Natalie Springuel has multiple titles. She is a marine extension associate with Maine Sea Grant, the coordinator of the Downeast Fisheries Trail and a founder of the National Working Waterfront Network. She’s based at the College of the Atlantic and occasionally teaches there. But we called her up to talk about a side gig she’s got as a radio host for WERU 89.9 FM’s Coastal Conversations. The community forum brings her and various visiting experts together monthly to dig deep into any and all topics with an ocean connection and to answer questions from callers.

THE GIG: Coastal Conversations is a fairly new program on WERU, which spun out of the popular, long-running program hosted by Ron Beard, Talk of the Towns. Beard retired after 21 years on the job. Springuel had stepped in for Beard from time to time. “I just really enjoyed it when I did it for him,” she said. “And at Sea Grant we are always interested in finding contemporary ways to get relevant coastal and marine information out there.”

Because Sea Grant extension agents are often called in to facilitate public meetings, “I am comfortable in the role of trying to help people flesh out their ideas verbally.”

In the year since the program first aired, Springuel has delved into the management and marketing of Maine scallops, marine debris and microplastic pollution in the ocean, and beach water quality. She and her colleagues at Sea Grant brainstorm for ideas and occasionally they’ll sub in for her.

CALLING OUT IN TRANSIT: “It’s community radio, but it has a pretty wide reach,” Springuel said. “It goes from roughly the midcoast, right around Waldoboro, all the way to the Canadian border.” The show airs from 10 to 11 a.m. on the fourth Friday of the month at 89.9 in Blue Hill and 99.9 in Bangor. But if you’re out of range, it streams live online at, and if you miss it, that website archives the program.

FRESH AIR: We asked Springuel who inspires her hosting style. More Howard Stern or Terry Gross? She laughed. “I would say Terry Gross,” she said. “She amazes me.” So who does her research? “I do, I do,” she said. “I have definitely noticed if I haven’t had as much time to perform the research, then the show suffers.” Generally she creates an outline for the conversation and shares everything with the guests. And she’s kind. “I don’t throw them any curve balls,” she said. “I don’t want any regrets on the part of the guest.”

NO RADIO ROOKIE: Springuel has had a thing for radio since her college days, when she deejayed a classic rock show on Sunday nights – or more like Monday mornings, from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. She was 19. Surprisingly, she was not lonely on the overnight shift. “I was blown away by how many people listened to the radio,” she said.

Today, she still considers herself far more of a radio person than a TV person (she doesn’t actually own a television). “It sort of planted this seed way back,” she added.

DOWNEAST FISHERIES: Springuel also gets credit for revitalizing the Downeast Fisheries Trail project, which celebrates fishery heritage and is intended not just as a tourist attraction but as a means for residents to stay in touch with their roots. It runs from Penobscot to Passamaquoddy bays and includes 45 sites, including everything from historical societies and salmon restoration projects to an old herring weir.

Work on the trail was started in the late 1990s, she said, just as she came to work for Sea Grant. Maine fisheries were in serious flux, and “there was this move to make sure we didn’t lose touch with our roots,” she remembered. But then funding dried up, “and the trail stayed out there in the ether.”

In 2008 Springuel traveled to Newfoundland on a sabbatical year and was struck by how much communities there do to keep their heritage alive. Funding the trail through “bits and pieces in true Downeast Maine fashion,” it relaunched in 2012, she said.

NEW YEAR: Upcoming Coastal Conversations shows will address salmon, especially farm-raised salmon, in light of the recent announcement that AquAdvantage, the GMO-salmon, has been given a first approval by the Federal Drug Administration. Acadia National Park turns 100 next year, so that’s on the agenda. So are shrimp: “We are probably going to do a show on what is happening with the shrimp fishery” (which was just closed again). She’d like to make aquaculture a hot topic as well.

“Generally speaking, the land gets a lot more attention than the ocean,” Springuel said. “That was sort of in our minds when we started this show, that we wanted to get ocean back in people’s frame of reference.”