Monday is upon us once again ... but thanks to The Wild Life, a new Earth Touch-sponsored podcast from Dr Jason Goldman, the most dreaded day of the week is about to get a little more interesting!

Jason is an animal behaviour researcher, science communicator and wildlife-nerd extraordinaire whose work has been featured in countless science blogs and publications (Scientific AmericanIo9 and Conservation Magazine to name a few). Each episode of The Wild Life is essentially an in-depth conversation with someone whose work or interests revolve around animals or wildlife, on topics ranging from the science of animal behaviour and conservation biology, to animal ethics, the wildlife in your own backyard – and beyond. With the first episode launching today, we sent a few questions Jason's way about his new project. 

Where did the idea for the podcast come from?

Mainly, the podcast is a way for me to have long-form casual conversations with interesting people without the pressure of needing to get short pithy quotes for some print article I'm working on, or a blog post, or something like that. Unlike with most my other work in science communication, on my podcast I have no editors (but don't get me wrong; I love my editors!) and no due dates (other than those that are self-imposed). I'm my own boss, which is quite a freeing feeling. And besides, so often I have to leave the most interesting parts I get from interviews out of the articles I write because they're only tangential to the stories I'm writing, or because I have word limits. This is a way to share those conversations with the world. 

Also, the podcast audience is in some way distinct from the audiences for my writing. This is a way for me to engage about the animal- and wildlife-related ideas and issues that I think are important with a new audience. 

What can listeners expect and what do you hope they will take away?

Listeners can expect a new conversation roughly once each week between me and someone whose work or interests revolve around animals or wildlife. So far I've recorded conversations with science communicators, urban wildlife researchers, citizen science coordinators and museum educators. As I record more and more episodes, that list will expand to include more scientists, conservationists, veterinarians, zoo keepers, wildlife rehabilitators, educators, writers, journalists, filmmakers, TV personalities, other podcasters and more. 

For many people, I think they will come away with new knowledge and information about animals and wildlife, from the charismatic critters we see on wildlife documentaries to the pets who live in our homes to the spiders and bees that sometimes we barely even notice. I also hope that as I have more and more conversations with folks whose jobs are focused on animals and wildlife, some of my younger listeners might be inspired to think about their own career options.  

And I hope everyone leaves remembering that there is still room for awe and wonder and amazement at the natural world, even in the face of some of the bleaker prospects when it comes to wildlife conservation.

Also, I hope that my listeners tell me what they'd like to hear and who they'd like me to interview. As I air the first few episodes, I think listeners will probably realise – if they're paying attention – that I'm kind of doing some experimentation and trying different things to see what works best. Should I always end with the same question? Do listeners prefer more open-ended conversation, or a more structured sort of Q&A? Does the hour-long format work, or would listeners prefer shorter episodes? I hope that listeners will rate and review the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher (those things really do matter!) and that they'll reach out on twitter or Facebook!

Favourite part so far? What has the process been like?

It's been fun! First of all, I've learned a lot about the technicalities of recording high-quality audio, which is always a good tool to have in the freelance science communicator's toolbox. 

Combining the time I spent in graduate school studying animal behaviour and the time I've spent as a science communicator, I've been thinking about animals and wildlife for a long, long time. Sometimes it feels like I'm writing different versions of the same stories over and over again, which is why it's so exciting when I can learn something new through my conversations for the podcast. I think there has been at least one new thing I've learned in each episode ... and that's not including the opening segment of each episode, in which my guest and I both share something new we learned that week!

What are you most looking forward to?

I'm really looking forward to taking on some of the really complicated questions about our relationship with other animals. For example, I hope to interview some chefs and farmers – after all, in some ways, those folks are at the forefront of the conversations in our society regarding the complex role of animals in our society! 

In my podcast, as in my other work, I'm taking a "no bunny huggers" approach. There is space for squeeing and talking about the more adorable animals on our planet, of course (there's already a bunch of that in the first episode!). But my conversations will also tackle some tougher, more contentious, ethically complex kinds of questions that our society faces today: using animals in research, the exotic pet trade, trophy hunting, eating animals, and so on. 

You say your interviewees will be in for some quick-fire questions – so let's see how you cope with one. You can replace any limb with an animal part: what and why? Go!

I'd like to have wings, but I don't want to substitute wings for my dexterous, tool-using hands. I'd be totally down to trade my eyes for goldfish eyes though – as we discuss in the first episode, goldfish are tetrachromats, meaning they have four kinds of cones in their eyes. That, in part, is what allows them to perceive UV light. (We humans have only three cones.) Or having the eyes of migrating birds would be cool; there are some researchers who believe that some birds can actually visually see magnetic field lines as they navigate, thanks to magnetic compounds in their eyes. Imagine being able to see magnetic fields!

The first episode of The Wild Life is out now (also available on iTunes and Stitcher). Have a listen and give us your feedback!