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Introducing Our Newest Podcast: What’s The Point

At FiveThirtyEight, we don’t just crunch numbers, we also care about how data affects our lives — in all sorts of areas. Now that we’ve launched one podcast devoted to sports analytics, it’s time to start talking about everything else. Our newest show, What’s The Point, is a short weekly conversation (tag line: “Big Data. Small Interviews.”) that highlights data’s growing influence and brings in the people who are using it in surprising ways.1 At its heart, it’s an interview show, but it will also be a way to do more reporting and take on more ambitious radio in the near future.

And I’m your host. Before coming to FiveThirtyEight, I produced and reported in the world of public radio — for shows such as “On The Media,” “Freakonomics,” “Marketplace” and so on. I spent many years with WNYC, the NPR station in New York, as my home base, where I also developed a knack for convincing you to give money for tote bags. I also host a live comedy/storytelling show as well.

But I’m thrilled to now make What’s The Point my home. My approach to hosting is to let the ideas come first. I’m not here to hear myself talk. I hope you’ll walk away from each episode having learned something new, and maybe with a story (or spreadsheet) to talk about over drinks later that night.

What’s the Point: Nate Silver on scrutinizing data

In this intro episode, I asked our very own editor-in-chief Nate Silver to join me to help set up some of the central questions and themes I hope to explore and to assess this moment in data. We talk about stuff like:

  • Does big data necessarily mean better data?
  • What are the privacy trade-offs of big data, and what should be the policy response?
  • Are the most interesting stories found in the patterns or the outliers?
  • What exactly do corporations know about you and me?
  • Who’s compiling data in unexpected fields?

So take a listen by using the player or one of the links above. If you’re already convinced, rate and review the show on iTunes! Our first proper episode, with astrophysicist and all-around genius Neil deGrasse Tyson, drops very soon. After that: doctors, transportation commissioners, reporters, sexual-encounter-spreadsheet collectors, lots more …

And if you have any ideas for topics to discuss, or any other thoughts about What’s The Point, please get in touch. Email me, or find me on Twitter.

Thanks for listening, and thanks to everyone2 who helped get this thing off the ground and into your earbuds. See ya soon.


  1. It also features great music from Hrishikesh Hirway, host of the excellent “Song Exploder” podcast.

  2. Chadwick Matlin, Ryan Nantell, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kate Elazegui, Jordan Schulkin, Joe Mead, Joseph Fuentes, Hrishi Hirway, Joe Wilson, the #podcast-naming-club Slack channel, and many more.

Jody Avirgan hosts and produces podcasts for FiveThirtyEight.