Monday, July 16, 2012

A new podcast wish list

Recently Kylie Sturgess, host of the Token Skeptic podcast and Token Skeptic blog has requested feed back on her podcast on how to improve it and serve the skeptical community better in Sturgess's own way.  Sturgess has indicated she desires to do more than interview the same old, same old people who are making the interviewing rounds.   While I believe there is a place for interviewing these leading lights, I do understand Sturgess’s concerns in this regard as well.

As always, this type of exercise on how to improve something gets me pondering what is missing or not as prevalent in various skeptical podcasts that might be appreciated by an audience.  What follows are a few ideas:

A podcast that interviews our cultural competitors, which used to be the forte of Righteous Indignation, but with its ceasing of operations, there is a gap for this type of service.  The Indignates did such interviews with aplomb being civil, fair, but not push overs.  

A skeptical news podcast, which would do a rundown Doubtful News style news covering the week, or day, or whatnot.  The grand pooh-bah of Doubtful News, Sharon Hill, has done the occasional news segment on Righteous Indignation and possibly other podcasts.  However, I think this is fodder for its own 15 minute or so regular news podcast.  While Hill would be the natural choice for this position, I am sure if Hill was unable to do such a program someone else could work something out with Hill borrowing the brand name and running with it.  (I suggest this because do we really need a cheap knock off with a name such as “Dubious News” or "News of some Doubt?")

The latest Invisible Sky Monster with Parrot hosting Karl Mamer and Rebecca O’Neill reminded me that the tri-panel format with a host guiding a discussion between two intelligent guests discussing a topic often has an interesting dynamic above the straight forward single interviewee under the hot lamp.  I would imagine the scheduling would make this type of program more difficult, but for the right sort, it might be very rewarding.

The "how to" skeptical podcast is a rarely used format.  Hayley Stevens' Ghost Fields Guide was the only example I can think of off the topic of my head.  Stevens shared the dos, don'ts, and thought process of a thoughtful, scientific skeptical ghost investigator.  An entire podcast dedicated to learning the skills and tricks of investigating ghosts, cryptid sightings, or investigating fortune tellers, etc. would be a format  of great interest to skeptics who are without the knowledge set and ready access to travel to skeptical workshops to learn the necessary skills.

There are others podcast ideas I am sure.  A podcast that was on the history of skepticism or podcasts that dealt with regional issues are other ideas.  There is the idea of folding in as segments of some of the above ideas into pre-existing podcasts.  There is definite merit to the idea to add value to an existing entity rather than reinvent the wheel and have to attract an audience.  On the other hand, there is something for having a new podcast that the listener can expect a particular focus or style of podcast without having to pick and choose segments within a podcast.

The above is a mishmash of ideas.  There are a healthy number of skeptical podcasts to serve the skeptical audience, and I stipulate there is a need for generalist podcasts as well.  The SGU is a must listen every weekend.  I think the format is new enough that a lot of untapped potential exists for new podcasts that once they are in production the listener will think "d'oh why didn't someone think of this before?"


  1. Righteous Indignation is missed. It was the one I looked forward to the most.

    One podcast I'd really enjoy is a skeptical analysis of paranormal television (and YouTube) programming. There's so much on TV that goes unchecked.

  2. Hello! You are absolutely wonderful for doing this, going to write it all down - I recently interviewed Dr Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain for their views, and the most recent Robin Ince interview had 'tips' of a sort with his show.

    I'm going to try to find more science podcasters... don't think I could get RadioLab on my show, but I'll try!


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