Tommy Hough is the host and producer of Treehuggers International, an environmental affairs and natural science new media platform and radio show heard Sunday mornings on KBZT FM 94/9 in San Diego, and in capsule form on the webstream of KMTT 103.7 The Mountain in Seattle.
What’s your top story for today?
While there’s been near-daily environmental abominations being proposed in the House of Representatives regarding clean air, clean water and attempts to undo wilderness, my top stories include ranger-led walks into newly drained areas of the Elwha Basin on the Olympic Peninsula; a call from the NPCA to ensure “humane” hunting of bears at Katami National Park in Alaska; efforts to stop mining companies from beheading the remaining mountains of Appalachia; a proposal to begin new mining adjacent to Mt. St. Helens National Monument; an attempt by an Orange County water district to swipe water from a Mojave Desert aquifer; and the ongoing effort to ensure California State Parks remain funded and open to the public.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I’d like very much to be creating multimedia and handling communications and marketing in the service of an environmental organization focused on Pacific Northwest environmental and wilderness issues. While climate change and alternative energy are exceedingly important matters and will continue to loom larger as time goes on, they’ve also “sucked the air out of the room” when it comes to public awareness of actively ensuring the integrity of parks, wilderness and open space.
Describe the wackiest story you’ve written.
I’ve been fortunate because I’ve never been in a position where I had to write or feature a story which was demonstrably ridiculous. But when I was hosting mornings we did do a Halloween show where we featured a couple of “haunted houses” in San Diego. Of course, the houses are also tremendous historical resources, so we were able to bring a heritage component into the discussion, and we had a guest on from the San Diego Save Our Heritage Organization. I do tend to roll my eyes whenever ghosts and goblins come up. I feel the same about Bigfoot and flying saucers. I’d rather talk about something more concrete. Still, if anyone wants to send me on assignment or fund a movie about tracking down Bigfoot by hiking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest for weeks on end, I’m your guy.
What is your P.R. pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is when someone “buries the lead.” You have a whole press release to write about WHY you’re doing something, or a particular issue you’re trying to bring attention to. But if you don’t say in the headline and first sentence WHAT your event is and when it’s happening, everything else is a waste of time. Assignment editors and interns read these things. Spill the beans in the first sentence. Even if you’re a lousy writer, you may still be able to hook enough folks in to read further.
Top trend in the industry you’re currently covering or are interested in.
I try to shed light on stories which may not necessarily be getting the traction they should, or that aren’t having the arguments framed in precisely the right manner. I have the luxury of focusing on what I find to be important or relevant. Preserving the incredible resource of California State Parks has definitely been a mainstay of mine for several years. With the current California Forever project I hope to see greater awareness brought to the value of California’s state parks and hopefully a renewed call to preserve and celebrate the resources they protect.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I worked as a broadcaster in Seattle and San Diego for many years. My Treehuggers International show is the result of my passion and concern for the parks, wilderness, mountains and old-growth forest of the Pacific Northwest. When I returned to San Diego, I brought the show with me, and immediately became involved in the fights to save San Onofre State Beach from a toll road and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park from giant power lines crossing the wilderness. Since then I’ve remained committed to ensuring California State Parks stay open and adequately funded. Over the last year I assisted a U.S. House of Representatives campaign, crafting language, managing web resources and creating multimedia content. I co-founded a media production company and worked on a piece for the California State Parks Foundation. I’m also launching a podcast this summer as I continue my quest to find full-time environmental communications work in the Bay Area or Pacific Northwest.