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Robert Krulwich
Co-Host, NPR Radio Lab
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Robert Krulwich
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Co-host of NPR’s Radiolab, Robert Krulwich is one of the most original and widely listened to broadcasters in the world. His boundless curiosity and ability to explain complex subjects in creative, compelling, and entertaining ways has made him, as The New York Times said, “a storied figure in public radio history.”

On Radiolab, Krulwich explores  "big ideas" and the mysteries of science and life through visceral storytelling. The Peabody Award-winning show — which Ira Glass claims “invented a new aesthetic for the medium” — has been praised throughout the intellectual community. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine awarded Radiolab its top honor for excellence in communicating science to the general public. The show’s podcasts are downloaded over five million times each month. Slate named a 2004 episode of Radiolab #7 in their list of the 25 Best Podcast Episodes Ever.

Krulwich illustrates hard-to-see concepts in science with anything at his disposal, using drawings, cartoons, videos, and more. Early in his career, he applied his signature style to technology and economics as well as science. Over the years, he has explored the structure of DNA with a banana; created his own Italian Opera, “Ratto Interesso,” to explain how the Federal Reserve regulates interest rates; and explained arbitrage by wearing Groucho glasses. He currently explores these issues through drawings, cartoons, videos, and more on his National Geographic blog, "Curiously Krulwich."

“I like talking about big ideas, and I especially like creating images that will keep those ideas in peoples’ heads for hours, days, even months,” Krulwich says.

As a Special Correspondent for ABC News, Krulwich made regular appearances on Nightline, ABC News Tonight, and Good Morning America. TV Guide called him “the most inventive network reporter in television.”

As host and executive editor of PBS' documentary series NOVAscienceNOW, Krulwich looked at scientific breakthroughs and their applications, from fuel cells and hydrogen-powered cars to nanotechnology. For ABC's Brave New World series, he examined subjects ranging from artificial intelligence to human cloning.

Krulwich has won Emmy Awards for a cultural history of Barbie, a Frontline investigation of internet privacy, and a look at the Savings & Loan scandal. He also took home the 2010 Essay Prize from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, The Extraordinary Communicator Award from the National Cancer Institute, and the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award.

In his presentations, speeches, and personal appearances, Robert Krulwich is a show and an education all by himself.

Full Bio >
  • Google Zeitgeist: The Wonder of Storytelling
  • Charlie Rose Radiolab Interview
  • What if China Collected on U.S. Debt?
  • Talks Curiosity, Storytelling, and Radio Lab on Colbert Report
  • Radiolab Hosts on the Red Carpet at 17th Annual Webby Awards
  • Science and the Public Sphere, Aspen Institute Festival
  • Can We Believe What Journalists Report? – Part 1 (1991)
  • Can We Believe What Journalists Report? - Part 2 (1998)
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Speaking Topics
Inside Science with Radiolab's Robert Krulwich

Radiolab is a podcast/radio/stage show about science, philosophy, history — Big Ideas. It’s an ongoing experiment that has attracted large, young audiences to complex topics, and it does that by exploring new ways to match words, sounds, music (and on stage, puppetry, dance, animation, theater, comedy) to tackle some of the densest questions we can ask, like “where does music come from?”, do plants, animals have an inner life? Why are animals (including people) sometimes very kind to their enemies? In this talk, Robert Krulwich dissects a series of Radiolab stories, sometimes sharing early drafts, changes his partner, Jad Abumrad, and Krulwich made, arguments they had, ideas that turned out to be mistakes, stories that worked wonderfully, and tales that got them into trouble. This lecture includes lots of audio clips, video clips and, in some cases, experiments in theater and web design. 

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There are ways, lots of ways, to take technically complex stories and tell them to a lay audience — not dumbing them down, not ignoring the hard parts, but making them compelling, even fun. In this lecture, Robert Krulwich describes some of the techniques he uses on his show, Radiolab, or that he steals from the most adventurous, daring explainers to show how voice, movement, music, dance, design, writing, drawing, and animation can attract lots of ordinary, curious people to difficult subjects and get them thinking. Having spent decades covering economics and science (with little forays into warfare and diplomacy), having worked at CBSABCPacificaFrontlineNOVARolling Stone, and NPR, and most recently on the web, Krulwich has lots of examples to show and lots of stories to tell. Think of it as a Short Introduction To the Newest Experiments in Journalism — not just the stories that worked, but also some of his biggest bloopers. The gist, though, is simply that explaining things has never been more fun. Educators, businesses, journalists, theater folks, movie makers might be curious to hear what the talented people we admire are up to.

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This presentation will be about how to talk about complex science to people who don’t think they have the knowledge or patience to listen. Robert’s argument is: anybody, and he means ANYBODY — even a kid who got a C+ in biology in 9th grade and hopes never to think about science again — can be seduced into listening to and enjoying a nuanced tale about how the world works and how things came to be.

Robert will play short pieces, TV and radio stories, including an Octopus with Saddam Hussein, but also stories about how crows seem to be able to identify individual people (but people can’t identify a particular crow), two squids on a blind date, and a bird that invents an anti-gravity device; Robert will explore the difference between radio and TV, try my hand at very abstract subjects that would ordinarily baffle kid and adult audiences but that can be made suddenly clear and accessible.

Basically, this is an examination of story telling on TV and radio. It’s about how story telling is deeply musical and visual; even (especially) if it’s on the radio. And doing it right, you can talk about subjects that people think of as difficult; but really aren’t.

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Why Things Are the Way They Are
Beethoven, Chumbawamba, and Peter Jennings: How News is a Form of Music
Special Programs: Available to moderate panel discussions and onstage interviews.
“Robert Krulwich was a delight! He filled our hall to capacity with a diverse audience familiar with his insightful and humorous ability to share fascinating stories of scientific discovery. His curiosity, creativity, vast experience and storytelling skills combined to make an entertaining evening for everyone! Gracious and friendly he even stayed and chatted until the last visitors departed.”
Michigan State University
“Robert Krulwich was fantastic!”
Computer History Museum
“He makes complex subjects fun and understandable.”
92nd Street Y, New York
“Robert Krulwich was fantastic! He helped make the event. He was everything we wanted on the panels -- he brought the light touch, brought a complex issue down to a common understanding level for anyone in the room, engaged all of the panelists beautifully, brought out the points each of them needed to make and did it with great skill. I just can't say enough about what a great job he did today.”
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