This article was originally published in the January/February 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1994




Energy Efficiency Rides the Radio Airwaves

The nation's public radio airwaves are spreading the message that efficient energy use can help consumers save dollars. Energy Matters--a series of 21/2-minute drive-time modules--tells radio listeners how to conserve energy at home and offers an objective perspective on new techniques and technologies.

The series features practical, everyday energy-saving ideas like using setback thermostats, retaining heat with curtains and shades, and the proper sizing of heating systems, providing listeners with a broad range of information to help them decide to choose energy efficiency. The Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation granted funding to National Public Radio affiliate WRVO-FM 90 in Oswego, New York, for the creation and production of the series.

Energy Matters typically airs twice a day, three days a week, over public radio stations in eight states. Niagara Mohawk senior marketing specialist Chris Finkle said, We believe that the audience reached by public radio is responsive to the message of strategic value of energy resources and the environmental impacts of energy use. We also realized that our utility outreach efforts were missing this segment of our customers. The typical public-radio listener is older, middle- to upper-income, well-educated and motivated. They may not, however, have the practical information necessary. Finkle said Energy Matters helps these listeners take individual actions, and influence others to understand and make better use of energy. We know this audience tends to think more globally, and this information helps them to take action on a local level. The program gets practical information into the hands of an audience comprised of opinion leaders, educators and business professionals who are likely to pass on the information to others.

Program producer Bob Hageny said the response has been very positive. We receive a number of calls that typically either ask for more information, or praise the show for its informative ability. Niagara Mohawk has had similar experience with feedback. Also, Finkle said that reactions from our customers and employees have been overwhelmingly positive.

Announcer John Hurlbutt, along with Hageny and Jim Clark, the technical advisor for the show, interview leading professionals and proponents of energy efficiency use including representatives from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Conservation and Renewable Energy Inquiry and Referral Service, the Florida Solar Energy Center, and the Alliance to Save Energy. Some of the topics covered in the first season's programs included: stack effect, building envelope, active solar heating, energy surveys, electric vehicles, mobile-home skirting, radiant barriers, and home energy rating systems.

Radio's unique ability to pique the listener's interest in a non-intrusive manner fosters a desire to learn more about the entire subject of energy use and how it affects the environment, specifically the home environment. The show is intended to increase consumers' ability to control energy usage in their lives and to enhance control over their health, safety, home affordability and comfort.

Now in the second year of production, the Energy Matters team is focusing on increasing the depth and quality of this year's 156 new shows. In our first year, we focused on breadth of topics and introducing the audience to the array of information about energy use. This season we hope to present more in-depth information, providing the listeners with practical information as well as continuing to keep them abreast of the latest technological advances, Hageny says.

Niagara Mohawk has committed to a second season of funding for the program. We hope to continue the relationship to increase the value of Energy Matters to all listeners, said Finkle. Hageny and the production team are reaching out to bring a diversified selection of segments to the listeners. Future production sites include the Rocky Mountain Institute and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

-- Jim Clark

Jim Clark is technical advisor for Energy Matters, produced by WRVO-FM 90 in Oswego, New York.



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