EconTalk FAQ

EconTalk CD cover logoEconTalk is an award-winning weekly talk show and podcast about economics in daily life. Host Russ Roberts talks to featured guests, professors, authors, Nobel Prize winners, business leaders, and people on the job, about the economics behind current events, markets, the Great Depression, free trade, and the curiosities of everyday decision-making. Topics include school, health, business, finance, jobs, politics, book reviews, what's behind the mortgage and housing troubles, family, business startups, and more. Join us on the run, over lunch, or any time you want to kick back. Look for links to related readings and join the discussions in the blog comments.

For a review, see "EconTalk: The Best Continuing Education Money Can't Buy." Incidental Economist, June 9, 2009.

EconTalk was voted Best Podcast in the 2008 Weblog Awards. It took 2nd place for Best Podcast two years in a row in the 2007 Weblog Awards and 2006 Weblog Awards.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Q: What is a podcast?
    A podcast is an audio file or group of audio files focusing on conversation rather than music. Podcasts are identical to music files, but instead of producing songs or instrumentals, the creators talk. Podcasts typically last longer than music files and are free. You can download individual podcasts or subscribe to a podcast series and listen to it at your own convenience.

    The word "podcast" comes from "broadcast," as in a radio or TV show. Many podcasts are exactly that: repeats of recent radio talk shows. Podcasts usually last from a few minutes to an hour.

    EconTalk podcasts are .MP3 files. Adding more format options (for example, formats that allow video) is under consideration.

 Q: Do I need to buy an iPod, MP3-player, or other hardware or audio-player software to listen?
    No. You can listen right on your computer. You probably already have the right software on your computer, because most computers arrive bundled with at least one audio- or media-player. All EconTalk audio files will work with any of these free media-players. Some also play audio files directly from your browser (called a "plug-in"). Whatever you have will open automatically. See below for more on how to listen and how to change your default media player.

    Most media/audio-players are downloadable for free. Here are the websites of a few of the most popular audio-players for your computer. All function either as standalone audio players, browser plug-ins, or both.
      QuickTime ( [Note: Quicktime is the default plug-in for Mozilla Firefox]
      iTunes (
      RealPlayer (
      Windows MediaPlayer ( [Note: Windows Media Player is the default plug-in for IE. It does not play mp3 files when used as a plug-in on other browsers.]
    If you do own an iPod or MP3-player, you can later copy, update, transfer, or synch the files according to its instructions.

 Q: How do I listen to a podcast? From EconTalk,
    To Play. Click on the button labeled "Play". A pop-up window will appear, and within seconds your audio player will load and begin to play the podcast.

    To Download. Download the podcast if you want to save it to listen later. To download, Right-click or Option-click on the button labeled Download. Select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As". Pick the folder of your choice. You can rename the file so long as you do not change the .mp3 extension. Clicking left on the word Download may do the same thing, or may open a new window to play it, depending on your default software choice.

    Notes, suggestions, and trouble-shooting:
      a. If you use IE, you will have the best experience if you Allow Content for Econlib and EconTalk.

      b. If Javascript is not enabled in your browser, your audio player will open in a new window instead of a small popup window.

      c. Keeping your default audio-player software up-to-date will give you the best experience.

      d. Make sure your plug-in media player is the one most-recommended for your browser (e.g., Quicktime for Firefox, Windows Media Player for IE). Sometimes media players have reduced functionality when used as plug-ins on browsers for which they were not originally designed.

      e. You can change which audio-player software is your default quite easily. Open the audio software you prefer, and look at the Options or Preferences (variously listed under pull-down menus such as Edit, Tools, Options, Settings, etc.). It will probably offer a check-box to "Make this my default audio-player". Check and save your choice. Another way to change your default audio-player is to change the default file associations for .mp3 files directly on your computer.

 Q: What does subscribing mean?
    Subscribing means you'll receive our latest podcasts promptly when we release them each week, without having to remember to return to to check out what's new. You can choose automatic notification on your portal page (e.g., MyYahoo) or through your media-player software (e.g., iTunes), or by email. Subscribing to EconTalk is free.

    Some subscription services go a step further and automatically download podcasts for you in the background once you subscribe. ITunes is an example of an automatic downloader.

    You can choose to subscribe to either just the podcasts or to the full EconTalk text. Subscribe to the podcasts if you only want to listen to the podcasts. Subscribe to the full EconTalk text if you also want to comment or find materials referenced in the podcast. You can do both.

    Pros and Cons of different podcast subscription methods:

      Subscription by automatic download (e.g., iTunes) is great if you want to listen later or if you automatically move your podcasts to an MP3-player or iPod. You can set automatic downloaders to check for new files daily or even hourly. A drawback is that if you or your software don't regularly remove music files and podcasts you don't want to keep, your computer can become clogged with old files.

      Subscription by notification (e.g., Yahoo) is great if you want to control what you download, podcast-by-podcast. You can listen without creating any permanent files on your computer. Drawbacks are that the multi-click process and waiting while downloading temporary or permanent files can be annoying.

      Subscription by email notification is great if you don't regularly use a portal page or media player or if you prefer email. Drawbacks are that email risks accidental email discards by your spam email filters.

 Q: How do I subscribe to EconTalk?
    • To subscribe in iTunes: Click this button EconTalk: Russ Roberts, Library of Economics and Liberty or drag this icon ../res/img/xml_36x14.gif into your iTunes Podcasts playlist. See also: Annual Archive feeds for easy iTunes subscription to previous years.

    • Feedburner. One-click subscription options for MyYahoo, Podnova, and more. The options you are offered may depend on your browser settings.

    • To subscribe in Yahoo (detailed instructions):
        From your MyYahoo page, select "Add Content".
        Click the link to "Add RSS by URL" (to the right of the Search box).
        Paste this RSS feed into the URL box:
      The subscription will be added to your MyYahoo page, where you can move or Edit it. We suggest Editing the Content to display 2 or more articles from "any date".

    Text and audio:
    • To subscribe to the complete EconTalk text: In your RSS feed reader, click this icon ../res/img/xml_36x14.gif or paste in this RSS feed into your news aggregator.

    • Weekly emails with the latest podcast (text and audio): The Latest on EconTalk. This email service is processed and delivered through Feedburner. Both Feedburner and Econlib observe a strong privacy policy guaranteeing that that we will not use your email address for spam or give it out to third parties. Weekly emails will be sent out after our latest podcast is released, which is usually each Monday morning.

    • Monthly emails with links to the last month's podcasts, plus more: Register for the Econlib Newsletter.

 Q: What is the RSS feed for EconTalk?
    There are three main feed options:
    • Audio:
    • Text and audio:
    • Feedburner audio feed:
    Annual Archives of our audio feeds are also available for all previous podcast episodes, from 2006 on. See the EconTalk sidebar, iTunes, or your audio feed software for the complete list.

 Q: Is it free?
    Yes. You can listen and subscribe to all EconTalk podcasts for free.

    Podcasts older than a few months are archived and are all available free of charge.

 Q: What is an "episode"?
    iTunes uses the word "episode" to refer to the individual monthly or weekly recordings (e.g., "The Economics of Parenting") listed under one grouping (e.g., EconTalk), in the order in which they become available. Each episode is numbered by when it is released to the public. EconTalk has episodes 1, 2, etc.

 Q: How often does EconTalk produce a new podcast?
    The current schedule is weekly, with new releases early on Monday mornings.

 Q: Are old episodes available for free?
    Yes. All episodes are available free of charge. Browse the EconTalk Archives for the complete list of episodes and permanent links.

 Q: Can I link to EconTalk episodes from my website?
    Yes. Although episodes scroll off the Main page for EconTalk, each episode has a Permanent Link to which you can link. The URL for the permanent link page will not change.

    We do not recommend linking directly to the .mp3 files, as their locations may change in the future (in which case the permanent link pages would be updated).

 Q: What are the Extras?

    Extras offer additional ideas on specific podcast episodes without adding a new audio file. Extras may encourage listeners to think about the relationships among several podcast episodes or may elaborate on the ideas in a single podcast episode.

    Most recent podcast episodes include educational followups called "Continuing Education". In the week following each podcast episode, Amy Willis asks thought-provoking questions that may be used for self-education or in the classroom. Listeners are encouraged to answer the questions in the comment section. Amy Willis also produces a series of Listening Guides--short lists of basic questions to guide listeners through selected podcast episodes. The Listening Guides may be printed and distributed for classroom use.

    Sometimes the EconTalk host, Russ Roberts, offers some followup thoughts, ideas, or discussion of a podcast episode. It may be that he talked to a guest in more detail after an episode was aired, or that there was a confusing section in an episode, or that Russ had was inspired with some additional ideas.