'The Wildlife' with Laurel Neme
Words by Julie Seger
“I just love bizarre and strange animals, I have a personal affinity for odd creatures” says 105.9 the Radiator’s The Wildlife host, Laurel Neme. Airing Mondays from one to two pm, The Wildlife offers nature buffs an in-depth opportunity to learn about some of the our planet’s most fascinating creatures.
Laurel Neme, a greater Burlington resident and author of Animal Investigators, (paperback available this fall,) grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She earned her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in International and Public Affairs at Princeton. As an international resource consultant, she has helped various clients in building contracts to manage their land and natural resources and protect wildlife. More recently, Laurel has begun research and writing full-time for her next book, and dedicates much of her time to The Wildlife.
It was promoting for Animal Investigators that sparked Laurel’s interest in radio. After being a guest on many national and international radio and TV programs including NPR, Vermont Edition, CBS News, ABC News Nightline, and Shelagh Shapiro’s Radiator program, Write the Book, Laurel discovered how much she enjoyed radio. “I loved the experience and I loved the people.”
As Laurel became involved in nature programming, she realized there was a lack of depth and specificity that listeners like her would appreciate. Hence, The Wildlife, a show that offers in-depth, hour-long shows on a particular topic. Laurel pools from her many research contacts around the world, and gets to focus on usually one creature a show. (Today it was dung beetles.) This way, Laurel can ask the detailed questions that interest her and the listeners, providing an overall depth that many larger programs lack time for. Her professional background also adds to the show’s expertise. “With my training, I can ask the questions that go deeper into the topic, without losing the audience. I can be technical but accessible.” One of the best parts of Laurel’s job is getting to discuss fascinating creatures with top experts around the world.
Feedback for the show has been great. Laurel is thrilled with its success and eager to keep going. Transcripts of her interviews are now posted on popular nature website, www.mongabay.com, a testament to their value as an educational resource for those interested about a particular creature or topic featured on her show.
Now a seasoned pro, Laurel once was nervous to take on the airwaves. It was advice from her elementary-school son, Jackson, that helped ease her nerves. His tips are pretty good, too; important ones like always tell the truth, if you mess up just keep going, and remember your family and everyone who loves you.
As for the future, Laurel hopes to gain exposure for The Wildlife, finish her upcoming book, and to continue to study and enjoy nature. She’s been approached by numerous TV outlets and programs, but has resolved to focus on preventing animal crime without the cameras, so as to be most effective in her work. She’s not here to sensationalize, she’s here to help.
Laurel’s integrity harkens back to her love for creatures, even the odd ones, like the Dung Beetle. During her dissertation research in Botswana, Laurel and her other fellow “ex-pats” formed a softball league. The team’s mascot was none other than the Dung Beetle, a reminder of the link between the many exotic creatures Laurel admires and how they’ve become her life’s work.