Nebraska Water Science Center
Nebraska Water Science Center Podcast Series
Introductory Podcast transcript: Swanson_Nebraskast, January 16, 2009
RS: Welcome to the second episode of Nebraskast, where we talk to real USGS scientists about the important water resources work they are doing all over Nebraska. My name is Rachael Seravalli. I'm with the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center. We're talking with Bob Swanson, who is the director of the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center. Welcome Bob.
BS: Good day, Rachael. It's a pleasure to finally be ready to launch Nebraskast.
RS: We're glad to have you. We're talking about the official release of our new podcast series called Nebraskast. I'll just let our listeners know, Bob, that around the office here you are known as a technically savvy guy. You keep up with a lot of the technological developments that are going on. So it might be obvious to you why the Nebraska Water Science Center would need a podcast, but it might not be so clear to our listeners. We have Web sites, we have BlackBerries, lots of different electronic ways to communicate. Why a podcast? Why this medium?
BS: It's very important to the U.S. Geological Survey to be able to communicate its science out to the public, to other researchers, to academia, and we do that through a number of different venues. The podcast is relatively new and it allows us to be able to get that information out to them in a new, we think exciting, and creative way that promotes a lot of interest in the community, both the public community and the research community. .
RS: Let's start by talking a little bit about what a podcast is.
BS: By definition a podcast is periodic publication of an audio or video production that's distributed primarily through the Internet. We had been considering other options, like a newsletter, but a lot of people are putting out newsletters. The purpose of a podcast, it's relatively short. Most of these will usually be between 5 and 10 minutes. People don't have a lot of time, they're very busy. It allows them to be in touch and aware of a number of different projects that they're interested in keeping up with. It then gives them the links and the information they need to find out more about those subjects.
RS: And speaking of subjects, what kinds of topics can people expect to learn about when they check in with our podcast?
BS: Well, of course, this is the USGS Nebraska Water Science Center so most of the content they'll hear will be water-oriented from here. And besides the information that we want to get out on our continuing programs about streamgaging information, about how to get to information about ground-water levels, or water-quality issues in your area. There'll be updates as we have flooding events or other natural hazards that may happen within the state. Water science activities of the center, which we have a great variety of activities going on in research and data monitoring within this center. And we'll also have news on important, new reports that the center is producing here and also national USGS reports and programs that are having press releases that directly impact Nebraskans.
RS: When we talk about the public or researchers, who exactly do we mean? Who are we trying to reach with this podcast?
BS: The purpose of a podcast is that it can be distributed to a wide variety of interests, and certainly we're looking at water-resource managers, natural resource managers, but also news organizations pick up on podcasts, researchers who are interested in finding information quickly, trying to expand their base of knowledge. We'll also be targeting the education community, and some of these podcasts will have elements that they can use in elementary and high school, for science and math teachers. But eventually we're trying to communicate to the public because to a large extent we are funded by federal funds and we expect to be able to report back not only to Congress but to communicate our findings to the public.
RS:And what sort of frequency do you expect our podcast episodes to be coming out?
BS: At least initially we're going to shoot for monthly episodes. We'll have special episodes as circumstances make them necessary to put them out.
RS: Like what kind of circumstances might necessitate another episode that we're not usually planning on?
BS: Certainly if there is a major flooding event within the state. If we have an important new report that we really want to get some significant findings out to the public in a quick manner. This is one of the venues that we'll be using. We'll still be using our existing venues. We'll notify people who want to be notified of USGS news here in the state. We also have sign up for an email if you want to be notified of our press releases, but this will be another way that we can get that information out..
RS: And then eventually, I think we hope to make it possible to subscribe to the podcast, in which case when a podcast becomes available, a new one, you'd be notified automatically, correct?
BS: That's correct. We plan to do that so people can subscribe and they don't have to go to our Web site. Right now you'll have a number of ways that you can go to our Web site and get that content. You'll be able to download a couple of audio formats, mp3 or AAC, for those of you who are using iPods. You'll also be able to stream it live. And if that's not enough, if you want to be able to go back and find out that one piece of important information, we'll be posting a transcript, a text file, so you'll be able to go back and do that, too.
RS: So we'll be producing these podcasts periodically. What's going to happen to the ones that are not new?
BS: Well, say in a year from now you discover Nebraskast and you're fascinated by the content we're producing, those will all be archived and available from our Web page at ne.water.usgs.gov. You'll be able to go there and you'll be able to come back to this very first, actually the very second, podcast of Nebraskast.
RS: Now the USGS has a podcast series at the national level that they call Corecast where they talk about the same kinds of things that we'll be talking about only at the national level. They'll be covering all the states and they also will be covering all the disciplines that USGS does research under.
BS: You can find Corecast and subscribe to it. I listen to it every week and it typically comes out every week unless there's large earthquake or something but this is an award-winning podcast. They were groundbreaking, one of the first government podcasts out there, and they're still typically in the top-10 hits of the government category. I'd encourage you to go out and research this. If there's a large earthquake or a volcanic eruption, they'll typically have something out and on the streets within a day or so of it and you'll be able to listen to the scientists who are on the scenes describe what's happening.
RS: Just to wrap up here, I would like to let our listeners know that our Water Science Center is the very first one in the country to have a podcast under our communications guidelines.
BS: For us it means we're kind of on the cusp of breaking technology and using technology in every way we can to get this information to the public in a cost-efficient and timely manner.
RS: Well I'd like to thank you again for taking the time to talk to us, Bob.
BS: Great to talk to you Rachael.