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The Podcast Hour for Saturday 2 February 2019

'Planet Money' explores the origins of duty free shopping, 'Multi Story' takes English local radio stories global, 'Ladies, We Need To Talk' considers if it's ever OK to settle for average in relationships, and 'Reveal' investigates the "alt right" moving into comics.

'Planet Money': The Land of Duty Free

Airport traveller 2 (Photo by Anete Lusina on Unsplash)

Airport traveller 2 (Photo by Anete Lusina on Unsplash) Photo: (Photo by Anete Lusina on Unsplash)

I've always been a bit of a sucker for the duty free shop at the airport-the idea of getting stuff I don't really need, only cheaper. I'm never even sure it's really saving me any money, but I don't let that stop me! And I'm not alone- the global duty free market is worth US$70 billion a year and that's predicted to rise to over US$110 billion annually, within the next 5 years!

NPR's Planet Money has been telling stories about the global economy and the forces that shape it for more than a decade and over 900 episodes. The show started life back in 2008 to cover the Global Financial Crisis. That's after its creators Alex Blumberg (who now runs Gimlet Media) and Adam Davidson told a story on 'This American Life' about the subprime mortgage crisis in the US.

And if economics reporting sounds a little bit dry and dull and not really your thing, then Planet Money might surprise you: it's engaging, explains sometimes complex ideas in a way that makes sense and isn't too patronising, and might even make you laugh!

Past episodes have traced the supply chain of T-shirts and barrels of oil from where they're produced to where they're bought and consumed. I enjoyed other ones about stadium economics, so the market forces affecting food and drink vendors at a big baseball game, and one linking the rise of the fondu party to a Swiss Cheese Cartel! So back to the duty free shop- how did this strange idea that air travel somehow qualifies you to save money on booze, perfume and chocolates even start? Robert Smith and Karen Duffin explain on NPR's Planet Money episode number 841 'The Land Of Duty Free' (originally published on May 11th 2018). 

You can listen to 10 favourite episodes selected to mark Planet Money's 10th anniversary here.


Taking the local global: 'Multi Story'

Multi Story square logo (Supplied)

Multi Story square logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied

Every community's got its colourful characters and memorable stories to tell. But how do you take a great local story and get it in front of the widest possible audience?

That's the challenge that 'Multi Story' from the BBC tries to tackle, as it draws on England's network of 40 local radio stations.  

Each episode's made up of a few different stories hanging together around a theme like parenting or animals.

We play some of Episode 5: Searching about a New Zealander based in London who's doing a very important job and speak to Becca Bryers who produces and presents the show about how she selects the best stuff from all of this potential raw material. And series 2 of Multi Story starts in March.


'Ladies, We Need To Talk': is it OK to settle for average?

Ladies We Need To Talk logo (Supplied)

Ladies We Need To Talk logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied

'Ladies, We Need To Talk' is a podcast from the ABC in Australia that tackles potentially delicate topics head on. It's funny with a sensitive side, and includes some great personal stories.

And although it's described as 'for women, by women', that didn't stop me from enjoying it either!

Recent episodes have covered mean girls, menopause, cosmetic surgery, and anxiety. We play one that confronts a tricky question. We've probably all got ideas about what a great relationship should look like. But when the reality doesn't measure up to the expectations, when the passionate soul mate of your dreams doesn't quite materialise, host Yumi Stynes asks if it's ever OK to settle for average in a relationship.

[Credits: 'Ladies, We Need to Talk' from The Australian Broadcasting Corporation 'Settling For Average' hosted by Yumi Stynes, produced by Cassandra Steeth and Olivia Willis, the supervising producer is Madeleine Genner, sound engineering by Tim Jenkins, and the Executive Producer is Laura McAuliffe.]


'Reveal': the "alt right" moves into comics

Reveal logo

Reveal logo Photo: Supplied

The white nationalist movement that calls itself the "alt right" is moving into comic books as a way of pushing its political agenda.

It's a story told by Reveal, an investigative podcast aiming to "change minds, laws and lives". Its recent stories have included exposes about police corruption and about worker safety at the electric car maker Tesla.

We join host- and comic fan- Al Letson and play some of an episode called 'Never Meet Your (Super) Heroes'.

Reveal is a co-production of The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX and you can find out more about upcoming stories by signing up to its newsletter here.