AAAS's Science Update Radio Show Wins New York Festival Medal
A 90-second radio feature revealing the secret of the most expensive coffee in the world helped earn AAAS's syndicated radio program Science Update a bronze medal in Science and Technology Programming at this year's New York Festivals, an international media competition.
A story describing a new technology for digitizing old recordings and a report on an effort to restore a rare instrument from the 18th century also were part of the winning entry.
"It's pretty cool," program host Bob Hirshon said of the prize, "because commercial shows like Science Update go head-to-head with shows from NPR, BBC and other public sources, as well as all the big commercial entities, like CBS and ABC."
The coffee described in the prize-winning entry is called Kopi Luwak. Hirshon said that as small civit catsluwakson the island of Sumatra climb through trees, they love to eat ripe coffee cherries that contain the coffee bean. In the marsupial's stomach the beans undergo chemical treatment and fermentation; then the animal excretes them, with the bean still intactand, apparently, improved.
Local workers joyfully collect the beans, clean them, roast them and sell them for up to $600 a pound to eager coffee enthusiasts.
A panel of judges from radio stations around the world selects the winning entries based on their production value, organization, presentation of information, creativity and use of the medium. The Radio Programming and Promotions Awards honor the world's best radio programming with gold, silver and bronze medals.
The Manhattan-based New York Festivals received more than 500 entries this year from 32 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Brazil and even Afghanistan.
Hirshon thinks that one reason the AAAS radio program did well is because of its appeal to all types of judges. "We're intellectual enough for the public radio people," he explained, "but lively enough for the commercial people."
Science Update airs daily on about 50 commercial stations around the country, and occasionally on Westwood One radio network's show "America in the Morning," which airs on hundreds of additional stations. In October, Science Update was reduced from 90 seconds to one minute in order to attract more commercial radio stations.
"There is a wealth of science reporting on public radio," said Corinna Wu, producer of Science Update. "Their audience is more interested in it." She explained that non-commercial radio stations have the luxury of time, whereas the difficulty of getting a science program onto a commercial radio station is convincing producers that they shouldn't sell those 60 seconds of airtime to advertisers and instead devote them to science.
So far, Science Update has succeeded, as it has been increasing the public's understanding and appreciation of science through commercial radio for 17 years by making science lively, engaging and provocative. For this, the program has received numerous accolades, including two Crystal Awards of Excellence in the prestigious Communicator Awards Audio Competition.
28 June 2005