The WFMT Radio Network

WFMT Radio Network

The WFMT Radio Network

Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science is a weekly 54 minute science program produced at the SETI Institute's radio studio in Mountain View, California, that examines life and technology on this planet….and beyond, with a broadcast and podcast every week.  Each program has a 1-minute billboard at the top of the hour, followed by a 5-minute news hole.  There are 2 floating breaks in the program.  Please consult the clock.

The world has changed since enterprising hominids chipped stones to use as tools. Today's scientific and technological development moves faster than a speeding maglev train.  The Big Picture Science radio show and podcast engages the public with modern science research through lively and intelligent storytelling.  Science radio doesn't have to be dull.  The only dry thing about our program is the humor.

Big Picture Science takes on big questions by interviewing leading researchers and weaving together their stories of discovery in a clever and off-kilter narrative style.  What came before the Big Bang?  How does memory work?  Will our descendants be human or machine? What's the origin of humor?  We ponder these questions daily … and expound on them weekly.  This one-hour radio magazine reveals science as an adventure.  But wait! There's more!

Are you a doubting Thomas?  Good.  Join us as we separate science from pseudoscience - and facts from the phony - in Skeptic Check, our monthly episode devoted to critical thinking.  Whether its astrology, Bigfoot, or the incessant onslaught of dubious medical claims, we tackle it all, wielding the skeptical tools of solid science.  It's Skeptic Check… but don't take our word for it!

But it wasn't always so!  The program began with the title Are We Alone? in 2002 as a commercially-supported call-in show distributed to a handful of stations on Radio America by Bill Oxley and Seth Shostak, who actually broadcast from their respective living rooms in San Diego and Mountain View.  In 2004, Molly Bentley joined AWA as an editor and executive producer, and about that time, support from the NASA Astrobiology Institute allowed us to build our own radio studio and move away from single interview call-ins, to a thematic multi-interview produced show.  Barbara Vance joined AWA at that time and has kept us organized and hitting program deadlines ever since.  Bill left the show in 2005 to pursue other interests and Gary Niederhoff joined us with his considerable voice talent and editing skills. Then Jay Weiler showed up.  After a short stint on the Discovery Channel's outlet on Sirius Satellite Radio, we began distributing Are We Alone? on the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX).

Big Picture Science is supported in part by Sami David, Rena Shulsky David, and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Skeptic Check is presented thanks to a generous donation from the Trimberger Family Foundation.

Big Picture Science is available to radio stations for broadcast from PRSS, PRX and Pacifica Network.  It can also be found on iTunes and other podcast sites. 

We can also provide a few other services for you if you like: a :30 custom promo for  your station (with your tagline and the show slot), host bios, placing your station information on our website, and providing you with our logo for your website.  Let me know if you are interested in any of these.

Here are the instructions to downloading the Big Picture Science radio show files each week.

We are on three major public radio distributors - PRSS Content Depot, PRX, and Pacifica's AudioPort.  Just search for our program name, and you should find our listings.  Note that we put the new episodes up on Mondays, but Content Depot's airdate starts on Wednesdays, should that make any difference to you.  We also have a separate program on Content Depot for the on-air promos, to help facilitate automation, with the same Wednesday airdate.

However, if you aren't part of these networks, we can get you the audio in other ways if that works better for you.

We have set up a system for obtaining the audio files via anonymous ftp (which should work through any web browser) and can be automated.  It does not require a login or password.

We provide both .wav and .mp3 versions.  Note that the file on our website is the "podcast version", which will be longer and is not consistent in length from week to week, and contains some advertising for the show that is not included in the broadcast version.

Our broadcast version is in 7 segments:
Billboard (1:00)
Music Bed (:30)
Interview A (varies)
Floating Break 1 (1:00)
Interview B (varies)
Floating Break 2 (1:00)
Interview C (varies)
This series is available free of charge to all affiliate stations.  For more information, please contact Tony Macaluso at 773-279-2114, email: or Estlin Usher at 773-279-2112, email:

If you'd like to audition this series, please go to: and check the archives.  Please be sure to call Tony or Estlin if you plan to broadcast this series.

Broadcast Schedule

Coming Soon