The 90-Second Naturalist Never Runs Out of Stories

Thane Maynard
The 90-Second Naturalist photo by Michael Wilson

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.’

Thane Maynard
The 90-Second Naturalist with animal friends – photo by Michael Wilson

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.