Original air date: September 7th, 2015
The gist: Investigative journalism that pokes holes in our notions of big-game hunters and the conservation of black rhinos
Why it's great: While Radiolab was wrapping this story, news broke that the beloved Southwest African lion Cecil was killed by an American dentist on a guided hunt. "The Rhino Hunter" landed in podcatchers at the exact right time. The episode gave the hoopla dimension, liberating it from the villain-victim binary and deepening listeners' understanding of the complexities of endangered species conservation. Even after its debut, though, "The Rhino Hunter" holds up as intricate, eye-opening journalism that skews your moral compass.
Original air date: September 12th, 2013
The gist: Our beliefs on blame are interrogated in three acts, including an examination of child pornography, a new sector of legal reasoning -- neurolaw -- that could change how we punish criminals, and an appraisal of forgiveness that will make even the most generous spirits feel impossibly unevolved.
Why it's great: Radiolab can aggravate the senses, make you cry, and mess with emotions, and "Blame" does all of the above. Of course, employing a brain to examine the brain is an inherently flawed enterprise, yet in Radiolab s hands, it feels like we're on the ground floor of an experiment that both acknowledges the limitations of our minds and pushes past them. In the end, listeners will question their notions of free will, their ideas and fears about felons, and how we access forgiveness. "Blame" simultaneously captivates us and holds us captive. Listen to this one in the privacy of your own home, or in a space where you feel comfortable displaying the entire spectrum of human emotion.