Wildfire Today on NPR

A few weeks ago I received a call from a producer for The Story, a program on National Public Radio hosted by Dick Gordon. The Story is created at North Carolina Public Radio, WUNC, and can be heard on about 130 radio stations. The producer said she had been reading Wildfire Today and asked me a lot of questions about my background and the web site. I realized later that the phone call was really an audition for the show, and at the end of the call she said they wanted to interview me for the program.

She asked if I lived in a big city where I could go in to a radio station and be interviewed by Mr. Gordon remotely. I explained that at that moment I was in Portugal doing some fire-related consulting work, but I could be available when I returned — and after I had a couple of days to recover from jet lag so I could sound, uh, awake. My little town in the United States has no radio stations, so she said they could arrange for an audio engineer to come to my home with a high-quality microphone and recording equipment.

I flew back to the United States a couple of days later. The next week the engineer arrived at my home with a microphone and a digital recorder. He held the mike in front of me at my dining room table while I talked to Mr. Gordon on my cell phone using a wired headset. After the interview the engineer emailed the audio file to WUNC in North Carolina where they did some editing magic, combining Mr. Gordon’s side of the interview which was recorded there, with mine recorded at my home, so it sounds like we were in the same radio studio.

Mr. Gordon got me to talk about refusing a fire assignment, managing fires rather than putting them out, the work I did recently in Portugal, air tankers, the state of the 2012 wildfire season, and he prompted me to tell some war stories from early in my career.

The interview aired on NPR September 19, 2012 as the second half of a 50-minute program. You can hear it HERE.

I realized later I made at least one error in the interview. I said the US Forest Service issued contracts for six “next generation” air tankers to begin over the next two years. They actually issued contracts for seven additional air tankers. (UPDATE May 20, 2013: protests were filed against the contracting procedure, and they were cancelled. As of this date, they still have not been awarded.)


We did another, shorter, interview with NPR back in July about air tankers.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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