The Quality-Quantity Tradeoff Dilemma

radio-cartoon featureFrom a nice review of Freakonomics Radio on Stitcher (a great podcast platform, BTW, if you don’t know it):

I wish I could listen to a new Freakonomics podcast everyday! Truly insightful, great narrative, thought provoking, and interesting topics…

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to fulfill the wishes of the first sentence while upholding the attributes of the second sentence. Sure, we could put out a daily podcast but it would be total crap.

Any ideas?


I believe their are enough topics, and enough experts to fill the show with meaningful content, but it would require a large full time staff working around the clock reaching out to guests, recording, editting. I don't know if listener support could sustain it.


Do more reruns of older episodes.

Irving Torres

I think a great idea is to keep the weekly podcast as is but also release interesting/popular previous episodes via social media or e-mail. Another idea would be to engage with the audience a bit more by sharing interesting articles around the web or even other episodes from partner WNYC podcasts. Maybe it might also be a good idea to set up a 'Freakonomics Radio X' and model it after the 'Ted X' model where you could have people apply to release podcasts of equal merit on the off days.
-Irving of


I love your idea of TEDx style Freakonomics podcasts! As long as they're vetted well and branded right (like just adding a 'x' so we know it's not the 'real' podcast but could still be good), I think there'd be a lot of great submissions from all sorts of freakonomists.


The most obvious answer I see to this question is defining what crap is. Just because you think it is crap does not mean it is crap to everyone. Also, if you posted a bunch of crap, could you still post some stuff that is not crap? Perhaps you could have show notes which indicated the level of crappyness.

One solution would be multipart shows wish are shorter. You could break what you do right now into multiple parts and solve part of the problem right away. What that be crap?

However, I think this is really just a supply and demand question. For example, if the Koch brothers paid you a $1,000,000 a show if you could pull off a non crappy show 5 days a week, could you do it? I mean for that amount of money, could you not hire a crap load of researchers? Perhaps you could even get technology to make someone else's voice sound like yours so you would not have to record all the shows. And finally, repeats would help here as well. You already do that.

Personally, I have a hard time listening to all the podcasts I want to listen to right now anyway. So, more postcasts from you might mean I would have to cut out someone else. I am sure something I listen must be crap in your eyes, but it is not to me.



Please don't do re-runs and please don't compromise on episode quality. You're good where you are. 1/week with quality is enough. If someone needs more to listen to, there are other podcasts out there with 5 weekly podcasts, they'll have something to listen to everyday. Check out TED Radio Hour for a start.


I'd love daily too, but I'm happy with weekly for the sake of the quality. Two thoughts:

I agree with reposting older episodes, especially for people like me who only started listening in the past little while.

More "flow" content: to supplement your "stock" content such as podcasts, share interesting links, articles etc. that you find online that passes your own quality test. Things on topic that you read for fun and interest. I would trust it to be quality (and factually sound) if it came form you guys!

Thanks and keep up the great work!

PS: more on "stock and flow" in content strategy


I guess the problem really is how to put as much thought and work into a daily, or more frequent podcast schedule. So maybe do something used in many other industries, and outsource?

Of course, I wouldn't consider that a *true* freakonomics podcast, but a freakonomics approved podcast may have some value.


Its about engagement. As another poster stated. Interesting articles being shared through social media. There is also the Nerdist or TWiT way. Several shows with different hosts under the brand. There are many like minded people that may be doing terrific podcasts already and that synergy and cross promotion could be mutually beneficial.


Out of curiousity, how much effort goes into a podcast, versus a blog post on the same topic? And what's the profit per unit time for you guys?

Personally, I much prefer to read a blog post, even when it's just a podcast transcript. I can read (with greater comprehension) in maybe a quarter the time it takes to listen to the same material, and I find the comments almost as interesting as the original post.

And as a plus, I don't have to endure your taste in music :-)

Josh Kramers

Do something like Mythbusters: a new episode where they quickly test again many myths from much debated previous episodes. Now, after this "baking time", I bet you can find people with novelty ideas for the 100 Ways to Fight Obesity podcast.

Enter your name...

What I miss is finding something new at the blog every day. I check every day, but recently, there have been an average of about two posts (the podcast and something else) per week.

If you were going to do daily podcasts (why? I only read the transcript), you would need five times the staff, or perhaps to make the additional ones very short.

(Oh, and my favorite blog post? Just about anything that isn't about sports.)


Have viewers explain experiments they do at home, or work off of a backlog of ideas for shows

Happy Hype Hippo

I, for one, enjoy listening to the podcasts as audio, but if you released a podcast ever day I wouldn't listen to all of them no matter what quality they were.


Hire Mike Pesca. His "The Gist" is 20+ quality minutes five times a week. Wrap these around Dubner's longer episodes.

Allen Laudenslager

My favorite musicians don't put out an album every year, not even every two years - they publish when THEY think they have something worth publishing. Their curation is part of why they are my favorites. So to with your publishing. One of the reasons I pay attention is that you publish (in print or podcast) when YOU are ready not when the market thinks you should.

Garrett Moffitt

While it's tempting to give into your fans and want to do an episode everyday, don't.
It's a classic entertainment mistake. You would become bland.

And someone said 'do more repeats'. Don't do that. Repeat podcasts are the stupidest radio/tv carry over, ever.
Your podcast are available online. People can get them any time. Don't waste the bandwidth of people who download to put a repeat episode on their device. It's nonsensical.


download the podcast and listen to it everyday. duh.


As much as I love Freakonomics radio and the topics they cover, I think a daily podcast might be over indulgence... Personally, the weekly podcast gives me something to look forward to on Thursdays. If it ran everyday I might not appreciate it as much. :)


Personally, I sometimes listen to podcasts, but most of the time I'd rather read than listen, as I can do that faster. The fact that you furnish a transcript is appreciated!