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Podcasting pioneers expose science to the world

(Credit: STFC)

One of the pioneers of the podcast has, with support from STFC and other partners, created one of the most popular science broadcasts currently available to the public.

Dr Chris Smith from the University of Cambridge was the creator of the Naked Scientists, which began life as one of the first ever podcasts in 2001. Since then it has grown exponentially into a world renowned channel for science engagement. In total, the Naked Scientists full suite of podcasts has achieved over 50 million downloads and the website receives over 1.2 million unique visitors every month.

Further support from STFC has allowed Dr Smith to create the Naked Astronomy podcast. This is a spin-off podcast strand from the Naked Scientists, intended to enable the team to delve into space science, astronomy, cosmology and physics in more depth than time would permit in the main Naked Scientists show. The Naked Astronomy Podcast has since been downloaded millions of times by consumers all over the world, and each new episode receives 15-20,000 downloads within a month of publication.

The award from STFC also allowed the Naked Scientists team to overhaul the website, which now contains over 70,000 pages of content and includes over 1,000 podcasts all of which are freely available for the public to download. The team have received support from the Wellcome Trust, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Royal Society of Chemistry as well as STFC, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of the science featured.

The shows are broadcast in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, allowing them to reach an international audience. They also have a weekly one-hour radio programme broadcast nationally across the UK by BBC Radio 5 live and also made available as a podcast. They have won eight national and international awards for science communication since 2006 including the Royal College of Pathologists Furness Prize for Science Communication 2010, the Society of Biology Science Communication Prize 2012 and the Royal Society’s Kohn Medal for public understanding of science, 2008.

The Naked Scientists team have recently received additional funding from STFC to establish a programme of paid internships. PhD students from STFC supported institutions and facilities will be recruited into the Naked Scientists team. Participants will receive hands on training within a real-world media environment, including learning to write and broadcast about science for general audiences. Interns will contribute to the Naked Scientists flagship science radio programmes, as well as learning to produce and present their own podcasts and programmes.

Read the full case study

Podcasting pioneers case study (PDF, 1.98 MB)

Last updated: 05 November 2018


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