Four minutes later, she wraps it up and heads back to her desk, still muttering misgivings about the feel of the piece. Soon, though, she is cooking up her next episode—quite possibly about climate change, another subject she takes very personally. “I get pretty political in my theories,” Santa Maria says, then gives one of the head-tilts that punctuate her on-camera delivery, embodying that particular contradiction that situates her somewhere between her beloved Carl Sagan and, say, Tina Fey. “When I think it’s necessary to get through the b.s. that arises because of politics, I’m gonna address it.” Got it.

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Fred Schruers is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.