The Jodcast - four years and counting
It's hard to believe that the Jodcast has been going for four years now! In some ways it feels like we've been doing this forever, in others it's like we started only yesterday. In that time we've produced 80 audio podcasts, 9 video podcasts, and recorded specials from National Astronomy Meetings in Preston, Belfast and Hertfordshire, and the IAU General Assembly in Prague. Interviewees have included countless astronomers, some of the most well-known include Sir Bernard Lovell, Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Brother Guy Consolmagno and Sir Martin Rees.
We've gone through some changes in that time. The team has fluctuated as people have departed the Observatory, and we've made other alterations to the format thanks to the feedback and constructive criticism of our listeners. In May 2007 we began producing two shows a month, and in September 2008 we acquired a forum after many requests from listeners. We've even had translations of the news into several languages thanks to an intrepid team of students from various places. The music and the intros have stayed though - as Stuart has pointed out before, they are the audio equivalent of Marmite, you either love 'em or hate 'em. We love 'em.
Thanks to Dave and his talented voice actor chums, we've done
take-offs of mini-dramas based on Star Wars, Doctor Who, Dracula, Harry Potter, and many, many others. Intros have even included the voices of Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer), John Barrowman (a.k.a. Captain Jack Harkness, Dr Who/Torchwood), and the April Fools Day 2009 show saw a takeover by Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain from Astronomy Cast.
Rounding out the end of our fourth year, Jodcast Live saw fifty listeners make their way to Jodrell Bank where they were treated to a behind the scenes tour from the team before settling down to watch two shows recorded before their very eyes. Special guests were Dr Chris Lintott and Sir Francis Graham Smith who were both interviewed by the great Dr Nick, interviewer extraordinaire.
I've been responsible for the news from the beginning. That has gone through some changes as well. The early comments from listeners were that I spoke too quickly, something which I've tried to alter (hopefully successfully). In the early days I just picked stories that sounded interesting, but it has evolved to the point where the main stories are all from scientific papers which must either have been published in or accepted to a peer-reviewed journal in the month prior to the show's release. These rules are entirely self-imposed, but (hopefully) make for topical and reliable stories.
Personally, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. From the very first meeting where fifteen of us got together in the tea room at Jodrell it was obvious it was going to be a lot of fun. It's a lot of effort producing the shows; the ringleaders - Stuart, Nick and Dave - have put in a huge amount of their own time over the years (quite frankly, I don't know when Stuart finds the time to sleep), the news on its own takes a week of my spare time each month, but I think it's worth it. Sometimes we get feedback from listeners who have been inspired to start studying or use a telescope for the first time, and that just makes all the hard work worth while.
Jodcast wordle, created by www.wordle.net/ using text from the Jodcast archive CREDIT: Jodcast / Wordle