Shortly after Patrick Barkey was named director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, he began producing a podcast focused on one of his life’s passions – economics.
For the third year running, the resulting “Montana Economic Minute” was named among the Top 25 Best Economic Podcasts in the country by the Intelligent Economist.
“I didn’t know we were being evaluated in any way,” Barkey said on Wednesday. “It’s not going to my head and it’s not causing any tax problems, if you know what I mean. We’ll just carry on. It’s something I can brag about to my family. It’s nice someone is listening.”
Barkey produces the “Montana Economic Minute” each business day. The episodes play across the state on various radio stations and focus on local and national economic issues, from taxes and tourism to business and real estate.
The ideas aren’t hard to come by, Barkey said.
“It’s really not hard, especially in a research center like ours,” Barkey said. “The most inspiration I get is from meetings and conferences and things like that, where a lot of ideas and questions come up. Of course, in 50 seconds, no one expects me to solve any problems, so I just point them out.”
The podcast’s Top 25 ranking marks the third consecutive year it has made the coveted list. In doing so, it appears alongside other notable economic podcasts, including “Freakonomics” and “The Economist Radio.”
“The bureau’s talented economists are at the top of their field and so provide shrewd coverage of financial data – economic forecasts for both Montana and the whole country,” the Intelligent Economist said of the Montana program.
Barkey began producing the program eight years ago, shortly after he became director of BBER, a research center based at UM. He wrote an economic column for a newspaper prior to that, and saw the podcast as a novel way to reach a wider audience.
“I thought this would be a way of projecting the conversation about economics to a wider swath of the state than you can do with newspapers, because there’s so many people in the state who don’t live in cities,” Barkey said. “The general goal was the same as when I wrote a newspaper column, and that was to get people thinking about the economic issues.”
Barkey said the approach enables the research center to broach a wider range of issues.
“We’re in Missoula and we love Missoula, but we have a statewide mission, so trying to project to the rest of the state from the western edge of the state is really challenging,” Barkey said. “Not that a podcast solves that problem, but it does a little bit, and it gets us into discussions in different parts of Montana we otherwise wouldn’t touch.”