A Short Review of “Short Wave” by NPR

If you should know anything about my podcast listening habits, you should know that around 2/3 of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis as non-fiction. NPR’s Short Wave is one of the newer ones I’ve added to my long list of shows, only having launched on October 15th, 2019, and it has quickly risen in the ranks to being one of my favorites.

Short Wave is a daily podcast that gives listeners a peek into some of the top science headlines, all in around 10 minutes.

This past weekend, my family went on a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, one of our most-visited destinations in the last couple of years because, well… who wouldn’t want to spend their free time in the happiest place on Earth?

Image by Al Seeger from Pixabay

While in EPCOT, we finally managed to take their “Behind the Seeds” tour, which takes guests into their greenhouses and fish farm, teaching them about gardening and natural sciences — and it was a big hit! At $25 per person (or $20 for kids), you can’t beat the value we got out of this tour.

But you came here to read about podcasts, and podcasts you shall receive!

All of this is why I’m bringing to you one of Short Wave‘s most recent episodes: “Fighting An Insect Invasion With… An Insect Invasion”.

This may not sound like the most interesting topic when you first read the headline, which is what I thought. Until I hit play and heard what host Maddie Sofia had to say. You see, they were discussing the infestation of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that found its way here from China, and how the U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to figure out the best way to fight it without causing further harm to ecosystems.

But wait… this wasn’t the first time I had heard of the spotted lanternfly in the last few days. Because our tourguide Rob on the “Behind the Seeds” tour had shown us to them in Disney’s USDA research lab in EPCOT!

Hidden behind the Living with the Land ride in The Land area of the theme park is a fully-equipped USDA-certified research lab, just like the ones mentioned in the November 6th episode of Short Wave. The timing of this episode’s release was uncanny and made listening to it even more exciting because I was already familiar with the topic!

The topics being discussed each episode are made even more interesting by Maddie Sofia being a great host, along with her guests like NPR science correspondent Dan Charles who helped out with this episode. I’ve listened to many science and historical podcasts alike where the hosts just give dry information that I could have just as easily read for myself in an article in the New York Times or on good old Wikipedia. (I looked up some articles and websites for you on the spotted lanternfly in case you were interested in learning more.)

You know what else makes this a great podcast? Transcripts. NPR includes transcripts on their website for every episode of their podcasts, like Short Wave! I’m a huge supporter of transcripts and believe that every podcast should have them for each episode, for free, for everyone.


Have you listened to Short Wave yet? If so, let me know your thoughts! If not… what are you waiting for? It’ll only take you 10 minutes to get started, and you might learn something new and interesting along the way!

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