Planetary Radio

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Planetary Radio
GenreAstronomy, Space Exploration
Running time60 minutes
Country of originUnited States
Home stationKUCI
SyndicatesPublic Radio Exchange
AnnouncerMat Kaplan
Created byMat Kaplan
Produced byMat Kaplan
Original release2002 (at KUCI) – present

Planetary Radio is a weekly 30-minute radio show devoted to space exploration and astronomy, hosted and produced by Mat Kaplan and The Planetary Society. The show's programming consists mostly of interviews and telephone-based conversations with scientists, engineers, project managers, artists, writers, astronauts and many other professionals who can provide some insight or perspective into the current state of space exploration. It made its debut on November 25, 2002 with an interview with Planetary Society executive director Louis D. Friedman, airing on Windows Media and local radio station KUCI. The show became available in MP3 format for download in early July 2004, and became available as a podcast in May 2005.


The show typically begins with a summary of that week's programming. Following this introduction, regular segments each week feature The Planetary Society's "Planetary Evangelist" and space science blogger Emily Lakdawalla, the Society's CEO Bill Nye, and the Society's Director of Science and Technology Bruce Betts. These regular guests provide information and perspective on advances in space science and exploration. The show usually also features interviews and conversations with scientists, engineers, designers, analysts, writers, activists, astronauts and others involved in space exploration, advocacy and education. At the end of the program, a light-hearted segment called "What's Up" with Bruce Betts usually highlights where and when you can see significant astronomical events that week, a random space fact, announcements of any anniversaries, and a space trivia contest where randomly chosen participants can usually win a T-shirt, poster or calendar.

The series goes on the road several times each year with Planetary Radio Live. These shows are usually produced before live audiences in Pasadena, California. Whenever possible Planetary Radio Live shows take place at major space and science-related events.

Current stations and services[edit]

As of June 2009 there are over 150 radio stations and services across the US and the world currently broadcasting Planetary Radio, along with Sirius XM Satellite Radio.[1]

In July 2019, The Florida Times Union of Jacksonville named Planetary Radio as a space podcast to listen to along with others such as Startalk, The Infinite Monkey Cage, and The Naked Scientists.[2]

Historical guests[edit]

Many of the speakers are significant individuals in their fields in science, engineering and technology. Prior guests have included science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, leaders in industry like Elon Musk, and many astronauts like Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride.

In August 2017, Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan was invited to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to host the "Solar Eclipse Festivities" in front of what officials expected to be 50,000 people. One faculty member at SIU, Bob Baer, was thrilled to have Kaplan as a host saying, “We are fortunate to have Mat visiting campus and acting as host to thousands of visitors for the total solar eclipse.”[3]


Over 1000 episodes of Planetary Radio have been produced to date as of May 2021. Archives of previous shows are available and new programs are normally released on Wednesdays. The special Space Policy Edition episodes are normally released on the first Friday of every month.


  1. ^ Planetary Radio Carriage Guide Archived December 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, The Planetary Society Web Site, retrieved 2007-01-15
  2. ^ Now, More Content. "Podcasts to Listen To: Planetary Radio and the best space podcasts to listen to". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  3. ^ "Planetary Radio's Mat Kaplan to serve as host for SIU's eclipse festivities". SIU News. Retrieved May 14, 2021.

External links[edit]