NASA Audio Specialist Named in Forbes 30 Below 30 Listing of Innovators

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Katie Konans, NASA’s audio and podcasting lead on the company’s Goddard House Flight Heart in Greenbelt, Maryland, is one in all two NASA workers named to Forbes’ 30 Below 30 Class of 2024. The opposite company honoree, Clare Luckey, is a programs engineer at NASA’s Johnson House Heart in Houston.

Forbes’ 30 Below 30 record is a collection of younger, inventive, and daring minds the journal’s consultants think about revolutionaries, altering the course of enterprise and society. Forbes evaluated greater than 20,000 nominees to determine on 600 enterprise and trade figures, with 30 chosen in every of 20 industries.

“Once I joined NASA in 2018, the company didn’t have a devoted audio program or technique,” Konans mentioned. “I used to be contemporary out of an NPR member station fellowship, excited in regards to the world of audio storytelling, and had the uncommon alternative to construct out a brand new a part of NASA’s communications program.

“I’ll ceaselessly really feel lucky to have had that likelihood to experiment with a brand new medium and develop NASA’s audio program into the storytelling unit it’s right this moment. I acknowledge what a novel privilege it’s to get the time, area, and encouragement – to do one thing new and completely different, that additionally pushes in opposition to the established order, and have that huge guess repay.”

Konans has revolutionized NASA’s digital technique by her work in audio communication. She is a inventive communicator who works on the intersection of storytelling and technique. Konan’s work has expanded NASA’s attain within the digital audio area, leading to thousands and thousands of downloads worldwide. 

At NASA, she manages 5 lively podcasts, together with the flagship podcast “NASA’s Curious Universe,” which she launched in 2020. Since taking the management function in 2019, she’s grown the podcast viewers to greater than 8 million episode performs on Apple Podcasts alone, with a listener retention price of 70% on common. She’s acquired the NASA Early Profession Achievement Medal, a Webby Award, and the Robert H. Goddard Award for her staff’s contributions to NASA’s public engagement and communication.

Previous to becoming a member of NASA, Konans was a options reporter at NPR affiliate Georgia Public Broadcasting, the place she lined community-focused tales. Konans is obsessed with working with college students and is a coordinating mentor for Goddard’s Workplace of Communications internship program.

“I’m from the small city of McDonough, Georgia. I graduated from Mercer College in 2019 as the primary in my household to finish a conventional school diploma, however not with out overcoming important roadblocks. I put myself by college, and actually struggled financially to make it to the end line. I didn’t quit, and it’s one of many huge causes I used to be capable of make it to NASA.

“I’ve to thank the various mentors I’ve had alongside the best way, however particularly the school of Mercer College’s Heart for Collaborative Journalism. Whereas I used to be battling these challenges, they noticed one thing in me and actually inspired me to succeed in for the celebs. It’s one of many causes I’m so concerned in mentoring NASA’s communications interns right this moment – I do know that having only one individual in your nook can completely change your life.”

In 2023, Konans additionally launched the company’s first Spanish podcast in collaboration with the NASA en Español staff.

“As we speak, NASA’s podcasts attain tons of of 1000’s of podcast listeners throughout the globe, sharing tales of area and science that educate, encourage, and encourage youthful audiences to get curious in regards to the world of science and area. Working with my staff to share these tales is greater than I might have ever dreamed of being part of. It’s extremely rewarding.”

Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart

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