Tag Archives: WFDD

Coastline on WHQR: Justin Catanoso on the Enviva crisis, wood pellet industry, and why environmental reporting doesn’t always have two equal sides

In the spring of 2019, investigators tracked logging trucks coming from a mature hardwood forest and going to Enviva’s Northampton, NC, facility. The clear-cut, seen here, was located in the Tar-Pamlico River Basin, alongside Sandy Creek, feeding into the Pamlico Sound of North Carolina. Photo: the Dogwood Alliance

Radio journalist Rachel Lewis Hilburn, host of Coastline, a weekly program on WHQR public radio in Wilmington, North Carolina, had been following my coverage of the wood pellet industry over the past year. Of particular interest were the stories that focused on Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, which has four manufacturing plants in eastern North Carolina.

When we spoke by phone to discuss her program, she was not only interested in my coverage, but also my reporting process, my working with a key anonymous whistleblower who once worked for Enviva, the distinction between environmental journalism and environmental advocacy, and what lessons I share with my journalism students at Wake Forest University.

Here’s the result, a wide-ranging, live-to-tape 50-minute discussion in three segments in which Rachel’s innate curiosity and enthusiastic interviewing style directed me through all of those issues and a few more. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with her and her listeners. Thanks also to producer George Newman at WFDD on the Wake Forest campus for preparing the studio in which I spoke remotely with Rachel.

WFDD: World Leaders Ponder US Role in Fighting Climate Change


WFDD reporter Keri Brown interviewed me for my reflections on the outcome of the 22nd United Nation’s climate summit in Marrakesh. The link to the four-minute radio story is here. As I’ve written previously, the new president-elect has galvanized world leaders to take aggressive climate action, with or without US leadership.

WFDD: Pope’s U.S. Visit Comes As He Calls For Climate Change Action

This farm valley in southern Peru is threated by a proposed copper mine. Photo by Justin Catanoso

This farm valley in southern Peru is threated by a proposed copper mine. Photo by Justin Catanoso

Emily McCord, the news director at WFDD, has had a huge interest in my climate change reporting since she joined the station a year ago last summer. I am grateful for that. Today, Sept. 21, 2015, she broadcasts my first radio report based on my Pope-and-Peru reporting.

Targacept’s pioneering target proves too elusive

I had the good fortune of covering Targacept, a pioneering drug-discovery company that spun out of R&D at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., since its founding in 2000. Don deBethizy, the first CEO, placed a good bit of trust in me as a journalist with the Business Journal and allowed me extraordinary access to his strategic thinking and his top scientists.

Targacept promised to revolutionize the treatment of mankind’s most vexing neurological disorders by harnessing the most advantageous properties of nicotine. It was an audacious plan that attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment of venture capitalists, public markets and individual investors. It was also, after 15 years, more than 20 drug trials and $300 million spent, a complete and utter failure.

My February 2015 column in the Triad Business Journal is an obituary of sorts for the company and the pharmacological concept that eluded it. At this link, you will find a Q&A I conducted with Targacept’s second and final CEO, Stephen Hill. Finally, here is a link to my WFDD radio report on the failure of Targacept.

WFDD: Local Efforts Help Battle Global Climate Problem

Photo by Michael Frierson

Photo by Michael Frierson

In my final radio report on the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, I spoke with WFDD’s Keri Brown about some basics: why we have global warming, the extraordinary role forests play worldwide as a sponge for greenhouse gas emissions, and the notion that mayors might be more effective than heads of state in fighting climate change. The audio story is here.

Excerpt: “This was probably the most surprising thing I learned in Lima. I was talking with a climate scientist from NASA and he told me that the world’s 50 largest cities account for about 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If you think about cities like Beijing, Mumbai, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro or Los Angeles – big, smoggy places with a lot of traffic and a huge demand for energy – it makes sense.”

Triad joins the trend in collaborative work spaces

According to a recent Gallup survey, about one-third of the U.S. employees operate outside the traditional confines of office towers, cubicles or factories. In other words, one in three American workers don’t have a traditional place to work. My radio report on Sept. 26, 2014, based on my Triad Next column in the Triad Business Journal, looks at the growing movement in collaborative work spaces with a close look at the newest — Flywheel in Winston-Salem.