Podcast of the Week: Freakonomics Radio

In Podcast of the Week by Tales Untold Media

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Podcast of the Week Freakonomics Radio

Does the President really matter? How can you become great at just about anything? Why do we still wait in lines?

These are the kinds of questions posed and explored by Freakonomics Radio, a podcast (and public radio show) hosted by journalist Stephen Dubner. Dubner and co-author economist Steven D. Levitt first published their best-selling book Freakonomics more than ten years ago. At this point, they’ve turned it into a cottage industry, with a series of books, a blog, a movie, a live game show, and, of course, a podcast/radio show.

About the Show

Freakonomics Radio ferrets out connections between seemingly unrelated things. The program explores the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports—using the tools of economics to explore real-world behavior.WNYC
Freakonomics Radio is produced and distributed by WNYC, so they’ve certainly got a leg up on bootstrap podcasters, in terms of production value. (There’s also the added bonus of a complete transcript of every episode.)

Production value aside, pay attention to the editorial approach. Podcast episodes range from about 30 to 60 minutes in length. They almost always feature multiple interviews and within each interview segment, they’ve pulled out short, interesting chunks of conversation that are tied together by separately recorded voiceovers from the host. In other words, interviews are edited down to only their most engaging parts, and then the host records little snippets that go in between so that everything flows naturally.

That’s a standard approach to storytelling on the radio, and it’s often thrown out the window by podcasters. It sometimes works when a podcaster ignores the traditional rules of radio to come up with his or her own format that best suits their vision. After all, that’s the beauty of podcasting: you can do whatever you want.

But there’s a difference between breaking the rules and being lazy. If your podcast focuses on an esoteric topic (like, say, the intersection of economics and human nature), or something else that could get really boring really fast, take a cue from one of the most downloaded podcasts on the market. Nobody needs to hear 45 minutes of an interview if the really engaging bits are only a couple minutes long. Keep the good stuff and record a separate voiceover track to tie those clips together.

Remember: you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.


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