Meet Ray Brown
What is the premise of your radio show, Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds?
It's spreading the word about bird watching and conservation, while having lots of fun doing it. We like to think that the show has something for everyone who's interested in birdsfrom backyard birders to folks who get out in the field several times a week. And we're thrilled to know that we're pleasing our listeners, like the lady who wrote in recently to say that we help her learn and make her laugh.
How long have you been a professional broadcaster?
I started back in the 1970s, but I'd rather not think about how long that's been.
What is a typical episode of Talkin' Birds like?
We do a five-minute "opening comments" segment that often includes reporting unusual bird sightings, reading some of the fascinating e-mails we receive from listeners, and talking about conservation issues in the news. Then we have some fun presenting our weekly Featured Feathered Friend, followed by our Mystery Bird Contest. After that, we answer listeners' e-mailed questions with help from Mike O'Connor of the Birdwatcher's General Store on Cape Cod. We also have guests on the showexperts who enlighten us about many of the fascinating aspects of birdlife, and we frequently air other brief features, including Science Corner, Birds in the News, and Amazing Bird Behavior.
What is the target audience for Talkin' Birds?
We think backyard bird watchers make up the bulk of our listenership, although we hear from birders on all levels. Our Mystery Bird Contest, through which we give away a Droll Yankees feeder each week, is sometimes won by an expert birder calling in when other folks are stumped.
How did you become interested in birds?
It was when a friend gave me a Golden Field Guide (Chandler/Zim) about 25 years ago. I'd previously had no real interest in birds, but I was just blown away when I saw the bewildering variety of species that could be seen right here in Massachusetts. And I happened to be living on Cape Cod at the time, so I realized I was in a great spot to see many of these marvelous creatures.
How did you decide to begin a program about birds and bird watching?
About 15 years ago, I was hosting a radio talk show in Boston, and one day the topic of birds and bird watching came up. Suddenly all the phone lines were lit, and we received more calls than we'd ever gotten on any other topic! That experience made me think that a radio program about bird watching could make sense. After putting the idea on the back burner for a few years, I convinced a station near Cape Cod (WATD) to give the show a try. It worked.
What topic or episode has been your favorite so far?
It's really hard to choose one, but I think of the time when one of our regular guestsDavid Clapp, then with Massachusetts Audubonwas on the air with us via cell phone as he was leading a bird walk. While David was describing the scene, a Cooper's hawk swooped down so close to his head that he yelled "Whoa!" and nearly dropped the phone. It was a little shockingand pretty funny.
What are your plans for Talkin' Birds in the future?
We've just begun offering the show to radio stations around New England, and we hope ultimately to have it carried on stations throughout the eastern half of the United States. Meanwhile, it's available to listeners everywhere now via live streaming and podcasts.
AM WROL (Boston) 550 AM WBZS (Providence) 95.9FM WATD (Southeast Mass.) 1180AM WCNX (Southern R.I.) 1450 AM WNBP (North Shore Mass.) 860 AM/94.1 FM (Western Mass.)