Astronomy Podcasting: A Low-Cost Tool for Affecting Attitudes in Diverse Audiences

September 2, 2014, 1:51:16


Gay, P., Price, A., Searle, T., 2007, Astronomy Education Review, 5, 1, 36-52

The authors carried out 2 surveys of 917 astronomy podcast listeners and producers in August 2005 and January 2006. The study examines how to create a podcast, who is listening, and how astronomy podcasts affect listeners' attitudes towards astronomy. The authors give an overview of podcasting as a medium, specifically looking at podcasting as a way to reach audiences with up-to-date content on a variety of astronomical topics.

The authors distributed separate surveys to listeners and producers of astronomy podcasts in Aug 2005 and Jan 2006. The survey instruments and response data can be found at the following link: ftp://ftp.aip.org/epaps/astron_educ_review/E-AERSCZ-5-2006003. Simple distributions are reported of listener attributes. Respondents were asked to retrospectively self-evaluate how their interest in astronomy changed from before they started listening to podcasts to after.

For the Podcaster Survey 1, the authors emailed the producers of all podcasts listed under "Science" in the Podcast Alley directory, that met three criteria: 1) included astronomy; 2) did not promote creationism; 3) released 3 or more shows a month. In Podcaster Survey 2, the process was repeated, but using the iTunes directory instead. Listeners were recruited via advertisements from the podcast producers.

For producers, PS1 saw all but one survey returned (absolute numbers not given). For PS2, 17 of 21 were returned for an 81% response rate. The response rate for the listener surveys is a little unclear, but raw numbers are 337 in LS1 and 570 in LS2. 91% (316 in LS1 and 521 in LS2) of the respondents listed Slacker Astronomy as one podcasts they listened to, comprising around 4% of the Slacker Astronomy audience. Note that these figures are taken from the actual response data and differ from those quoted in the paper.


The authors offer recommendations to podcast producers on how to record, save and post podcasts, and provide statistics for how much time the producers in the study spend creating the podcasts,and how they fund them. The findings also include a breakdown of podcast audience by age (35-39 being the median age), gender (87% male) and salary (equal distribution across all incomes). Approximately 60% of listeners have a bachelor's degree or higher. 20% more respondents indicated that they "actively pay attention" after they started listening to astronomy-related podcasts compared to before they started listening. Listening to podcasts had no effect on the number of respondents who could spell "astronomy", who were members of an amateur astronomy club or who were professional or student astronomers.

The authors conclude that podcasting is an easy, inexpensive and effective tool for creating active interest in astronomy in a diverse audience.

Descriptive: Case study

Descriptive: Survey/questionnaire







Communications/Public Engagement

Expanding STEM access to non-dominant populations

Interest in STEM

Astronomy: Origin and/or evolution of the universe

Astronomy: Size and/or scale of the Universe

Astronomy: Stars, nebulae, and/or galaxies

Solar System: Asteroids and/or comets

Solar System: Comparative planetology

Solar System: Heliosphere

Solar System: Origin and/or formation of the solar system

Solar System: Planetary atmospheres

Solar System: Planetary geology

Solar System: Planetary science

Solar System: Planets

Solar System: Plasma physics

Solar System: Solar Physics

Solar System: Solar-Terrestrial interactions

Solar System: Space weather

Solar System: Sun's Magnetosphere

Solar System: The Moon

Solar System: The Sun


Science in society

Youth engagement

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