Planet Money at CMU

Audio Clip

By Amy Robinson  

So, you've heard by now that Planet Money guys Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg were at CMU this week.  You've probably heard the comments that we aired explaining their take on  
the current economy.  Manual labor jobs are dying; intellectual capital is where it's at.  And don't forget the soft-skills; relationship building,  conflict resolution, things we learn in pre-school. Very important

But what we haven't told you yet is about the audience.  Ok, we don't normally focus on that part of a presentation.  But in this case, a busload of high schoolers made the night.  

They helped a couple of self-professed NPR econ-geeks feel like rock stars, they energized an auditorium, and one guy got a date out of the whole thing.

If you've never been to a Planet Money presentation,  well it feels a lot like their radio stories; informed, but relaxed and conversational. kind of fun.

At CMU Tuesday, it was perhaps a little more fun than usual.

Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson took the stage to a sight they've never seen before.  

high school boys with letters in duct tape on their chests, you know, like fans at football games..

The students booked a charter bus and drove in from Petoskey.

And were they ready for this. A bunch of them had signs that said things like  "Alex Blumberg has a monopoly on my heart"
Or how about this one...

That's Hayley Fettig.  She's a senior and in the AP Econ class. Planet Money was a really good night for her, but we'll get to that in a minute. When Planey Money took the stage, these teens were just, well, econ groupies...

"I know, we made signs last week and we were all really excited to come down here. We listen to 'em almost every week.  We'll like load their podcast and the teacher will show them to us and we all talk about 'em in class and everything, so."

So, the teacher.  See, teenagers don't typically just look up Planet Money.  They need an introduction.  and in this case, the introduction was provided by the teacher... Zach Jonker... a really big fan.

"He got so excited.  Oh my gosh.  It like made his day when he found out that Planet Money was coming to Central Michigan. Even though it's two and a half hours away.  He was like, we're going to get a fan bus and all this stuff.  And actually this is our first day back from Spring Break so we had to. We found out like two days before we left for spring break. We planned it all. Got so many kids signed up. Came, everyone had their money today, their permission slips today to come down and see this."

So the students arranged a meeting for me with Zach Jonker. He's been teaching at Petoskey for 12-years.  He launched the Advanced Placement class four-years ago.  When Planet Money began.

We do macro economics the first semester.  Micro economics the second semester and the kids take the AP exam in May.

He plays the Planet Money podcasts in class.

"We are in my class using it almost weekly."

Mr Jonker said the students have come to know the Planet Money team.  And yes, high school students were excited to see the guys.  He said for this group, the Planet Money presentation was spot on.

"I thought the message they had was a great way to reinforce what we're actually talking about. This new globalized world that we're living in, and how it's an entirely different world that they're about  to graduate into than the world in which their parents graduated into.  And there's a different skill set required to be successful."

These teens are learning those skills.  So called soft skills like getting along with others, communicating, taking a risk....

George's question...

We didn't hear Hayley's answer there, but I caught up with her after the talk.

(Hayley - lucky one) I am the lucky one.

and she said yes.  and economics is all well and good, a driving force in our society and all that... but the question became, what's she going to wear...

I have no idea. I have absolutely no idea.  Something cute. I'll definitely wear something cute.

And as for George, our intrepid young economist.  it turns out, he's also an entrepreneur.  I guess risk taking is what he does.

"I'm actually....I'm considering doing a gap-year to do entrepreneurship. I actually have a computer repair company right now, and I know some kids out in Palo Alto near San Francisco Bay area.  So I'm actually going to go out there for a summer and possibly for a whole year and work on a start up.  My parents don't want me to, but the thing is, my parents are much more conservative, want me to take the safe route, but I really want to take a risk and that's how you really succeed  I think, so.  Like asking Hayley to the prom, it was a risk..."

Don't we wish all our financial risks paid off so well.  

In the end, the Planet Money guys were a hit. George found a date to the prom and we, trust Hayley will find just the right dress before the big night. and yes, it all started with Public Radio.

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