Our very rough estimate is 6-10 hours, depending on the volume and intricacy of the material we’re covering, and how familiar we already are with the details.
During the week, we re-read any issues we’re going to cover, plus a lot of peripheral research. Saturday morning, we go out to breakfast and talk through everything, then go home and work on the cold open and outline pretty much until we have to leave for the studio.
Recording usually takes about an hour, and Bobby usually sends us the episode back the same night, because he is a miracle. After that, it’s a few more hours for the writeup, and to assemble all the clips and links for the “as-mentioned” post. (We usually have some idea of what to do for those going in, but where we focus can change a lot between reading and outline and outline and recording, which limits how much we can prep in advance.)
I read this and think “We could work so much harder on Wait, What?.” And then I think, “then again, the rampant inability to stay on topic has worked out okay for us so far.”