Robert Krulwich ’74

The Simplifier

Winter 2009

When Robert Krulwich ’74 graduated from Columbia Law School, he received a unique job offer—one with a catch. John Wharton, a founding partner at the New York City law firm Paul Weiss, said Krulwich, who had been a summer associate at the firm, could work there if he promised to take a year off first. Wharton liked Krulwich and believed he could succeed as a lawyer, but the veteran attorney also knew a year away from the law might put Krulwich on a path he would enjoy even more.

Wharton was right. Krulwich never made it back to Paul Weiss. He became a journalist and is now a correspondent with ABC News and for NPR’s Science Desk.

Over the years, Krulwich had learned to decode various topics for his own edification. “I’ve always been a bit of a slow processor,” he says. He decided to use that approach in journalism to make complex issues accessible to as many people as possible. The method has become his signature, and New York magazine has since dubbed him “the man who simplifies without being simple.”

Krulwich’s newest project is co-hosting the NPR show Radiolab with Jad Abumrad. The program, which the hosts call a show about curiosity, has attracted a cult-like following among young, educated listeners. “It’s like being in a garage band with a style you never thought anyone would listen to,” Krulwich says. “The future for me is just to see where this is going to go.”