Regardless of your age you know what a radio is. If you are like me, you grew up with that transistor radio glued to your ear late nights listening to Wolfman Jack out of Del Rio, Texas, or following your favorite baseball team. If you are a bit younger, your radio history comes from the car, especially on long roadies.
Today radio means loads more than music. One can listen to news, sports, music, and talk shows of any genre 24/7/365 in the car, over the FM & AM frequencies, via the internet, and even from a satellite. That little portable transistor radio so small, so cool, so antique, gave way to the latest in portability… the iPod. The radio has come full circle. We can still get news, sports, music, and talk, but with an important difference … selectivity. We can choose exactly what we want to listen to when we want 24/7/365.
So, here is the deal. Admittedly, I am a podcast junkie. I love the ability to hear any one of my favorite podcasts, anytime, anywhere. On that note I have downloaded several podcasts that appeal to my interests as a Texas Master Naturalist. Over the next few posts I will introduce these to you, describe them in detail, and offer my humble ratings.
So, how do I rate them. I look for answers to five simple questions.
- Am I interested in the series? I scan the topics to see if they appeal to me. If so, then I randomly listen to the first few minutes of two or three to get a feel for its delivery.
- Is it structured? The topic should be presented up front, the case made with experts in the field, and a logical conclusion made that reinforces the topic.
- Does the delivery entice me into listening? If it takes three minutes to introduce the podcast and another three to talk about sponsorship, I move on.
- Is the host proficient? If the host stays on task, delivers reasonable and interesting comments, and is proficient at interviewing, I like that. Otherwise, it gets boring.
- Do I anticipate the next in the podcast series? If yes, it is a winner.
Based on these I rate the podcast from 1 to 3 ipods, 1 being the least likable, may or not be worth your time and 3 as the most likable, a definite listen. Ratings will appear as:
So, let us begin with one of my very favorite podcasts of all, Under the Texas Sky. You may know of the host and Executive Producer Cecilia Nasti from the series Passport to Texas radio program. That program, a series of 90-second vignettes on Texas nature, ended December 2019. You can catch broadcast archives online. (I enjoyed it via KUT out of Austin.)
For full disclosure, Under the Texas Sky is a product of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) which also oversees the Texas Master Naturalist Program. As a Texas Master Naturalist myself, I am grateful for TPWD, but that does not sway my opinion about the podcast series. As Master Naturalists our mission is to provide education, outreach, and service for the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within our communities. This is in line with that of the podcast as it is about the people who benefit from the work the agency (TPWD) does to keep Texas wild things and wild places vibrant.
Each day I have the opportunity to interview fascinating people, including wildlife and fisheries biologists, game wardens, park managers and education specialists, who are committed to understanding, protecting and conserving our native wildlife, habitat and cultural resources for current and future generations of Texans. My job is to take what I have learned from them, and share that with you. What could be better? ~ Cecilia Nasti
Each episode begins with an appropriate introduction lasting about 2 minutes. Ms. Nasti’s voice, the episode’s pace, and the accompanying sounds from music to effects, are all professional and pleasing. Post introduction begins with a UTS producer in a conversation with a person of expertise or interest about the subject. That person may be someone trained in the subject, a wildlife biologist for instance, or one who just enjoys whatever the subject may be, folks like you and me. The questions are, by design, both thought out in advance and spontaneous. Either way I like the conversational flow of the episode. About halfway through, Ms. Nasti reminds us once again that the podcast is sponsored by TPWD, gently urging the listener to check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). (A review upcoming from Wade Village.)
The episode continues in the same format, although the initial topic may vary or enhanced. Still, this is not a distraction from a very well done podcast for naturalists. You may download episodes from the UTS website or your favorite podcast store.
Under the Texas Sky – keeping Texas wild things and wild places vibrant.