The Return of Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

Two Book Authors and a Microphone: Levitt, Dubner and other future guests help preview the new Freakonomics Radio.

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Back in February, we started a podcast (iTunes link here). It was generally well-received, but there were a lot of complaints, mostly like this one, from bbrian6332:

If you’re going to start a new podcast
Please at least have some episodes lined up. The podcast has potential, however 20 days between shows is a really poor start. C’mon guys … If you’re serious then DO IT!! before we all lose interest.

Well, we’ve decided to “do it.” What began as a lark has become a real thing, thanks to New York Public Radio, American Public Media, and The New York Times. Freakonomics Radio (details here) will be a far-ranging project that includes:

  • A regular podcast (every two weeks for now, turning weekly in early 2011).
  • A Freakonomics Radio segment on APM’s Marketplace every two weeks.
  • A series of one-hour programs to be broadcast on public-radio stations across the country, starting in 2011.
  • Live events in selected cities, format to be decided (and all suggestions welcome).

In the box above is a new podcast that previews what’s to come this fall. We’ll be covering everything from education to baseball scoring trends to the economics of trash. You’ll hear from some future guests and collaborators, including Steve Levitt, Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Rudy Giuliani, Arne Duncan and Mamphela Ramphele, the South African activist and businesswoman.

As always, we are dependent upon and grateful for reader/listener suggestions, so please light up the comments section below with your burning curiosities and very best ideas. (I am not legally permitted to tell you what to do with your so-so ideas, but you can figure it out.)

We don’t have a slogan yet for Freakonomics Radio and aren’t sure we need one. But here, drawn from the fall preview episode, are a couple of candidates:

We’ll bring you the stories everyone else on the radio has the good sense to avoid.


Helping skeptics get out of bed since February 2010.


Isn't your slogan, "Exploring the Hidden Side of Everything"?

Jim Hubbard

Why not just use "The hidden side of everything."?

It's succinct and really descriptive of just what Freakonomics is and does.

Harrison B

How about: Exploring the Hidden Sound of Everything


Davey: Yeah, I thought that one sumedd up Freakonomics and got people curious. Why replace it?

Ben D

So was that an actual podcast, or just an ad for the podcast? There wasn't much, if any, substance in it.

Chris C

Yeah! I've been complaining to Kein about how much it sucks that you are so skimpy on the podcasts. Now I'm psyched for the coming months!....wait a don't know who Kein is do you? Pshh, I thought you guys were smart...Or have I gone a bit...mad?

Scott Sanders

Hope you'll come visit Cambridge, MA again -- perhaps you can work out another event with Harvard Book Store or another fine local establishment?


1. Have Michael E. Mann on as a guest.

2. Allie from Hyperbole and a Half. She is going to be famous eventually, it's just a matter of who nabs her first.

3. Find 2 obscure climatologists and have them explain the evidence for AGW strictly based on methods and results.


I am interested in whether or not driving a standard transmission car is safer than driving one with an automatic transmission. It seems as though driver engagement with a standard transmission car would have to be higher which could correlate to more attentiveness to the road. Of course the opposite might be true where paying so much attention to the operation of your own vehicle makes diverts attention from the environment around you.


I would love to see podcasts on what really motivates people. I.e. why is it I have a hard time doing what I'm supposed to do, but an easy time doing what I'm not supposed to be doing.

Alex in Chicago

If you could tighten up your RSS feed that would be outstanding. The one that ESPN uses for its podcasts is ideal, because it lets you download them without even going to the page!


Ooooh yeah, I would like to 2nd Morgan 's idea about manual vs. automatic.

Actually, I figure the insurance industry would've explored it long ago, but with all the cell phones out there now (and they're certainly more inconvenient to use in city driving with a stick), I can't help but think that there's probably a substantial difference in accident rates.


I'm with Morgan and Nick. I've been thinking about this for a while. I drive a standard and it's pretty much impossible to text or eat while driving (talking on the phone is possible, but not if you have to make a sharp turn).

Although people trying to do those things anyway may cause even more problems...


Come to LA!


I would be curious to learn about the costs and operations behind eating locally and sustainably versus from the supermarket. I volunteer at a CSA in New York City, where produce and dairy are brought in directly from an upstate NY farm and everyone gets a share of the farm's output. Financially, it's a great deal - members get plenty of vegetables at prices lower than what you could buy them for at the supermarket.

I'd be interested to see how food travels from the farm, through various distributors and middlemen, to finally make it to the supermarket. What are the costs associated with it? Who are the major players in the food distribution industry? Do they have anything to teach us about scaling sustainable food systems, or is that an oxymoron? And finally, would it ever be possible to see a majority of our food delivered on a CSA model? If so, what would that look like?

-Julia DeWahl


Rich Walker

You guys should do this radio project. I am a huge fan. Reading your first book when it came out while i was in high school made me want to become an economist. Im 22, and have decided to go back to school and have this be the focus of my studies because of the broad range of topics economics can be expanded to. Honestly, i never thought there would be something i co do for the rest of my life, but even which way you drive to the highway is an economic decision in a way. never realized that. I live in Boston, and would be grateful to be able to listen to you guys on the radio. I just discovered this whole little website section you guys do, and now i check it everyday. Thank you for improving my life, and making me realize that logic and reason still exist in an overly arrogant, and stagnant world, where people try to objectify any statistic or fact to fit their priorities, versus actually letting the information speak for it self. You have made me realize so much about myself, and new concepts in the world (and what it has to offer) , and how they are interpreted. I hope to hear back from you guys. I have learned so much, and i feel like i have only begun to scratch the surface. Thank you for everything you have taught me. You guys are in many ways why i decided to go back to college, and I have straight A's ever since. (Granted its a community school) But i believe that you would argue that everyone needs to start somewhere, and everyone makes mistakes, and its those that learn from their mistakes that will advance in society.