New program from WPSU makes science relatable, entertaining

WPSU’s STEM Initiative Grabs Audience AttentionWhen Penn State alum William “Bill” Hallman graduated with his communications degree, he didn’t anticipate returning to State College to head up a new and exciting science-based production at WPSU. Starting at WTAJ-TV in Altoona, he worked his way through the news industry with stints in Fort Myers and Miami, before finally being brought on staff at The Weather Channel.

“The Weather Channel is really where my TV background and interest in science collided,” he says. “I had the privilege of working with some of the world’s top meteorologists every day. They loved the weather. Everything about it. I wanted to help translate that behind-the-scenes enthusiasm into entertaining and educational TV moments for our viewers. Doing that every day helped me develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world, the people that research it, and the science that makes it all possible. Basically, it really helps when you work with people who love what they do.”

It was this experience with The Weather Channel that led Hallman to WPSU and SciTech Now. The program, part of WPSU’s STEM initiative, is led by producers at WNET in New York, who compile science-based segments from other stations around the country, and then distribute those segments as an episode to member stations like WPSU. It’s there that Hallman and his team take the media they receive and turn it into a local version of the show. With Hallman at the helm, WPSU produces, writes, and reports one local segment per episode, and also oversees the recording of studio segments with a local host. Each episode is filled with science-based education, presented in an entertaining method.

Cutting-edge technology that’s making an impact on the world isn’t just in Silicon Valley — it’s going on right within the community.

While juggling the production of such a show and its many moving parts can be stressful, there’s no lack of inspiration when it comes to covering these sometimes-complex topics.

“Scientists often dedicate their entire lives to a single field of research. That is amazing to me,” says Hallman. “Day after day, working to advance their field for the betterment of humankind. I get to meet these people every day. I love hearing their stories and finding out what makes them tick. Yes, the technology they are working on can be amazing, but I find their personal stories just as fascinating.”

It’s this fascination that is translated to the screen. “I hope that our viewers can watch an episode of SciTech Now and be entertained. I also hope they learn something in the process. We’ve tried to tackle a lot of complicated science on the show so far, but I think we have been able to showcase it in a way that is relatable to the non-science community.”

The segments specifically produced by WPSU are even garnering some attention from producers at WNET, who oversee the show’s national distribution. When it comes to this recognition, Hallman credits his WPSU team for a job well done.

Beyond just drawing corporate eyes to WPSU’s fantastic work, SciTech Now also exposes viewers to the science that’s available right within Central Pennsylvania. Cutting-edge technology that’s making an impact on the world isn’t just found in Silicon Valley, Hallman presses—it’s going on right within the community.

Some of that impact is occurring in Innovation Park. “I know that Innovation Park is home to some great scientists working hard on all sorts of great ideas,” says Hallman. “I want to hear from you! Send me an email. Who knows? You could be on the next episode of SciTech Now!”