Mother Earth Living

"etown" Brings Sustainability to Radio Airwaves

Radio hosts bring sustainable lifestyle practices to the airways.
By Helen Forster
January/February 2004
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Photo by Lewis Geyer

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Making airwaves

Husband-and-wife team Nick and Helen Forster mix diverse music with an environmental message on their lively radio show, “etown.”

The message

The weekly hour-long “etown” show reaches listeners on more than 150 public and commercial stations nationwide. “We’re a vehicle for information and entertainment,” says Helen. “Instead of sermonizing about the environment, we let others tell their stories.”

Power of music

Thirteen years ago, while on tour in post-Soviet Eastern Europe with his Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Hot Rize, Nick was inspired by how concerts unite people. He decided a radio variety show could bring people together around issues affecting the environment and the health of communities.

Playin' our song

Rock, folk, jazz, world, country and bluegrass musicians visit “etown.” Guests have included Ani DiFranco, Arlo Guthrie, Barenaked Ladies, Beausoleil, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, David Crosby, Indigo Girls, Greg Brown, Loreena McKennett, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Michelle Shocked, Natalie Merchant, Randy Newman, Shawn Colvin and Willie Nelson.

Folks talkin'

Between tunes, Nick and Helen interview authors, scientists, policymakers, activists and other environmental thinkers, including Jimmy Carter, Jane Goodall, Julia Butterfly Hill and Ralph Nader. Each week, an “e-chievement” award is presented to an ordinary citizen who has done extraordinary things. One winner is Larry Warnberg, an ­oyster farmer who developed an organic method of raising the shellfish.

Back stage

“Etown” tapes before a live audience at the historic Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado. To find a local radio station that broadcasts the show, check

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