In a major expansion, the Skeptoid science podcast, in English since 2006, is now available in Mandarin on the Chinese iTunes Store and at http://skeptoid.com.cn. This effectively triples the potential listener base, making the award winning show available to more listeners worldwide than any other podcast in any genre.
Host Zhe Li (Lizzie to her English speaking friends) was selected as the favorite from a field of test hosts whose recordings were evaluated by a large focus group of Chinese natives. As a professional translator, she brings a wealth of experience and resources translating even the most obscure technical and scientific terms from Skeptoid.
For an in-depth interview with Lizzie (in English) please give a listen to The Skeptic Zone episode 216. It starts at about the 23-minute mark.
I spent months evaluating the idea of expanding Skeptoid into foreign languages. It’s a much larger commitment than most people realize, so the available resources had to be thrown at the lowest hanging fruit. China is the world’s largest market, and Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken by more non-English speaking people than any other; so it was the obvious choice. Translation, recording, international rights management, bandwidth, editing and engineering, website nationalization, and commitment to Chinese marketing, listener support, and quality control are ongoing tasks, and all cost time and money. Skeptoid Media’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit application is still pending, but I decided to proceed with the investment because I think it’s an important direction. (By the way, at least half a dozen people have contacted me from various countries in the past week offering to host other language versions of Skeptoid. Thanks for the enthusiasm, but I promise you I’ll move in that direction if and when the resources are available, each language becomes Skeptoid’s strategic priority, and when all the ducks are in a row to do so.)
A lot of people have asked me about the political issues involved with China, and how I plan to avoid getting blocked by China’s “Great Firewall”. This is a serious consideration. Fortunately Skeptoid is largely free of any political content; and in any case, episodes are only selected for the Chinese version that are appropriate for the market. A bigger concern, it turns out, is simply finding subjects that Chinese listeners will be interested in. I once gave a talk on Mexican history to an Australian audience. They’d scarcely heard of Mexico, and couldn’t care less. Similarly, Chinese listeners are largely disinterested in most stories from the Americas. But stories from Russia, Asia, and Australia are very much of interest, as are general science topics that apply worldwide.
So please, invite your Chinese friends to check out Skeptoid. It has very little competition in their podcast market, and I think it’s going to set a decent standard for new media worldwide.