Rudy Mancke is almost certainly South Carolina's most noted naturalist. He hosted the long-running and well-remembered (and nationally-aired) ETV program "Nature Scene" and has now reached his 20th anniversary as host of South Carolina Public Radio's "NatureNotes."
The feature remains a daily one-minute reflection on some aspect of nature in the Palmetto State, as it was from the beginning. According to producer John Gasque, Mancke would record 15 programs, or three weeks' worth, at a session. "Rudy would come in with a tiny piece of paper with 15 words on it. And he would take one word and go a full minute." If someone sent Rudy a picture of a lizard he'd seen on his porch, "he'll start it, and then nine times out of 10 he nails it right at one minute."
Mancke's enthusiasm for nature and his eagerness to share his knowledge enable his ease at communicating, he says, adding that he often learns a lot from emails and photos listeners send him. "I get to see things and hear about things that I would not have heard about on my own. I am inundated these days with emails. And all they want to know is, 'what is it? Tell me a little story about it.'"
Mancke loves developing a love of learning in people, and says if he can satisfy people's innate curiosity, "everybody wins."
Gasque believes Rudy is so popular because he's a genuinely nice guy, which comes across on the air, plus "he can tell you in layman's terms. He knows his stuff, and can relate to everybody when he talks about it." He'll never run out of material to talk about or his desire to share nature with the public, said the producer, because "he's got...a fire in the belly."
Mancke says "NatureNotes" has taught him that "this curiosity about the natural world is in everybody...it is innate in everyone. Our brain is wired that way. We're all naturalists whether we realize it or not."
The naturalist says he feels lucky to be doing what he loves, and will keep on doing it for as long as he can. "And the icing on the cake is that others like it, too."