CWU News

CWU-Cascade Public Media Partnership Brings Northwest Geology to Public Television


The geology of central Washington is the star of a new television series that will air Thursdays and Fridays at 8:50 p.m. on KYVE.

The program, “Nick on the Rocks,” is hosted by Nick Zentner, who teaches geological sciences classes at CWU and conducts lectures, field trips, and produces videos about the fascinating and diverse geologic history of the Pacific Northwest. KYVE is owned and operated by Cascade Public Media, a digital media provider that also operates KCTS-9 public television in Seattle.

Executive producer, Linda Schactler, said Zentner’s conversational style leads viewers on armchair adventures in central Washington’s geological wonderland.

“Central Washington is home to some of the most spectacular geologic history on the planet. Massive lava flows, the planet’s biggest waterfall, wandering mountains—we’ve got it all right here,” said Schactler, who is the vice president of public affairs for CWU.

The six-episode series began Thursday, January 5. Each episode will air on Thursdays and Fridays at 8:50 p.m. on KYVE. Episodes cover geological phenomena including Dry Falls State Park, the Liberty gold mine, Mt. Stuart, the Yakima River Canyon, Mt. Rainier’s Osceola mud flow, and the giant lava flows of eastern Washington.

Schactler said drone technology and animation supplements the work of Emmy-award winning videographer Chris Smart. Each short episode is less than five minutes in length, responding to new video viewing habits.

“KCTS is adapting to consumers’ hunger for video and for interesting content—but not always in 54-minute chunks,” said Schactler, who is one of two central Washington members of the KCTS advisory board. “The shorter format is more digestible and viewers can watch it on any kind of digital device.”

Zentner is the Science Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Department of Geological Sciences at CWU.  The Wisconsin native came to CWU in 1992. He has produced dozens of videos on central Washington geology as well as a series of interviews with geologists working in the Pacific Northwest.

Since 2008, Zentner’s colloquial, humorous lectures have made him a popular speaker at educational and civic organizations throughout the Northwest. In 2015, Zentner earned the National Association of Geoscience Teachers’ James Shea Award for exceptional contributions in the form of writing and/or editing of Earth science materials of interest to the public and teachers.

“The KCTS staff call Nick the ‘Rick Steves of geology,’” Schactler laughed. “But the Shea award offered an even more apropos description, saying his work is always ‘visually stunning, informative, and entertaining.’”

CWU launched the KCTS partnership three years ago with “CWU on Stage,” an hour-long program that highlights the university’s nationally recognized classical music program.

Media contact: Richard Moreno, director of content development, 509-963-2714,

January 5, 2017