The kitchen table Zoom classes may be over for the kids, at least for the moment, but the learning does not need to stop. Enter Planet Money, the NPR economics-focused podcast and public radio show. During the next nine weeks, Planet Money is turning its podcast feed into a classroom for the masses.
NPR says from July 8 to September 2, Planet Money will stick with its signature style of narrative storytelling. But in a new twist, each educational episode will have two parts. The first will feature a “human story” with characters facing real world decisions. The second part will be a follow-up conversation with economics professors who reveal a layer of financial principles beneath the story listeners heard. The show says the podcast summer school is designed for anyone who wants to see the world through the lens of an economist – from the econo-geek to anyone who wants to feel a little less overwhelmed when they sit down to make financial decisions.
"Don't worry. We aren't going to graph supply and demand curves on the radio," said Robert Smith, host of the series. "Summer School will feature the same riveting tales that Planet Money is famous for, but it will also give listeners a tool-kit for understanding the way money plays a crucial role in our lives, our careers and the future of the planet."
Among the topics to be covered: how to optimize investments of time and money, the topic of risk and moral hazard, taxation, government regulation, marginal costs, and scarcity. “Once you get the fundamental concepts, you will start to see them everywhere,” said Smith on the series preview. The podcast will also offer a tongue-in-cheek final exam at the end to test listeners’ knowledge. Smith said anyone who passes the exam will get their name on a Planet Money diploma-like certificate.
Joining Smith on the show will be economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevensen, professors at the University of Michigan and authors of a new textbook. Each episode will run about a half hour and will be released on Wednesdays. The first episode’s focus is on the economics of dating life.
Planet Money will continue to release its regular podcast during the summer as well. It is published each Friday.