Egyptian science station goes online

Published online 9 December 2012

A group of university students have launch an online radio station in Egypt dedicated to all things science.

Rasha Dewedar


A group of physics and engineering students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) launched Cosmos Radio, the first science-focused radio station in Egypt, in early November.

"We want to help people understand science and its applications better and how science affects our daily lives," explains Taha Selim, president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) at the AUC, and founder of the radio channel.

While Cosmos Radio is currently only available online, Selim is hopeful that the station will one day broadcast live as an FM radio channel. Meanwhile, several established radio stations have invited them to host some of their shows weekly.

The station broadcasts shows in Arabic and English, targeting shows to suit various age groups and education levels. Aristotle's Kitchen, for example, is a comedy show that explores the history of science, as well as scientific models and formulas, by comparing them to cooking recipes.

Another show, Breakfast with Einstein, has brought Albert Einstein to life to explain his unfathomable theories in a way that is understandable, in as much as possible, to a broad audience

"Understanding science won't only help people understand more about its applications, it will also help them think more logically and systematically," says Selim.

"The programmes must be written at a level that the layperson can follow," says Damond Benningfield, writer and producer of StarDate, the longest-running national radio science feature in the United States. "That doesn't mean too simple, just clear and free of jargon."

The topics covered should also be of general interest and not too technical, he adds, with exciting sounds effects and music to enhance the experience.

Communicating science

Selim believes that radio, which can be cheaper and easier to produce than television, is the ideal medium to bring science to the masses.

"We have always found that radio is an excellent vehicle for informing and educating the public about science. It engages the listener's imagination more fully than video, allowing the listener to 'see' things that are beyond the reach of telescopes," says Benningfield.

"With the increase of social media usage among Egyptians, science, as any other topic, is subjected to rumours, misunderstandings, and misinformation," says Selim, who wants to use his project to make sure proper and accurate science reaches the public.

Besides Selim, the radio team includes three other AUC engineering students, along with students volunteering to help produce the shows, which are broadcast out of the university studios.

"I'm organizing a training course for 50 students in which IT engineers, radio presenters, and other professionals will train them on different topics such as sound editing and interviewing," says Selim.

Benningfield stresses that, besides being professional communicators, the team must also understand the science well to be able to deliver it to a general audience.

"To be sustainable, the radio should use a professional but pleasant voice that captivates audiences and pulls them back to the broadcast over and over again. Using a good variety of topics helps as well," says Benningfield.

The team currently produces about 20 hours of shows weekly. They are working to secure adequate funding to grow their project and put together a proper marketing campaign to reach out to a wider audience.