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Radio program is focused on technology
[May 09, 2006]

Radio program is focused on technology

(Daily Oklahoman, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) May 9--In a quiet corner of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park Conference Center, three men shared a conversation that centered on nanotechnology while a whirlwind of activity swirled in the foyer outside.

Oklahoma Innovations, a weekly radio show produced by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology was on the air.

Co-hosts Steve Paris and Gary Owen interviewed Charles Seeney, chief executive officer of Edmond-based NanoBioMagnetics, as scientists showcased their OCAST-funded research during recent annual the Oklahoma Health Research conference.

The radio program celebrated its 10th anniversary in April of showcasing the state's researcher, entrepreneurs and even politicians in talk-show format broadcast on a nine-station network and the World Wide Web.

"We've had a good run with it," said Paris, a spokesman for the state's science-based economic development agency. "We've taken it all over the state. We've had it in Northeastern Oklahoma, down in Lawton, wherever we need to go, where an event is going on that doesn't lend it self to a studio situation."

Innovations was launched in April 1996 on Oklahoma radio station WKY. It moved to KTOK 1000 a few months later and has been there since. The show expanded to Tulsa's KRMG and then to KCCU at Cameron University, which led to a seven-station deal that put the show on stations throughout the southwest part of the state and in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The low-budget format means the show appears on the early morning schedule of the network stations. Despite a 5 or 6 a.m. start on most stations, the goal remains to promote both the agency and Oklahoma's scientific innovators to a statewide audience, Paris said.

"As time goes on it gets easier and easier to find people to go on to the radio show," Paris said. "When we first started, before anybody knew we were out there, we kind of had to beg and ask people if they wanted to be on the radio, and whey would say ‘what radio?'

"Now we have people calling up and saying ‘hey, there has been a change in my technology, or we are going in a different direction or we got some new funding, would it be time for me to come on and talk about it?'"

Most Oklahoma Innovations shows are recorded at the KTOK studios at 50 Penn Place. Debbie Cox with OCAST serves as the shows producer, lining up guests for the four-segment, one-hour broadcast. The show expanded to the Internet about three years ago, providing potential listeners worldwide the opportunity to hear each broadcast at their own schedule.

When events such as the Governor's Conference on Manufacturing or the Oklahoma Research Conference offer a timely broadcast opportunity, Oklahoma Innovations hits the road. That's what brought Paris, Owen and Seeney together in a room at the Research Park Conference Center to record a segment of the show.

"Entrepreneurs have so few ways of getting their word out to the public, and to be highlighted on a show like that is terrific," Seeney said. "I think it's one of the best things that OCAST does from my point of view. Not only does it reach the venture capital people, it reaches the everyday people who are interested in science."

Ken Nixon of Oklahoma City-based Caregiver Technologies has been a guest multiple times on Oklahoma Innovations.

He said he's not sure how many Oklahomans are listening, given the early morning broadcasts, but adding Internet access brings a potentially new audience, he said.

"The neat thing is people can go to their Web site and pull it off and listen to it," Nixon said.

As Oklahoma Innovations begins its second decade, Paris said its producers have set new goals. They want it broadcast in every geographic area of the state that it is not heard: the Panhandle and along the Red River in the Southwest corner of the state.

"We would like to get those areas covered," Paris said. "We're not exactly sure how we are going to accomplish that. It is real easy to overlook the Panhandle because of the geography. I think we err if we inadvertently or otherwise disenfranchise that part of Oklahoma; they are part of Oklahoma and an important part."

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