Award Winners

2015

Radio

Gold

"What the Songbird Said" - 11 May 2015

BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service

 

Rami Tzabar and Angela Saini of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) won for radio reporting that explored how animal models of vocal communication may be useful in understanding how human language might have evolved. "Just like the birdsongs they report on, the BBC team produced a program that is both a delight to the ears and elegantly structured," said Seth Borenstein, a science reporter for the Associated Press, who helped judge the competition.

Vocal learning — the ability to learn and imitate sounds — is a trait humans share with only a few other...Read more

Silver

"Climate change in Minnesota: More heat, more big storms" - 2 Feb. 2015

"A forest dilemma: What will grow in a changing climate?" - 3 Feb. 2015

"As state warms, a few spots keep their cool" - 3 Feb. 2015

Minnesota Public Radio

 

Dan Kraker and Elizabeth Dunbar of Minnesota Public Radio described the current and likely effects of climate change in their home state, particularly on the changing makeup of the northern forests. They noted the changes already occurring in Minnesota's climate, with warmer temperatures on average, especially in winter, and bigger downpours of rain. Red maple trees, which tolerate warmer temperatures, are moving northward. Cold-tolerant pine trees are dying out. While managers of Minnesota's forests know their world is changing, they disagree on how urgently new...Read more

2014

Radio

"Staying Healthy May Mean Learning To Love Our Microbiomes" - 22 July 2013

"From Birth, Our Microbes Become As Personal As A Fingerprint" - 9 Sept. 2013

"Getting Your Microbes Analyzed Raises Big Privacy Issues" - 4 Nov. 2013

NPR

 

As part of his continuing reporting on the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that we all harbor, Rob Stein told his listeners about the positive benefits we can derive from our microbiome, the distinctly personal nature of our microbial ecosystems, and the privacy issues that loom now that individuals can readily and inexpensively get their microbes analyzed. One of the pieces included an imaginary bus tour through the microscopic world of the body. Judge Marc Kaufman, a science writer for The Washington Post and other publications, called...Read more

2013

Radio

"As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge" - 9 July 2012

"Black-Lung Rule Loopholes Leave Miners Vulnerable" - 10 July 2012

NPR and The Center for Public Integrity

 

In a joint investigation by Sandra Bartlett, Howard Berkes and Andrea de Leon of NPR and Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Berkes looked at the resurgence of black lung disease among coal miners, particularly in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. He described how the disease is afflicting younger miners and advancing more quickly to the worst stage of the disease. The two-part series discussed how existing regulatory limits on coal dust are inadequate to protect miners from the increasing levels of silicon dioxide being released as more powerful...Read more

Certificate of Merit

“Coal in the Pacific Northwest” - 11 March, 12 March and 18 June 2013

KUOW Public Radio (Seattle)

 

The radio judging committee also recognized Ashley Ahearn of KUOW Public Radio in Seattle for a three-part series on coal in the Pacific Northwest (11 March, 12 March, and 18 June 2013). Energy companies have been assessing several sites for ship terminals in Washington and Oregon where coal could be transferred from trains arriving from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming. "The prospect of exporting millions of tons of coal through the Northwest is, and will continue to be, the most important story on my beat." Ahearn said. "My goal in this series...Read more

2012

Radio

"Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima" - 11 Mar. 2012

SoundVision Productions for American Public Media

 

The program, part of a series called “BURN: An Energy Journal,” was a one-year anniversary special examining the future of nuclear power after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. It featured an interview with an American nuclear technician who was working inside the plant when the tsunami and earthquake struck. It also included tape recordings from inside the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Emergency Operations Center as officials struggled to shape America’s response to the Fukushima disaster. Seth Borenstein, a science reporter for the Associated...Read more

2011

Radio

"Clever Apes" - Series 1 - 26 July 2010

"Clever Apes" - Series 2 - 24 Nov. 2010

"Clever Apes" - Series 3 - 24 May 2011

WBEZ (Chicago)

 

Spitzer and De Bonis won for several segments in the ongoing “Clever Apes” series on WBEZ public radio. The series tells the stories of Chicago-area researchers and some of the intriguing questions they are out to answer. The winning segments dealt with pain research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Medical School; work by a Field Museum scientist in search of an elusive monkey in Tanzania that turned out to be part of an entirely new genus; the theory of a Northwestern University engineer on the origin of consciousness; tales of how...Read more

2010

Radio

"Follow the Science: Calculating the Amount of Oil and Gas in the Gulf Oil Spill" - 14 May, 20 May, 28 May 2010

NPR

 

Richard Harris, a science correspondent for NPR, won the radio award, along with editor Alison Richards, for a series that challenged the initial estimates on the size of the devastating Gulf oil spill.

“To get this story, I found several scientists who were willing to drop what they were doing and take up the challenge I presented them,” Harris said. “With the able help of my editor, we quickly put this information out to the public. Though we initially met with resistance, facts are stubborn things, and ultimately the analysis was proven correct.” Harris won the...Read more

Certificate of Merit

The judges also gave a “Certificate of Merit” to Gabriel Spitzer of WBEZ in Chicago for a 10 September 2009 report on how music can rewire the brain. They praised his use of radio’s story-telling capabilities. John Carey, a freelancer and a former senior correspondent for BusinessWeek, noted Spitzer’s “great use of the medium of radio, with sounds that really did paint a picture.”...Read more

2009

Radio

"A Very Lucky Wind" - 15 June 2009

WNYC Radiolab

 

Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler and Robert Krulwich of WNYC’s Radiolab won the radio prize for a story about what happened when an English girl released a balloon with a label, “Please send back to Laura Buxton.” In the south of England, the balloon landed near the home of another Laura Buxton. What to make of the startling coincidence?

“This is a tale about miracles which, on closer examination, are not quite as miraculous as they seem,” Krulwich said. “Ordinarily an anti-miracle story sounds like a downer but in this case, by mixing girls, grandpas, balloons, statistics...Read more

2008

Radio

2007

Radio

"The Electric Brain" - 8-11 Jan. 2007

KPLU-FM Seattle/Tacoma

 

In a thematic series, Keith Seinfeld of KPLU-FM in Seattle/Tacoma described the electrical properties of the human brain and how scientists are finding new ways to use those properties to treat diseases and injuries. The judges were impressed by his clear, concise language and great use of sound in telling about important research in neuroscience. “While a drill whines in the background, cutting a hole in the top of a patient’s skull, Keith Seinfeld carries his listeners into the story,” said Jeff Nesmith, a Washington-based science writer for Cox Newspapers. “This kind of...Read more

2006

Radio

"Living on Earth" Series One- "Some Like it Hot…” - 30 Sept. 2005

"Living on Earth" Series Two- "Cold Fusion: A Heated History” - 30 Sept. 2005

"Living on Earth" Series Three - “Pebble Bed Technology—Nuclear Promise or Peril?” - 30 Sept. 2005

Public Radio International's "Living on Earth" program took a clear-headed look at the ongoing efforts to understand and tame nuclear fusion, a field in which overly optimistic projections have led some critics to joke that fusion is the energy source for the future and always will be. Kathy Sawyer, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, called the winning program “a well-produced overview that not only informs listeners about the science, but also about the process of learning the science, with all its uncertainties and...Read more

2005

Radio

"Seeking Answers to Dolphin Death Mystery" - 21 Mar. 2005

National Public Radio

 

Nielsen took listeners on a hunt for clues on why 65 dolphins stranded themselves in a mangrove swamp near the town of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Many of the animals died. As marine scientists were cutting up the dolphin carcasses, Nielsen was on the scene, providing his audience a graphic experience in hands-on research as well as an intriguing description of the matriarchal dolphin society that may have triggered the stranding event.

Dan Vergano of USA Today called the segment “a beautifully executed piece, with great use of on-the-scene sounds and very...Read more

2004

Radio

2003

Radio

"Experiment Attempts to Detect Gravity Waves" - 16 Sept. 2002

National Public Radio