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Chico State

NSPR’s ‘California Burning’ Tracks Wildfire History, Science and Solutions

Logo of California Burning with digital illustrations of pine trees and fire in the background.
Illustration courtesy of North State Public Radio

Natural disasters are increasing across the nation. In the West, these disasters often come in the form of wildfire, and perhaps no state understands the true cost of wildfire like California. A podcast and radio documentary series from North State Public Radio looks at the history, science, and solutions to this deadly problem.

California Burning—a podcast series and five-part radio documentary—takes a critical look at how the state’s fire-prone forests have been managed and examines how we can all be better stewards of the land to avoid catastrophic wildfires in the future.

All podcast episodes will be available on Monday, Sept. 30, on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and Google podcast platforms or wherever listeners subscribe. NSPR will air a one-hour radio documentary nightly, 7 to 8 p.m., from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

Creator and host Matt Fidler started his reporting and production of the series well before 2018’s deadly Camp Fire, but the project took on a sense of urgency after that.

“After returning to California from the east coast, I experienced the two worst fire seasons in California’s history. My hope is that ‘California Burning’ will show people here in California and across the nation that we can improve the conditions which create catastrophic wildfires,” Fidler said. “The information we found reporting ‘California Burning’ shows that we can make California a healthier, safer place for us all.”

Fidler was the audio engineer for NSPR’s National Edward R. Murrow Award-winning series, After Paradise, and is an audio producer and sound designer with more than 15 years of experience in public radio and 10 years in podcasting. He started as NSPR’s producer in May 2019, working primarily on the station’s local productions. He has worked for some of the most listened to public radio shows in the NPR system including, “Freakonomics Radio,” “Selected Shorts,” “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” “Studio 360” and “The Takeaway.” He produced podcasts for The Carnegie Foundation, Conde Nast publications and National Geographic.

Fidler has been reporting on the series for more than a year, working with NSPR news director Sarah Bohannon to shape the narrative, scripts and sound of the podcasts and radio shows.

“It’s a rarity to work with a storyteller who has devoted so much time to a project,” Bohannon said. “Matt has interviewed people from all over the country and traveled to many parts of California to put together a comprehensive, informative and sound-rich series that examines why California is seeing so many devastating wildfires, and, more importantly, how we as individuals can help solve the issue.”

“California Burning” podcasts will be available all on major distribution sites, including Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple and Google podcast platforms. The radio documentaries are available for free to any radio station who wants to air them. Stories, photos and videos are available at NSPR can be heard across Northern California on the following frequencies: KCHO 91.7 FM Chico, KFPR 88.9 FM Redding, 91.9 FM Burney, 89.7 FM Chester, 92.3 FM Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta, 100.9 FM Greenville, 99.7 FM Hayfork, 92.3 FM Oroville, 89.5 FM Weaverville and 98.3 FM Westwood. Listen to NSPR online at