Robert Krulwich, the longtime journalist and one of the hosts of “Radiolab,” the immensely popular audio program known for its offbeat investigations of big ideas, will retire from the show in January, New York Public Radio announced on Thursday.
Krulwich, 72, has hosted the show, which is produced by WNYC, with Jad Abumrad since 2005.
“There comes a time — and I think it has come — when you get out of the way and let the future come flooding in,” Krulwich wrote in a letter posted online.
Abumrad created an earlier rendition of “Radiolab” in 2002, the same year Krulwich and Abumrad met. When Krulwich came aboard a revamped version, the show was a small, seasonal venture; now it airs weekly across 589 public radio stations.
Each episode poses a scientific or philosophical quandary at the top that Krulwich and Abumrad probe over the course of the show, often leading to surprising conclusions. One recent broadcast began by asking where eels come from; another explored the secret history of square dancing.
Before “Radiolab,” Krulwich covered a wide variety of beats for more than two decades as a correspondent at ABC and CBS News, including science, technology and economics.
In 2011, Krulwich told The New York Times Magazine he had dreamed of a career in broadcasting as a boy. He would pretend to sleep when his parents peeked in at night — but really, he was listening to the transistor radio tucked under his pillow.
The Magazine described Krulwich’s “Radiolab” persona as “your favorite college professor, full-blown and voluble, unable to go more than four minutes without making everyone in the room laugh.”
In a statement, Abumrad said of Krulwich: “We’ve shared so many late-night edits, three-hour tracking sessions, pre-live show jitters, and greasy diner meals that got a little too confessional and sometimes a little too argumentative.”
“And in the process,” Abumrad added, “we built a show together.”
In his letter, Krulwich said he plans to focus on new projects like a documentary, a “global warming interactive” and “grandpa duty” — which includes, he said, blowing bubbles at pigeons with his grandchildren.
“Radiolab” will produce a tribute episode for Krulwich in January.