RMI helps produce radio tidbits | AspenTimes.com

RMI helps produce radio tidbits

Jeremy Heiman

Did you know you can save songbirds by changing brands of coffee?You can find out how this works by listening to today’s ECO-Essayon KAJX, Aspen’s public radio station, at 12:30 p.m. ECO-Essays,2.5-minute spots on environmental subjects, started running dailyon KAJX and other public radio stations nationwide on March 1.Rocky Mountain Institute, a policy think tank in Old Snowmass,is the primary underwriter of the production of ECO-Essays. Manyof the spots are written by researchers at RMI, which providesother kinds of support, such as research and fact checking. ECO-Essaysis also sponsored by the Aria Foundation of Massachusetts.Shawn Considine, in RMI’s communications department, is an organizerfor the project. Considine said stations in California, New York,Alaska, Hawaii and other states have committed to carrying theessays, as have Denver’s jazz station, KUVO, and stations in ColoradoSprings, Telluride, Alamosa, and Crested Butte.KAJX News Director Marilyn Gleason said her station had difficultyfinding a time slot for the broadcast because NPR satellite feedsfor news and music programs don’t leave enough slack time betweenprograms. But the show may become a regular feature at lunchtime.”We’re just trying it out, now, but my guess is that could probablybe a permanent spot for it,” Gleason said.Music Director Skip Naft of KDNK, Carbondale’s community accessstation, said his station will probably run the series, too. KDNKstaff members haven’t had time to give it adequate consideration,because they’re in the middle of their fund drive.Peter Johnson, executive producer of the series, said the themeof the series is encouraging environmental awareness and responsibility.He said demand exists for such a product. A Roper poll in 1997on behalf of Parade Magazine showed that while 63 percent of Americansdemand sports news and 87 percent want world news, 92 percentwanted news about the environment.The spots, which run Monday through Friday, are narrated by variousvoices. Johnson said each Friday’s piece is read by a “kid narrator,”to attract younger listeners. “Kids come alive when they hearanother kid on the radio,” he said. An essay titled “Killer Bees,”read by an 11-year-old narrator, is scheduled to run March 26,to the musical accompaniment of “Flight of the Bumblebee.”Johnson, who works in Woodland Park, Colo., said the series willremain positive and upbeat, with no gloom-and-doom messages. “We’renot going to be bashing any companies or individuals,” he said.Other future subjects will include a profile of the late Capt.Jacques Cousteau, a two-part piece on cougars, and an environmentallyconscious brewery in Tanzania.The spots are recorded in a studio in Colorado Springs. They areavailable to stations on CDs, cassettes or by satellite feed.While some essays educate listeners about the imbalances in natureresulting from human activity, others explore the psychologicallandscape of the attitudes that have brought us to our presentcrossroads. One of those essays is titled “Plastic Flamingos.”More about our detachment from nature than about the birds themselves,the plastic flamingos essay includes a short history of lawn icons.Going back to the coffee-versus-songbirds question, here’s howit works: Naturally occurring coffee grows on bushes in the shadeof larger trees in Central America. But coffee planters have discoveredthey can improve their yield by cutting the trees and growingcoffee in the sun. Because so much land in Central America isused for coffee production, forest destruction for sun-grown coffeeproduction has had a significant effect on winter habitat forbirds. This practice, and deforestation for other reasons, hasled to the decline of populations of songbirds that breed in NorthAmerica and winter in Central America.Shade-grown coffee may not yield as much coffee per acre, butit is said to taste better. Consumers can support the preservationof North American songbird populations by purchasing organic shade-growncoffee, according to the radio spot.

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