AAA Travel predicts that 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more Thanksgiving weekend, the highest amount since 2007. For this Financial Tip, I would like to share my favorite pastime while driving: listening to podcasts.
What is a podcast:
A podcast is usually episodic media, generally audio, that is either delivered to your media player or downloaded from the Internet. Podcasts have an advantage over radio in that the content can be consumed on the listener’s schedule.
How to listen to podcasts:
If you have a smartphone, listening to podcasts is incredibly easy. For Apple phones, iTunes can serve as your podcast manager. For Android phones, there are several apps that can download, manage, and play your podcasts. The Verge recently posted a review of Android podcasting apps.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still listen to podcasts. If you have an mp3 player, many podcast websites will allow you to download the podcast files, and you can manually load them into the player. If you don’t have an mp3 player, you can still download the files and burn them onto a CD for playback in your car’s CD player. If your car doesn’t have a CD player, you could record the podcast onto cassette tapes for playback in your car’s tape deck.
Below is a list of my favorite financial and/or economic podcasts:
NPR’s Planet Money
From the NPR Planet Money website: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, “Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.” Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.” The podcasts delivers content in a narrative format as the reporters interview relevant people and explore the topic of the episode. Podcasts are also short, about 15 minutes, which gives enough time to explore a topic and not overly bore the listener. The Planet Money team have produced over 650 episodes; some of the topics include:
Why Coke cost a nickel for 70 years
The tale of the onion king
The power of free
The Hydrox resurrection
The afterlife of a T-shirt
Two radio guys walk into a bar
The Planet Money team have also created several series that allow for more depth. Their most famous series follows the creation of a T-shirt. They interviewed cotton farmers in the Southern United States, workers in the yarn factories of Indonesia and T-shirt factories of Bangladesh, cargo ship captains, and more.
Freakonomics was made famous by the 2009 book, “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.” Authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore the use of economics to explain unintended consequences and examine topics generally not associated with economics. More books followed, but Freakonomics also spread to radio and podcasts in partnership with WNYC. The Freakonomics podcast also uses the narrative format that allows for easier listening.
Freakonomics podcasts are longer, generally 45 minutes or so. Recent podcasts included:
Should everyone be in a rock band
How to save $1 billion without even trying
How to win a Nobel prize
How did the belt win
The president of Harvard will see you now
The dangers of safety
From the website: The weekly talk show features one-on-one discussions with an eclectic mix of authors, professors, Nobel Laureates, entrepreneurs, leaders of charities and businesses, and people on the street. The emphases are on using topical books and the news to illustrate economic principles. Exploring how economics emerges in practice is a primary theme.
Compared to the prior two podcasts, the host of EconTalk, Russ Roberts, interviews one guest for about 60-75 minutes. Below is a list of interesting episodes from the podcasts almost ten year history:
Mike Munger on milk: why is milk really at the back of the store? Is it really a conspiracy?
Tim O’reilly on technology and work: discussion on the early days of the internet, how technology has changed work, and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.
Emily Oster on pregnancy, causation, and expecting better: Oster discusses her review of the medical literature concerning pregnancy.
Brendan O’Donohoe on potato chips and salty snacks: a look behind the scenes at how chips are made and sold in retail stores.
Joseph Stiglitz on inequality: Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz discusses the increase in inequality and his prescriptions for changing the economy.
John Bogle on investing: John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, discusses the early history of index funds and the disconnection between direct and indirect investors.
Marketplace by American Public Media
You may be familiar with Marketplace from your local NPR station; the show is also available as a podcast! In addition, other shows within the Marketplace brand are available:
*Descriptions from the Marketplace website
Marketplace: The flagship program examines what the day in money delivered, through stories, conversations, newsworthy numbers and more.
Marketplace Weekend: A relaxed yet informative look at where the economy collides with real life. It’s everything from the paycheck to the personal.
Marketplace Wealth & Poverty: Where class, income inequality and the growing wealth gap intersect
Marketplace Tech: An examination of the business behind the technology that’s obsessing us and changing our lives.
Listener beware: The podcasts I’ve specifically listed above are sponsored by nonprofits or not for profits. They generally do not have products to sell, but they may ask for a monetary donation. Other podcasts may be advertising channels for additional products or services. Famous radio personalities (Clark Howard, Dave Ramsey, etc…) have ported their radio shows to the podcast format for easier consumption. Several financial professionals have started their own podcast ventures. Be sure to research a product or service mentioned on a podcast before purchasing it.
From the faculty at the Personal Financial Planning Department at the University of Missouri, we wish you and your family a great Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully some of the podcasts mentioned above will make your Thanksgiving drive feel a little shorter this year.