Russ Roberts recently released the 500th episode of his podcast EconTalk. This now weekly podcast started in 2006, and I think I started listening in 2007. I'm guessing that I've listened to at least 300, maybe 400 episodes.
Roberts interviews a wide variety of guests who talk about economics, yes, but so much more. The conversations deal with technology, health care, politics, education, charity, science, history, and even the meaning of life.
One reason I like EconTalk is that I like Russ Roberts. Though we have never met, he seems like the kind of guy I would like to hang out with. He is interested in how the world works, and he wants to make the world a better place. He is kind toward guests who have different perspectives from his own. He speaks with honor and love for his wife and children. And he takes seriously the idea of the supernatural, that existence is more than just what we can see and feel.
EconTalk has many episodes that deal with the heady theories of macroeconomics, but some of my favorite episodes are those that deal with down-to-earth economic situations. One of these was the interview with Wafaya Abdallah about running a hair salon. The interview with Steve Cole about the economics of new car sales was also good.
Mike Munger is always a fabulous guest. Munger and Roberts have a delightful way of exchanging ideas. Some of my favorite Munger episodes dealt with the sharing economy, milk and grocery stores, and norms and rules in sports.
The interview with D.G. Myers as he was dying of cancer was perhaps the most poignant and emotionally-touching EconTalk episode. I listened to that a couple of years after the loss of our son Avery.
An important aspect of Roberts' philosophy is that economic decisions say a lot about our values and that those decisions can make life better or worse for ourselves and others. He is a fan of Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments. I have not tackled that book, but I have Roberts' reflections on Smith's ideas on my desk--How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life.
The voice of Russ Roberts (usually played at 1.5x speed) has been a frequent companion while I wash dishes, mow the grass, and drive across country. His work has educated me and entertained me. I look forward to 500 more EconTalk episodes in the future.
P.S. - Confirming that he is a man of many talents, Russ Roberts also co-produced an economics rap video. If you have ten minutes, you can get a short introduction to two main schools of economic thought. On one side, represented by English economist John Maynard Keynes, is the idea that government officials need to direct the economy and spend lots of money to maintain prosperity. On the other side, represented by Austrian economist F. A. Hayek, is the idea that government should generally stay out of the way and let individuals and business make their own decisions. Roberts' fellow co-producer John Papola was also a guest on EconTalk.