Podcasting, which has often been considered geek territory, has been around for roughly 15 years. While live streams were previously only available through basement RSS feeds and pirate radio, podcasts can now be downloaded straight from iTunes. With application options up and running, Aaron Bee, co-founder, co-host and producer of The Black Astronauts, said podcasting popularity has “skyrocketed.”
Since its inception, The Black Astronauts Podcast has aired weekly, featuring co-founder’s and Phi Beta Sigma members Bee, Rock, Fiq, and Polo. A total of 28 episodes can be found on Stitcher Radio, iTunes, LibSyn, and BlackAstronauts.com.
Bee said the show’s mission has always been to provide a comical, intellectual and realistic perspective on urban culture that can’t be found on mainstream radio.
“Our name was chosen to reflect the uniqueness, rare yet achievable goal of being and doing something great. Just as black astronauts like Guion Bluford, Ronald McNair and Mae Jemison broke barriers traveling into space, we, The Black Astronauts Podcast, want to inspire and influence people to defy gravity and be great,” Bee said.
Most recently, the group added Can, the only female member of the crew. She had initially been a caller into the segments and piqued Bee’s interest. After featuring her on a Trayvon Martin-centered episode, Bee noticed a spike in downloads and said a female voice brought an “estrogen-sprinkled perspective” that was previously missing.
“Can was a listener to the guy’s show first. She had called in a few times, and our listeners loved her. “We found that women were underrepresented on podcasts and since our listener’s base is 65 percent women, it was a no-brainer that we had to have her on our crew,” Bee said.
The Ladies Launch, which is a spin-off to The Black Astronauts Podcast, received 500 downloads for its first episode. Now, with five shows under its belt, the Ladies Launch receives an average of 5,000 hits per show.
Kai Love, a Ladies Launch co-host, said that while the show “engages and entertains,” listeners, it is also a break from “mainstream monotony.”“We don’t want to force-feed our listeners. We want them to identify with our topics but we also want to inspire critical thought,” Love said. “And that’s what our show – and podcasting in general – has to offer…an alternative to mainstream broadcasting.”