WNYC Studios Presents: TERRESTRIALS
Hosted by Radiolab’s Lulu Miller
Special six-part series brings the joy and wonder of RADIOLAB to a podcast for kids with stories about the strangeness of nature right here on Earth
Launches Thursday, September 22
Podcast launch includes a live kick-off event – “BUGAPALOOZA” in The Greene Space
at WNYC and WQXR on Saturday, September 24, 2pm
(New York NY – August 31, 2022) – On Thursday, September 22, Radiolab from WNYC Studios debuts “Terrestrials,” a six-part podcast series for kids 8 and up, and listeners of all ages, that explores why the inhabitants and phenomena of the natural world are stranger than we think.
Created by Radiolab co-host Lulu Miller and infused with the show’s signature sense of wonder, “Terrestrials” immerses listeners in lush sound-rich stories about our fellow creatures here on Earth — from the shape-shifting, shark-eating capabilities of octopuses to the surprising “softer side” of bald eagles, and other fascinating animal and nature stories. Each episode engages the listener’s imagination through creative storytelling, original songs and music, and astonishing scientific revelations. Miller interviews entomologists, physicists, surfers, hip hop artists, and other experts who are in search of new ways to understand the world and discover more about our planet. Each episode closes with “The Badgers” — a segment with kids badgering experts with their burning questions, such as “would an octopus eat an egg?” and “does time move differently inside the barrel of an ocean wave?”
While the series radiates joy and playfulness, “Terrestrials” also touches upon poignant human experiences like grief, fear, family, and disability. Through it all, Miller engages with established notions of what constitutes “expertise” in science and rethinks science journalism — who reports it and who it’s for.
“Terrestrials” was produced in consultation with an advisory committee of educators, authors, and a very candid group of kids and teens aged 5-18! Activity worksheets, drawing prompts and more accompany each episode to allow kids and families to further engage with the show’s stories and songs.
“Terrestrials” is available for streaming at “Radiolab for Kids” or wherever you get your podcasts.
Episode descriptions are as follows:
September 22: OCTOPUS
The series begins with the story of an octopus who was captured, placed in an aquarium, and found a way to escape back into the ocean two years later. Sy Montgomery, an author and naturalist who writes for children and adults, shares this dramatic tale — calling into question who and what we think of as “intelligent” in the animal kingdom.
September 29: TSETSE FLY
Dr. Sammy Ramsey, an entomologist who studies honey bees, insect parasites and related threats, and Dr. Paul Mireji, leader of BioInnovate Africa’s project on areawide control of tsetse flies, detail the gnarly abilities of this blood-sucking, disease-spreading insect. Lulu learns that these creatures give live birth, produce milk, care for their young (possibly better than humans), and just might hold the solutions to some of our planet’s biggest problems. This episode also touches on working through fear and the magical outcomes that can be waiting on the other side.
October 6: BALD EAGLE TRIO
A trio of storytellers – wildlife refuge biologist Ed Britton, hip hop artist and indigenous rights activist Nataanii Means, and American Eagle Foundation’s Crystal Slusher – tell the unlikely story of a trio of bald eagles who have been nesting together in the wild for the better part of a decade.
October 12: THE PHYSICS OF SURFING
Author and illustrator AJ Dungo shares the story of Duke Kahanamoku, the native Hawaiian surfer and Olympic swimmer, who is widely considered the “grandfather of modern surfing.” Lulu speaks to Kahanamoku’s great-grandniece, Heather Kina’u Paoa to learn more about the person behind the Olympian. This episode also explores the physics of surfing, and discovers how surfing is not just a mental or spiritual escape, but an escape on a physical level few may fathom.
October 20: GRAVITATIONAL WAVES
Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced, an astrophysicist who is blind, explains how she uses sound to detect when gravitational waves hit planet Earth. This mind-bending story begins with a wild idea about invisible waves in outer space that Albert Einstein had over a hundred years ago and lands in the present day, where Wanda uses the sonification of visual data to hear the rumblings of the universe right here on earth.
October 27: MULES
The series ends with the unlikely story of a mule – a creature that’s a mix between a horse and a donkey and is supposed to be sterile – who gives birth to a baby mule! This story is told by the “miracle mule’s” human family in Kentucky, the Smothers family, along with evolutionary biologist Molly Schumer and Kenyan-born mule-packer James Reeves. The episode explores the ways in which animal hybrids are changing our understanding of evolution itself.
“I’m making this show, in part, for the 8-year-old me who was haunted by the idea that there is no magic on Earth. I want to show her how wrong she was,” said host Lulu Miller. “As a science journalist and as a mom, I want to invite kids to examine the dazzling and perplexing natural phenomena I wished I’d noticed when I was young. As an environmentalist, I hope the series inspires the kind of reverence for the natural world that strengthens our connection to the planet–and inspires a desire to protect it. Lofty goals aside, I hope that kids enjoy the ride of each episode and that adults will find them refreshing, too. This show is a little bit like taking a nature walk with your goofy friend who can’t resist singing in an off-key voice to rile you up a bit.”
“I cannot wait for the world – including and especially my own kids – to hear this giddy and adventurous new show from my favorite podcaster (who happens to be my co-host) Lulu Miller,” said Latif Nasser, co-host, Radiolab. “At Radiolab, questions are our rocketfuel. Lulu has managed to make a show that runs on the same engine for the best question-askers of all: kids. (Not to mention for their parents who have been asking us for kid-appropriate episodes for a long time.) I’m so proud of this series, how it formats big questions for small ears and captures the joy of discovery for young ones as well as the inner dork in all of us!”
“We could all use ‘Terrestrials’ in our life right now,” said Andrew Golis, Chief Content Officer, WNYC. “At a moment when there is so much heaviness around us, Lulu and the team have created a series that bursts with light, levity, and a celebration of what’s good in the world. It’s the kind of timely, artful work that only a talent like Lulu, at a place like WNYC Studios, could create, and we’re proud to bring such an imaginative podcast to families and kids of all ages.”
- Aliyah Elijah: Philadelphia public grammar school teacher, children’s book author, and founder of STEMLand Science Foundation
- John Green: Best-selling author and host of the podcasts “The Anthropocene Reviewed” and “Dear Hank and John”
- Theanne Griffith: Neuroscientist and award-winning children’s book author who runs her own lab at University of California, Davis
- Dominique Shabazz: Social worker, educator, and middle child expert
- Liza Steinberg-Demby: Vice President of Creative Strategy and Editorial at Nickelodeon
- Tara Welty: Senior Vice President of Teaching Solutions at Scholastic
- Alice Wong: Founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture
- A collective of 5 to 18 year olds from across the country who have strong opinions and don’t mince words
Produced by: Lulu Miller, Ana González and Alan Goffinski with original songs by Alan Goffinski
On Saturday, September 24 at 2pm, join Lulu Miller and the Terrestrials team at The Greene Space in New York City for the “Bugapalooza” Kick-off Event with scientist Sebastian Echeverri, along with a coterie of insects and arachnids. Live, in person and online. Visit www.thegreenespace.org for more details.
“Terrestrials” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation.
ABOUT WNYC STUDIOS
WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio, and home to some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts, including Radiolab, On the Media, The New Yorker Radio Hour, The United States of Anxiety, Death, Sex & Money, Dolly Parton’s America, and La Brega: Stories of the Puerto Rican Experience. WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with podcasts and national radio programs that inform, inspire, and delight millions of curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. Programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, revealing interviews, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit wnycstudios.org.