Heyyy, it’s your dad’s weird friend from college.
Not actually, but that’s one of the lines that American writer Alie Ward uses to introduce herself to the listeners of her weekly podcast Ologies.
I first started listening to Ologies at the beginning of the 2021–2022 school year, when I was a commuter student. When I got bored of listening to the music that had kept me hyped all summer, I wanted something that would be engaging, instead of wondering whether I would survive if I crashed into the ditch at 80 kilometres per hour. I’m kidding. Kind of.
‘Ologists’ are the different guests that Ward interviews each episode who are experts from any number of fields. These specialists answer a flurry of questions about their research, how popular they are at cocktail parties, and what’s the worst thing about their job — for a lot of them, it’s the paperwork, surprisingly. Ward also gets the ologists to debunk any “flimflam” — common and often incorrect assumptions about their fields.
Despite it being a science podcast, one of my favourite things about Ologies is that it doesn’t feel like science. Ward records “asides” — segments of the show normally recorded in her closet — which help simplify terms or other science-y things. She also bleeps out the word mucus, simply because hearing “mucus” grosses her out.
A lot of Ward’s reviews on her podcast consist of people shocked to find out that she has a great ability to make even oology, the study of eggs, or graphology, the study of handwriting and forgery, sound interesting. When I say trust me, trust me. I didn’t really want to listen to deltiology, which is the study of postcards, but it’s actually one of the ones I ironically remember the most from the dozens upon dozens of episodes I have listened to.
The best part about Ward’s commentary is that she’s incredibly quirky, but also relatable. She doesn’t hide the fact that she’s in awe of every ologist she interviews, or the weird — almost stalker-ish, but in a flattering way — things she goes through to track down and chat with different ologists in cities across the US. She also swears a lot, but Ward’s lack of clean language is somewhat engaging and refreshing compared to most podcasts for non-expert audiences.
Ward’s episodes are normally just over an hour long, but certain ologies — like areology, the study of Mars — are broken into two parts. She also has mini episodes, at around 20 minutes in length, in which she rants about all of the things that should be considered an ology but are not, including waterfights, barbecues, and fireflies.
The podcast also has a great community surrounding it. Do you know how some podcast hosts are so in their own world that they never acknowledge their listeners? They just continue with their programming like they don’t know people wear t-shirts and tote bags with their logo on them. Ward isn’t like that. She has a Patreon page, where for a whopping 25 cents an episode, you can become a Patreon and ask future ologists questions! Have a question about sewer rats? Ward is your gateway to directly asking Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, all of your deepest, darkest concerns regarding Remy from Ratatouille.
Ologies, through Patreon and merchandise sales, remains ad-free — which, since almost everyone else has some sort of brand deal, is kind of a miracle. This means you don’t have to worry about listening to the promo code for 20 per cent off some nutrient supplements.
Ologies was named one of Time Magazine’s top 50 podcasts in 2019. Later, in 2022, the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards named Ologies the “Best Science Podcast” and the Webby Awards named Ward the “Best Podcast Host.”
Well, did I convince you? If so, you can find Ologies on Spotify or on the Ologies website.