Introducing: On the Air, with Community Science Radio

Welcome to the first-ever iteration of this series that I’m calling On the Air, in which I’ll connect you, the internet audience, to happenings on KXSU’s airwaves. Every month I plan to highlight one of our unique radio programs broadcasted here at the station. In this edition, I’ll cover a show called Community Science Radio (CSR), produced by three terrific folks: hosts Chad Goodwin and Eli Voigt, and writer/director Kc Franks. You can listen to their show on Saturday mornings from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on 102.1 FM.

CSR started as an idea of Chad’s when it was announced that Seattle would be receiving a few public low-power FM stations in 2014 (KXSU is one of these). His vision for the project was, and continues to be, a quality piece of entertainment that makes scientific topics friendly (not intimidating), accessible, and engaging for members of the community. After some initial trial-and-error attempts at some programming, Chad and his friend Kc started production in earnest when Eli joined the team, and CSR grew from there. The three of them all bring unique background and experience to the team: Chad previously worked in engineering and studied nanotechnology, Eli has nine years of on-air experience with radio and now works in marketing communications at Seattle University, and Kc studied film and television and worked in local news. All three members worked in corporate radio at CBS in the early 2000s, where they met and became friends, and they share a passion for science and investigation, which is fitting for the type of program they produce.

CSR distinguishes itself from some of our other programming here at the station because it is not recorded in our studio, or recorded live at all. Chad, Eli, and Kc use a “podcast for broadcast” format (a term that Kc dislikes, but I found highly memorable), which allows them to add elements to CSR that you won’t hear on live shows, like numerous interviews, minute editing details (thanks to Chad), and soundscapes. When they aren’t recording in Chad’s home studio, they’ll usually record interviews with experts wherever they can be found, and then bring the audio back to edit into their one-hour time allotment.

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Eric Rivera, Eli, Chad and Kc in the kitchen

Of course, I knew none of this going into my talk with Eli, Chad, and Kc. After only some brief email correspondence with Eli a few weeks ago, I found myself on an hour-long bus ride headed towards Chad’s home in Ballard. I was going to sit in on their final recording session for their November episode, “The Science of Food,” and with zero background information, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know the name of the show I was observing, but Chad was nice enough to fill me in on the basics before Kc and Eli arrived. I didn’t have much time to talk to anyone before they quickly started recording, though I was able to observe how the three of them worked as a team.

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1,000-year-old eggs, hot pickled lemons and Zapp’s chips, all from their “The Science of Food” tasting.

They were recording introductions, transitions, and conclusions that day, which consist of small conversational bits that sandwich (ha) the food-related content of this episode, which consisted of interviews with chefs and one Professor Jackels of chemistry from Seattle University, as well as wine tastings and other endeavors that you can check out here. I would highly recommend visiting their website and giving it a listen, or at least a portion of it, because they do a very good job, and you’ll even get to hear my voice at the end (as we try cured duck eggsachaar, and cajun-flavored chips)!

From listening to the three friends record these small tidbits, I could really tell that they loved what they were doing. Eli and Chad are the chattier two, joking and laughing between recordings, and creating organic, flowing conversation (most of the time) on the mic. The way I saw it, Kc plays the role of a young kid supervising slightly younger kids; he still found them generally amusing, but couldn’t laugh because of his responsibility as director and manager of narrative. That metaphor isn’t to say that any of them were immature; they all just seemed youthful in the fun they were having. The fun and fulfillment in creating something like CSR for the community, Kc said, greatly outweighs its substantial time commitment, even though all three members have demanding work schedules (and families in the case of Chad and Eli) to begin with.

Chad, Eli, and Kc don’t get much tangible return on investment for their time and hard work put into CSR, but they find tremendous satisfaction in creating content that they can be proud of, and enriches the community. There are still opportunities for growth, however, as Chad mentioned to me, mostly in terms of community engagement. The team would love to have more community input on what topics CSR should cover—right now, they are considering the “Science of the Punch” (what leads to a punch, what does a punch feel like, represent, etc.) and the “Seattle Freeze” for future episodes, but they would love to hear what their listeners want to learn about.

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I offer special thanks to Chad, Eli, and Kc for giving me the opportunity to see their process and write about CSR here, and everyone at the radio who facilitated that meeting. Be sure to check out www.communityscienceradio.org to hear all eight episodes of CSR (recommended method), or tune into 102.1FM from 8:00–9:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Until next time!


JOSH GEST | Self-Described Food Expert | KXSU Radio Reporter

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