The Super Heroes of Daily Planet
No, we aren’t talking about Clark Kent and Lois Lane, although in terms of marketability and experience, we’re not far off. Of course, we’re talking about the hosts of Discovery’s Daily Planet, Dan Riskin & Ziya Tong. Now in their fifth year together, no one can doubt the positive effect they’ve had on their audience. The duo was kind enough to talk with ONtheGO for an exclusive (and rather fun) exchange.
OTG: Daily Planet is entering its 22nd season, how do your viewers differ from those of a traditional newscast?
Ziya: We have the smartest audiences! Some have literally grown up with us and it’s incredible when you meet someone in their twenties who watches, loves what they learn and has translated that into a full-time career to become an engineer.
Dan: I’ve been inspired by similar stories; I also love that a lot of families watch our show at breakfast before school/work. I’m proud to make something so good that a person would expose their kids to it on purpose.
The fans definitely love their hosts, and who can blame them? Certainly not network executives; since their partnership, audiences responded quickly with a sharp increase in ratings. In 2013, they hit huge numbers of nearly two million viewers in five days, an all-time record for the show’s 18 years on-air.
It would be easy to point towards Riskin and Tong’s enthusiasm for the increase, as it’s hard not to resonate with their style. Their enthusiasm extends far beyond that of a typical newscaster.
Ziya: I travelled to Tadoussac, Que. recently to find out why baby beluga whales are dying in such great numbers there. These animals are national treasures and highly endangered. Toxic contaminants in the water, like fire retardants, are a likely culprit. If we rally now, we have an opportunity to save them again.
Dan: People hear something like, “researchers say this kind of destruction is becoming more common.” Well, let’s meet those researchers. Let’s see their experiments. Daily Planet brings that deeper perspective. Our coverage is deeper, and often more optimistic than the sensational headlines.
CREDIBILITY IS KEY
Award-winning science broadcaster Tong and her counterpart who is a Canadian bestselling author and award-winning evolutionary biologist, bring a combined wealth of knowledge tenfold that of other newscasts.
Ziya: Daily Planet is my fourth science show and I’ve been lucky to work with some greats over the years: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Hardwick and Dan & Jay at Daily Planet. Ultimately, it comes down to passion. The great thing about Dan is if you ask him a question about his field of specialty which is bats, you too, will in no time become enamored by them!
OTG: Dan, why are scientists such as yourself so popular in culture these days?
Dan: Popular-science communicators have a long history — from Sagan to Nye to Suzuki to Ingram. There are far more voices now. YouTube channels, podcasts, Twitter feeds, bloggers, and yes, the TV folk like Ziya and me, are bringing the goods. More women in science communication are a critical factor as well.
DELIVERING THE MESSAGE
All great communicators are experts at conveying the message to their audience. The Daily Planet broadcasters know what it takes to ensure facts and news stories are given to their audience in a fun, coherent and digestible manner.
OTG: 20+ seasons is something you usually hear when talking about a show like The Simpsons … why do viewers keep coming back to Daily Planet?
Ziya: Our planet is an incredible place filled with wonders, adventures, discoveries, technologies and bizarre life forms; we share them with our viewers every single day. You never get bored.
Dan: Our show is about constantly-changing tech, but we’re also driven by it, which is why we have cameras on whales, in space and on wingsuit pilots, bringing you places no one ever has. The future’s exciting, and we’re dipping into it to bring you to the forefront of science and technology in the 21st century.
Finding exciting ways to present information has never been an issue for the Daily Planet team. This season, the norm of the broadcast studio will take a back seat during “Boldly Go Week” from Aug. 29th – Sept. 2nd.
From diving between two continental plates in Iceland to engineering the world’s first concert in a volcano, the beauty of the earth has never been more prevalent on the show. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” said Mark Twain. When it comes to Ziya and Dan, learning that very fact with Daily Planet has not — and seemingly never will — become old.
DAILY PLANET airs weeknights at 7 pm on Discovery.