By Deana Korsunsky
“Why are you a professional cuddler? Why would you set yourself on fire? Why are you trying to domesticate a rabid animal? Why are you still hunting ghosts?” Hosts Heidi Hedquist and Luke Poling ask the hard-hitting and, to say the least, unconventional questions in their show, Why? The Podcast, a podcast dedicated to exploring unique passions and seemingly bizarre lifepaths.
Hedquist and Poling have been releasing episodes since 2018, sharing a common drive to unearth what motivates individuals’ eccentric interests. Hedquist and Poling met after a screening of Poling’s film, Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, and realized the podcast potential in their curiosity-driven conversation. After two months of practicing, they began communicating with people of various backgrounds and careers, gathering materials, interviewees, and insights about what makes people do seemingly “odd” activities. “It’s a very big world,” Poling commented on the show. “It’s a good thing to know what your neighbor is up to (Not in like a staring-out-the-window-with-binoculars kind of way).”
Running between twenty and forty minutes long, episodes of Why? The Podcast revolve around interviews with people who have fascinating hobbies or careers. Hedquist and Poling have spoken with people from various walks of life, including poly dom Tammy Jo Echkart, Indiana Jones franchise enthusiast Michael Miller, Love Is Blind contestants Andy Rickert and Mikey Cobb, flight attendant Caroline Bright, and dozens of other intriguing guests. With every episode, listeners have the opportunity to listen in on unique lived experiences and to hear the answers to any “why” questions that may arise.
Besides learning about niche hobbies and career paths, listeners are given the opportunity to listen in on people’s motivations and reasoning for accomplishing arguably strange tasks such as skydiving naked, or eating competitively. Each episode reveals the intricate thought processes behind guests’ decisions, and illuminates the deeply rooted human urge to explore that which is not mainstream. “When you hear someone’s motivation,” Host Heidi Hedquist says of the show, “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, you think ‘okay, it’s not for me, but it makes sense.’”
Why? The Podcast’s guests coupled with Hedquist and Poling’s lighthearted chemistry make for a show that aims to both educate and entertain. Poling says it best when he states: “The goal of the show is to just learn more about these people and have a good time.” Tune in every Monday to learn, laugh, and answer the question: Why?