Cast the Pod: Educational
Podcasting has become a national phenomenon over the past few years with the innovation of reliable audio streaming services such as Stitcher and Podbean. The Infinite Dial study, done by Edison Research and Triton Digital, has revealed continued growth in the popularity of podcasts. Last year, it was discovered that 24% of Americans had listened to a podcast within the past month. According to the most recent study, the number of Americans 12+ years-old who have ever listened to a podcast has increased by 4% since the record last year at 40%. Whether you want news, comedy, or just a voice in your ear, the great wide world of podcasts probably has an option for you. Join me over the next few weeks as I explore some of the most important podcast feeds to date by genre. Join me as I take a look at 2 of the best educational podcasts around.
Some of us don’t have time to pick up a book and just read for several hours on end, life eventually beckons to everyone. For those of us with short schedules, podcasts are often used as a form of self-education. People already use products like Audible in order to listen to their favorite books, and morning radio shows act as some people’s sole source of news; catching educational podcasts is really just the next step from there. Why not learn about the Protestant Revolution while on your way to work, or hear about the latest NASA probe designs while sipping your cup-of-soup?
Dan Carlin began his career in broadcasting in the 80’s, after having received his degree in History from the University of Colorado Boulder. He earned his stripes in the radio news business by covering the 1992 LA riots, and since then has built a loyal audience. Carlin made an early move to podcasting in 2005 with Common Sense, another fantastic show where Carlin shares his ideas about current events and American politics. A year later Carlin started a series which would net him box office ratings: Hardcore History. Focused primarily on war and strife, Carlin thoughtfully composes an audio narrative of difficult, or “hardcore”, historical events. Some traditional historians have criticized Carlin for not being accurate enough in his series, but the numbers don’t lie.
Hardcore History has garnered millions of hits on each of his episodes, with up to 350k downloads in a 24-hour period in 2015. Carlin has an amazing organizational capacity, and a keen mind for historical delineations, but what hooks people is his exacting understanding of drama and theatrics. He has a smooth, dulcet voice which is independently emotive and full of character, capable of relating the “feeling” of any given moment in the timeline. Carlin responds to criticism by saying that he isn’t a historian; he’s right, an ordinary historian could never do such a good job of popularizing and making accessible the most cataclysmic (and unfortunately the most relevant) moments of recorded history. You can find most of Hardcore History wherever you download your podcasts, but a hefty backlog currently sits behind a “buck-a-show” pay wall at Carlin’s personal website.
Cosmos was a truly eye-opening television show developed in 1980 by the Astrophysicist Carl Sagan: a soft-spoken science popularizer who was responsible for the golden record sent out into space on the Voyager probe. When, in 2014, Fox wanted to produce another, updated, version of Cosmos they went to the brilliantly gentle Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was an easy decision, since Tyson had already launched his science/comedy mash-up podcast and had developed a sizable listenership.
Beginning in 2009, Tyson and other scientists teamed up with comedian co-hosts, like regular Chuck Nice, to talk about the science news of the day in StarTalk Radio. A segment, called Cosmic Queries, where the hosts answer questions from the audience, became so popular that the show would eventually need to devote whole episodes to it. The format did well, and eventually spawned a late-night television talk show of the same name on National Geographic, and a couple podcast spinoffs. Scientist hosts include aeronautics expert and all-around Science Guy Bill Nye, while comedy co-hosts often rotate between the likes of Chuck Nice, Colin Jost, and Eugene Mirman. You can find StarTalk Radio weekly on all your podcatching apps, while StarTalk the tv show premieres its 5th season on August 7th, 2018.