Archives for Featured Radio Post



The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

If there’s a death in your family and you choose to have your loved one cremated, wouldn’t you expect that the remains that are returned to you belong specifically to your beloved? Of course you would! Would you expect the same if the dearly departed happens to be the family pet? I suspect the answer is still yes. But in the fast-growing pet-cremation business, how do you know that the remains you’re getting back are indeed from your pet?

This week’s podcast is a rebroadcast of our episode called “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.” Read More »



How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our previous episode — “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” — looked at the role of teacher skill in the education equation. But the education equation isn’t so simple — there are a lot of inputs, a lot of variables, a lot of question marks. Our conclusion: sure, it would be great to have a brilliant teacher in every classroom — but that still doesn’t guarantee that every student will be well-educated. Students have to want it; families have to want it. What is a teacher and a school system supposed to do if a lot of its students just don’t really care about school?

That brings us to this week’s episode, “How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It’s about a program called Pathways to Education, which came out of a community health center in Regent Park,  a housing project in Toronto. You’ll hear from Carolyn Acker, who used to run the center: Read More »



Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


We’ve all heard the depressing numbers: when compared to kids from other rich countries, U.S. students aren’t doing very well, especially in math, even though we spend more money per student than most other countries. So is the problem here as simple as adding two plus two? Is the problem here that our students aren’t getting very bright simply because … our teachers aren’t very bright?

That’s the question we ask in our latest Freakonomics Radio episode. It’s called “Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The cast of characters:

+ Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor (and head of the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Antitrust Division) who now runs Amplify, a News Corp education-technology startup. Klein’s new book is Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools, which was so informative and impressive that I blurbed it. In its review of the book, Newsweek says that Klein “politely rips the status quo,” which is exactly right. Read More »



The Man Who Would Be Everything: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


What is Boris Johnson?

A better question might be: what isn’t Boris Johnson? He is, inter alia, the Mayor of London; a prolific author, journalist and, as of this month, a biographer of Winston Churchill; a once and possibly future Member of Parliament; a potential future Prime Minister himself despite being a “self-styled joke” who occasionally gets stuck on a zip-line; an American by birth (and U.S. passport holder).

He is also, as you’ll hear in our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, a painter of old cheese boxes, a collector of wooden tennis rackets, and a man who would inspire England’s national soccer team by copying how Saddam Hussein‘s son Uday reportedly inspired the Iraqi national team: “When they come back next time, we should just, you know, threaten to do something in the changing rooms of those guys unless they sharpen up.” Read More »



Why Do People Keep Having Children? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


What are the factors that make a given person more or less likely to have children? How important are income, education, and optimism about the future? Is it true that “development is the best contraceptive,” as demographers like to say? And is the global population really going to double by the next century? (Probably not — in fact, one U.N. estimate finds that the population in 2100 could be lower than today.)

These are some of the questions we ask in this week’s episode, “Why Do People Keep Having Children?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

There seem to be two global winds blowing in opposite directions: companies are merging like never before while nation-states from Spain to Iraq to the United Kingdom are threatening to break apart.

What if the United States bucked the trend of nation-states and instead went the way of companies? What if, for instance, the U.S. decided to merge with Mexico? Welcome to Amexico, with a population of nearly half a billion people and the best hamburgers and enchiladas in the world. Is this as crazy as it sounds? That’s the question we explore in our latest Freakonomics Radio episode, “Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


Do vampires employ an optimal strategy in choosing their mates? Would a zombie invasion help create jobs? And what would happen if vampires didn’t have to attack humans to get blood?

These are some of the pressing questions we ask in this week’s episode, “What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It was inspired by a book called Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science a collection of 23 scholarly essays edited by the economists Glen Whitman and James Dow. Read More »



Tell Me Something I Don’t Know: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


A few years ago, I developed a habit. If the person sitting next to me on an airplane seemed like they wanted to have a conversation, I’d ask them a bit about themselves — let’s say they worked in civil engineering — and I’d say “Tell me something I don’t know about civil engineering.” The habit became an addiction. I loved learning stuff I didn’t know, and most people loved to talk about their passions, work-related or otherwise.

Soon this addiction fueled a dream: I imagined turning it into some kind of a live game show/talk show. It would be called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” There’d be a host (me), some smart judges, and we’d invite the audience members to come onstage and tell us something we didn’t know. We’d learn a bit, laugh a lot, and take advantage of all the amazing information that’s floating around in the world.

It took a while to make this dream happen but finally it did, a few weeks, ago, at WNYC’s Greene Space. Read More »