Tune in Weekly: Willapa Nature Notes

August 2016 - Friends Forward

The candyflower is an edible plant and important source of Vitamin C.
Photo: National Park Service/Wikimedia

The anise swallowtail butterfly is easy to find on Willapa Refuge, WA. Its caterpillars feed on dill, parsley and fennel, also called wild anise.
Photo: NatureShutterbug/Wikimedia

What might publicize your refuge, engage the community, offer some environmental education and provide a team project for your Friends members?

Answer: Radio.

Willapa Nature Notes, a two-minute radio program produced by the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington, has aired weekly since May on KMUN, a Coast Community Radio station that serves parts of Washington and Oregon.

The show was the brainchild of Bob Duke, a freelance writer and Friends board member, who heard a National Public Radio program called “BirdNote” and thought “wouldn’t it be neat to have something that represented wildlife of our area, especially from the refuge itself.”

With the eager participation of Willapa Refuge manager Jackie Ferrier and Friends president Kathy Freitas, a Friends writing team of varied expertise was gathered: birder Madeline Kalbach, botanist Kathleen Sayce and geologist Brian Atwater.

Duke produces each show in the KMUN studio with narrator Kitt Fleming, a Friend who is also a local storyteller. Bird sounds have been collected by Kalbach, including a Pacific wren that is heard at the beginning of each piece. Duke does the final editing and cutting at home with Audition software, which he learned how to use just for this project. Each program has a specific focus: swallowtail butterflies, candyflower, amphibians, snowy plover and more.

“It’s awesome!” says Susan Boac, development director at Coast Community Radio. “The more community members involved, the better.”

The program has received sporadic feedback so far. “We had a booth at a local garlic festival,” said Freitas, “and one woman came by and said she had heard it and was more interested in the refuge because of it. It certainly encompasses all our Friends goals of communication, outreach, environmental education and increasing membership.”

Ferrier has seen new “likes” on the refuge Facebook page since the series began. In addition, she expects the radio programs to increase knowledge and understanding about what the refuge and the Refuge System are all about. “It’s connecting people with the refuge and what we have to offer.”

Tips for Initiating a Friends Radio Program or Podcast

  • Duke recommends getting to know your local media. There may be a community radio station like KMUN. Sometimes local governments operate their own radio or cable television programs.
  • Kalbach writes a weekly article for the local newspaper in addition to her radio pieces. “It’s good to have multiple sources pointing to the same thing,” says Duke.
  • “Mine your members for the experts among you,” says Freitas. “It takes a village,” adds Ferrier. “Everybody can have a piece of this – the technology, the biology, the writing and voicing. Then it’s manageable.”