8 Reasons to Tune In

FEATUREPodcast 8 Reasons to Tune InBY ISHANI GANGULIILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN MACNEILLThough the Top 25 podcast lists are still dominated by the likes of MTV and Dave Chappelle, science podcasts are coming into their own as journals, magazines, and radio shows throw their contributions into the mix. Here are eight that are worth checking out, and what our respondents think of them. For a more comprehensive listing of s

Jun 1, 2006
Ishani Ganguli
FEATURE
Podcast

8 Reasons to Tune In

ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN MACNEILL

Though the Top 25 podcast lists are still dominated by the likes of MTV and Dave Chappelle, science podcasts are coming into their own as journals, magazines, and radio shows throw their contributions into the mix. Here are eight that are worth checking out, and what our respondents think of them. For a more comprehensive listing of science-themed podcasts, visit http://www.the-scientist.comhttps://cdn.the-scientist.com/https://cdn.the-scientist.com/assets/image_not_found.jpg/



SCIENCE FRIDAY,
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

Podcaster: Ira Flatow, NPR science correspondent
Podcast available since: March 2005
Download: http://www.sciencefriday.com/feed/
Updated: Every Friday
Listeners per episode: More than 65,000
What's in it: Interviews with scientists, authors, and policymakers; questions from listeners.
What listeners are saying: With "multiple people on a specific topic so you can get different perspectives," Science Friday's coverage of controversial science has "social relevance as well as scientific." Host Ira Flatow is "surprisingly knowledgeable," "pretty entertaining," and asks "the right questions."
Why you should listen: Flatow's 35 years of experience in science broadcasting.


THIS WEEK IN SCIENCE-
THE KICKASS SCIENCE PODCAST

Podcasters: Kirsten Sanford, neurophysiology graduate student at University of California, Davis, and Justin Jackson
Podcast available since: March 2005
Download: http://feeds.feedburner.com/twis/science
Updated: Every Tuesday
Listeners per episode: 10,500
What's in it: Interviews with scientists, discussions about current science and technology, questions from listeners, songs about robots.
What listeners are saying: The layperson/scientist duo and their "corny jokes" are "entertaining," though it "grates on my nerves after a while" when they "overtalk each other."
Why you should listen: Casual talk-show banter harkens back to podcasting roots.


THE SCIENCE SHOW,
ABC RADIO NATIONAL

Podcaster: Robyn Williams, Australian Broadcasting Corporation broadcaster
Podcast available since: May 2005
Download: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ss/
Updated: Every Saturday
Listeners per episode: Refused to say.
What's in it: Interviews and news coverage on scientific debates, science politics, events, awards, and personalities.
What listeners are saying: Robyn Williams "asks intelligent questions" with his "captivating voice." Listeners enjoy the "variety" offered by The Science Show and note that it "gives voice to dissenting opinions," skillfully "juxtaposing" them and "carrying information and questions raised by one into the other."
Why you should listen: Wide breadth of retrospective and topical coverage.


MICROBEWORLD RADIO
Podcaster: Regina O' Brien, administrative assistant at Finger Lakes Productions International; from the American Society for Microbiology
Podcast available since: July 2005
Download: http://feeds.feedburner.com/microbeworld
Updated: Daily
Listeners per episode: 4,000
What's in it: A 90-second microbiology news flash with scientist's commentary.
What listeners are saying: While some complain about the podcast features "irritating" theme music and "little information," others appreciate its pithy soundbites. The companion videocast Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth is "really kind of fascinating."
Why you should listen: The podcast is as compact as its subject matter.


NATURE
Podcasters: Chris Smith, clinical virology lecturer, and Anna Lacey, research assistant, at Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge
Podcast available since: October 2005
Download: http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/index.html
Updated: Every Thursday
Listeners per episode: 40,000
What's in it: Interviews with scientists and Nature staff, round-up of the week's science news.
What listeners are saying: "Topical" and on the "cutting edge," Nature's podcast is "pitched at exactly the right level of detail" and "helps round out the journal articles." Podcaster Smith is "smart and entertaining," though "puns get a little bit much after a while."
Why you should listen: Nature's offerings infused with British wit, and at no cost.


SCIPOD, NEW SCIENTIST
Podcaster: Ivan Semeniuk, U.S. Bureau Chief for New Scientist
Podcast available since: November 2005
Download: http://www.newscientist.com/podcast.ns
Updated: Every Friday
Listeners per episode: 30,000
What's in it: Interviews with scientists and staff on New Scientist stories, the latest science news.
What listeners are saying: Some laud New Scientist's "different approach to trendy topics" and say "it's good hearing scientists really speak about their research," though others complain it can be "kind of boring".
Why you should listen: Snazzy presentation, with liberal use of sound effects.


SCIENCE MAGAZINE
Podcasters: Stewart Wills, online editor of Science, and Natasha Pinol, communications officer at the AAAS Office of Public Programs
Podcast available since: December 2005
Download: http://www.sciencemag.org/about/podcast.dtl
Updated: Every other Friday
Listeners per episode: Refused to say.
What's in it: Interviews with scientists and Science staff, round-up of the week's science news.
What listeners are saying: Though its podcasters "just aren't as exciting" as Nature's, Science does "a good job with framing the importance of papers" and highlighting "important questions in the field" as "the progeny of a well established science vehicle."
Why you should listen: Themed specials on avian flu, breakthroughs of the year.


SCIENCE TALK, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Podcaster: Steve Mirsky, articles editor and columnist at Scientific American
Podcast available since: February 2006
Download: http://www.sciam.com/podcast/
Updated: Every Wednesday
Listeners per episode: 40,000
What's in it: Interviews with scientists, historians, and journalists; current events quiz.
What listeners are saying: Science Talk is "a class act" that covers topics "in depth," though the music is a bit "loud and annoying." Fans, particularly long-time subscribers of the magazine, tune in because Mirsky is "actually funny occasionally" and the quiz "keeps you interested."
Why you should listen: "Totally Bogus" is totally entertaining.

Source: The Scientist survey, podcast producers