Chapter Twenty Nine- RadioLab at Riverside Theater


Last week I got dressed up for what I’m sure will be the last time before this baby is born.  You have no idea how uncomfortable I was wearing something other than yoga pants!

Anyway, my brother in law got tickets to go see the NPR radio program RadioLab at The Riverside Theater.  My husband and I both wanted to go but couldn’t find babysitting, so we flipped a coin and I won.  Woot!


Will and I found $10 parking nearby, walked to the theater, got lots of “you’re due any day now?!” comments and sat down.


I wasn’t sure what the show would be like, because it’s a radio show.  Do you know RadioLab?  I used to think the format was too disjointed with all the different audio layers.  I was more of a This American Life kind of girl.  More straightforward with a little music here and there.  But I’ve grown to like RadioLab a lot because it seems to flow more easily for me now, and the content is usually scientific and super interesting in nature.  This show was titled “Apocalyptical“…ooooooooohhh!


The show opened with comedian Kurt Braunohler, who was hilarious.  I couldn’t tell if it was the pregnancy hormones, or stress, or any number of things, but I was laughing so hard and it felt really nice.


The first act opened with hosts Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich coming out to talk about dinosaurs and how they went extinct.  It was fascinating to hear the “new” science on how they could have ended.  I’ll try and sum it up in three sentences (bah!).  Here goes: an asteroid the size of Manhattan hit somewhere in Mexico, scattering parts of the earth (dust, rocks, etc) everywhere including back up into space.  Those particles that hit our atmosphere turned into tiny pieces of glass from the extreme cold temperatures.  Those glass hell balls then rained back down and disinegrated before hitting the earth (yay!) but created so much heat in the process that the temperature could have risen to like 2000 degrees in a matter of hours (not yay).

Jad Abumrad fascinated me; he seemed like a DJ or conductor, giving the musicians queues and playing with his computer which had pre-recorded audio interviews on it.  The three screens had video of cool things like bullets shooting through water to demonstrate the theories.  As you can see above, they also had props and dinosaurs (I’m sure there’s a term for this…kind of like puppeteering?).  I had no idea this was the sort of radio show that could be live.  So cool!


Next came a short piece on the element Bismuth and Pepto Bismol, but I missed most of it because I took a trip to the ladies’ room.  And by the way, if you’re pregnant a nice guy offers to take you in the elevator down to the lower level restrooms.  It’s one of those old-timey elevators where you have to manually shut the door.  When I returned to my seat, Will informed me that another perk of being pregnant is that the bartenders will actually serve ice water in a glass ONLY if you have a good excuse, such as “come on man, it’s for my pregnant sister in law”.  Otherwise you have to buy a bottle of water.


The last piece was about another kind of “ending”.  It started with a short story about a guy who was the last of his line.  No more relatives.  Period.  He struggled with the idea of being the last of his genetic line, the last part of his family to survive.  Jad and Robert (with the help of comedian Kurt) took suggestions for a term for this guy, the last of his kind.  “Endling” is what the original doctor reporting the case called him, but the audience in Milwaukee chose “Caboose” instead.



In all, it was a really neat experience.  I’d definitely recommend it and go back again.  I so enjoyed seeing the musicians read their music scores and work together to add impact to the story.  The sound effects and digital video added such a captivating piece to the performance, too.  I would love to meet Jad and Robert (and the musicians) and see what rehearsal looks like, how editing before the show goes, and what the interviews are like.  I imagine the amount of work it took to piece this live show together was a lot!

If you get the chance, check out this show.

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  1. jamie says:

    I would have love to have seen this! I think Jad’s background is in music and theatre…. it’s an interesting dynamic the two of them have also. Nice night!


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