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

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."

Brand Over Brain (R)

Brands help us assign value to almost everything we buy. But is there a way to know the difference between real and created value? In this episode, TED speakers explore the seductive power of brands. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock tells the story of his quest to make a completely sponsored film — about sponsorship. Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we perceive it. Consultant Joseph Pine says we’ll pay more for an experience that feels “real.”  Marketer Rory Sutherland explains how rebranding changed the potato forever.

In Search Of

How far would you go to find something that’s just out of reach, or maybe, not even real? In this hour, TED speakers tell stories about searching for elusive sea-creatures and distant aliens. SETI astronomer Seth Shostak says we’re likely to find proof of intelligent life in the universe over the next few decades. Oceanographer Edith Widder explains how innovative technology helped her capture the reclusive giant squid on video. Chef Dan Barber talks about his quest to find a delectable, yet sustainable, fish. Finally, humorist John Hodgman looks hard for aliens too, but finds love instead.

Misconceptions (R)

There are some truths that we believe in wholeheartedly — but what if we’re completely wrong? Once we separate fact from fiction, how do our perceptions change?  In this hour, TED speakers move beyond conventional wisdom to reveal complex realities about what we think we know to be true. Author Malcolm Gladwell reveals an alternative account of David and Goliath that flips the story on its head. Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the actual origins of Chinese-American food. Ecologist Allan Savory counters everything conventional wisdom tells us about how grasslands lose their life to desertification. Reporter Leslie T. Chang debunks how we assume Chinese factory workers feel. Psychologist Barry Schwartz says having more options doesn't make us happier — it actually paralyzes us.