Academic journal article The Public Manager

Science Radio App Brings On-Demand Programming Worldwide

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Science Radio App Brings On-Demand Programming Worldwide

Article excerpt

There's an old saying in radio: If no one is calling to complain, then nobody is listening. So when Science360 Radio received a phone call from someone who was upset because she suddenly could no longer access the online radio channel, that was, oddly, a good thing.

It turns out the person calling had purchased a new smart phone specifically to listen to Science360 Radio--even better! Indeed, it appears the first Internet radio stream dedicated to programming about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has a loyal and growing group of listeners. Since the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched Science360 Radio in September 2011, the number of listeners has grown to 7,300 a week, and 21,000 people have downloaded the app.

The initial idea for NSF's radio stream grew out of a desire to leverage the growing demand for programming on smart devices. At the time, there was no Internet radio channel dedicated solely to STEM programming, despite the availability of dozens of individual popular science radio shows and podcasts. So NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs seized the opportunity to create a unique smart device platform for STEM programming, which also provides a new outlet for NSF's in-house-produced audio content.

Build It and They Will Come

Science360 Radio offers 24/7 programming, with more than 100 radio shows and podcasts produced in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany. The daily, weekly, and monthly shows come from a variety of contributors, including NSF and other U.S. government agencies, science institutions and professional organizations, universities and media outlets. Contributors include American Society for Microbiology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health, Nature Publishing Group, Public Radio International, Royal Society of Chemistry, and Scientific American. All of the contributors make their content available to NSF at no cost.

When it comes to science programming, there are no borders. Many radio shows and podcasts overseas highlight research funded by NSF and other U.S. agencies, and just as many U.S.-based shows highlight research conducted overseas. It was clear, right from the beginning, that there was plenty of programming to maintain a fresh lineup each day.

Win-Win-Win

From NSF itself, listeners can hear exclusive interviews, webcasts, and podcasts; other shows frequently have news about NSF-funded research, as well. As a result, the agency is successfully and inexpensively promoting shows which highlight NSF-funded discoveries, while simultaneously creating an additional outlet for its own content.

While the program schedule is random, Science360 spotlights a different podcast or radio show each week day by making it available "on demand" in a prominent spot on the radio home page. That featured show is then promoted on both the NSF and Science360 Facebook pages and Twitter feeds (NSF has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter). …

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