The 21st Show

NPR Science Podcast ‘Short Wave’; Uncovering An Airbnb Scam; Banning Leaf Blowers; Illini Sports Update



NPR’s new daily science podcast is called Short Wave. It’s a show that digs into the science behind the headlines and makes it fun.

Plus, reporter Allie Conti was scammed by an Airbnb host on a trip to Chicago. When she looked into it further, she found a network of properties in different cities taking thousands of dollars from unsuspecting guests. 

And, what sounds do you associate with fall? Maybe the loud buzz of a leaf blower? Some communities have banned them because of noise, but also because they’re harmful to the environment. Also, we catch up on Illini sports.

Daily Science Podcast "Short Wave"

Science is about understanding the natural world. Which means it should be for everyone, but it doesn’t always feel that way, especially if you’re not an expert. 

And if you follow the news a lot, that sense of discovery — that you once had as a kid — can get buried under the biggest headlines every day.

NPR has a new daily podcast aimed at bringing that curiosity back for everybody. It’s called Short Wave, and episodes come out every weekday morning. They say the show is about new discoveries, everyday mysteries and the science behind the headlines all in about 10 minutes.

Maddie Sofia is the host of Short Wave. Emily Kwong is a reporter and sometimes host for the show. They both joined us from NPR in Washington D.C.

Listen to the podcast here.

Uncovering Airbnb Scams

With more than 7 million listings to choose from, there is no shortage of options when it comes to finding a place to stay on Airbnb: an online platform where homeowners can rent out their place to travelers looking for a short-term stay. 

The growth of Airbnb has exploded over the past decade. Since 2008, more than 500 million guests have used it. 

Reporter Allie Conti is one of them. She booked a place for her and her friends in Chicago a few months ago. That led to her discovering a network of more than 100 properties in eight cities that were being used to exploit people out of thousands of dollars. That’s led law enforcement to step in, and has prompted Airbnb to announce some changes.

Allie Conti is a former senior staff writer at VICE. She joined us on the show from New York City.

Read the story here.

Banning Leaf Blowers

All those gorgeous golden yellow and red leaves that we love so much in the Midwest are now collecting in our yards. 

You might be making plans now for getting outside to clean up those leaves. You could rake them up, or maybe go with the quicker, yet noisier option of using a leaf blower.

But did you know that just one hour of using a gas powered leaf blower can actually generate the same amount of pollutants as a Toyota Camry driving from New York to Iowa? 

And noise pollution is a problem, too.

Jen Walling is the executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, an environmental advocacy organization based in Springfield. Annette Donnelly is a master gardener and master naturalist in Champaign, and a volunteer with University of Illinois Extension.

Illini Sports Update

The University of Illinois has had a rough few years when it comes to its biggest men’s sports: football and basketball. Last year, Illini football went 4-8, including losses in their last three games.

This time it might actually be a different story. Illinois now stands at 5-4, and could actually be eligible for a bowl game if they win this coming Saturday against Michigan State. Head coach Lovie Smith said this weekend’s game is “the biggest game of my tenure here.”

Brian Moline is WILL’s managing editor and he joined us to talk about this.

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