Monday, December 6, 2010

‘This Close’ To Being on NPR’s Science Friday Program

Getting on a national call-in show is problematic, since the audience could be in the millions. But we had our chance during last Friday's Science Friday program produced by National Public Radio.

One of the guests was Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (at right). Host Ira Flatow’s website said the show would “talk about efforts to increase efficiency and move to greener energy sources within the armed forces.”

What an opportunity to talk ocean thermal energy conversion – and with the SecNav no less! The Navy has invested in OTEC development, and if nothing else, we could thank the Secretary and urge even more Navy support for this game-changing energy technology.

So we called the show’s number and were surprised to hear not a busy signal but a ring, and even more surprised when the call was answered. The person on the other end asked for name, location and what we wanted to discuss. “Turn off your radio and wait until you hear Ira say, 'Doug in Honolulu,’ and you’ll be on the air.”

This really was going to happen! And so began our wait to talk OTEC with a policy maker at the top level of the Navy's chain of command. We’d open with a brief description of Hawaii as the state more vulnerable than any other to oil supply disruptions and price increases. We would tell the audience that Hawaii's average price of retail electricity is about three times the national average, a condition that affects the Navy and all military branches.

Then we’d get into OTEC and thank the Secretary for the Navy’s support of Lockheed Martin’s efforts and engage him and host Flatow in a discussion on OTEC’s vast potential.

So we waited…and waited…and waited some more, and after nearly 25 minutes, we could tell Flatow was starting to wrap up the show. Sure enough, he uttered the dreaded words, “We’ve run out of time” without taking a single call. Oh, man….

You hardly ever come this close to talking with someone this senior about anything, let alone something as important to Hawaii, nation and world as OTEC.

But those are the breaks. We’ll have to have a more compelling description of what we want to talk about for the telephone answerer the next time we get “this close.”

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