On SoundCloud premier partner Star Talk Radio is a podcast and radio show hosted by the brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson, the American astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. Star Talk is a radio show where science meets comedy and pop. Neil and his guests talk astronomy, physics and anything else related to the universe! Today we have an interview with their Social Media Director, who runs the SoundCloud account – Jeff Simons.
Introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.
I’m the Social Media Director for StarTalk Radio, a podcast, radio show and, starting on April 20, 2015 a weekly late night talk show hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s the best job in the world – and that’s coming from someone who worked at Marvel Entertainment back in the days when that was saying something! One reason working with StarTalk is so great is because our community – wherever it lives, on SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – is really interested in science. They are not only intelligent, respectful of our brand and each other, but they also let us know what they like and don’t like. It’s a social media director’s dream. Plus I get to work with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and our great guests and comic co-hosts like Eugene Mirman, Chuck Nice and Leighann Lord.
How do you use SoundCloud?
We use SoundCloud as our main podcast hosting platform. We have SoundCloud players on all of our episode pages, plus the home page of our website, www.startalkradio.net. When we post our new episodes or our shorter, appetite-whetting teasers, we use the native SoundCloud link to let mobile users enjoy the benefit of listening to us while still cruising around SoundCloud. SoundCloud is our RSS feed, so everything we post on all of our partners like iTunes and our website starts with SoundCloud. We’re really just starting to increase our engagement with other SoundCloud users and properties, partially because we’re a small organization with manpower challenges. But our volunteers Sam and Rob who work with our SoundCloud account have made more sharing and more engaging a priority, so expect to see more of that in the future. We use playlists, of course, and intend to add more moving forward. We use our stats to improve content offerings and monitor our channel performance… and can’t wait for the statistics functionality to continue to improve. Finally, SoundCloud musicians frequently offer their music to us to be used on the show, and we are working towards opening this opportunity up to more of the SoundCloud creative community.
Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?
When I joined the StarTalk team a few years ago, we weren’t really engaging with our community. Neil was a great tweeter, of course, but the show itself wasn’t communicating with our fans. So we took a cue from Neil, who, if you’ve ever seen some of the videos on YouTube or seen him in person, treats everyone he meets with respect and consideration. So we do the same with our community. And we’ve been repaid by the community with respect and consideration in return. Another lesson of Neil’s we’ve tried to stick to is to make sure that what we’re putting out on social media delivers real value to our fans and isn’t merely self-serving. We may not succeed at that 100% of the time, but it is our #1 goal.
What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?
We’ve been a SoundCloud partner for a while now. It’s been a great experience being able to provide feedback that matters to a great group of people who are building something valuable and unique. Like any technology project, there are going to be glitches and growing pains. But our contacts at SoundCloud listen, and they care, and that is the core of any meaningful and successful partnership. We look forward to being an important part of SoundCloud’s promising future.
Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?
The universe, and everything in it, is our inspiration. These are exciting times for science, from the exploration of space to the discovery of the Higgs boson. They are challenging times too, with plenty of resistance by science deniers towards everything from climate change to evolution to the value of vaccines. So there’s never a lack of material to be explored. Our unique formula of blending science with comedy and celebrities has allowed us to have guests from outside the world of science, like Joe Rogan, Jon Stewart, Seth MacFarlane, Bill Maher and Nichelle Nichols. But we’ve also gotten to interview science and technology leaders like Dr. Carolyn Porco, Elon Musk, Richard Dawkins, Peter Diamandis and more. Are there people we haven’t worked with yet that we’d like to? How much time do you have for me to list them?
Feel free to talk about anything else (seriously, we’re all ears)
We can’t wait until SoundCloud takes podcasts out of the corner, lifts them proudly over their head, and… oh, wait, am I confusing this with Dirty Dancing? Seriously, though, SoundCloud originally came to us because they were interested in bringing more science and more podcasts into the spotlight – and they’ve helped us grow into a leading podcast. Whatever we can do to help grow the category, and bring more and more people into the growing conversation about science and science literacy, the better the future will be for all of us.
Take a listen to their latest episodes here: