Mat KaplanJul 20, 2022

A Personal Message to Planetary Radio Listeners

Mat Kaplan at microphone 2012
Mat Kaplan at microphone 2012

I had been working at The Planetary Society for two years when co-founder and executive director Louis Friedman gave me the thumbs-up. It was only a few weeks later that Planetary Radio premiered.

Lou was my first guest on that November 25, 2002 episode. It also featured what would become a regular visit with our former colleague, Emily Lakdawalla. We closed the show as we have now ended over 1,000 episodes, with What’s Up. My friend Bruce Betts told us what to look for in the night sky, looked back across the history of space exploration, provided a reverberating Random Space Fact, and offered an entertaining space trivia contest challenge.

That show could only be heard on a single radio station and our primitive website. The series has changed very little since then. The most significant upgrade was the addition of our monthly Space Policy Edition six years ago. So, other than a new theme, listeners who had only heard that first episode would have no difficulty recognizing Planetary Radio today.

My pride in this achievement is far greater than anything else in my professional life. We’re now in the top half-percent of podcasts. The broadcast version of each episode is aired by about 100 public stations. We have presented more than 2,000 space exploration leaders to an eager audience. We’ve gone on stages around the world to present Planetary Radio Live, and I’ve visited many of our planet’s most important and inspiring sites where space science and exploration are advanced.

It has been a glorious odyssey. And it’s time to step back. I told our wonderful Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Vaughn many months ago that two decades of hosting and producing Planetary Radio would be enough. I’ll mark the twentieth anniversary in November of this year by handing over the reins to a new host. Our search for this person has already begun.

I’m very grateful to know that the Society will still keep me busy! Jennifer and others have asked me to use some of the time I’ll reclaim to participate in other important Society work. And I very much hope that my voice will still be heard on Planetary Radio now and then. My greatest joy in this job has always been the opportunity to talk with my guests. I regard all of them as heroes, and I look forward to more conversations.

There will be another opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has made Planetary Radio a success and a personal joy. For now, I’ll simply thank all of you who listen and who have supported the Society so generously. We will keep you informed of our progress toward this transition. I promise that the best is yet to come.

Ad astra!

Mat Kaplan

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