The Omnibus

Omnibus is co-hosted by Ken Jennings and is released on the How Stuff Works podcast network (press release). Together, Ken and John pick a couple of topics each week for a mind-blowing deep dive into obscure stories they fear might be lost to history.

"We are Ken Jennings and John Roderick. We speak to you from our present which we can only assume is your distant past, the turbulent time that was the early 21st century. Fearing the great cataclysm that will surely befall our civilization, we began this monumental reference of strange and obscure human knowledge. These recordings represent our attempt to compile and preserve wonders and esoterica that would otherwise be lost. Whether you are listening from an advanced civilization or have just reinvented the technology to decrypt our transmissions, this is our legacy to you. This is our time capsule, this is The Omnibus."

Episode Release Date Entry Certificate Topic
1 2017-12-07 431.PS8403 #27603 The European Starling
2 2017-12-07 326.2K0933 #32146 Defenestration
3 2017-12-07 865.1C0924 #28924 The Olympic Marathon of 1904
4 2017-12-07 939.MK0511 #43259 The Pig War
5 2017-12-12 1177.AM0521 #18585 Smell-O-Vision
6 2017-12-19 1291.EP0318 #28910 The Tesseract
7 2017-12-21 1414.PS6301 #33935 Water Wars
8 2017-12-26 511.PS6928 #6442 Gadsby
9 2017-12-28 835.1C1311 #31932 Newton's Cradle
10 2018-01-01 1122.EC0105 #12248 Secret Order of the Double Sunrise
11 2018-01-04 315.EZ3328 #11458 The Darién Gap
12 2018-01-09 577.PR1413 #42615 Heil Honey I'm Home
13 2018-01-11 805.GN1032 #18088 Monrovia, Moravia, Moldova, Moldavia
14 2018-01-17 692.JU0113 #31644 Kohoutek
15 2018-01-18 1134.LV2024 #13568 The Sentinelese
16 2018-01-23 901.JS1002 #507 Paris Syndrome
17 2018-01-25 786.ZC0508 #25185 Thomas Midgley
18 2018-01-30 817.PR0716 #37891 Mummy Brown
19 2018-02-01 820.JE5022 #27008 Mutual Assured Destruction
20 2018-02-06 319.MK1610 #34312 Death Discs
21 2018-02-08 571.1C1104 #25200 Hat Etiquette
22 2018-02-13 112.HE0616 #37863 The Bellamy Salute
23 2018-02-15 866.MT2230 #34322 Oneida
24 2018-02-20 772.JB4015 #30148 Megafauna
25 2018-02-22 091.EP0427 #47448 Backmasking
26 2018-02-27 733.2K0934 #34884 London Bridge is down
27 2018-03-01 1458.NA0104 #31078 The Zuider Zee
28 2018-03-06 840.PR0415 #29250 The Noid
29 2018-03-08 284.MT2309 #29423 Father Coughlin
30 2018-03-13 1087.EZ1613 #25284 Rubber Barons
31 2018-03-15 1213.JB0926 #39390 S.S. United States
32 2018-03-20 050.PS3420 #36073 Mary Anning
33 2018-03-22 789.JB2704 #35145 Milli Vanilli
34 2018-03-27 1351.PS13704 #40632 Tuvan Throat Singers (LIVE SF Sketchfest 2018)
35 2018-03-29 697.GN0710 #17528 Lake Missoula (LIVE SF Sketchfest 2018)
36 2018-04-03 559.PR2006 #24139 Hachiko
37 2018-04-05 176.1S1007 #28337 Call Signs
38 2018-04-10 1387.DE0228 #16697 Vending Machines
39 2018-04-12 178.RV2013 #27174 Canadian Floating Feet
40 2018-04-17 047.PS9111 #21873 The Angels of Mons
41 2018-04-19 611.GE3703 #26275 Hypercolor
42 2018-04-24 126.EZ2010 #50204 Bir Tawil
43 2018-04-26 210.NU2653 #6798 Checkerboarding
44 2018-05-01 1411.HE1212 #46102 The Washington Generals
45 2018-05-03 091.EZ2220 #30148 Backyard Blast Furnaces
46 2018-05-08 688.LK1734 #39087 William Rufus King
47 2018-05-10 1354.IS2915 #27765 Tylenol Murders
48 2018-05-15 806.JB2136 #18042 The Moon Illusion
49 2018-05-17 1195.SS0713 #31327 Spanish Fly
50 2018-05-22 726.2C0113 #24875 Gordin Lish
51 2018-05-24 967.AC1940 #32844 The Port Chicago Disaster
52 2018-05-29 385.PR1513 #42013 Duchenne Smiles
53 2018-05-31 981.DE2211 #31310 The Preppy Handbook
54 2018-06-05 1227.PR2027 #42453 The St. Martin Fistula
55 2018-06-07 162.EC0911 #24968 The Bugatti Chiron
56 2018-06.12 264.LK1255 #17145 The Conqueror
57 2018-06-14 988.1C1423 #35645 Prisencolinensinainciusol
58 2018-06-19 148.LV2519 #29158 The Boysenberry
59 2018-06-21 122.JB4024 #47159 Billy the Pygmy Hippo
60 2018-06-26 692.JE2907 #16823 The Koryo Saram
61 2018-06-28 1411.SS0604 #39950 War Rugs
62 2018-07-03 220.HB0202 #51449 Christian Science Reading Rooms
63 2018-07-05 1339.JE3023 #9101 The Tri-State Tornado
64 2018-07-10 1327.PS4303 #34096 The Transcontinental Airway System
65 2018-07-12 1411.LV2025 #29158 The Washing Bear
66 2018-07-17 1412.JM0503 #5888 Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid
67 2018-07-19 1343.LK1428 #47967 The Truman Reconstruction

"In the unlikely event social media still exists in your era, our tweets are archived @omnibusproject. Our handles were @kenjennings and @johnroderick in the olden times. John also maintained an Instagram account under the same name which Ken felt was beneath his dignity. Our address for email, which was a popular form of electronic communication, was moc.skrowffutswoh|tcejorpsubinmo#moc.skrowffutswoh|tcejorpsubinmo. From our vantage point in your distant past, we have no idea how long our civilization survived. We hope and pray that the catastrophe we fear may never come. If the worst comes soon, this recording like all our recordings may be our final word, but if providence allows, we hope to be back with you soon for another entry in The Omnibus!"

Recording setup

The show is edited by their friend Chandler Mays who is only allowed to take out the many bloopers and helicopter sounds.

Executive producer: Chuck Bryant.

Behind the scenes

There were some interesting notes by Ken and John in this Facebook thread in the group Omnibus Futurelings

[…] "Most recording days (Wednesdays, generally) we do two shows, and we alternate who suggests the topics." — Ken Jennings

"Tuesday shows are Ken shows and Thursday shows are my shows. I'm surprised no one has noticed this simple pattern. The topics we choose are very individual to us. I'm sure over time you'll be able to tell who led the conversation just from reading the titles.

We record on Wednesdays at 10am, although Ken is sometimes as late as 10:30. I often greet him at the door not 100% completely dressed, since I wake up at 9:45, and then we hang out in the kitchen while I drink coffee and wake up. Ken doesn't drink coffee and, although I offer him all kinds of refreshment he always refuses. Or at least he used to, UNTIL someone left a giant container of party snax at my house. Now Ken walks around hugging the jar of party snax like a koala baby.

We always record Ken's episode first because he picks his topic the night before and has made a couple of notes. We take a few minutes beforehand to each read a last little bit on the topic and then we go. We hardly ever discuss the topic beforehand and we always seem to know different stuff. When we're done I go to the kitchen to get another cup of coffee and Ken hugs his koala snax baby for a minute. Then I decide on a topic, and ask Ken if it sounds like a good one. He always says "They're all good. We're going to have to do everything eventually." But then I have second thoughts and reject my first idea. Then I propose another idea and Ken says "That's fine too." Then I agonize over it for a couple of minutes until Ken says "You have to pick one." Usually then I decide on a third idea. Then we both read up on it for a minute and I scribble some dates down and then we dive in.

We repeat this pattern every week almost to the letter. We also chat quite a bit about other stuff that doesn't have anything to do with the show, and lately Ken has been stopping RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF RECORDING to play a trivia game on his phone for five minutes, then we start up again. We do all this and he is usually out the door and back in his car by 2:00pm, so it's pretty efficient." — John Roderick

"Chuck Bryant came to us and asked if we wanted to do a show. I've been friends with Chuck for several years and introduced him to Ken. Chuck is a prince.

The show is edited by a fellow named Chandler Mays. When Chandler first started working with us I couldn't remember his name so I called him Corinthian. Then Ken started calling him Corinthian, too. We have never actually spoken directly to Corinthian but we address him all the time while we're recording. When we want to correct ourselves we say "beeep" and start over, and we know that Corinthian will fix it. We both know that there is a person named Chandler who works with us and he seems very nice, but the show is edited by another person named Corinthian who has never written or called us but who seems to do an excellent job.

I hope it is not giving too much away to say that Ken and I have never listened to our show. Neither of us can stand the thought. So we hand it off to Corinthian and trust him implicitly. He's the one that comes up with audio cues and sound effects and stuff. Ken has opinions about those things occasionally and he and Corinthian will email about them and I am fine with whatever they decide. We record several weeks in advance, so the shows coming out now we have completely forgotten about and have to be reminded what they were.

I replaced the squeaky chairs several weeks ago and now the chairs do not squeak at all. […]" — John Roderick

John’s personal stories

John does not tell many personal stories on this podcast that would be relevant for this Wiki. Until now, he has told the following:

  • 3: John finished a ski race in a different heat than he started
  • 5: John was working at a bank
  • 10: John was on an USO tour in Niger
  • 32: John's family are late breeders
  • 33: The Authenticity Wars in Indie Rock
  • 34: John's time at Gonzaga
  • 35: Vito the cat
  • 36: John's dog Barney 1975, dog trouble, John's mom raising Borzois, one of them called Gibson
  • 37: Hamburger Hamburger Band Bang
  • 38: John running strings to turn the lights and TV on and off, between 7th/8th grade
  • 40: John's pronunciation of "everybody"
  • Episode 41: John playing D&D in Junior High, working in a pizza parlor in his early 20s, being the assistant manager of a bar called The Off Ramp
  • 42: John collecting his mom's makeup between age 6-9, John is of Welsh descend and not Scottish as their grandfather told them
  • 44: John's dad was a basketball player in High School with many Japanese players who all showed up at his funeral. John's uncle Jack was a professional football player for the Chicago Bears.
  • 51: John got a TV from his mom
  • 54: John has two sisters named Susan, Outward Bounds renamed to The Voyageurs the year John was there, Fur Rendezvous in Alaska
  • 55: John’s parents were interested in cars, they had matching Crysler Convertibles in the 1960s, they would race them and hers was hotter, they lived in rural Kidsap County, John’s skin is very resistent to sunburning, John’s mom was in a club for foreign sports cars
  • 57: John’s songwriting process, song lyrics, Hamburger Hamburger Bang Bang, John’s daughter is immitating foreign languages, Sasha Frere-Jones
  • 58: Vintage Hawaiian shirts, John likes berry pies but no cherry pies, John's brother being an Orchardist
  • 59: Firestone Tweet Storm
  • 60: John got a free plane ticket from Alaskan Airlines when he graduated from High School in 1986, John programming in MS DOS, Alaska Permanent Fund
  • 61: Around 2008 John dated a girl who worked for Kevin Sudeith, finding and exporting War Rugs. Hitler Watercolor paintings (see RL91)
  • 62: John knew Kay Fanning personally. John was called a "reader" meant in a derogatory way, an epithet outside of a club in San Antonio by the band Carissa's Weird.
  • Episode 64: John saved all his love letters, John's pilot's license
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