For the third time in as many years, a special news program about climate change and adaptation on Long Island and beyond will reach a national audience.
The program was produced in part by Stony Brook journalism student Clare Gehlich as part of her work with WSHU, a Long Island National Public Radio affiliate station. The hour-long special, Higher Ground, will be available to NPR member stations beginning this month. It will be available digitally on the podcast May 1.
“Higher Ground tells a collection of stories that communities everywhere are increasingly struggling with — how to combat and adapt to our planet’s changing climate,” said Terry Sheridan, interim co-station manager and School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) instructor. “I continue to hope that this series can help other coastal and shoreline communities, and that perhaps we can come together and find solutions.”
During her fall semester internship at WSHU, Gehlich helped to plan the special, including organizing the arc of the story and working with the team of producers, reporters and writers.
“I’m so proud of the work Clare has done on this special and at WSHU in general,” said JD Allen, co-host of Higher Ground and SoCJ instructor. “She’s made incredible progress as an audio storyteller and, just as important, in the behind-the-scenes roles that make it possible for our station, and every other station in the country, to tell stories that matter with and for communities who are interested and impacted.”
The special continues the station’s coverage of climate change and adaptation that began with the two-season Higher Ground podcast. For the first season, produced in 2021, Allen won a Schmidt Award for Excellence in Science Communication from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The special is based around WSHU’s limited series Sound Science, exploring curiosity in science with a key focus of the Long Island Sound and its people’s ability to continue to live, work and play in their changing environment, as well as feedback Higher Ground has heard from everyday people over the past few years about ways to respond to climate impacts.
“Journalists have such an important role to play in helping individuals and communities to engage with challenges facing them and find possible solutions,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “Serious issues like climate change are going to take people with diverse perspectives, creative ideas and wide-ranging expertise to solve, and journalists can bring those people together and help them understand each other.”
This will be the third time the station’s climate reporting will be made available nationally through the collaboration between WSHU and American Public Media.