Observations

ABC astronomy program “StarStuff” to be scrapped

Logo for StarStuff

Logo for StarStuff from the ABC NewsRadio website

Update 18 Feb 2016

Great News! Stuart Gary has returned with SpaceTime – as Stuart himself tweeted “It’s time to say goodbye to StarStuff…and hello to SpaceTime…hope you like the new name. Same program..new name”. You can find him at SpaceTime where his latest podcast is available.

Update 21 July 2008

The ABC is ignoring the numerous complaints it has received by sidelining them, according to rumour, to an almost non-existent department with the grand title of “Audience Research”. At the same time it seems that to politicians the reason giving for axing the program is different to what it is telling members of the public – the claimed reason is a move away from “block programming”, yet a glance at the station’s schedule indicates that it is full of block programs such as Weekend Halftime on Sundays, plenty of AFL game broadcasts and, of course, material from overseas.

If anyone would like to continue the fight try writing letters to the editor to the newspapers. You could suggest moving StarStuff to ABC Radio National’s Science Unit. Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

Starstuff is a long running program on the ABC’s NewsRadio presented by Stuart Gary. It is the only regular program on astronomy and space on the ABC and it is popular with many people, even those with only a slight interest in those topics. I often get people telling me about what they have heard on StarStuff or asking me what time the program is now on. The program used to be a full hour program first heard on Sunday evenings and repeated on the following Saturday evening and at least one other time in the week. More recently, it has been cut back to 30 minutes only heard on Sundays from 12 noon. However, it is available on demand as a podcast.

Now it seems that it has been completely axed, possibly to make room for more sport with which ABC radio seems to be increasingly inundated. This country needs more people interested in science – many of the big government decisions essential to Australia’s future on topics like climate change and future power supplies will depend on a scientifically literate public. Astronomy and programs like StarStuff provide a hook to grab and keep people’s interest in science. StarStuff is essential, while more sport is not.

If you would like StarStuff to continue, the Astronomical Society of Australia suggests, among other avenues, to show your support of the program by writing to the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott.

Note added 26 June 2008
Other, possibly more worthwhile, avenues for complaint are contacting newspapers and your local Federal member and/or writing to the Minister for Science, Warren Snowdon (warren.snowdon.mp@aph.gov.au) and/or the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Steven Conroy (senator.conroy@aph.gov.au).

47 responses to “ABC astronomy program “StarStuff” to be scrapped

  • Still waiting for the podcast. I wonder if it was a miscommunication or misunderstanding and that it was just the old podcasts that were being referred to?

  • Sue Javes article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald (although it isn’t available from the SMH web site you can get it at the AFR web site)…

    SHOT INTO CYBER SPACE

    The ABC has been bombarded with complaints following a decision by NewsRadio to scrap the long-running astronomy show StarStuff. Blogs have sprung up urging disappointed listeners to contact their member of Parliament in a bid to have the “uneducated and ill-informed” decision overturned. ABC radio talks boss Margaret Cassidy says it’s a matter of prioritising resources. She says StarStuff presenter Stuart Gary is needed to work on the main news desk five days a week and the specialist program does not fit with the station’s rolling news format. the bloggers argue that NewsRadio has no trouble running block programming when it comes to sport yet can’t devote half an hour a week to scientific endeavour. A comprimise of sorts has been reached. The show will be offered as a podcast by ABC Science Online at abc.net.au/science/feeds.

    http://afr.com/home/viewer.aspx?ATL://20080728000030070738&title=Radio

  • Sue Javes of the SMH has kindly included an article in her radio section of today’s Guide. In a seemingly positive outcome, the show will continue to be provided by podcast only. Nothing yet on Newsradio’s web site.

  • Thankyou James for your kind words and also for fielding that maniac attack in another forum.

    This was patent News Group “trolling” designed to derail meaningful discussion, and if the initial target replies all hell can break loose.

    And yes I ended up writing letters to every major daily in each capital except Perth (couldn’t penetrate the News Ltd interface of theirs).

    I don’t know if any were published. The lack of confirming phone calls would seem to indicate otherwise. Nevertheless the message was getting to the editorial staffs – I really emphasised the Medici like skulduggery in evidence with the shows axing, its high ratings and the possibility of public servants misleading the Government – all good news hooks.

    I’d say others wrote as well, so it gets the journos thinking and maybe making calls of their own.

    The papers may have had access information to the already developing move to ABC Science online. Phil Butters recent post here is interesting. I’d be very interested to read any further analysis of the whole situation, if it appears in next Monday’s Guide of the SMH.

    I’m pretty immobile due to illness, so others please do try and get next Monday’s issue as well. I’m not sure how available the Sydney Morning Herald is in Ireland where James is.

  • I have been in touch with the Sydney Morning Herald’s friendly radio editor (Sue Javes, sjaves@smh.com.au) and she may run a story in next Monday’s Guide. She suggested that Radio National might pick up the program and was going to discuss with the ABC. I wrote to the letters editor of the Herald but didn’t get published. Also worth getting in touch with The Australian’s Media liftout editor but I haven’t had a chance yet.

  • Well said Daniel. Have you written a letter yet? I’m in the process of drafting a letter but I’m not sure any Australian newspapers are going to publish it on the grounds that I don’t live in Australia. I cannot submit a letter online because doing so requires you to enter an Australian address.

  • Has anyone else written to newspaper editors?

    For heavens sake please try to get this message out there. Losing this program is the loss of another national treasure, just a Cosmic one.

    Stuart Gary should be up for an AM for services to Science and Broadcasting and not relegated to the “newsround desk” in a patent act of internal station politics.

  • Bloody moronic ABC!! Star Stuff was one program that I actually looked forward to each week. Oh just what we need, more sport. It was bad enough that the ABC news radio had effectivly switched off any local programming on the weekends and is now just now one long boring feed from the sleep inducing africa obsessed BBC, but killing star stuff is stupidity beyond belief.

  • I too have written to the ABC. What a great shame that this top class radio show has been axed, and what a poor justification from ‘our’ ABC. In an age of brain dead (non) reality television and a globally competitive entertainment market, this show stands out as a well produced, researched and presented program. And it all comes down to Stuart Gary’s devotion to the show and his obvious passion for science and astronomy. It clearly appeals to the listener with a casual interest or avid astronomer alike. There must be some way the show can be revived, even if only in podcast form? Perhaps it could be part of an astronomy magazine subscription, or could be put out by the Powerhouse Museum or a university?

  • I have emailed the abc. I’m sure I’ll get the same response as everyone else. This is the problem with public radio and television. They don’t give a rats arse about their ratings and therefore their listeners and viewers. Star stuff was drawing in good audiences. From what I can gather it was one of news radio’s best rating programmes. I’m very pissed off that this idiotic decision has been made. It’s right up there with bumping catalyst for a tv show about psychics and all the other woo woo broadcast on the abc.

  • My comment to News Radio was as follows….

    I would like to express my anger at ABC management for
    deciding to shelve Star Stuff. I have been a regular listener since the
    program started 9 years ago and download the podcasts or listen on
    Sunday morning at 10am Perth time – I look forward each week to Stuart
    Gary’s insightful reports and interviews. This is one of the best
    programs and I rate it along side others such as The Science Show with
    Robin Williams and Quantum(now Catalyst) as bringing science to the
    common man. If Stuart was willing to continue I think the removal of
    this radio program is extemely short sighted.
    Congratulations(and commiserations) to Stuart and the producers of Star
    Stuff. Top program. Brick bats to the ABC.
    and the(automated?) reply from “Elysha”…….

    Dear Gary
    Thanks for your feedback about StarStuff.

    While we appreciate that you enjoy this specialist program, we need to
    allocate as many of our resources within ABC NewsRadio as possible to
    delivering the key promise of the network to provide rolling news
    coverage.

    We’ve decided to end the program because we need producer/ presenter
    Stuart Gary to work on ABC NewsRadio’s main newsdesk five days a week.
    As you can appreciate, it’s important the network’s resources are
    devoted to delivering the network’s key promise.

    But we will certainly continue to report on news from the scienticific
    and astronomical communities, as part of our overall coverage of
    breaking news.

    Of course, this can also be accessed online from
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/?site=newsradio&topic=space or
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/?topic=space.

    Again, thanks for your comments about the show.

    Yours sincerely,

    Elysha

    An exact copy of the response to Toby – shows how much the ABC cares for its listeners opinions.

  • The ABC have rocks in their head.

    Not exotic space rocks, meteorites or fragments of the lunar surface, just the common garden variety sort of rock. Sad and stupid. They are badly out of touch.

  • A sad time for the ABC.

    A copy of my email to the ABC:

    I m just emailing to express my disappointment in the ABC s management decision to discontinue the radio program Starstuff . For the past 3 years I have been downloading the mp3 version and listening to them in the car on the way to appointments. It is my favourite program (TV or radio). I think management has made the wrong decision.
    Starstaff is/was a quality program which Stuart Gary should be very proud of.
    I would like to know on what bases the ABC management has made it’s decision?

    Thanks for your time

    Toby Lawrence
    (Geelong, Victoria)

    My reply:

    Dear Toby,
    Thanks for your email and feedback about StarStuff.
    While we appreciate that you enjoy this specialist program, we need to allocate as many of our resources within ABC NewsRadio as possible to delivering the key promise of the network to provide rolling news coverage.
    We’ve decided to end the program because we need producer/ presenter Stuart Gary to work on ABC NewsRadio’s main newsdesk five days a week.
    As you can appreciate, it’s important the network’s resources are devoted to delivering the network’s key promise.
    But we will certainly continue to report on news from the scienticific and astronomical communities, as part of our overall coverage of breaking news.
    Of course, this can also be accessed online from &http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/?site=newsradio&topic=space or http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/?topic=space.
    Again, thanks for your comments about the show.
    Yours sincerely,
    Elysha

    I will be writing to the email addresses above.
    Can we start an electronic partition of support?
    I too would gladly pay for an mp3/pod every week if we could hire Gary for ourselves.
    Something’s are just too valuable to lose.

    Feel free to email me at tobylaw@hotmail.com

  • I recieved this reply (in part) from ABC:

    ‘We’ve decided to end the program because we need producer/ presenter Stuart Gary to work on ABC NewsRadio’s main newsdesk five days a week. As you can appreciate, it’s important the network’s resources are
    devoted to delivering the network’s key promise.’

    Make of that what you will.

  • I write to urge anyone else who reads this to advocate for the retention of Star Stuff.

    The show is a very rare example of the type of educative material that helps maintain an essential public interest and literacy in scientific matters. In a world in which an educated and scientifically literate population is a national asset, this type of service is in the national interest.

  • How dreadful. Why not just turn News Radio straight over to DW or the BBC. It seems they are less and less interested in locally produced content (unless it comes with a complimentary pigskin).
    Another thinking man’s program falling to the inexorable tide of sport.
    Shame on whoever made this decision, obviously not much of a thinker themselves.

  • I cannot believe that starstuff is being axed. Just another nail in the coffin of the clever country. It would be great if Stuart could continue it as a podcast and I for one would have no hesitation in subscribing and donating. The shame is that all those kids I encouraged to listen to the show over the years now see what the powers that be really think of the country’s future. What’s next— The Science Show????????

  • I have listened to Starstuff as a podcast for a year or so. I am in the the UK and I will be sad if it ends, so wouldn’t it be possible for Stuart to continue the show as a podcast only with the help of some donations or a sponsor, who needs a national broadcaster to do a show. I listen to many great podcasts made without a huge organisation backing them.

  • I was shocked to hear that the programme is to be scraped. I have always found it well presented, well researched with excellent articles, not juts on space. I will ensure all elected members are aware of the action of the abc.

  • That is bad news, StarStuff was my main source of what is going on in the area of all space sciences.
    The program always presented the information well, and explained anything that may be a new concept so no listener felt left behind.

    I will be sending a letter off to the ABC.

    • HOLD IT EVERYONE, please take a chill pill. I was shocked to see this show scrapped as well, until I read that the date of the article is from 2008. Though one has to say that we’re halfway through Feb and still no star stuff, which does have me a little worried. Stuart’s presentation was second to none. I started a wikipedia article in honor of the show. Anyway, hope this is just a little useless conjecture and that SS will be back soon for 2016.

      • Mark, I thought the same at first but checked. The regular radio segment ceased a few years ago, but the show continued as a podcast. In late 2015 even the podcast was discontinued. I have noticed Stuart Gary still tweets and reports.

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