Science news often falls into the trap of becoming “infotainment” designed to generate ratings, and little else. As one essayist in The Guardian recently put it, “freaky copulation techniques in the animal kingdom,” heart-warming tales of miracle cures for kids, or creepy sci-fi robots are often what pass for science news when so many media outlets are struggling to survive in the digital age.
As anyone who works in science knows, these stories bear little resemblance to the truly fascinating work that many committed science writers seek to explain every day.
That’s why I’m jazzed about an opportunity I’ve been given this morning to be a guest on KUOW 94.9 FM, the highly regarded NPR affiliate in Seattle. The radio station is trying out what it envisions as a regular 15-minute segment on science news during the “Weekday” show hosted by Marcie Sillman at 9 am.
The folks at KUOW recognize there are a lot of great science stories here in the Northwest, and nationally, that often don’t get the coverage they deserve. So they’ve put together a rotating cast of Seattle-based science writers—Alan Boyle of NBC News Digital, freelancer Sally James, and myself—to make regular appearances on “Weekday” to talk about what’s new in science.
James made the first appearance on the show last Friday. She talked about the latest pandemic flu concerns from Asia, the potential impact of federal budget cuts on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and a science crowdfunding initiative led by a local high school girl. If you missed it, you can go to the KUOW Weekday archives here. James’ segment starts at about 19 minutes into the show.
I’m planning to discuss some recent stories about cancer immunotherapies, genomic diagnostic tests, and new screening tests that can accurately spot Down syndrome in a fetus based on a simple blood draw from the mom in the first trimester. All of these technologies have shown promise to improve healthcare, but each advancement also presents a host of economic and ethical challenges that our broader society needs to wrestle with.
I’m sure a lot of regular Xconomy readers already listen to KUOW, but I hope these stories will appeal to you, and also resonate with a broader group of radio listeners around the Northwest. If you like what you hear on the show, and think it beats the usual “infotainment,” please let the folks know at email@example.com.
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