TED Radio Hour

TED Radio Hour draws from the vast archive of TED Talks and weaves in new interviews to tackle a central theme or question. It’s a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create.

Recent Episodes

Success (R)

Success has become synonymous with financial wealth, influence and status. But can we define success in another way — one that welcomes a broader range of accomplishment? It may not be as obvious as you think. In this hour, TED speakers share ideas for what makes us successful. Life coach Tony Robbins describes why failure should not be an option. Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says "grit", not IQ, is the new predictor of success. Mike Rowe encourages us not to follow our passion. Ron Gutman shares some compelling research on the hidden power of smiling. And writer Alain de Botton shares a fascinating view about the American paradigm for success and failure.

The Unknown Brain

 The brain can seem as mysterious as a distant galaxy, but scientists are starting to map and manipulate its many regions. In this hour, TED speakers take us on a trip through the human brain. When neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor felt her brain shut down during a stroke, she was more fascinated than panicked. Even though she spent eight years recovering, she’s grateful for the stroke. Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel turns brains into soup, so she can meticulously count the neurons, and determine why human brains are unique. Nancy Kanwisher studies the brain partly by staring at her own. She’s spent countless hours in an fMRI scanner, mapping her own brain to gain insight into what makes us human. Neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe explains how one region in  the brain focuses on other people’s thoughts. Philosopher David Chalmers asks why humans have a sense of self, a constantly-running movie full of sensation and internal chatter. He offers two ideas about the nature of consciousness.

How We Love (R)

Love is instinctive and essential. We need it to keep our species going, to survive childhood, to create bonds with other people. But what is it that brings certain people together?  In this hour, TED speakers examine the mystery of connection and relationships. Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating, until she effectively hacked the system.  Anthropologist Helen Fisher questions what happens in our brains when we're in love. Therapist Esther Perel says a good relationship draws on both security and surprise. Writer Jeffrey Kluger explores the profound life-long bond between siblings. Angela Patton tells the story of a unique father-daughter dance.

Seven Deadly Sins

Seven TED speakers muse about the seven deadly sins: Psychologist Christopher Ryan says human beings are sexual omnivores, and a more nuanced understanding of fidelity may tamp down our shame about lust.  Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett explains how his city sidestepped gluttony and collectively dropped one million pounds. Activist Dave Meslin says even though we’re apathetic about local politics, we’re hardly sloths. Dr. Gary Slutkin tracks violence, the destructive sibling of wrath. He says if we think of violence as a contagious disease, we can better contain it. Nick Hanauer is a rich guy with at least five houses, but is he greedy? He argues taxing the very rich and increasing the minimum wage would be good for everyone. Editor Parul Sehgal says literature would hardly exist without the “grim thrill” of envy. Jeopardy Know-it-All Ken Jennings reveals how losing to a supercomputer crushed his pride.

What We Fear (R)

Human beings have a fine-tuned sense of fear. But how do we distinguish between fear and danger? How do we decide which fears are rational and irrational? In this hour, TED speakers explore what it means to be afraid, and how we calm ourselves down — or don’t — when we’re terrified. Astronaut and retired colonel Chris Hadfield discusses how to prepare your mind for the unexpected, and the worst. Through the story of the whaleship Essex, novelist Karen Thompson Walker describes how our most vivid fears are often not the most realistic. Folk singer Joe Kowan talks about the visceral, body-hijacking experience he feels when he’s performing in front of an audience, and how a song helped him cope with stage fright. Illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine reveals how he has made a career out of fearlessly performing death-defying feats. Philosopher Stephen Cave delves into the simple question: Why are human beings afraid to die?

Keeping Secrets

Who should get to keep secrets, and who should demand to know them? In this hour, TED speakers talk about the damage secrets can do, and the shifting roles we play when we keep, or share them. "Secrets...can be shocking, or silly, or soulful," says Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret. He shares a few of the half-million secrets that strangers have sent him on postcards. Equality advocate Ash Beckham offers a fresh story about empathy and openness — and it involves pancakes. Charmian Gooch's mission is to “out” corrupt companies. She details how global corruption trackers follow the money — to some surprisingly familiar places. Journalist Glenn Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything to hide."