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Freakonomics Radio: Staff Picks For Best Episodes Of The Year

Nuggets of great listening tips from the staff.


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Frank Racioppi

a year ago | 4 min read

If you’re over 40 years old, this memory may be an unfamiliar one. Before smartphones and digital downloads, there were only two ways to watch movies. In the theater and renting a video from Blockbuster. Back then, picking a movie for weekend viewing was truly a family outing. Somehow, Mom, Dad, and the kids found common ground (hear that Congress) and chose movies that could agree on.

One of the most mystical experiences at Blockbuster were the “Staff Picks.” This was a shelf of videos chosen by the staff as being watchable, irresistible, and a “best kept secret.”

Not to be outdone, the staff of the Freakonomics Radio podcast network has picked their favorite 2022 episodes across all five shows. See below for some great episode that staff believes you may have missed!

(Or click here for an online version of this list)

Lyric Bowditch, Production Associate Why Do Doctors Have to Play Defense? ” from Freakonomics, M.D. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, my feeds were flooded with content about it. This episode cut through the noise by offering a really important (and distinctly Freakonomical) perspective on the issue that I hadn’t considered or encountered anywhere else. It was also the first time I heard of “defensive medicine” — so interesting!

Neal Carruth, Executive Vice President and General Manager Has Globalization Failed? ” from Freakonomics Radio Freakonomics Radio does not shy away from posing big, provocative questions. This episode starts with a question that might, at first blush, seem kind of boring or too abstract to be interesting. But through a charming conversation with a supremely knowledgeable guest, the law professor Anthea Roberts, you acquire the tools to answer for yourself the question of whether globalization has failed. This episode also does a good job of engaging with the back catalog of Freakonomics Radio since the show has covered this general topic in the past.

Jeremy Johnston, Audio Engineer Names,” from Off Leash Since my dog doesn’t seem to recognize his own name half the time, I was excited to learn something from this episode of Off Leash. It ended up being a really great insight into how dogs respond to their nicknames, differentiate vowel sounds, and identify their owners’ voices in crowded places. This is such a happy episode full of animal lovers talking about how they arrived at a name for their furry friends, and also takes us on a fun tour of Isabella Rossellini’s farm.

Julie Kanfer, Senior Producer Why Is Everyone Moving to Dallas? ” from Freakonomics Radio I really enjoyed this two-part series and learned a lot about a place I’ve never been (Dallas) and a thing I didn’t know (that everyone is moving there). I found myself thinking about this episode/series a lot throughout the year, random bits of it popping into my brain when I least expected them to. It also really evoked a sense of place and of the people in that place; I felt like I was along for the ride (in that Uber in the pouring rain).

Ryan Kelley, Associate Producer What Is Sportswashing (and Does It Work)? ” from Freakonomics Radio Why you liked that episode: We don’t normally focus on current events on Freakonomics Radio (we like to give the economists time to play with the data and come up with something smart), but the new, Saudi-backed professional golf league was just too intriguing not to cover. When Phil Mickelson, Qatar, and Barbra Streisand all come up in the same conversation, it must be good.

Alina Kulman, Production AssociateCan the Big Bad Wolf Save Your Life? ” from Freakonomics Radio I loved how interdisciplinary this episode was — it’s about wildlife conservation, politics, literature, and also (of course) economics. It also has some pretty staggering statistics, like the fact that deer collisions cost about $10 billion in damages annually.

Zack Lapinski, Senior Producer Why Did You Marry That Person? ” from Freakonomics Radio This episode has everything: sexual anthropology, Victorian era politics, divorce, Shakespeare, the dating app Raya, aristocratic romance, Bridgerton, and — of course — an economist.

Morgan Levey, Senior Producer A Rockstar Chemist and Her Cancer-Attacking ‘Lawn Mower’ ” from People I (Mostly) Admire Maybe it’s a little gauche to list your own show / an episode you produced, but I loved this episode with Carolyn Bertozzi. Rarely does someone so brilliant also have the ability to explain Nobel-prize winning science so clearly. She’s also cool as hell, and I’d really like to be friends with her.

Rebecca Lee Douglas, Senior Producer J***s C****t, Angela, Why Are You Such a F***ing Potty-Mouth? ” from No Stupid Questions I saw that Morgan listed an episode of PIMA, so now I feel empowered to share an episode of NSQ. This show was so much fun. It was packed with interesting research, personal anecdotes, and lots and lots of jokes — basically, the ingredients for an incredible episode of NSQ. We received more listener emails/voice memos to this show than any other episode we’ve produced.

Katherine Moncure, Associate Producer Are N.F.T.s All Scams? ” from Freakonomics Radio I loved that entire series (“What Can Blockchain Do For You?”) because it took a very complicated and opaque part of our economy — a part that’s highly polarized — and in classic Freakonomics fashion, broke it down into something that was actually understandable. N.F.T.s are especially mind boggling to me, but less so now. I would have to say though, my favorite part was not any of the clear, informative explanations, but rather when the Freakonomics crew and the artist Tom Sachs were chased out of Bryant Park for launching a rocket. Well worth the risk.

Greg Rippin, Technical Director The “ What Can Blockchain Do For You? ” series, from Freakonomics Radio I feel that we did a really good job of explaining the different applications of crypto without coming across like we were trying to get listeners to (literally) buy into it. Plus, I got to leave my studio for a bit and get some fresh air in the park.

Freakonomics Radio wishes you all Happy Holidays and a 2023 full of great podcast listening — of course with podcasts in their network!

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Frank Racioppi

I am a South Jersey-based author who published a nonfiction book on Amazon called The COVID Hotel about the pandemic. After nearly 40 years in the Corporate world, I manage a publication --Make A Connection -- about how to manage more effectively through improved communication. I am also the lead writer for the Ear Worthy podcast blog on Substack and Podcast Reports on blogger.


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