February 3, 2019
Podcast listening has increased in all age categories, but it has increased the most among younger adults. Now, 29% of Americans between the ages of 18-34 listen to podcasts at least a few times a week (up from 16% in December 2017). A year ago, 47% of adults between 18 and 34 said they never listened to podcasts, compared to 18% today. — 2019 CBS News Poll
Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing an article or promotion for a new or existing podcast. There’s also an increasing buzz about who is producing and using podcasts for professional, educational, and/or personal reasons. On January 27, CBS Sunday Morning did an entire story on podcasts. You can read the story from The Golden Age of Podcasts and view the segment below.
CBS also conducted a poll on the popularity of podcasts, showing that “most Americans now listen to podcasts, and the percentage who do has risen considerably over just the past year.” In the Edison Research Podcast Consumer 2018 report, their findings also show an increase in monthly podcast listeners and an increase of listening to podcasts in vehicles. And if you need more data, see this figure from the Pew Research Center’s Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet (July 12, 2018):
But it isn’t just the average audience that is increasing their active listening time. A January 2019 article on Discover Pods declares that 2019 will be the year of the podcast in higher education, where “colleges and universities will come to consider podcasts as part of the platform by which they share their research and expertise with an audience outside of academia. Additionally, higher education institutions will use podcasts as a teaching tool in the classroom.” The Academic Minute is just one example of academic research conducted at colleges and universities across the globe.
If this increase in number of podcast listeners is moving you closer to your desire to create a science-themed podcast, I would recommend starting with this Career Feature from Nature on the crowded market of podcasts:
Want to start your very own science podcast? Here are some tips on how to get started… https://t.co/YSmGwTIaw0
— Nature News & Comment (@NatureNews) January 19, 2019
One of the best tips in the article: “Scientists who want to start a podcast should have a unique niche in mind… such as knowledge of an under-covered field or an unusual format such as science comedy.” There are also recommendations of generating a podcast in a language besides English, considering technical vs. non-technical audiences, realizing that most science podcasts do not make money, and that sound quality absolutely matters.
Another article to read that is referenced in the Nature piece is the MacKenzie (2019) article in Royal Society Open Science, titled Science podcasts: analysis of global production and output from 2004 to 2018. Note this figure from the article, showing a breakdown of science disciplines represented in the science podcasts examined for the study, as well as the target audiences. MacKenzie comments on the lack of chemistry podcasts, but clearly, the Earth sciences are represented by even fewer podcasts!
What do AGU members listen to?
When posed the following question on Twitter, the AGU community and others certainly came through!
Hey Earth & space science tweeps – if you listen to science-themed podcasts, what are your favorites? Working on a post for @theAGU blogs… thanks!
— Dr. G (@guertin) January 26, 2019
There was quite a range of podcasts, including: The Story Collider, Gravity Assist (by NASA), exocast, This is Rocket Science, The Titanium Physicists, Strange New Worlds, Don’t Panic Geocast, Spacepod, Sawbones, Hidden Brain, Ologies, Palaeocast, Common Descent, Embedded – Coal Stories, Think 100% (on climate change), Weather Geeks, This Week in Microbiology, In Defense of Plants, Radiolab, Science…sort of, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Science Solved It, Undiscovered, and Science Vs (phew!). Other science-themed podcasts have been compiled on the Time Scavengers website. Some fun ones were mentioned, like the Dr. Who podcast Radio Free Skaro. And there are plenty more out there, such as…
#USGS is Outstanding in the Field – check out our new #podcast
series that tells stories about our #science, our adventures, and our
efforts to better understand #fish and #wildlife and the #ecosystems that support them. https://t.co/PzW83jUe46 pic.twitter.com/HCd6wei9of
— USGS (@USGS) January 29, 2019
So how about it… do you have have an answer to the question:
What are your top 3 favorite podcasts?
— Apple Podcasts (@ApplePodcasts) January 24, 2019
Ask your colleagues, friends and family what they would say – you might be surprised, and worst-case scenario, you’ll be introduced to some new and exciting narratives! May they serve as inspiration for the podcast series you are looking to start.
And one final shout-out to AGU’s very own podcast…