I'm starting the new year with big personal news. I've decided to step aside as host of Radiolab. This show that I started in 2002 — literally, in my basement — is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and this feels like the right time.
For the last few years — since 2016, really — I've told myself that there'd come a point when the team would be "ready" for me to leave. When they might even need me to. I wasn't sure when that would be or how I'd know, but I made a pact with myself to stay watchful, to create space rather than filling it, and to listen rather than talk.
And in the last year, an odd feeling has started to follow me around.
A not-so-unpleasant sense of being displaced, of becoming a smaller and smaller part of a larger thing rather than the main event. I've felt it during edits with Simon on the “MIXTAPE” series. With Sarah Q. on More Perfect stories. With Pat W. on his G series. While working with Molly on countless Covid dispatches. I got a concentrated dose of it while listening to the “Breath” episode and hearing Annie and Matt yell at each other
- joyfully — while trying to park a car. Most of all, I've felt it during "brain-dumps" with my brilliant co-hosts: Lulu and
In other words, I think we're at that point.
This insanely talented group of people each embody the spirit of experimentation that first put Radiolab in motion, but they're taking the show in directions I could’ve never imagined myself. That’s a bit humbling, for sure. But to see that what I’ve started could have so many more chapters … that feels like the truest form of wealth. And I couldn't be more excited to experience their journey as a listener.
To everyone I ever worked with who helped lead us to this point: thank you. Actually, let me be more specific with my gratitude.
- Thank you, Robert Krulwich, for 17 years of genius. You're the most talented human I've ever
- Thank you, Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser, my co-hosts at Radiolab. You are the direct descendants of the great Bobby K — you bring wonder, skepticism, and joy to every moment. I am beyond proud to leave the show in your
- Thank you, Soren Wheeler (Radiolab’s executive editor), for literally everything. You remain Radiolab’s Atlas and the best editor in the business. I am in awe of
- Thank you, Suzie Lechtenberg (Radiolab’s executive producer), for being the industry's most gifted plate-spinner. And a true
- Thank you, Dylan Keefe (Radiolab’s director of sound design), for a decade of making me sound good and making me
- Thank you to the many contributors, partners, and collaborators we’ve worked with through the
- Thank you to all my colleagues — past and present — at WNYC for your support, especially Goli Sheikholeslami, Andrew Golis, and our publicist from the beginning, Jennifer Houlihan
- Thank you, Mikel Ellcessor and Dean Cappello, for setting me on this
- Thank you, Ellen Horne, for helping breathe life into
- Thank you to all the public radio stations who have carried our show and welcomed me to your city or town.
And finally, my deepest, truest, most heartfelt thank you to the most amazing team in audio: Simon Adler, Jeremy Bloom, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, W. Harry Fortuna, David Gebel, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, Maria Paz Gutiérrez, Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Alex Neason, Sarah Qari, Sarah Sandbach, Arianne Wack, Pat Walters, and Molly Webster.
I bow before all of you. Making this show with you has been the honor of a lifetime.
As for me, after 20 years, hundreds of episodes, several spin-offs and one pandemic, I’ll be doing some writing, some teaching, some music-making, some thinking, and frankly, some being. And I’ll always be here for the team to advise, counsel, or just listen.
Twenty years ago, if you told me even a hundred people would listen to this show, I’d have laughed. Now millions tune in and download Radiolab each year. That still doesn’t quite compute. Maybe the Radiolab team can figure out the math. Or perhaps, I’ll just let the mystery be and step back in gratitude to all the listeners who have invited us into your homes, car radios and earbuds.
I will always be truly thankful to all of you for giving me this chance.
[Lulu and Latif's Letter]
When Jad told the team his news, we all felt a rush of emotions. We had long known this day was coming — he’d been slowly dialing back his role for years — but it still felt big and momentous. As we sat processing, one producer broke the silence with a simple “Thank you.” Thank you, thank you. Then another, and another. “Jad, you’ve done this so well,” said another producer. “You created this beautiful show, you poured your heart and soul into it; you trained us to do that, too. You set us up to succeed.”
He did. We both got our start in audio right here at Radiolab, drawn to its sonic beauty, its willingness to ask big questions, its irreverence — it stood out from everything else around it. We wanted to be a part of what was then a “science show for people who don’t think they like science.” The two of us have spent countless hours with Jad: first as producers learning and making, and in the last few months in our secret co-host lair, thinking about the future. And we’re so excited.
Looking down the pipeline of the stories ahead feels like looking into a kaleidoscope. We will be taking you high into the treetops where a truly unimaginable reality blooms; we'll be taking you into the secret subversive life of one of the saintliest icons from history; we'll be launching into the future, to the distant past, into space. You can expect Radiolab to stay itself because you can expect all of us on the team to do what we’ve always done, what Jad taught us to do: play, experiment, challenge ourselves, and above all, take us to the edges of what we think we know.
We know this is a moment in the world full of crises too wonky to easily comprehend but too serious to ignore. We’ll continue to approach the big issues of our time with big honest questions and diligent reporting. And we’ll continue to honor the complexity and humanity that facts alone don’t capture.
We’ll also do less serious things — like riding a vomit comet or spoofing a classic Disney song – because really, why not? The magic of Radiolab is that it’s big enough to contain it all.
Oh, and, hey, we’re just a couple of months shy of the 20-year anniversary of this show, and because of the entire incredible Radiolab team, the path ahead is more promising than ever. We vow to keep dazzling you, our audience, for years to come. Not least of all because now the guy who made our favorite show will be one of you, listening.