Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, a public radio program broadcast on 524 stations across the US and downloaded more than 9 million times a month as a podcast. Most days, Radiolab is the second most popular podcast, just behind This American Life.
Abumrad did most of his growing up in Tennessee, before studying creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. Following graduation, Abumrad wrote music for films, and reported and produced documentaries for a variety of local and national public radio programs.
In 2002, Abumrad began tinkering with an idea for a new kind of radio program, an open-ended radio ‘laboratory’. Radiolab has since evolved into one of public radio’s most popular programs. Abumrad hosts the program with Robert Krulwich and also serves as its lead producer, composer and managing editor.
Alongside his radio work, Abumrad continues to work as a composer and remixer. His music is currently being performed across the country.
Abumrad employs his dual backgrounds as composer and journalist to create what’s been called ‘a new aesthetic’ in broadcast journalism. He orchestrates dialogue, music, interviews and sound effects into compelling documentaries that draw listeners into investigations of otherwise intimidating topics, such as the nature of numbers, the evolution of altruism or the legal foundation for the war on terror.
In 2010, Radiolab was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and in 2011 Abumrad was honored as a MacArthur Fellow (also known as the Genius Grant). The MacArthur Foundation website says: ‘Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.’ In 2015 the Radiolab episode ‘60 Words’ was awarded a George Foster Peabody Award.