Is Our Content Too Depressing?

A Freakonomics Radio listener named Sudha Krishna writes with an e-mail titled "Praise and Concern."

The praise is very nice -- she finds the show "informative, entertaining, and lots of fun," etc. -- but it is the concern that most interests me. As she writes:

I confess I often find Freakonomics Radio depressing. While I am a believer in the power of "unintended consequences," I find your story selection (and I am a consistent and attentive listener) depressing and discouraging. The stories tend to be focused on (and I am being a wee bit reductive) "good intentions leading to bad consequences (or at very least awry)." The consistent lesson of every episode -- a nod to the supremacy of the market and the inexorable power of incentives (not sure about that lesson either). Rarely do you explore the opposite -- bad intentions resulting in good consequences. Does such an example exist? One curious listener of Freakonomics Radio wants to know. 

I could probably quarrel a little bit with Sudha -- at least some of our shows are about some interesting solution to a problem, or at least an explanation for why such a problem exists. And I tend to think that Levitt and I are borderline extreme optimists, at least on many dimensions. But I get her point. The pattern she identifies is definitely a pattern.

So,  in the interest of learning to think more broadly, I would love to identify some great ideas or stories about "bad intentions resulting in good consequences," as Sudha puts it. Please leave your very best ideas (or even your mediocre ones) in the comments section below. Thanks to you and especially to Sudha.

Where to Find the Music in Freakonomics Radio Podcasts?

A few times a week, we get an e-mail like this one, from Oliver Breidenbach:

Hi guys,

I love the music you choose for the background of the podcast. Can you post a playlist on your site or let me know where I can find the music? I think many fans will enjoy that.

One reason we get this question so often is that the music in our podcasts is so good. So is, IMHO, the entire audio soundscape. All of that is primarily the doing of one man, David Herman, who is Freakonomics Radio's sound engineer/technical director/trivia repository -- and more.

As for where to learn about the music: we list it in each show's transcript, which accompanies the blog post that is published with each episode. Our podcast archive page is here. Enjoy!

Bring Your Questions for a Freakonomics Radio FAQ

A couple times a year, we take reader/listener questions for an FAQ (FREAK-quently Asked Questions) episode of our podcast. We'll likely put out next FAQ in mid-April, so ask us your questions in the comments section below. Thanks.

Who Listens to Freakonomics Radio? Here Are the Survey Results

Last week we posted a survey for Freakonomics Radio listeners. Your response was fantastic -- nearly 2,000 listeners -- and very helpful. In return, we thought it'd be nice to share some of the data with you. As a big believer in negative feedback, I have just one regret: that we didn't ask you to tell us what you don't like about the podcast. Maybe next time.

WHO YOU ARE: 

Our listeners are, in a nutshell: rather male (77%); relatively young (45% are 25-35 years old, another 24% are 35-44); well-educated (38% have a graduate degree; another 43% have a bachelor's degree); and -- according to the survey data at least -- pretty well-off (17% earn more than $150,000 and another 23% earn between $100,000 and $150,000; then there are the 14% who earn between $0 and $30,000, most of whom are likely students).

WHAT YOU DO:

Here is a look at top occupations:

Who Is Listening to Freakonomics Radio?

We've now been making Freakonomics Radio for three years. (Here is a complete archive; you can also subscribe at iTunes or get an RSS feed.)

We have a good sense of the number of listeners (we do roughly 3 million downloads a month) but when it comes to who those listeners are, we don't know very much. So we've put together a listener survey, below. If you have five spare minutes, please fill it in. What can we give you in return? If all goes well, more free podcasts!

Thanks.

A Freakonomics Radio Bleg: What's Your Name?

Want to be part of an episode of Freakonomics Radio? We’re working on a podcast about names and we want to hear from readers and listeners about their own names -- common ones, unusual ones, everything in between. So we’ve set up a voicemail line at 646-829-4478. Give us a call and tell us your full name, and then tell us a little bit about your first name – how you got it and what it means. Thanks!

Addendum: Thank you for all your emails and messages! Our line is now closed. Our names podcast will be out on 4/8/2013. 

Sure, I Remember That (Ep. 113)

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called "Sure, I Remember That." (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player in the post, or read the transcript below.) It's about false memory, particularly in the political realm, and how we are more capable of "remembering" an event that never happened if the event happens to synch up with our political ideology.

Our Daily Bleg: Something That You Expected to Be Free

Hi everyone. We're working on a Freakonomics Radio episode about -- sorry, I'm going to be cryptic here -- a person who expected to get/use something for free but was very surprised to learn that it wasn't free after all.

I am looking for another good/fun example of this same idea. Do you have any? Ideally, it would be something that happened to you personally but it's okay if you only read or heard about it, as long as we can verify it and maybe interview someone involved.

Thanks in advance.

Mass Transit Hysteria (Ep. 101)

New York City's subways and buses carry roughly seven million passengers a day, which goes a long way toward explaining why New Yorkers have one of the smallest carbon footprints in the U.S. Doesn't that mean that mass transit is inevitably good for the environment?

Yes, no, and sometimes.

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Mass Transit Hysteria.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player in the post, or read the transcript below.) 

Freakonomics Radio Hits the Air on WNYC

We recently released our third set of hour-long Freakonomics Radio programs to NPR stations across the country. If you regularly listen to our podcast, there isn't  much new to hear but if you prefer to take in your radio program via the actual radio, now is your chance. Check your local station for listings. If you're in the New York area, you can hear Freakonomics Radio on our flagship station, WNYC, for the next five weeks at the following times: