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Megan Frank Aims to Highlight Stories of Women in STEAM

January 3, 2024

Megan Frank loves meeting people, learning about them and sharing their stories. Through her work as a tech/STEAM reporter and through PBS39’s Emmy-winning documentary, “The Future is Female: Women, Space and NASA,” which she hosted, wrote and produced, she was able to interview NASA’s first female launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson. Meeting the person who will say “all systems go” when the next astronauts, including the first woman and first Black man, go to the moon was a huge moment for her. She hopes that young people who see her reports can visualize themselves as part of the story and realize that they CAN work at places like NASA, Nintendo, Nerd Street Games and Air Products.

Q: Did you always want to be a journalist?  

MF: My passion for journalism started while growing up in Philadelphia. I can still hear KYW NewsRadio or NPR playing in the background when recalling childhood memories. (Thanks Mom, and Grandmom!). My favorite hobbies as a kid were reading and writing. Through role models like my parents, I was inspired to find a career where I could give back, and I paired that with my love for writing. My parents were community activists who worked to improve our Philly neighborhood. I can’t even count how many weekends my sister and I spent helping my dad pick up trash and paint over graffiti. My mom frequently signed my sister and I up for volunteer activities, like delivering meals to people in need and helping at the Special Olympics. I think this quote from CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer sums up why a journalism career was right for me: “I think journalism is a great way to do public service, to have an impact on your community.” 

Q: What is your typical workday like? 

MF: In my role at WLVR as an afternoon radio anchor during NPR’s “All Things Considered,” the first part of my day involves reading headlines from around the Lehigh Valley. This helps me to plan and build out my newscasts. I also keep track of the forecast and write weather updates. News content (also called stories) constantly pours into our newsroom from our team of reporters and from our statewide reporting network, so the second part of my day involves logging content for our story bank, and figuring out which stories should air the next morning. I also conduct sound quality checks on all of our audio pieces and edit broadcast copy.  

In addition to this, I host a weekly half hour radio show called “Insights with” I prepare for the show throughout the week by reading stories from our reporters, writing a script for the program and gathering audio clips to air in the show. I’m also working on a documentary about NASA’s Artemis program and how the Lehigh Valley plays a role in taking humans back to the moon and eventually, Mars.  

Recently, I began working on long-form reporting project focused on maternal health care issues, which are largely invisible. It’s an area that desperately needs more coverage, and as a new mom, I’m hoping to get more stories about maternal health out there. 

Q: What is the most challenging about your work? 

MF: One of the most challenging aspects of my job is finding time to cover all of the stories on my idea list. The work is rewarding, but it takes time to do research, collect data, tape interviews and put it all together for a story. I wish there were more hours in a day so that I could tell more stories for our audience. 

Q: Do you face challenges as a woman in this field? 

MF: Early in my career, I identified that I was holding myself back by not sharing my ideas at newsroom meetings. A wave of anxiety would wash over me when the news director would say: Does anyone have story ideas for today? It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas. (I had plenty, plus research and data to back them up.) I was afraid of not being good enough. 

Most of my male colleagues seemed much more comfortable sharing their ideas, even if they had not done research, and they were certainly not afraid to talk over me. I realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career sitting on the sidelines.  

To get more comfortable in my own skin, I decided to sign up for acting and improv comedy classes to learn how to speak more comfortably in front of a group. It built up my confidence and changed my life – and my career. Soon after, I got a shot at hosting a segment on television covering technology, and the rest is history. I’ve been a broadcast journalist working in TV and radio newsrooms for over 15 years. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about how you are connected to Da Vinci Science Center. 

MF: I’m so honored to be a partner with Da Vinci Science Center! I first reached out to them a few years ago about being a part of a panel discussion about space. We wanted to include a voice from Da Vinci (Thanks Karen!) to talk about career pathways for women who want to work in the space sector. The panel conversation aired following a screening of PBS39’s Emmy-winning documentary, “The Future is Female: Women, Space and NASA.” Since then, I’ve had the honor to serve as a mentor and later as a two-time host of the science center’s WISE Forum. 

Q: Why is Da Vinci Science Center’s dedication to STEAM learning important to you?  

MF: Da Vinci’s mission is important to me because it aligns with my goals as a STEAM journalist. There came a point in my career where I noticed that there were very few women reporting on technology, space and other STEAM topics. I didn’t understand it, since I personally loved reading articles from some of the biggest tech and space industry websites. It occurred to me that this was a niche area of journalism that was not only important to cover, but that also needed female journalists. 

I’ve since been able to get tech segments on the air at two stations in Pennsylvania. These are segments that I hosted, wrote and produced. From this work, I’ve met so many incredible people, especially women, who work in areas like AI and robotics, space exploration, COVID-19 testing, Esports, digital literacy and data privacy, and much more.  

When I was growing up, it wasn’t clear to me that STEAM could be a career path…  especially coming from a working-class background and as a young woman. I didn’t know anyone who was an engineer, let alone a female engineer! 

So, I have a deep appreciation for Da Vinci’s programming and outreach to young people. They truly are inspiring the next generation. 

Q: What do you like to do when you are off the clock?  

MF: There’s a cozy spot in my home where you can usually find me! I built a reading and music corner for my daughter, Kassandra Rose, and it’s our favorite place to hang out. My husband plays guitar while we sing with our little girl. We also have a dog with a disability, Rocky. We spend a lot of time caring for him and taking him on walks. I also spend time coming up with inventive meals to make my family of carnivores, a vegetarian and a baby happy! (Even Rocky gets his own homemade food!) My favorite pastime of all time is getting dinner with friends. I love to share a meal and have a good conversation. 

Q: Tell us something about yourself that people are often surprised to learn.  

MF: I’m an ambivert. That means I have both introvert and extrovert tendencies. Ambiverts usually feel like they’re equally comfortable in social situations and when they’re alone. So, I have moments where I feel more like a wallflower, and other times where I enjoy being out in front. I learned this about myself over time, especially as I learned new skills that helped me to become more extroverted. 

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