New interview show highlights the people who make science happen, with a focus on Tasmania.
Hobart’s Beaker Street, Spectral Media, and Crow’s Nest Media have teamed up with legendary science journalist Mark Horstman to create a new podcast called Darwin Ate an Owl, that aims to tell scientists’ stories. The team has tapped local and visiting scientists to record in-person interviews with Horstman, the show’s host and long-time science journalist, with the goal of learning about the lesser-known aspects of scientific research and what motivates the people who carry it out.
“We hear a lot about big, flashy scientific findings, but we almost never get to hear about the work involved in getting to those discoveries, or all the failures along the way, which are sometimes tragic and sometimes really funny,” says Dr Margo Adler, Beaker Street director and evolutionary biologist, who is a producer of the podcast. “Here in Tasmania, we have so many incredible scientists around. There’s really endless content. And we also get visiting scientists all the time – either coming down for conferences, or collaborating on projects here – so from the perspective of a science interview show, it’s a gold mine.”
The first two episodes of the show are available as of today on all major podcast platforms. Episode 1 is an introduction to the show, featuring a conversation between Adler and Horstman, and Episode 2 is an interview in the field with local conservation biologist Dr Dejan Stojanovic. The microphones are recording even as Stojanovic is bashing his way through the bush, the crew on his heels, following a swift parrot as she returns to her nest.
Fraser Johnston of Spectral Media, who records and edits the podcast, describes how he got the ball rolling for the project. “Darwin Ate An Owl is the first foray into the world of podcasting for most of the production team. I pitched the idea to two of my regular collaborators, Margo Adler and Andy Terhell from Crow’s Nest Media. They were both keen but as inexperienced as I was, and we still needed a host! Mark Horstman was the first person we called and he jumped on board straight away. Having a science broadcasting legend like Mark was a huge boost for the project and an opportunity for us to tap into his years of experience while we were finding our feet.”
For his part, Horstman says the project has been a joy to be involved with. “It’s always fun when someone really smart opens up about what makes them tick as a scientist. It’s even more fun when the microphone is on and we record a candid conversation.” Horstman says the trick to a good interview is knowing when your subject is telling you something really valuable, and having the sense to just shut up and listen. “I hope listeners enjoy our chats as much we did making the podcasts,” says Horstman. “I’m particularly excited that these podcasts lead us from talking about semen, carrion, and parrots to a deeper exploration of reproductive health, evolutionary theory and conservation policy.”
Darwin Ate an Owl can be streamed or downloaded for free from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and all other major podcast platforms. The team will continue to release episodes as they become available, and interested listeners can find the show and learn more at www.beakerstreet.com.au/podcast.
Supported by Inspiring Australia.