For more than four years the PBS-NPR public TV and radio operation in San Francisco, KQED and KQED-FM, has been edifying and entertaining the locals with top-flight science programming including radio spots and features and each year 20 new half-hour episodes of a high-def TV show. The polish of its science unit, called Quest, has not escaped notice. Last month it received a grant for nearly $1 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to train teams from six more PBS stations to provide such professional, local science programming for their audiences.
Good for Quest, congratulations etc. More important, today the embargo expires for the first of this year's TV shows. Its two segments are fine and quite different examples why it makes a good template for other PBS outlets eager to put some TV science on their platters. (Maybe science radio at public stations could use more such training, too, but the impression is that the radio side of community science broadcasting is better established around the country than is the more costly TV equivalent. I recently spoke at a radio workshop led by Bari Scott of SoundVision Productions and met some very impressive participants. )
KQED Quest TV shows today:
- Searching for Life on Mars - Rachel Silverman, producer, (blog here) ; Mostly about the Mars Science Lab Rover now getting buttoned up at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab for eventual launch. One focus is on local researcher's roles; the seamless presentation of NASA and other graphical previews of the rover's flight, landing, and expected excursions, plus Quest's own digital derring do, shows what a local outfit can manage.
- Into the Deep with Elephant Seals - no idea who produced this (y'know, it ought to be declared prominently at the web site so such hard workers can used them to show off to parents, friends, etc. Significant news articles whether in print or on video or audio for broadcast all merit bylines) ; Viewers don't get just the necessary looks at a bunch of gigantic brown maggots squirming and bloodily snot-fighting on the beach, which do not present these creatures' most lovely sides. There also are much cooler sequences of them in the water, lots of science, and mesmerizing motion-graphic data from satellite tags revealing the big animals' migrations across the eastern Pacific. Amazing history, although it should not have said all the elephant seals in the world are descended from a few dozen living on a Mexican island a century ago. Should have mentioned at least in passing the large and more genetically robust population of Southern Elephant Seals in and near Antarctica. Still, fine job.(UPDATE! - KQED p.r. ace Sevda Eris reports producer is Sheraz Sadiq, his producer's notes here)
- Charlie Petit