Betsy Rosenberg, Award-Winning National Broadcast Journalist and Green Media Trailblazer
Betsy Rosenberg is an award-winning national broadcast journalist and a green media trailblazer. With 25 years of radio news experience and a track record as a social visionary, popular environmental talk show host, and dedicated advocate for positive change, Betsy has earned the distinction of being a world-class, eco-journalism pioneer.
Betsy was the first mainstream commercial broadcaster to recognize the need to use mass media outlets to communicate the urgency and complexities of growing ecological challenges. From the outset, her mission has been to bring green content and consciousness into the daily programming mix, to make environmental issues and solutions just as important and engaging as other compelling news of the day.
Betsy has interviewed the top environmentalists of our time from science, politics, business, activism and the arts. You can hear her archived interviews with Al Gore, Dr. James Hansen, Mary Ellen Hannibal, David Suzuki and hundreds more by visiting the “broadcast” page at www.betsyrosenberg.com. This month on July 26 WEN will feature a conversation with Betsy Rosenberg at an event in San Francisco. Please join us and bring your questions for Betsy!
What made you so passionate about environmental issues?
When people ask me that question I laugh because it was one of my favorite questions to pose to radio guests. I loved that no two answers were ever the same, but the responses were always interesting, informative and illustrative of what we ALL ought to be more tuned into so we can show more love for our imperiled planet. For me, it was not the influence of family or anyone in particular. I like to say it was my “green gene” or an extra chromosome I must have inherited – the “W” gene for Waste Prevention Nut. I recall being bothered by food waste in the third grade, watching kids throw their uneaten lunches in the trash can. Go figure? My genetic condition only got worse from there!
Who, or what, inspired you to turn your preoccupation into your profession?
Fast forward 30 years later when I was working in news as a reporter and anchor for KCBS Radio in San Francisco. Recently married and a new mother, I grew weary of covering fires, floods, crime, corruption and saying “traffic and weather together, every ten minutes.” My husband urged me not to quit but rather to bring my “distaste for waste” to the airwaves by being the “Martha Stewart of Trash.” I began by producing radio features with one minute waste reduction news and tips called TrashTalk. This series aired nine times per week on a station that was heard from Oregon to Mexico. I was thrilled to be spreading my “green guilt trip” to thousands of listeners up and down the West Coast and did that for a decade!
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Over the past 20 years of doing green radio programs my focus shifted from garbage to global warming and from local radio to national coverage. My one hour interview show, EcoTalk, was heard in 40 markets across the country on Air America. The first of its kind program featuring “environmental news and views” was so popular that the show went from a weekly format, initially debuting in the middle of the night on weekends, to five days a week in “primetime.” I found my true passion in interviewing environmental leaders of all types, from the famous to the unknown.
What challenges and opportunities do the media face in the environmental movement today?
For the past few years I have been trying to break through what I call the “green ceiling” in television to add the visual element to reporting the stories of our changing environment. I say the green ceiling is twice as thick as the glass ceiling because there are women in television news, but where are the environment-themed content, news, or specialty reporters? It’s time for a green show on a mainstream news network that is focused on solutions – how else can American adults learn about all these threats? There are some great books, films and the occasional TV special about climate change but that’s not enough, especially since they’re read/seen most often by environmentalists! So 20 years after I launched my green radio minutes, I decided to shoot for the moon (to save the earth) and start at the top with CNN. I just sent the world’s biggest news network a six episode proposal for an environment-themed series and hope to have some (good) news to report soon. I look forward to seeing you on July 26th at WEN!