Science radio for scientists

There are a number of good science-related shows on Public Radio: Science Friday, Radiolab, and Tech Nation top my personal list, and there are many others. This type of programming is an important means of disseminating scientific ideas to a general audience, and as I scientist I think I enjoy the shows more than the average listener. Still, I often find myself wanting more: more detail, more description of methods and controls used to obtain results, more erudite discussion about the context of a given finding within the larger edifice of scientific inquiry. More.

So it’s been with great satisfaction that I’ve discovered several podcasts administered by scholarly journals:

This is “science radio” but with a twist: the intended audience is us. The producers aren’t targeting a general audience, and as a result they’re free to include highly technical content. Especially with the Science Signaling podcast, which often involves an interview with the author of a recent paper featured in STKE, the stories sound more like a lab group meeting than a radio show.

Granted, this comes at a cost: the journal podcasts have high production values but not quite as high as on general-audience NPR shows, and sometimes the phone interviews sound like they were conducted underwater, making it harder to listen in noisy environments like a car moving at 70 MPH down a California freeway.

But that’s a small price to pay. This is exciting! Podcasting is democratizing broadcasting to the extent that people are creating high-quality professional programming for a small minority of people diffusely scattered all over the world.

What are you waiting for? Check it out. All three of the podcasts I’ve mentioned are available (for free) via iTunes and the websites linked above

Two questions:

  1. Does anyone else have a science-for-scientists podcasts they’d like to share?
  2. When will an open-access journal step up to the mike?


  1. Personally I find the Nature podcasts incredibly dumbed down (at least Nature and Nature Neuroscience), but Nature has a whole range of podcasts, so listening to something outside of my area of expertise eg Nature Chemistry usually does the trick.

    There’s sciencepodcasters which provide a whole range of podcasts but I’m not sure if they’re intended for a general or scientifically-inclined audience.

    Cell podcasts are relatively specialized, including interviews, but pretty good.

    NEJM also do podcasts, though I don’t know how these are like as I haven’t tried them yet.

    Last but not least, I generally enjoy Science and the City podcasts, though they may be rather intended for laypeople.

  2. Of the so-called big 3, the Science Magazine podcast is my personal favourite – a professional, relaxed and unstilted delivery makes all the difference.

    I greatly prefer “popular” science podcasts. Favourites include Scientific American, This Week In Science and of course, Coast to Coast Bio.

    Podcast preference is very personal though – I went through several before finding styles that I like.

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