Chris Duel, host of "SciTech Now," a program on KLRN. Photo Courtesy of KLRN.
Chris Duel, host of "SciTech Now," a program on KLRN. Photo Courtesy of KLRN.

Chris Duel, one of San Antonio’s most energetic radio personalities over the last decade, is suddenly going tech and science on us and taking his Geek-inspired game to KLRN-TV public television. Duel, a familiar name and voice to anyone in the city who roots for the Spurs, will introduce “SciTech to Now,” to local public television viewers this Friday at  7:30 p.m.

The program will focus on local tech and science innovation and dip into national trends, too. The 30-minute program will be broadcast in the Friday time slot leading into “Texas Week with Rick Casey,” which has enjoyed a five-year run offering news, interviews, guest commentary, and on occasion, candidate debate.

The idea for “SciTech Now” came from the realization that area businesses, nonprofits and institutions are adopting new technologies that are changing the way they do business, said KLRN News Director Bruce Kates.

When it came time to hire a host, Duel was Kates’ first choice. Duel has worked with several San Antonio television and radio stations over the last 15 years, and has enjoyed a fairly high community profile as an AM-radio talk show host, wandering personality in the AT&T Arena engaging Spurs fans during time outs, and more recently, doing remote broadcasts during Spurs games, providing NBA updates from around the league for radio listeners. He often performs on- and off-air duties for KLRN’s annual Blazing Gavels benefit auction.

Duel and Kates are self-described science geeks who enjoy talking tech, NASA, and other geeky topics.

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“I’ve always loved science. I’m so old, I remember seeing the first moon landing on TV,” Duel chuckled.

Duel’s brother and father were U.S. Air Force pilots, and he himself received an appointment to the Air Force Academy. That only heightened his interest in all things aviation, space and technology.

But Duel will be the first one to admit he is no expert, either, and most locals know him from his days – past and present – as a sports commentator.

“I am a fan of technology, an enthusiast. After all, we’re using tech constantly with our phones, computers, tablets, you name it,” he added.

Duel said he will use “SciTech Now” as a platform to reach viewers in their homes for a collective educational session, host and audience learning more each week about San Antonio’s science and tech communities.

“Take TransGuide for example. That system was designed here. I never knew that,” he said. “There’s scientific and technological innovations happening at Southwest Research Institute.”

Typically, each “SciTech Now” episode will feature news segments produced and shared by other Public Broadcasting Service stations nationwide.

“This model has been done before,” said Katrina Kehoe, KLRN’s vice president of communications and marketing. She noted that “Arts,” another half-hour long weekly show produced by KLRN, functions much in the same way. The show seamlessly blends local segments about San Antonio’s arts community with related content from other PBS stations.

Duel pulled back the curtain on local programming already in the can. The local segment in the premiere episode of “SciTech Now” focuses on Geekdom, and how startups there are finding an array of applications for their products.

The second episode’s features the Center for the Intrepid at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. The facility is a world-class rehabilitation center for soldiers recovering from severe burns or amputations.

“We talked to experts there who use technology to enhance Wounded Warriors’ lives,” Duel said.

A third segment features an interview with Tommy McNish, chief operating officer at San Antonio Pets Alive. McNish, Geekdom’s former business development director, talked to Duel about how an app can help shelter pets to find a forever home.

Chris Duel, host of "SciTech Now," a program on KLRN. Photo Courtesy of KLRN.
Chris Duel, host of “SciTech Now.” Photo Courtesy of KLRN.

Giles-Parscale, a local design and web marketing firm behind the official Donald Trump presidential campaign website, will connect San Antonio with the ongoing national political story through a technological connection.

A fifth segment covers Data Wing, a company that uses drones to gather data for oil and gas companies, utilities, and to conduct environmental research.

“The guys piloting the drones are former fighter pilots, using their military expertise to build a civilian company,” Duel said. “SciTech Now” is looking to develop local segments on cybersecurity, health care and biomedical research, among other topics.

“We’re looking at all kinds of things for future stories,” Duel said. “The show will definitely be geared toward experts and to regular people like you and me.”

Rackspace Co-Founder and Chairman Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation has provided seed funding to support  “SciTech Now.” KLRN continues to raise funds for the series. Kehoe said she likes the idea of showcasing San Antonio’s high-tech and scientific industries nationwide through the new show.

“It’s our job as a public television station to tell stories about the community as best we financially can,” she said.

Hosting “SciTech Now” will not interfere with Duel’s current role as a WOAI-AM radio studio anchor during Spurs games.

“I’m able to do things around town. I’m fortunate to not have anything full-time that prevents me from doing something new,” Duel said.

Duel’s pivot into tech and science has surprised more than a few longtime media watchers.

“Then again, I’ve kind of preferred doing big picture discussions and stories, such as life sciences. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity and platform to talk about big ideas,” he said.

Full episodes of “SciTech Now” will also be available on the KLRN video player.

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*Top Image: Chris Duel, host of “SciTech Now,” a program on KLRN. Photo Courtesy of KLRN.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.