As a psychologist, I recognise that the media play a hugely important role in communicating about the eclipse experience before an eclipse. I am happy to support eclipse outreach in this way.
Before every total eclipse, there is a strong need for information about the eclipse to educate and alert people about what is to come. It is a topic that needs coverage from a number of angles to ensure people understand the scale and significance of the event.
Unfortunately, the eclipse stories that tend to dominate are more headline grabbing – such as traffic Armageddon, or price gouging. These do nothing to share why people should go out of their way to experience this amazing phenomenon.
For this reason, I am happy to be contacted by the media on topics related to the total eclipse experience; eclipse chasing; and eclipse planning. I can talk from my own personal experience of having a total solar eclipse transform my life, of being an eclipse chaser, of an eclipse tour leader, and an eclipse planner. However, unlike most other eclipse chasers, I can also talk from a research perspective, based upon the hundreds of surveys and interviews I have undertaken.
The eclipse experience is difficult to put into words or neat sound bites. Interviews can take a little while to share the essence of the eclipse experience or the motivations of an eclipse chaser. If you are looking for a quick sound bite, feel free to use something from this website or my books. If you are looking for more depth and detail, then get in touch for an interview.
I really enjoy participating in live broadcasts before every total eclipse, as it really helps to set the scene and convey the excitement of what it is like to be within the path of totality. It is incredibly exciting and thrilling, and I do get rather excitable! Before the most recent total eclipse, I took part in eight live broadcasts on eclipse day. The clip below was recorded live 20 minutes before totality, and I was on location in Grand Teton National Park as the Moon’s shadow was approaching. This was one of my favourite live interviews, and as you can see the interviewer really did pick up on the fab vibe!
For annular eclipses, I often do not travel, but I still take part in live shows to help convey what the experience is like. There is often much more time to go indepth into the eclipse experience. Here are two live broadcasts from annular eclipses recorded with Slooh, from September 1, 2016 and February 26, 2017. Both times I was live from Belfast.
I have undertaken many live radio interviews before and after total eclipses. I actually enjoy building up a picture of what the vibe is like at my location and sharing that excitement. However, there are two caveats to this:
– mobile phone reception is often poor in remote locations, and if phone reception is poor at my viewing location I will not move purely to get a phone signal
– I stop all interviews from 15 minutes prior to totality so I can fully enjoy the experience
– There is no guarantee that I can provide coherent live interviews after totality, as I’m all a bit gah-gah just like everybody else!
I have now taken part in several eclipse-related documentaries, that aim to help share the eclipse experience with a wide audience. The links to these documentaries will be shared in the near future.
Short clip advertising the featured documentary “The Eclipse Chaser” for MetroTV’s 360 Horizon show. The documentary was broadcast in full one week after the total solar eclipse. Credit: MetroTV
Radio & Podcasts
I am a huge fan of doing local radio interviews from within the community in the lead up to every eclipse. I believe this is the best way to engage the community, and it is a way to create buzz and share key information and resources. I did this extensively in 2012 in Australia; in the Faroe Islands in 2015, and also extensively in many states in 2017. I think radio phone in’s are a great way to address the ‘why should I care’ feel many locals have when they are not yet informed of why the total eclipse is something they would also enjoy.
I have also now participated in a quite a few eclipse-related podcasts, which are often longer, giving so much more time to delve into different aspects of the eclipse experience. The following three podcasts are my favourite, and each do a great job of entertaining the audience, and all are worth a listen. TO BE INSERTED GIMLET, BBC WORLD SERVICE, BBC RADIO 4 PODCASTS
Before every total eclipse, I get inundated with so many requests for media that it is almost impossible. Different media want to talk to the same people and have the same questions, so it is very repetitive and time-consuming – not only for key people but for journalists to try to secure a precious time slot that also meets writing deadlines. I have learned that media panels are the most effective way of managing the chaos, meeting everyone’s needs. These have worked very well and this is a model I will continue to use in the future.