF"

Feb. 04 2012 12:52 AM

I'd love to get this CD or another (hopefully) made in the future!

Nov. 01 2011 11:06 PM
Eric Purviance from Campbell, CA

How about putting together a CD of the best of the music you play, either at breaks or background. Now that would be a hit and generate revenue...helping to keep the lights on, sort to speak.

Thanks Team Radiolab for doing that thing that you do so well!!

Jul. 16 2011 12:12 PM

I'm just going to list off a few of my favorite segments even though the CD has already been released, I presume. (This is by memory... I haven't listened to some of the shows in a while).

-Goat on a Cow =)
-The one from Yellow Fluff... 1st segment on 666, etc.
-Morality, on the trains and pushing
-This one I have a hard time remembering... I think it's from Memory and Forgetting (ironic, huh?), on the 7 plus or minus 2 digits and the cake and stuff... =Z
-Phantom limbs from Where am I?
-The Afghan singer, from Pop Music
-The last segment in Zoos, with the leopard... very touching
-The story about the Rockefeller Commission in Parasites
-The last segment in Stochasticity with the noise filters and whatnot
-Pretty much the whole Afterlife show was awesome.

Man, oh man. There are so many more segments that are great, I just can't remember them all. But the ones I remember must have touched me in some way for me to remember them. Yeah... so... there.

Sep. 23 2009 10:34 PM

Oh I'm sorry, I forgot to mention the Genghis Khan blood line story (also from Detective Stories) Thanks~

Jun. 23 2009 07:31 PM

I love the story about Igor Stravinsky (Musical Language), Ancient Garbage Greatest Hits and Ella Chase (Detective Stories) and the story of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (Space) are my favorites stories. The Igor Stravinsky story was what got me hooked on Radiolab :)

Jun. 23 2009 07:29 PM

Just curious: What happened to this CD? It's not in the NPR shop. I'm sure you'll let us know as soon as it's available. :)

Thanks! And please come to L.A.

Jan. 23 2009 01:38 AM

Please hurry. I am so eager to send to my family out yonder who do not stream or MP3 but who would LOVE to listen to you on their stereo.

Sep. 11 2008 01:02 PM

I would second the “Grandpa” piece from the Mortality show. The production didn’t have a lot of Radio Lab bells & whistles, but it didn’t need it. The story was incredible. Touching. Sweet. Brutal. And the “People Who Lie” piece from the Deception show, another great, great story.

Aug. 07 2008 01:21 PM
Peter Hovering

"Sometimes behave so strangely" is my current ringtone on my cellphone and everything from "Musical language" is my favorite from Radiolab

Aug. 05 2008 04:56 PM

tiger story from "zoos"

Aug. 01 2008 11:37 PM

The bit about the railroads from the Time episode is the example I usually use to explain the show to people. It captures that special "guess what you didn't know?" moment that has made me a big fan.

Aug. 01 2008 01:04 PM
Henry Samuel

my pix...


chimera - that woman has an amazing story and it's well told, information keeps coming, feels like a realy mystery


grandpa - both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time


afghan elvis!

Aug. 01 2008 10:55 AM

THE out-of body one, I mean

Jul. 31 2008 06:07 PM

Oh c'mon! It has to be there out-of-body one (Where Am I?, perhaps)where pilots are sitting on the wings & looking down at themselves.

BTW Robert, we miss you on NPR Atc & on ABC.

Jul. 31 2008 06:06 PM
Liz B.

The Kiki the gorilla story from the Zoos episode is a favorite. I got weepy at the description of the gorillas experiencing their new habitat for the first time.

I would have a hard time selecting a single piece from the Placebo’s episode.

(So Called) Life was another series highlight for me. Jad and Robert’s opposing views on Intelligent Design were a fascinating argument but this might be more appealing (or meaningful) to a listener who is familiar with their dynamic as a duo.

Jul. 31 2008 05:08 PM
Brandie Isley

The segment w/ artist Joe Andoe from "Memory and Forgetting"

Jul. 31 2008 05:06 PM

grandpa... loved that!

Jul. 31 2008 02:41 PM

i loved "grandpa". i destroyed me every time. what an incredible story!!!

Jul. 31 2008 02:40 PM

The wonderful story Carl Sagan's widow told about them falling in love, and the Genghis Khan story are two pieces Radiolab has done that I think/talk about all the time. It looks like everyone else is saying that too. But I agree.

Jul. 31 2008 01:32 PM

The fireflies opening story on the Emergence show was one of the most beautiful little stories i've ever heard.

Jul. 31 2008 11:44 AM

Anne Druyen from "Space" came to mind immediately as my favorite. I found that segment to embody how I feel about my connection to the true mystery of existence.

Jul. 30 2008 05:33 PM

I would absolutely purchase a CD that consisted soley of variations on Sometimes Behave so Strangely. After that episode, I concluded that it is the catchiest phrase in our language.

But that is a project of its own.
As far as favorites I would choose the following segments, but with updates on the researchers and statistics involved.

Genghis Khan, from Detective Stories
Dr. Albert Mason's hypnosis experience, from Placebo

Jul. 30 2008 05:28 PM

One segment that always stuck with me was the "Homestead" segment, which I believe was from the Morality episode.

The segment on the Hayflick limit during the Mortality episode blew mind mind too! That episode was the first episode of Radiolab I heard, and I've been hooked since!

Keep up the great work.

Jul. 30 2008 01:49 PM
Rachel Jacobs

The show about placebos is probably the one I talked most about. It challenged my whole perception of reality. I talked about it for months.

Jul. 30 2008 05:39 AM
Rob Palmer

"No Special Now" from Beyond Time.

Skipping through the block universe, free will and post hoc rationalization in twenty minutes is quintessential Radio Lab. David McDermott, Michio Kaku, Lisa Randall, Brian Green and V.S. Ramachandran in one segment requires the brilliant editing that is a hallmark of the show.

"There is No Lord of the (Fire)Flies" simply changed my life and my understanding of life. I can't shape the words to do it justice.

Jul. 29 2008 08:37 PM
kim reist

I just did the quick survey was quite bummed not to see the Upholsterer story from the Stress episode. I even sent an email back about it, but reading all the comments here, I realize I might be in a minority! (with radiolab staff I might add).

It wasn't the first story or I heard, or the most moving or the one that "got me hooked", but it's still one of my all time favorites. I hope it gets on the CD in the end, vote or no vote.

Jul. 29 2008 07:50 PM

I am too late, evidently, and this has been suggested already, but wanted to put in my two-cents.

The Ann Druyen story still just takes my breath away every time I hear it, no matter how many times I hear it. The sweetest, most romantic thing I've ever heard and definitley one to include on any "best of" for Radio Lab.

Jul. 29 2008 06:48 PM

Curse my procrastination ;-) I too failed to write in and tell you my favourites - ah well, you can't really go wrong with Radiolab so I look forward to the CD anyway.

Some of my favourites include the interview with Fabrizio Benedetti - in Placebo - who mentions that 'you should interview Tor Wager' with a nice cut to Tor Wager introducing himself. Beautifully done - and it really made me laugh. That was the first Radiolab episode I ever heard and that section made me sit up and listen.

I also loved the 'Apple' segment, lifting the lid on how you use sound. The interview with the guy undergoing centrifuge training with the re-edit gives me goosebumps and I swooned at the physiology story woven from 'sound is touch at a distance'. Loved the way you used sound effects taken from that sentence to illustrate the passage of sound waves into the ear and to the brain.

The first time I heard the opening of 'Time' I was in my kitchen drying some dishes and I think I must have remained stock still for a few minutes lost in reverie at 9 Beet Stretch and the idea of slowing music down like that.

And then you provided me with a whole new band to love - Stars of the Lid. Possibly that doesn't count as a favourite Radiolab episode as it was really from a different programme but I'm pretty sure their music has featured in some of the episodes (quite possibly in Time?) so I'm all for them having a namecheck :)

It honestly thrills me that there are people who love 'sound' as much as I do, and the fact that they want to combine it with science and discovery just tips me over the edge. If it hadn't been for a random google I might have missed all of this enjoyment - phew!

Right, that's enough swooning...
Jo :)

Jul. 29 2008 04:56 PM

I guess it's too late to add suggestions, since I just got the email to vote-- but on of my favorites wasn't listed! It's the segment about Ian Waterman on "Where am I?" What an amazing story!

Jul. 29 2008 02:43 PM

"Emergence" got me hooked!

Jul. 29 2008 12:12 PM

Hope from Deception, definitely. That was such a compelling story, well-produced- a hell of a narrative.

Jul. 28 2008 08:14 PM
Soledad Robledo

Difficult question!
(1) Ann Druyian- unforgettable!
(2) Afghan singer
(3) Stravinsky

Jul. 28 2008 05:14 PM

I've always loved the fireflies segment from emergence

Jul. 28 2008 02:03 PM

Definitely stravinsky and rioting. totally great segment. i've used that idea a dozen times in conversation. and i second the goat on the cow segment.

Jul. 28 2008 02:01 PM

oh, definitely the Ann Druyen story...

and the one about the guy who photographs his dying grandfather, as part of a contest with his father...

also, the one about the pilots who experience out of body experiences

Jul. 28 2008 10:04 AM

Whenever I describe the show to friends, I reference the intro to Morality (about whether to push the lever to save 5 people versus pushing a guy off a bridge to save 5 people)...but my favorite example of RL at it's best is the description of the fountain of youth gene and the death gene at about 24:45 in Mortality.

Jul. 28 2008 01:29 AM

I certainly second the Ann Druyen segment from Space. For me, it was the most touching, mind blowing thing you've broadcast.

Jul. 27 2008 10:37 PM

forgive me, i don't remember episode names
- chimera
- annie (the voyager lady) talking about carl sagan and her "noah's arc" ambitions
- the orson welles segment of war of the worlds

Jul. 27 2008 05:54 PM

The one about the effect of music on the brain! That one was so awesome and got me hooked on radio lab. I love the story about people becoming crazy and violent when they listened to Stravinsky for the first time - that is so funny!

Jul. 27 2008 11:49 AM

The segment where you can here the mice laughing! That's the one that I've hooked non-science friends on.

Jul. 26 2008 11:45 PM

When I heard "Sometimes Behaves So Strangely" I called my mom, friends, and anyone who would listen to make them listen too. Fascinating stuff.

I also really like "Ghengis Kahn" because a few years ago I saw the PBS special about that scientist's journey around the world tracking migration through markers on the Y chromosome and I've never gotten it out of my head.

Jul. 26 2008 09:50 PM

Can't wait for the new season ~ keep up the great work!
Some past favorite topics:
- unihemispheric sleep from Sleep
- chimera from (So-called)Life
- dendritic arbors from Zoo

Jul. 26 2008 03:29 PM

The Goat on the Cow!

Jul. 26 2008 11:20 AM

The top three garbage picks from the past... I love that one.

Jul. 26 2008 10:00 AM

"Error is architecture" is a phrase that has stayed with me for over a year. That story of ants, and that particular line is so powerful!

That said, "Sometimes behave so strangely" always remains floating about in the mind, and conjures up the "magic" of RadioLab so well.

Jul. 25 2008 11:30 PM

The story of Kiki the gorilla from Zoos is what hooked me the first time I heard Radio Lab.
The story about Hope from Deception is the one that hooked my wife the first time I played an episode for her.

Jul. 25 2008 11:01 PM

-goat on cow [my favorite segment ever]
-rites of spring
-the segment in time talking about the first motion picture
-phantom limbs

and i really enjoyed emergence. anything from that.

Jul. 25 2008 07:23 PM
MK Czerwiec

My vote is from Musical Language, the piece about the the disastrous 1913 debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

Jul. 25 2008 06:53 PM

My favorite is the story about releasing the gorillas into their new habitat from the zoos episode. I have pushed Radio Lab onto everyone I know. I usually tell them to start with the mortality episode. In that one, the part about the worms is the best. I think because of how the life gene and the death gene are given voices. I like that.

Jul. 25 2008 04:48 PM
Tim Hettler

Robert's monologue at the end of Detective Stories gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.

Jul. 25 2008 01:14 PM

Where Am I? is my favorite RL episode, period - anything from that piece is fascinating, particularly the Centrifuge Machine one.

Jul. 25 2008 12:42 PM
Dan Henderson

The Ann Druyen segment from Space.

Jul. 25 2008 12:35 PM

another vote for:

Genghis Khan, from Detective Stories

because it's one of the things i found myself telling people about the most.

the dreams and animal stuff from sleep are also things that i ended up telling people about quite a bit.

Jul. 25 2008 12:23 PM

The one I always tell people about first is the segment from "Sleep" about the dolphins, iguanas, and ducks.

Jul. 25 2008 11:49 AM

Narrow it down to just one? Impossible, too much good stuff. Here is my favorites:

Phantom Limbs, from Where Am I?
Chimp Fights and Trolley Rides, from Morality
Genghis Khan, from Detective Stories
Where is that part that is 'me'?, from Who Am I?
No Special Now, from Time
Dreams, from Sleep

Jul. 25 2008 11:00 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Supported by