|“The number one download on the sanctuary website is the RSS file, and it’s increasing.”|
Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
For those who aren’t technically savvy, the term “podcasting” in association with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary may bring to mind some kind of netting technique involving the pods of blue and humpback whales that feed in sanctuary waters. In reality, sanctuary education staff members are using podcasts as a way to distribute ocean information and reel in volunteers and sanctuary supporters.
A podcast is a digital audio or video recording that is distributed over the Internet for playback on a portable media player, such as an MP3 player or iPod, or over a computer. The word brings together the terms “iPod” and “broadcast.”
The sanctuary’s podcast originates as a live radio show called “Ocean Currents” hosted and produced by Cordell Bank Education and Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Stock and aired once a month over a volunteer-run community radio station.
“The radio show is a really nice way to reach the local community,” Stock says. “The listening radius is pretty small on the coast, so we decided to do a podcast to extend the life and reach of the show,” which covers ocean research, management issues, natural history, and stewardship topics.
The radio station that airs “Ocean Currents” has a listening audience of 15,000. The program streams live over the Internet where it can be listened to by anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. Stock then edits the audio file and archives it on the sanctuary’s website for later listening in RSS, a “Web-feed” computer format used for podcasts.
“When I started archiving the shows in 2006, the download rate was very low, but as soon as I started the RSS feed file, it shot way up,” Stock says. “The number one download on the sanctuary website is the RSS file, and it’s increasing.”
The podcast has over 10,000 total downloads, with the most popular shows being on the Humboldt Squid, the review of the sanctuaries’ joint management plan, and the satellite tracking of pelagic species, such as the albatross.
Stock had no radio experience before proposing the idea for the show to sanctuary management and the radio station. She underwent 20 hours of station training and had to learn many new skills in order to produce the show.
Each show now takes about four hours to develop and can take over an hour to edit. “It’s getting easier,” Stock says. “In the beginning, the time investment was much more.”
She adds, “We see it as worth the trade-off [of staff time]. We are gaining a regular listening audience and are consistently represented in the community, with the community hearing our name and what we do. We see it as a good investment in time. It’s definitely a good way to tell our story.”
To tune in to the “Ocean Currents” radio broadcast or download archived podcasts, point your browser to http://cordellbank.noaa.gov/education/radioshow.html. For more information on the show or its production, contact Jennifer Stock at (415) 663-1397, or Jennifer.Stock@noaa.gov.