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AAAS Radio Show Celebrates 30 Years of Sharing Daily Science

Bob Hirshon, a program director in AAAS' Education and Human Resources department, has served as host and executive producer of Science Update since its inception in 1988. | Stephen Waldron/AAAS

A daily, 60-second radio program produced by AAAS that provides tidbits of scientific information online and over the airwaves marked its 30th anniversary on Jan. 11.

“Science Update” highlights the latest discoveries in science, technology and medicine. Five new episodes are broadcast on radio stations across the United States each week and are available for download as podcasts.

“Our show is great because it gives a daily dose of science to people who might be driving to work or at home cooking dinner,” said Susanne Bard, who has served as a “Science Update” producer for the past 10 years.

The program was created in 1988 by Bob Hirshon, a program director in AAAS’ Education and Human Resources department. Since then, Hirshon has hosted at least 7,500 episodes of the show. A surprise party was thrown for Hirshon on Jan. 9 at AAAS headquarters in Washington to mark the program’s 30th anniversary.

Hirshon said that the show’s longevity can be attributed to the way that it communicates science. He emphasized the importance of not talking down to the audience and “bringing them along with you on these science stories as opposed to lecturing them.”

Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources at AAAS, said that the show’s staying power can be partially credited to Hirshon, who she described as “the creative spark” of “Science Update.” Malcom added that Hirshon is “amazingly able to spot a good story that can appeal to his listenership.”

Malcom said that the ever-changing nature of science also helps the show remain fresh and relevant.

“Science is exciting,” Malcom said. “New discoveries keep on coming. We have great stuff to work with.”

For Hirshon, the opportunity to speak with scientists has been a particularly enjoyable part of hosting the show.

“You get to not only keep up with all the latest science research, but then call up the researchers and ask them questions about it and exercise your curiosity,” said Hirshon. “There’s nothing more fun than that.”

[Associated image: Stephen Waldron/AAAS]