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Energy Department launches podcast, and chances are you’ll enjoy it, learn something

You know podcasts have really made it when a federal agency of the U.S. government launches one of its own. Move over, NPR, the Energy Department is now creating audio shows on demand — and in all seriousness, this one is pretty good. The first episode of the department’s new production was released Monday, and it’s called Direct Current

Hosted by Matt Dozier and Allison Lantero, the show closely mirrors the setup of This American Life, which is referenced in the premiere episode in a skit called This American Lightbulb, hosted by none other than Ira Fiberglass.

In the first few minutes, we’re introduced to the history of the Energy Department (it was founded by President Jimmy Carter in 1977), but soon thereafter, we’re in the meat of the segment, diving into solar panels and the “bureaucratic red tape” standing in the way of this particular form of renewable energy.

Throughout the episode, Dozier and Lantero “investigate the sneaky ‘soft costs’ that are a big chunk of rooftop solar prices” and “delve into the archives for a look at the turbulent times around the Energy Department’s creation.” In the episode, Dozier also speaks with Chris Carrick of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board about his success in implementing renewable energy sources in upstate New York.

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It’s an enjoyable listen. And at less than 25 minutes an episode, you might as well just give it a shot, right?

The decision by the Energy Department to turn to podcasting to reach a broader audience reflects the growing popularity of the medium, especially as shows like SerialJoe Rogan, and Freakonomics continue to draw large audience numbers. And while it’s probably quite difficult to attract viewers to visit an Energy.gov website, it might be significantly easier to produce a slick podcast that will get the public’s attention, and maybe do some educating along the way.