StarTalk Radio Show
StarTalk Radio will develop a highly innovative new genre of science radio that bridges the intersection between popular culture and science education. Host of the show and project PI is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, renowned scientist, astrophysicist, popular science author and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The radio programs will combine comedy, references to pop culture, and public fascination with space science to reach an untapped audience for the informal science field--those who listen to commercial talk radio call-in shows. The STEM content will include astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, space exploration, earth system science, and associated technologies. Goals and intended outcomes of the project include increasing knowledge and interest of space science topics, and motivating audiences to pursue additional learning acitivities as the result of listening to the programs. This project builds on a previous SGER grant (#0852400) which produced 13 pilot programs and was evaluated by Multimedia Research. Project deliverables include 39 one-hour live call-in shows a year for a total of 117 shows over three years, a website, and a business strategy that projects making the radio programs self-sustaining. Dr. Tyson will be the host, and each program will include a celebrity guest who has a strong interest in science. The target audience for the show is the "blue collar intellectual" audience segment who listens to commercial talk radio, has a high school education or less and is in the 25-44 year old range. It is estimated that there will be one million listeners per week by the end of the project. People with disabilities (deaf and visually impaired) will have access to the products through captioning and other features on the website. Project partners include CBS Radio, CBS/AOL, and Discover Magazine. Formative evaluation of these new shows and website will be conducted by Multimedia Research. The Goodman Research Group (GRG) will conduct the summative evluation to assess the extent to which the project accomplishes the goals and specifically will gather and analyze data on the previously untappped and underserved audiences. The evaluation will examine the differences in impact on Science Novices and Science Enthusiasts, asking questions about how the programs increase awareness of scientific issues, and their effects on society and culture, as well as factual knowledge. Methods include multi-level, quasi-experimental, and longitudinal episode assessments. Potential impacts on the field of informal science education include opening up a new commercial radio audience for informal science learning, increasing knowledge about effective approaches to combining humor and science, and demonstrating an effective business model that results in a self-supporting show about science on commercial radio.