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11:47 am
Thu June 20, 2013

'Radiolab' Hosts Talk Hmong, Influences In Reddit 'AMA'

"Radiolab" hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich.
"Radiolab" hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich.
Credit Provided / Radiolab

The hosts of WNYC and NPR’s Radiolab took to the social media outlet reddit Wednesday to answer questions from fans and listeners as part of the “AMA (Ask Me Anything)” interview series.

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich addressed the controversy surrounding the September 2012 episode Yellow Rain. Andrew Lapin writes in the public media trade publication Current that the program revisited the use of chemical weapons against the Hmong people in the closing days of the Vietnam War.

“Krulwich drew upon the studies that concluded that chemical weapons had not been used on the Hmong people, asking whether Yang had actually seen Viet Cong planes dropping chemicals on his village. Krulwich’s persistence upset the Yangs so much that Kao Kalia Yang, through tears, ended the interview early, saying, ‘We can play the semantics game — we can. But I am not interested . . . We have lost too much heart, and too many people.’”

“We got a lot of criticism, we deserved much of that criticism, and we apologized on the website and the podcast,” Abumrad and Krulwich say. “One of the things we learned from that experience, and our main point of that entire hour, was that there are often multiple truths in a story and sometimes the emotional truths are the most powerful.”

Abumrad and Krulwich also talked about how much they’ve been influenced by This American Life.

I'm consistently envious of TAL,” Abumrad says. “I still diagram TAL stories to better understand story structure.”

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