For some years now, I’ve toyed with the idea of taking Urban Astronomer beyond the medium of webpages and into something new. I’ve considered writing a book, creating classroom posters, recording videos for Youtube, starting a podcast, and delivering public lectures. So far there’s been no progress, apart from the occasional talk given to conservation groups or to other astronomers at symposia. Similarly, I’ve thought about creating offering Urban Astronomer branded merchandise for sale, to raise a bit of cash to cover the expense of creating and hosting this site. This too hasn’t happened, because I’m not convinced that anybody would actually buy the stuff (although if I’m wrong, if you’ve been just dying for the chance to buy stuff with my logo on it, let me know in the comments below!)
But as is so often the way, a new avenue has opened which I had never considered before: Radio. Local radio personality and Idols judge Gareth Cliff announced on April Fool’s day that he and his team were leaving the national radio station for which he’d hosted the morning show for many years. He’s been maturing his act over the years and recently began positioning himself as a thought leader, and has now launched a new online radio station called CliffCentral. Shortly after the big announcement, a call for auditions went out. My wife and I both submitted a pitch (she wants to discuss parenting from her own unique perspective, while I naturally want to do an astronomy show), and got the call to come in for an interview.
Our emailed instructions told us only where to go, what time to be there, and that we should “Be ourselves”. So we were surprised to find that our interviews would be conducted on the air. Cathrine went in first and blew the host away with her charm and wit. She so impressed him that my own interview, immediately after, was dominated by conversation about my wife and our family life before I got a chance to mention astronomy at all! I was less impressive than Cathrine, apparently because my delivery was a little flat and monotonous, but I still did well enough to be granted a second interview.
Then, last Friday, Cathrine and I both got emails asking us to come back in for our second interview. We showed up (to find far fewer people queuing up for their chance to shine) on time and waited. This time I made sure that somebody else spoke between us, so that I could stand on my own merits. I’d come prepared with a host of news items and popular questions, but we ended up only covering one topic: Will an astronaut explode if he takes off his helmet?. My interviewer, Damon Kalvari, seemed genuinely interested in the question, and surprised by the answer, so I feel like it went well.
So if all goes well, I could end up hosting a show of my own, on a professionally run internet radio station with global reach and large existing audience. I’ll discuss scientific developments, interview astronomers, and answer questions from listeners. If you’d like to support me on this, feel free to tweet @CliffCentralCom and tell them you want to listen to me!
Edit: They never called me back. I won’t be on the radio. Guess I’ll have to stick with writing!