Genre: Science & Medicine
Hosts: Alie Ward
Network: Feral Audio
Spotlight and review by: Nick Schofield
We live in a world full of –ologists. From the zoo to the pharmacy to the fossil site and back, chances are you’ve met at least one –ologist in your lifetime.
But what do all these folks do, what does their work look like, and just how human are they?
Alie Ward is out to answer all these questions and more in her podcast series Ologies. She’s on a quest to learn what drives the -ologists she encounters. By getting the answers straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth, Ward puts a voice (and face) to each field of study she explores.
Ward is a powerhouse with an impressive resume. Her work spans television, podcasting, radio, news and online media, and so on. Her credits include:
- Correspondent for CBS’ The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca
- Co-host of GE’s In the Wild, alongside Adam Savage of Mythbusters
- Co-host of the podcast “Slumber Party with Alie & Georgia”
She’s also a culinary tour-de-force, having co-written and co-hosted two separate web series for the Cooking Channel and contributing regularly to their #1 show Unique Sweets.
Only a rockstar could lead this podcast, and Ward is it.
Ward’s intense curiosity drives each 45-minute to hour-long episode of the Ologies podcast. Embedded throughout the show is the mantra: ask smart people dumb questions. The “dumb questions” Ward asks always lead to fascinating, awe-inspiring conversations.
Ologies adopts the interview podcast format, but refreshingly pushes boundaries. Much like NPR’s Radiolab or Invisibilia, conversations are intercut with the host’s asides. Ward uses these to play and personalize the podcast for her audience. Whether she’s laughing at a sound she made during the interview, looping audio clips for dramatic effect, or layering creepy bird sounds under the dialogue, she offers a breath of fresh air to the format.
This podcast delights as much as it informs, perfectly balancing the elements needed to keep a listener engaged. I find myself walking away after each episode more awestruck at the world than I was before. As Ward puts it on the show’s Patreon page, I find myself in “slack-jawed wonder.” That’s something we all could use a bit more of.
Possibly the best aspect of the Ologies podcast is how accessible it is. Many podcasts struggle with a sort of “knowledge gap” between the guest/host and the audience. Ward remedies this by bringing things down to a level anyone can understand and humanizing it for us.
For example, the episode “5 – Horology with Cameron Weiss” (which features a slick “your mom” joke within the first few minutes) breaks down horology–the study and measurement of time. Weiss, the episode’s guest, ends up speaking in a lot of watchmaking parlance. To correct for this, Ward pauses to slow down and explain each time a new term or idea enters the conversation. This way, the listener can keep up with the conversation and understand that term or idea in context. Ward helps you understand the subject while she works to understand it herself.
Listen! The Ologies podcast is still in its infancy, but it’s growing fast. If you’re up for learning a little, being entertained, and even just being in the orbit of this crazy talented and inspiring woman, then this is the podcast for you.