UW News

September 22, 2020

UW Podcasts: ‘Coastal Café’ explores marine, shoreline issues — and ‘Voices Unbound’ on racism in COVID-19 responses

UW News

Unlike other podcasts being produced at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant’s “Coastal Café,” which dives into shoreline and marine issues, was first — and remains — a radio show.

UW Notebook, encouraged by the overlap between radio and podcasting, talked with the co-hosts of this prolific show with almost two dozen produced episodes so far. Also, below, EarthLab’s podcast “Voices Unbound” releases a new season of timely topics.

“Coastal Café” is a joint production of Washington Sea Grant and the College of the Environment. Its 23 episodes and counting explore “cutting-edge marine science and related topics with researchers, policy experts and people who live and work on the Washington coast.” The show is broadcast every Wednesday at 5:10 p.m. on KPTZ, 91.9 FM out of Port Townsend.

The podcast/radio show is co-hosted by MaryAnn Wagner, Washington Sea Grant’s assistant director for communications; and Aaron Barnett, its boating program specialist. Both have past radio experience: Wagner with Seattle’s Classic KING FM and Barnett with a public radio station in Alaska.

UW Notebook podcast roundups:

English Department discusses coronavirus, ‘politics of care’ in ‘Literature, Language, Culture’ podcasts, videos — plus Devin Naar of Sephardic Studies interviewed on two podcasts
Sept. 9, 2020. Read more.

EarthLab, Canadian Studies, Nancy Bell Evans Center, UW Bothell — and a book featured in Times Literary Supplement podcast
June 24, 2020. Read more.

‘Crossing North’ by Scandinavian Studies — also College of Education, Information School’s Joe Janes, a discussion of soil health
April 1, 2020. Read more.

UW Tacoma, architecture, science papers explained
Feb. 18, 2020. Read more.

The two say they modeled the program after a Maine Sea Grant radio show called “Coastal Conversations.” They approached Port Townsend radio station KPTZ with the idea for a show and the selection of marine-related topics appealed to the station, whose listeners include many in the maritime industry.

What is the audience for ‘Coastal Café’?  

Aaron Barnett: The content is eclectic with a focus on Washington state but with national relevance. The audience we try to reach is composed of coastal stakeholders — vessel operators, marine trades, coastal homeowners, you name it.  The show was also syndicated on Radio Free America for a year until they folded this summer. 

MaryAnn Wagner

MaryAnn Wagner: Really, anyone who has an interest in what is happening in the Pacific Ocean or Salish Sea, and along those shorelines would be interested in our show topics, including anyone interested in learning about the latest news in marine science and policy, or even just fishing and boating.

What episode might be the best for a newcomer to listen to first? 

A.B.: That depends on what they are interested in. For example, if a newcomer is interested in the arts, we did a piece with glass artist Preston Singletary, whose band Khu eex provides music for the show. We have many science-focused episodes, with most of those based at the UW. And we have a couple of shows focused on recreational boating and the commercial fishing industry.

M.W.: Aaron recently did an on-location show about aboard a U. S. Coast Guard Lifeboat, and we did a show on UW tsunami research in the Pacific Northwest — and another on abandoned and derelict boats and what to do about them. Coming up is a show for recreational boaters and beachgoers on how to help reduce marine debris, such as plastics and other garbage.

You are recording new episodes — what are the challenges of keeping the podcast going during the coronavirus shutdown?

Aaron Barnett

A.B.: The biggest challenge we have faced during shutdown is finding a way to record good sound quality outside of the production and recording studio, since no one is allowed to tape in the station. We have experimented with different phone and internet platforms and think we have something that works now. However, good sound quality still hinges on good connection with the interviewee’s phone signal, which these days is usually from a cell phone.

M.W.: And cell phones are not always reliable! I really miss being in the studio setting with the interviewee sitting across the table with all the equipment.  But that has not stopped us. Aaron and our excellent producer Jared DuFresne of KPTZ have experimented with a number of variations for taping the show remotely, and as Aaron said, they have found a good technical combination. The show must go on, and so it has.

We have found over the past two years that the number of marine topics we could report upon is endless. For example, there is so much research happening at the UW on marine and related environmental issues, that we could do multiple shows focused on UW projects alone.

I should add that we are always open to ideas from our listeners. So, please send us your ideas.

* * *

EarthLab’s ‘Voices Unbound’ second season talks of social tensions from COVID-19

Voices Unbound: Enviro-Amplify” is a podcast created by EarthLab and UW Tacoma, and hosted by Robin Evans-Agnew associate professor in the school’s Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Program. The podcast has now published its second season.

“In this series opener we go way-deep into the social tensions of our time,” show notes say, “discussing how racism in law enforcement and governmental responses to the COVID-19 epidemic contribute important environmental threats to communities in our region and elsewhere.”

The podcast also will continue to report on its analysis of answers to questions posed since 2019 about public attitudes toward environmental challenges.

Principal investigators for the work are Evans-Agnew and Christopher Schell, urban ecologist and assistant professor in UW Tacoma’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.

Read an earlier UW Notebook story about this podcast. For more information, contact Evans-Agnew at robagnew@uw.edu.