Durango-based “Good Dirt Radio”
hits the airwaves
|The Good Dirt team,
from left, Tom Bartels, Ron Margolis, Jude Terry,
Nancy Jacques, Katrina Blair and Gary Lewin, gather
for a photo Tuesday evening at the Cosmix Sound studio
where the new public radio show is taped. The program’s
mission is to report
inspiring stories of individuals making a difference
through environmental stewardship./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
It may interrupt usual radio programming and cause temporary
confusion, but don’t worry, it’s good. Good
dirt that is.
A typical program may sound like this: “Welcome
to Good Dirt Radio, where innovative ideas take root.
I’m Tom Bartels and I’m Tami Graham.”
But listen further and you’ll see that Good Dirt
Radio is anything but typical; all news is good news:
“U.S. dependence on fossil fuels has become an environmental,
economic and political liability. And most of us believe
the problem is out of our hands. But sometimes people
take up the challenge to save the biosphere
in personal-sized increments. Such is the case with the
growing bio-diesel movement. Citizens are powering their
diesel cars, trucks and metro-buses with vegetable-based
oil. Some older diesel vehicles require upgraded rubber
fuel lines to handle biofuel, but most new diesels, by
design, handle the fuel beautifully...”
Gary Lewin, a Durango Realtor, founded Good Dirt Radio
as a nonprofit, five-minute news program. He said that
the inspiration for the show, which first aired on local
stations in March of this year, came from his own desire
to get involved.
“I was looking around in my world and was extremely
distressed,” Lewin said. “I had a recording
studio, Cosmix Sound, and wanted to produce a beneficial
Lewin shared his idea with friends and managed to build
a core board of five members and two announcers. The board
members’ skills range from writing, media experience
and law to environmental activism and organic gardening.
They all share in story writing and production planning
duties. Lewin said the board also came up with the name
“Good Dirt Radio,” which entails “Digging
up good dirt for a change.”
The program reports inspiring stories of individuals
making a difference through environmental stewardship.
Through such stories, the program hopes to provoke innovative
ideas and further a means of action for individuals, businesses
and communities to positively affect their immediate and
“The focus is to report on good news for a change,”
said Lewin. “There’s plenty of bad, but we
want to focus on the good. There are people out there
who are doing amazing things.”
|Gary Lewin, founder
of Good Dirt Radio, adjusts the sound board at the
studio Tuesday evening. The program first aired on
local public radio stations in March./ Photo by Todd
Good Dirt Radio thus far has produced four shows; the
most recent, “Nontoxic and Environmentally Friendly
Alternatives to Dealing With the West Nile Virus,”
aired on Wednesday, May 26.
“The stories stem from ethers,” said Nancy
Jacques, a Good Dirt Radio board member and professional
writer. “The stories may start out with a local
perspective, but tend to lead to a bigger picture.”
Other stories have covered topics such as nontoxic pest
control; biodiesel, the nontoxic, carbon-neutral alternative
to fossil fuel; and compact fluorescent bulbs. Future
story ideas include green building, voting with your dollars
and green hotels, which operate in an environmentally
“High Plains News was of a similar niche and was
an initial inspiration,” Jacques said. “The
intent of the program became to look for solutions.”
Host Tom Bartels agreed, saying, “A lot of people
get catatonic in light of current environmental degradation.
Such a program can take you out 4 of the paralysis by
showing what good is happening. We’re looking for
current answers that lead to future answers.”
Approximately 40 hours of research and studio work are
condensed into each concise, 5-minute segment. In addition
to the extensive work entailed in producing the show,
all Good Dirt Radio members hold full-time jobs.
“The show is 100 percent volunteer work and exists
because we feel that it should be done,” Bartels
Besides their work for the program, Good Dirt Radio board
members, like Katrina Blair, are able to offer first-hand
experience. Blair, founder of the Turtle Lake Refuge,
was able to share her personal transition to biodiesel
on one of the program’s shows.
“Turtle Lake had an ’84 diesel truck to which
I added an extra tank and fuel filter, and created a heat
exchange system,” Blair said. “Now I just
strain the vegetable oil and run it right from my tank.
Skinny’s Grill gives me 5 gallons of oil each week;
I have so much extra that I wish others would convert.”
Like the biodiesel story, stories may begin local but
have a broad view that can serve as inspiration to many
communities, Blair said.
The program currently airs on KSUT the last Wednesday
of every month, in the middle of “All Things Considered,”
and on KDUR bi-monthly. However, Good Dirt Radio soon
plans to take root nationally.
After the program completes six stories, an initial marketing
to Colorado public radio stations will begin, and six
months thereafter, a broad-spectrum marketing to all national
public stations is planned. Lewin says that approximately
1,100 U.S. public stations may choose to receive the program
free of charge, as its funding is sponsor-based.
“We don’t want to grow too fast,” said
Jacques. “We want to have the system down, a battery
of stories to count on and a large enough pool of writers
to draw from.”
With a national weekly story projection, Good Dirt Radio
hopes to gain the involvement of more writers.
“We’re looking for experienced environmental
writers who have the passion to become involved in a project
like this,” said Lewin. “Those interested
can look at our mission statement and writing parameters
located on our website, www.gooddirtradio.org.”
Good Dirt members such as Bartels welcome the prospect
of new writing talents.
“It would be fun to have more writers on board,”
said Bartels. “With more eyes, there’s the
option to introduce more variables at play.”
One positive feedback for the program, which host Tami
Graham refers to as “a breath of fresh air,”
may be evidence that environmental awareness and interest
are on the rise.
“There is a current groundswell in environmental
awareness, and it’s increasing,” said Lewin.
“Since doing this I’ve seen so many other
groups involved, from websites to environmental groups
and concerned citizens.”