Gilles Mingasson, Getty Images
Guest Bre Pettis, right, tells "Wired Science" host Ziya Tong how to use a disposable camera to take high speed photographs.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — PBS went looking for the next great science show and ended up getting "Wired."

"Wired Science," that is, which airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on KUED-Ch. 7.

PBS programmers literally put out sort of an all-points bulletin to their member stations and producers. And among those whose interest was piqued was Karen Hunte at KCET in Los Angeles.

"I said, 'Hmm, we'd like to respond to this. What would be the most compelling

show that we could put together?"' she said.

Hunte and her KCET colleague, Megan Callaway, "came up with the idea of approaching Wired (magazine) because they seemed to fit all of the things that we would be trying to do to fit the PBS mandate."

So, out of the blue, they called Melanie Cornwall at Wired magazine, who was instantly interested.

"The appeal was incredible," Cornwall said. "What Karen was proposing was a prime-time show on PBS to redefine how science and technology programming gets made. It's one of those pinch-me moments, like, 'Really? Where's the fine print?'

"It was a really unprecedented opportunity for Wired. We'd actually never had a shot at anything like this before."

After putting together a pilot and winning a contest of sorts — PBS commissioned three science pilots and chose "Wired Science" to become a series — the first season of 10 episodes began airing last month. It's sort of science with a bit of an attitude.

Tonight's episode (7 p.m., Ch. 7) includes segments on drought, how to take high-speed photos with low-cost cameras, and the ongoing debate among audiophiles about whether digital or analog is the way to go.

"Wired Science" doesn't make light of real science or reporting on it, but it does often approach topics in a less-serious manner.

"I think that the particular Wired-magazine take on science and technology is quite optimistic, said executive producer David Axelrod. "It's always looking for the future that's just over the next hill."

"I think scientists are some of the most quirky and unusual people I've met most of the time," said Ziya Tong, one of the show's hosts. "So they bring their own level of irreverence to the stories."

And the goal of the TV series is to appeal not just to older viewers, but younger ones as well.

In feedback and research after airing the pilot, "We found that there were families watching this show," Hunte said. "There were parents watching with their sons or daughters."

The goal is to "balance fun with information and make it as accessible as possible."


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