OSU Extension gardening expert hosts new call-in radio show

Weston Miller
Weston Miller takes on multiple media engagements as a horticulturist for OSU’s Extension Service. Photo by Tiffany Woods.
Last Updated: 
January 30, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Once a week, Weston Miller settles into a studio at XRAY-FM radio in Portland, waits for a wave of the hand and turns to the microphone. “Grow PDX” is underway.

Miller, horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service, started the call-in series last October and has hosted 10 half-hour shows, each addressing different topics about gardening, horticulture or agriculture. The program can be heard throughout the state by podcast, which is available on the XRAY website within 24 hours after the program has aired for two weeks.

Miller has plenty of experience delivering good advice and coaxing it out of guests. In the seven years he’s been with Extension, he’s secured a monthly gig on “AM Northwest” morning show on KATU, written articles for The Portland Outsider magazine, which has a circulation of about 35,000, and starred in five videos on the “Cooking Up a Story” online TV show.

The former high school teacher and professional landscaper has built a reputation around his media work. After several people suggested Miller, the folks from the new publically supported XRAY-FM contacted him to offer a slot on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Listeners can call 503-233-9729 or email news@xray.fm to ask questions or make comments.

“The show is all original programming,” Miller said. “I figure out the topics, write a script and send it to the guest for feedback.”

Recently, he chatted with Claudia Groth, a Master Gardener with Extension for more than 20 years, about the trials and joys of winter gardening.

“We’ve had some cold weather this winter,” Miller said conversationally. “Some plants in my garden are looking pretty ratty. How do I know if these plants are still alive?”

Groth suggested letting your finger do the work.

“One thing you can do is scratch just the surface of the plants,” she said. “You’ll see green if they’re doing great. You can go from the tips down and see how far down it’s living. Sometimes the tips are burned by the cold, but the heart of the plant will be fine.”

In upcoming weeks, Miller will talk about nonprofit gardening and agriculture with David Greenberg of Growing Gardens on “Grow PDX” and go over the ins and outs of planting spring seedlings on “AM Northwest.”

Everything Miller talks about or writes about leads back to the research-based information available from OSU’s Extension.

“People are hungry for good information,” he said. “My goal is to give it to them.”

Nowadays, questions lean toward edible gardening. People call in, email him and use Extensions’s Ask an Expert feature to inquire about topics such as preparing beds, pruning blueberries or planting fruit trees.

“The subject comes up over and over,” said Miller, who grows vegetables and fruit in his own quarter-acre garden in southeast Portland.

On TV, the pace is fast and off the cuff. Miller provides the subjects and the hosts choose what they ask about. On radio, he knows what questions he’ll ask guests and guides the conversation.

“My favorite aspect about my media work has to be the radio show,” he said. “I’ve found my element.”

 

 

Author: Kym Pokorny
Source: Weston Miller