I remember the exact moment I decided to start a podcast four years ago. I enjoyed a dinner with two friends in New York city so much that I wished I had recorded it. For two hours, over fantastic Persian food, I basically interviewed two brilliant scientists between bites of fesenjan. Although it wasn’t the first time that I wanted to record the insights of other people, that particular conversation spurred me to begin the podcast journey. July 2 marked the three year anniversary of The Drive.
We started the podcast on a 12-episode test run in late June of 2018, on the cusp of what has become a Cambrian-like explosion of podcasts in circulation today. Admittedly, I started the podcast for selfish reasons. I am always trying to learn things I don’t already know and perpetually have a bunch of questions that I am trying to answer. I also wanted to record meaningful conversations and share them with other people who could listen in.
Over 165 episodes and three years later, my intention hasn’t changed much, but the podcast operation has definitely evolved, taking on a life of its own. Each podcast episode requires about 40 hours of preparation, give or take, which includes my team working on a document about the podcast guest, the guest’s work, any pertinent background information on the given topic space, and my review thereof. The shortest of these documents was 10 pages (only happened once!); more typically they are 30 to 40 single-spaced pages. The post-production for each episode now includes audio and video, since we started video recording the conversations for our YouTube channel. I even built a mini recording studio in my office where I sit (or Zoom) with guests, trying to make it feel like we are in-person if it is over Zoom. Since a lot of the motivation to produce the podcast comes from wanting to build a knowledge base, I wanted quality in-depth shownotes that accompany each episode, which by my audit, accounts for another 20 to 30 hours of work for each episode.
We have received some feedback expressing that it can be difficult to get through one new episode every week, due to the technical nature and depth of many of the episodes. Suffice it to say that getting deep in the weeds on a given topic does not necessarily make for a quick listen, especially if you want to thoughtfully sit with the content. (I must admit, I need to go back and listen to about 10 to 15% of the episodes in an effort to reinforce what I learned, which probably says something, given the time I put into preparing and the fact that I’ve already listened once during the actual recording.) Since I want to optimize the most beneficial way of sharing information on this podcast platform, I thought to try an experiment: we are going to take off one new episode release per month during the summer (though the AMA’s will still continue at the regular pace of one per month). I figure this will allow listeners to catch up on longer episodes and go through shownotes, and also allow the opportunity to (re)visit past episodes, which may be new for a lot of you. A complete episode archive can be found here. If you want some help deciding which episodes to listen to, or are curious about a certain topic, have a look at the topics page here.
The podcast is one of my favorite extracurricular activities. It is a great privilege to talk across a wide range of topics with people I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to speak with (at least in such length and depth). It is the greatest “forcing function” to drive my learning at a rate I could never keep up organically. And I have also loved how the episodes and shownotes have become a resource for my patients and for the general public alike. I want to make the podcast as beneficial and enjoyable for you as possible, so I welcome your feedback on three things.
First, let us know if you find value in the newly added video content, including shorter clips for each episode released. Second, let us know what you think about one less new episode per month. It is our hope that you are given the opportunity to receive the (sometimes technical) information in a format and cadence that works for you. Third, please suggest people you would like me to interview and topics you would like to see explored in depth. Although we may not be able to respond to your feedback directly, we will be reading it all. Thank you for partaking in our varied experimentations over the years, and I look forward to more exciting endeavors ahead!