Writing Science for Radio

December 1, 2015
Kasey Cheydleur, Chloe Vassot
Angus Chen ’13 posed while reporting for WNYC Public Radio
Angus Chen ’13 (left) while reporting for WNYC Public Radio before he began working with NPR. Photo credit: Angus Chen

As an environmental studies and creative writing major at Oberlin, Angus Chen ’13 initially resisted taking science classes. But a class with Professor of Geology Bruce Simonson changed his entire outlook.

In Simonson’s class, Chen discovered a love of geology and for science more generally, inspiring him to add a minor in geology. “When you study science there is body of knowledge, like what is a molecule and what is an igneous rock, but there is also a kind of infectious excitement scientists have that makes you want to know more and do more,” he says.

He says that excitement, combined with the same drive to tell stories, led him to science journalism. He obtained his job as a science reporter at NPR after working as a freelancer for the news organization. The first story Chen pitched to NPR was about the neuroscience behind why marijuana makes users hungry, and from there he developed a good working relationship with his editor and eventually joined the staff. He has covered topics ranging from futuristic cranberries to the effects of loneliness on the immune system.

He says working at NPR is a dream come true and the kind of access he has as an NPR reporter allows him to tell the stories he wants to tell. Chen says he appreciates the work environment and that his co-workers constantly challenge one another to do better. “They are not afraid to tell you what’s what,” he says.

While at Oberlin, Chen edited Headwaters, a campus environmental magazine, ate in a co-op for four years, and worked for the Oberlin Project, a joint effort of the City of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and other partners to improve the prosperity and environmental sustainability of the community.

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