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Can You Spare A Quarter?

Andrew Malone
Creative Commons

The pandemic has led to national shortages in testing supplies, PPE, and now, coins.

We’ve been predicting a cashless society and the demise of the penny for so long that we may be underestimating how much people still use coins in places like laundromats and coffee shops, and the occasional parking meter. 

And about eight million households are “unbanked” and rely on money orders, pawnshops or payday loans instead of banks. So, where are all the coins?

Also this hour: The world’s earliest coins date back to ancient Greek and Roman culture. And each coin contains information often not found anywhere else in surviving relics of the ancient world. Some numismatists considerancient coins one of the most important discoveries to fuel the Renaissance. 

Lastly, how a North Carolina aquarium used coins from its waterfall to care for thousands of its animals during the pandemic.  


  • Molly Olmstead is a staff writer at Slate
  • Brian Wallace is the president and chief executive officer of the Coin Laundry Association 
  • David Vagi is director, Ancient Coins at the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and the author of Coinage and History of the Roman Empire  
  • Liz Baird is the director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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