Sky darkens as wildfires loom ahead.
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Sky darkens as wildfires loom ahead.
Credit: Courtesy of Heather King

Wildfires Now Attack Damp Land: Preview Ashley Ahearn’s Podcast On NPR

This summer, Ashley Ahearn was invited to the other Washington to participate in NPR’s new storytelling lab. She and NPR’s Jeff Brady had two weeks to co-host and produce a podcast on national energy and environment issues.

“Ashley and Jeff set out to create a tone that was curious and fun and really succeeded – not an easy task when dealing with environmental stories, which can sometimes elicit an “eating your vegetables” reaction,” said Michael May, head of the NPR Storytelling Lab.

The podcast is designed to showcase NPR’s new national environmental reporting partnership, which will bring environment reporters from member stations around the country together with NPR to collaborate on coverage.

“'This Land” is a great example for how member stations and NPR can leverage their reporting around the environment and be able to link stories that are reported for a local audience to compare and contrast the ways that communities are dealing with specific issues,” May said.

The pilot episode focuses on wildfires and climate change, bringing listeners rich soundscapes from burning rainforests in the Northwest and melting Alaskan tundra, combined with a dip into the science.

Listen to the pilot episode of “This Land”:

“These are heavy topics but the goal is always to have fun with this,” said KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn. “I want to make a podcast that I actually want to listen to. I want to take people to new and interesting places and learn with my listeners.”

Each episode of “This Land” will take on a different topic - like population, energy exports, or ocean acidification - with an ear for the personal narratives that connect people with their environment. The pilot episode kicks off with a phone conversation between Ahearn and a close friend who lost her home in a wildfire.

“This Land” is about finding the human stories that illustrate our connection with the natural world, while providing a lens through which to explore broader issues of national and global importance, and we’ve got a team of reporters around the country ready to do that. It’s pretty exciting,” Ahearn said.