Over the past twenty six years the two most frequently asked questions I get are, “Do you know Jack Hanna?” and “How do you ever come up with those stories for ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ every day?”
Naturally, there are a bunch of answers as to how somebody comes up with nearly 7000 daily radio programs. Early on, the program evolved out of the UC Biology classes I used to teach in the 70s and 80s. That, and I’ve always had a head full of trivia about wildlife and natural history. And besides, the principle role of a zoo is to tell the story of animals and the natural world, so ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ has always seemed like a good fit. As for pulling it off for so long, it’s become a bit like training for the Flying Pig Marathon. Running that much probably doesn’t really make sense, but once it becomes a habit, it’s just something you make time for and actually enjoy. The same thing’s true when coming up with daily shows for ‘The 90-Second Naturalist.’
Each Tuesday afternoon my producer, Rick Andress, and I record 5 programs down at Cincinnati Public Radio across from Music Hall. He then edits them and adds sound effects and sends them out, a month’s worth at a time, to the public radio stations that carry the show all around North America.
And yes, I get a fair amount of feedback from listeners far and wide. Whenever I mention wolves I can count on complaints from ranchers in Montana. And sometimes I even get disagreeable notes from marina owners in Florida when I mention manatees. And some folks think I talk about poop and mating too much, but hey, it’s a show about nature! So, somehow it all works out.
The all-time definitive statement on ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ was made my by youngest daughter years ago when she was in middle school. Someone had called the house and I could tell they must have mentioned the show and how amazing it was that I come up with such a quantity and variety of topics every day. My daughter innocently responded, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal. He tells the same story every day, but he changes the name of the animal so it sounds different!” And since pretty much everything in nature is a reflection of everything else, I guess that really is the secret to my success.