CWU geology professor stars on PBS


Courtesy of CWU and Nick Zentner

Nick Zentner, CWU geology professor, often works in the field and is active in the local geology community.

CWU geology Professor Nick Zentner stars in a new television program titled,  “Nick on The Rocks” that highlights geology in Washington State. According to Zentner, the show is being aired in the Yakima area on PBS and will reach a Seattle audience in April.

“I’m pleased so far. We just finished our first season, so we’re still figuring things out and we’re getting a lot of feedback from people that follow what I do,” Zentner said.

Each episode is relatively short at about five minutes, but the unique content helps it stand out among regular television shows in Seattle according to Zentner.

Additionally, the show is in the middle of developing a second season which will be made up of around seven episodes. Zentner said he plans to use criticism from the first season to improve future episodes.

Zentner said he takes the material that  resonates with students and non-students the most and uses it for the show.

“I open my class up to the public, and so there is always some retired folks in there as well as the central kids,” Zentner said. “So, I kind of know that 19-year-olds aren’t watching PBS tv.”

Linda Schactler, Vice President of Public Affairs at CWU, is the Executive Producer for “Nick On The Rocks.

“I am a member of the KCTS advisory board. KCTS is in Seattle, it’s the tv station that is under Cascade Public Media,” Schactler said.

She said that many people have stopped watching their programs and they’ve had to adapt to those changes. KCTS even had to close a station in Yakima as a result.

“Because I’m a board member I thought, ‘Oh we have local content. This is a university, we have tons of interesting stuff all the time.’ And our problem is we don’t have any way to get it off campus,” Schactler said.

Additionally, Schactler said she was looking for material to put on television which lead to her to two shows, “CWU On Stage” and “Nick On The Rocks.”  

Zentner had an audience for  his own videos before “Nick on the Rocks” according to Schactler. She said she knew he was a good candidate for small episodes and that PBS liked the show’s pitch. .

“We said, ‘Ok, we’re going to produce a six-part series and off we go,’“ Schactler said.

Zentner said he would like to record episodes around the Pacific Northwest, not just exclusively to Washington.  

“There is almost an unlimited supply of topics and ideas and it’s not.. one of the things we’re trying to do is to make sure we have a well-balanced menu,” he said.

He also said that he loves being able to teach geology and getting people excited about it. The geology professor has been teaching for 25 years and has no plans of retiring because of his love for sharing geology with others.