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Passport Radio Series Reaches Record Audience
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s signature radio series Passport to Texas, brings the state’s vast outdoor world to listeners from El Paso to Nacogdoches—and seems to be everywhere in between.
The radio program that began in 1996 broadcasting on 50 radio stations is now heard on more than 100 stations and this year reached a record high of about 750,000 listeners each week, according to a 2004 audience audit by MQ&C Advertising of Austin.
With its trademark guitar intro music, insightful interviews and writing by Executive Producer Cecilia Nasti and Writer/Producer Lisa Wheeler, and the well-known voice of host Joel Block, each 90-second weekday episode of Passport to Texas covers cultural or natural resources. Topics include state parks, wildlife management areas, historic sites, hunting, fishing, environmental issues and travel tips. Block, who is internationally known as the voice of the Earth and Sky radio series, voices half of the episodes each year. In a new development this season, Nasti now hosts the other half.
The radio series, which is produced as a public service by the department, is made possible by financial support from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program and Anheuser-Busch. Because of these sponsorships, TPWD is able to distribute the radio program free throughout Texas.
"We view our series partly as an educational venue to help people understand nature and the outdoors," said Cecilia Nasti, Passport to Texas executive producer. "But it’s also an enjoyable and entertaining way to bring the outdoors indoors."
The program airs 132 times per day across the Lone Star State, usually during morning and afternoon drive times.
"When you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, we try to bring in a little fresh air and open space," Nasti said. "We can’t actually get you out of gridlock physically, but hopefully we can transport you mentally to places with green grass and blue sky through sounds and words, if only for a little while."
The program highlights numerous topics ranging from wildlife conservation efforts and state park recreational opportunities, to special issues such as habitat loss and endangered species.
The radio program’s producers have plans to expand the show through targeted projects on natural resources and the state’s cultural heritage. A series of episodes planned for the remainder of this year and next will focus on the value of wetlands, rivers, springs and groundwater, coastal estuaries and other water resources that sustain all life in Texas. A new series called "Telling Texas Tales," still in the planning stages, will offer stories of everyday Texans in their own words detailing their love of and experiences in the outdoors.
Complete information about the radio series, including a list of affiliate stations across the state and an archive containing past episodes saved as audio files, is on the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/). Anyone can also sign up to receive a monthly e-newsletter online or send e-mail to email@example.com to inquire about sponsorship or affiliate opportunities or ask questions about radio episodes.
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