KQED’s Multimedia Science Series QUEST Shakes Up its Fall Line-up with New Stories from Partner Public Broadcasting Stations

-- QUEST Television Earthquake Special includes Megathrust Earthquake story from KCTS-Seattle;  KQED episode airs September 21 --

-- QUEST Radio Series “Coal at the Crossroads” includes reports from WHYY-Philadelphia, WCPN-Ohio, and NET-Nebraska; KQED report airs September 26 --

San Francisco, September 7, 2011 — QUEST, KQED’s award-winning, multimedia science and environment series, is expanding its coverage beyond the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time with new stories through its partnership with other public broadcasting stations across the nation.  On September 21, QUEST television will air a 30-minute special about earthquakes with a segment from its partner station in Washington on megathrust earthquakes–the kind that devastated Japan earlier this year and threatens America’s West Coast.  Also, on September 26, QUEST radio will air “Coal at the Crossroads,” a four-part series with reports from three NPR partner stations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Nebraska.   

For the past four months, QUEST has been experimenting in the co-production of multimedia stories and educational materials with partner public broadcasting stations.  Through a nearly $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the QUEST series now has the opportunity to expand nationally and pilot a new way of science coverage for public broadcasting, where several stations create content together, with editorial oversight by QUEST staff in San Francisco.

“We are very excited about the new stories coming out of our partner stations and the breadth of coverage our local audiences will be exposed to,” said QUEST’s Executive Producer Sue Ellen McCann.  “We’ve come a long way in four short months.”

David Feingold, Assistant General Manager of Content for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, added, “We’re very happy to work with KQED and our colleagues across the country to build on QUEST’s success. Scientific research and discovery take place every day, everywhere in the U.S.  So, it’s been very satisfying for the QUEST Nebraska team to bring our expertise about the Great Plains to this expanding partnership of public media organizations, and to our viewers, listeners, and readers.”

QUEST partner stations have produced 13 media pieces to date, including videos, radio reports, slideshows and educational materials on stories ranging from orcas and horseshoe crabs to bioplastics and changes in recycling trends due to the difficult economy.  QUEST also has redesigned its website (kqed.org/quest) to better showcase content from partner stations and its robust Bay Area science and environment story collections. Highlights for this fall include: 


QUEST Television – Earthquake Special – September 21, airing at 7:30pm on KQED 9

QUEST presents three different stories about one of the most feared and least understood natural disasters — earthquakes!

  • QUEST Northern California (KQED) investigates induced seismicity, in other words, how people can cause earthquakes, then visits a UC Berkeley shake table used by engineers to design safer structures.
  • QUEST Northwest (KCTS) explores the most dangerous type of earthquake facing the West Coast: megathrust earthquakes. 

QUEST Radio – “Coal at the Crossroads” – September 26, airing at 6:30am & 8:30am on KQED 88.5 FM.  Partner reports air in local markets and online at kqed.org/quest in September.

QUEST investigates coal in America, the most plentiful, yet dirtiest fossil fuel. It generates half of all electricity nationwide—far more than any other resource—with reserves projected to last more than 240 years. Yet, with mounting new regulations and health concerns, is America starting to turn against coal the way it slowly turned against tobacco? Find out through four different reports.

  • QUEST Northern California (KQED) – California’s largest city, Los Angeles, still generates 40 percent of its electricity from coal power, nearly all of it imported from outside the state. QUEST finds out if Hollywood can keep the lights on if it turns off the switch on cheap, plentiful coal. (airing September 19 at 6:30am and 8:30am on KQED 88.5 FM)
  • QUEST Philadelphia (WHYY) – It's become fashionable to hate coal, especially in big cities. But how do coal miners and the companies who employ them feel? QUEST visits a major coal-producing town in western Pennsylvania.
  • QUEST Ohio (WCPN) – Chief among the strategies for producing “clean coal” is building carbon sequestration plants, where carbon from burning coal is pumped underground. But no sequestration plants are in operation in the United States and a major project just failed. QUEST finds out why.
  • QUEST Nebraska (NET) – Sixty percent of Nebraska’s electricity comes from coal, keeping utility prices among the lowest in the country. But what will it cost to meet new rules from the EPA?  QUEST talks with plant owners and environmental groups to find out if coal-fired power plants can be retrofitted or if they will have to be closed. And, if electricity bills go up, will the price be worth it?

San Francisco Bay Area Coverage

QUEST will also continue its multimedia coverage of Bay Area science and environment issues during its fifth season with new radio reports and television episodes this fall.

  • Listen to radio reports Mondays at 6:30am and 8:30am on KQED 88.5 FM San Francisco and 89.3 FM Sacramento.
  • Watch television episodes Wednesdays at 7:30pm on KQED 9. Coming up are new stories on sports concussions and whale photography on September 7; airborne wind energy and the effects of ocean acidification on sea urchins on September 14; and marine protected areas and fire research on September 28.  


Launched in February 2007, QUEST is KQED’s largest multimedia project to date. Since its inception four years ago, QUEST has reached approximately 36 million viewers and listeners through its traditional television and radio broadcasts and its growing Web audience.

QUEST’s ultimate aim is to raise science literacy throughout the Bay Area and beyond, inspiring audiences to discover and explore the latest science and environmental news, trends, and issues. The project’s multimedia science reporting model includes a weekly television broadcast, weekly radio reports, free educator resources, and a dynamic website that includes a Web-only series Science on the SPOT. It also features a daily science blog written by Northern California scientists, Flickr photos, and local science hikesQUEST also works closely with 17 community partners, not only on story idea collaborations and events, but also on media training, including new Web strategies.

Now, in its fifth season, KQED’s QUEST, is working closely with six partner public broadcasting stations to expand its multimedia science reporting model nationally.  QUEST partner stations include: QUEST Nebraska (NET), QUEST North Carolina (UNC-TV), QUEST Northwest (KCTS), QUEST Philadelphia (WHYY), QUEST Ohio (WVIZ, WCPN, ideastream), and QUEST Wisconsin (WPT, WPR, ICS, ECB).

In addition to support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, major funding for QUEST is provided by the National Science Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the George and Jeanette Stuart Charitable Trust. 

About KQED

KQED (kqed.org) has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS. KQED owns and operates public television stations KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area), KQED Plus (San Jose/Bay Area), and KQET 25 (Watsonville/Monterey); KQED Public Radio (88.5FM San Francisco and 89.3FM Sacramento); the interactive platforms kqed.org and KQEDnews.org; and KQED Education. KQED Public Television, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations, is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; This Week in Northern California; Truly CA; and Essential Pépin.  KQED's digital television channels include 9HD, KQED Life, KQED World, KQED Kids, and KQED V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast.  KQED Public Radio, home of Forum with Michael Krasny and The California Report, is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service delivering more than eighteen local newscasts daily.  KQED Interactive provides KQED’s cross-platform news service, KQEDnews.org, as well as offers several popular local blogs, video and audio podcasts, and a live radio stream at kqed.org. KQED Education brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents, and the general public through workshops, community screenings, and multimedia resources.


Media Contact: Sevda Eris