For quite some time, the only podcast I really listened to was Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. I heard about the show when a friend of mine (also known as Jyri “jryi” Jokinen) recommended it, so I thought to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did!
It wasn’t until I bought a smartphone that I really started listening to podcasts. Of course, finding podcasts that are worth listening to is quite difficult and to be honest, even though I’ve been recording podcasts for a few years, I might want something entirely different of the podcasts I am going to listen to myself. Luckily, I’ve found a few good shows, so why not discuss them here?
Let’s start with Startalk Radio. If you’re into science, you’ve probably heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson. You might know him by his appearances in TV shows such as Big Bang Theory and Stargate Atlantis, as well. Heck, he has even had a brief visit in DC’s Superman comics. He is the guy who people blame for the fact that Pluto is not a planet anymore. If you’ve been watching the new Cosmos series, he is the narrator of that documentary series.
Neil also happens to be the host of Startalk Radio. As the name perhaps points out, Startalk Radio deals mostly with astronomy and cosmology stuff, but sometimes they deviate to discuss other subjects as well. For example, one episode had an expert on answering questions about diseases and pandemics. But mostly it’s Neil sharing his wisdom in an entertaining fashion. His deep voice makes him a great host for a radio show (not to dismiss his ability to host a TV series, as seen on Cosmos).
The style of the show is very much like a TV or radio show: the episodes are usually divided into pretty short segments and the transitions happen through commercials and brief music snippets relevant to the subject at hand. The duration of the episodes matches that of many TV dramas: 42 minutes (maybe it is also a reference to Hitchhiker’s guide to galaxy, who knows).
While many podcasts rely on the chemistry between the participants, Startalk builds heavily on Neil’s charisma and ability to explain difficult concepts rather well. There are usually other participants as well, but their role is mostly about supporting Neil by providing funny commentary and the “stupid” point of view, as the guests are not necessarily experts in any field of science, and the show works and flows usually very nicely.
However, there have been some really bad missteps, mostly the episode “A conversation with God”. Besides the Mythbusters episodes, that was the only episode I had to just stop listening to. In the case of the Mythbusters episodes it was more about me not caring that much about that particular TV show, while the God episode was just plain bad in my honest opinion.
But still, if you want to have some rather light and entertaining but still science themed podcast to listen to, you should most def give Startalk a go. You might even have to chance to hear Bill Nye talking, and that is definitely a plus.