Russ Roberts

Announcing EconTalk Extras

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts
Jeffrey Sachs on the Millenniu... Think, Read, and Write: Jeffre...

I've noticed in recent years that many of you want to get more out of EconTalk than just listening an hour each week. You want to go deeper and learn more. So we're starting a new feature here, EconTalk Extras, to try to enrich the learning experience of EconTalk. It will also be a way for me to interact with you beyond our weekly hour together and beyond FaceBook and Twitter.

We're going to start with some variety. Sometimes, I'll be doing a post-mortem on an episode, and possibly responding to some of the comments you've made. Other times we'll have discussion questions for you to react to or write about or just think about if you're interested. We have other ideas that we'll introduce as we go along.

I'll be producing some of this material and some will be produced by educators and staffers from Liberty Fund, the sponsor of EconTalk. They'll introduce themselves with their first post and every post will be identified by author.

We hope this new material makes EconTalk a richer educational experience. Let us know what you think. We'd love to hear other ideas as well.

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CATEGORIES: Education (70)

TWITTER: Follow Russ Roberts @EconTalker

COMMENTS (12 to date)
W.E. Heasley writes:

Excellent idea!

Jon Lachman writes:

Great! Many thanks for EconTalk and this extension.

Todd D. Mora writes:

This is great addition. Thank you.

Jim writes:

Nice idea. I'd like to hear a post mortem on, for instance, your interview with Mr Sachs. Even moreso if you were able and willing to provide some space for a rebuttal by Ms Munk.

Kevin Muldowney writes:

Bring it on!

Drew Yallop writes:

Yes. Best economic education on the Net.

Ron Crossland writes:

Would greatly enjoy this feature. Just your recent episode with Professor Epstein could spawn a dozen post-discussions.

Rod Montgomery writes:

[Comment removed for policy violation. --Econlib Ed.]

Cowboy Prof writes:

I like this idea a great deal, BUT I also like having all the weekly podcasts coming one after another on one page. I point many students to this website and find that they like to scroll down recent episodes to find things that interest them. I also put the RSS feed on my course websites so students can peruse them.

This is where we run into a problem with the new format: there is a bit too much "clutter."

I came back to the website after a two weeks of absence to look at the comments on the Sachs episode and found it hard to find the Sachs podcast. Looking at my RSS feed on my course website, it has been buried deep and students who go there won't be able to find it.

Here is a suggested solution: Keep the EconTalk Extras feature, but can you separate it either in a different RSS feed, a different column on the website, or even on a different page.

The trade-off with the above solution is that the Extras might not get enough attention buried on a different page or RSS feed, but the core of what you do, Russ, is to provide these superb interviews in one easy-to-access area. It is the simplicity of what you do that is beautiful; please preserve that as much as possible.


Aaron Zierman writes:

I agree with Cowboy Prof.

I love the idea of the extras, but I think a change in format might be in order.

Thanks for everything you do!

Hi, Cowboy Prof, Aaron, and others.

I get the problem, and have been at work on some solutions since even before you asked. We're going to improve the options even more in the next week or so, but here are some improvements we've already got in place that may help you and others.

First, I've changed the main EconTalk Archive page to help people scan quickly between Podcast Episodes or Extras. There is a table that classifies the two types of offerings into different columns. Take a look at it here:
EconTalk Archives
As time permits, I'll fuss with further design matters.

Second, I totally grok the RSS feed problem and I'm working on it. Feeds can be kind of limiting because they have restrictive technical requirements as well as being dependent on the particular newsreader in which you subscribe, which likely also limits further the display.

But as it happens, we already offer some behind-the-scenes RSS feeds that may suit your purposes.

For a relatively clutter-free feed containing excerpts--the first few paragraphs, including links to the audio mp3 files whenever the item is a new Podcast Episode--of the latest 10 items, check out
If you subscribe to that feed in your newsreader or browser, all the lengthy extended material such as the Readings and Highlights or other "below-the-fold" material will not be displayed in your newsreader. That may make it much easier to scan. And, you can always go to the item itself to read the additional material.

If your newsreader only happens to show the titles, note that I've also implemented one of my occasional tricks: If the title says it's "by Amy Willis" or "by Russ Roberts", it's an Extra (a blog post). If there is no byline in the title, it's a regular Podcast Episode.

And if you do decide you want everything--not just the excerpts--delivered in your feed, our standard text-and-audio feed still has every word, as well, of course, as links to the audio files:

I'm still fussing a bit with what we can and can't include in various different kinds of RSS feeds or the question of whether we want to add any entirely new feeds. Once it settles down, I'll add those feed links to our sidebar and the FAQ.

If commenters in this thread want to voice their wish-lists, this is a great time to do it. We may already have some of these feed options available for behind-the-scenes purposes, and if readers show enough interest, I may be able to make those feeds public. You can voice your suggestions in the comment section here or you can email me at


Cowboy Prof writes:

You rock, Lauren! Thanks!!

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